Councils could save £14.7bn through better use of technology

According to a study conducted by Nesta, local authorities could save up to £14.7 billion per year if they made better use of new digital technologies such as apps and online platforms.

The study entitled, Connected Councils, examines what a ‘digital by default’ council would look like in 2025 and the extent to which services would be improved by using alternative ways of collecting and analysing data.

Proposed new technologies include systems which alert doctors when elderly citizens have not put out their bins for two weeks in a row and collecting data through wearable devices. The study also forecasts that councils will have moved all their transactional services online by 2025.

The report identifies four key opportunities for digital councils, claiming they could: save money and deliver better outcomes by intervening earlier and helping people manage their own conditions; transform the way that councils work internally, commission services and partner, diagnose and solve problems, use public space, and attract talent; make services smoother and easier to access, more personalised and user responsive; and put residents at the heart of local problem solving and decision-making and create an environment which supports businesses to startup and scale.

Julie Simon, head of government innovation research at Nesta, said: “As budget cuts begin to bite councils have found themselves at a crossroads. Although digital technologies are by no means a silver bullet, they can help councils improve on the important services they offer; transforming their delivery, stimulating economic growth and ultimately improving the way they manage themselves and their resources.”