The digital journey: From baby steps to giant rewards

17 August 2021

For local authorities, the past 12 months have put digital transformation into sharp focus. Consumers have now become used to home schooling, and home working – giving people of all ages and backgrounds a deeper appreciation for what can be achieved online.

But, what does this mean for local councils? In partnership with Solace, our recent discussions with digital leaders at authorites led to some interesting findings.

Accessibility starts with connectivity

Local authorities understand user-focused web design and web content accessibility guidelines. However, even the most user-focused online services are useless for customers who don’t have or can’t afford internet connectivity. This isn’t just a local issue. Closing the digital divide means central government and infrastructure must make affordable internet widely available.

Bridging the tech gap

Councils are capitalising on growing online engagement. However, there still needs to be a conduit between services and IT capabilities, to go further, even faster. Preparing teams for cloud-based models, where interoperability comes as standard and ‘out-of-the-box’ will speed up development and help services achieve more for citizens.

Data: the ethical considerations

Councils are at different stages of data maturity. Some with master data management are reaping the benefits. But, underlying data problems still exist across multiple services. As ‘assisted AI decisions’ become more readily adopted, support is desperately needed to establish data use, customer accounts, and profiling standards.

The future of face-to-face

Walk-in centres currently have a dilemma: to open or not? One panellist commented: ‘We’re not ready to turn our back on face-to-face entirely, and digital is not our default.’ To overcome this, some centres are deploying ‘guided’ self-services – encouraging online use, overcoming technology access challenges while enabling staff to focus on more complex needs.

A new relationship between council and community

For local digital leaders, the increasing appetite for digital services is a challenge that will reap real rewards. Councils embracing smart technologies are making better use of the data they already hold and transforming the relationship with local communities – delivering smarter, more efficient, personalised services.

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