Claire Harris, Vodafone's UK Head of Small, Medium and Enterprise Business, explains why and how local governments should embrace new technologies.
When is your next bus due? How full are your local litter bins? How clean is the air where you live? How many parking spaces are available in this part of town right now? If a council can measure something, it can improve it with data-driven services. And those services can soon be faster, more accessible to the public, more efficient and better targeted thanks to the rollout of 5G technology across the country. The promise of fully digitalised local government, offering new and better services, delivered more efficiently, in ways tailored to the needs of residents, has never been closer.
There has undoubtedly been progress, not least because of changes to the way so many of us now expect to interact with businesses and public services. A large majority of resident contact received by councils now come through online and digital channels, although some of the residents whose needs are greatest are least able to access digital technology.
Some councils are using tablets in the delivery of social care or installing smart monitoring around council and social housing. Others are using smart devices on streets and in neighbourhoods to provide key insights to improve residents’ services, such as waste management.
But some local authorities are better placed than others to make the most of the digital future, with levels of take-up and implementation of digitalisation varying widely across the country. For example, only one-in-six are currently trying out predictive analysis techniques, such as using smart bins to improve the efficiency of waste collection routes or using sensors to manage parking spaces.