Shared ambitions lead to shared success

Paul Bradbury explains how a number of local government organisations are collaborating with the aim of finding a smarter way of working using technology

The challenges faced by the public sector have intensified over the last few years. The demands on public services are evolving rapidly as the way people interact with the public sector changes together with their expectations. And continuously shrinking budgets continue to cause strain, which means ‘working smarter’ and transforming the way services are delivered is crucial to success in this unstable environment.
As part of this ambition to work smarter, a number of local government organisations have come together to create The Local Digital Declaration. This declaration is a commitment to developing common standards for the common elements of local services; working together to share knowledge, and ultimately to pave the way for the next era in public service delivery through building services more quickly, flexibly and effectively, together. But crucially, The Local Digital Declaration is aiming to put technology at the forefront of re-shaping public service delivery. And this is vital as people want the same level of instant service from the public sector as they do their bank, favourite retailer or travel company.
Working together is better than working alone
Some organisations are already making good head-way on the journey to smarter working by consolidating and sharing services to respond to local challenges. But there is no doubt that the public sector needs to move to a more flexible way of working. Key to this is building on technology and innovation to gain a single view of the citizen and their interactions to deliver citizen engagement and business administration more simply, efficiently, cheaply and in keeping with other experiences people now have.
In the past, many public sector departments and organisations have worked in siloes but to design services that best meet the needs of citizens these bodies must work together in partnership to drive innovation. Gaining trust and developing a strong leadership team is vital here. Working in partnership, rather than autonomously is a big change and must be treated with care.
The key is building a strategy, together, to deliver services designed around people. This comes from automating processes, connecting data and supporting increased and better local engagement alongside operational efficiencies. However, public services deliver a very broad array of services underpinned by complex and changing legislation and regulation, so there needs to be a balanced approach to change.
And with the GDPR coming into force earlier this year, designing safe ways of sharing information, demonstrating digital leadership and embedding an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of the workforce will be essential to delivering on these commitments.
From an IT point of view, it’s crucial to integrate technology so that every team / organisation can access the same systems to improve workflows, enhance service delivery and achieve the most efficient, seamless and convenient experience for citizens. These solutions must be flexible, fast and efficiency-focused to achieve common standards across local services. This will enable collaboration, integration and uniformity of data structures; which will in turn help the initiative achieves its aims.
However, these local organisations cannot ignore the issue of trust. While people freely transfer money by mobile banking apps or share locations on social networks, only 57 per cent of citizens we spoke to claimed to trust the government to handle their data, this is despite half of respondents believing that data sharing would lead to better services. The imperative here is to educate both citizens and local government employees on the benefits of sharing data and on data safeguarding
Public sector organisations across the country have a responsibility to explore the opportunities enabled by the Local Digital Declaration to deliver efficient, accessible and always-on services to improve the lives of all citizens across the country. That’s the only way that these shared ambitions can lead to shared success.

Paul Bradbury is group business development director at Civica.

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