Society of IT Management outlines approach for digital local government.
Public sector IT body Socitm has sketched out the key requirements necessary for local government to produce digital services.
The organisation pointed to several councils’ digital strategies as good examples of how to roll out digital public services in its policy document, Digital: Vision to Value, released yesterday.
It hopes that by going digital local authorities can run services redesigned to focus on the people who use them, at a lower cost and more efficiently than they currently do.
The report read: "Digital service delivery initiatives put residents, volunteers and businesses at the centre of the design of local public services. Being digital means engaging them at the heart of service re-imagination and transformation.
"Being digital gives everyone, especially employed staff, new ways of looking at their services, new skills and new found enthusiasm for, and commitment to, what they do."
But the body warned that a culture change would be required, recommending councils prepare to adapt legacy and off-the-shelf IT, share data and analytics and embrace open APIs to achieve a goal of digital-first public services.
Espousing the benefits of a digital local government, Socitm’s report pointed to East Riding of Yorkshire, which is aiming to save £149m, or half its net budget, over seven years by digitally redesigning its services with people at the centre.
Meanwhile, Glasgow’s £24m Smart City demonstrator programme uses open data, smartphone apps and web portals to engage the public in health and sustainability issues.
Socitm outlined three ‘core principles’ for councils to achieve digital change. They are focusing on the user, giving them ownership of their data; keeping services simple and standardised to give anytime access on any device; and sharing IT infrastructure and staff with other organisations to cut costs.
The report argued people are happy to have their personal data shared by different public services when it benefits them, and urged councils to adopt a shared data management policy.
It said: "Current silo-based approaches to data protection and ownership are no longer fit for purpose in a digital age.
"Personalisation of services such as adult health and social care requires sharing personal data across diverse groups of practitioners with appropriate safeguards and standards in place."
It sounded support for a Labour-proposed local Government Digital Service (GDS), saying such a body could develop and promote common technology platforms for councils.
The news comes after Government CTO Liam Maxwell said it was up to local government to adopt GDS blueprints for digital services, telling CBR the onus was on councils to work with the quango leading Whitehall’s digital do-over.