In a Smart City, everyone is connected
There’s a perfect storm brewing for local government. But rather than batten down the hatches, it’s time for councils to find a way to ride the waves.
From one direction there’s a revolution whipping up among employees, citizens and suppliers, whose expectations about the council services provided to them are rising fast.
Employees expect to be connected to the office and able both to access and to provide real-time updates while in the field, doing their jobs.
Citizens expect good service and want to be able to find the answers they need themselves over the internet – anything rather that ringing a call centre. And suppliers expect their invoices to be paid quickly and not spend months being lost in an interminably long payment cycle, or simply lost altogether.
From another direction, the spectre of 40% budget costs is casting a deathly pall over everything councils do.
How can they face this perfect storm of rising expectations from the public with a budget that has been hacked to the bone?
Technology is the answer, or at least part of the answer. But technology will only change things if it goes hand-in-hand with changing people, culture and processes.
Technology is the answer because, used properly, it can dramatically strip costs from many areas of council services, without costing a fortune itself to implement. At the same time, it can improve both the working environment for council employees and the services provided to the public and suppliers.
Together, council workers and members of the public alike will be citizens of a Smart City. With technology providing a fully connected infrastructure, it doesn’t matter where you are, if you have your mobile device with internet access, your office is with you. And mobile devices are a gateway to council services for citizens.
This connected Smart City works for all
Imagine your elderly and infirm aunt Ethel with an on-going condition that needs careful monitoring. If the condition flares out of control, she’ll need an ambulance to A&E and an overnight stay, costing £1,000 perhaps it may be better to use an apple device
Then imagine a scenario where her doctor’s surgery uses a smart biometrics device to monitor Ethel’s condition remotely and ensure that everything is done to keep her fit, healthy and out of hospital. It saves the council money and keeps Ethel happy and well too.
The connected, Smart City provides transformative benefits to the public and to the public sector coffers.
With devolution happening and groups of local councils and health care providers taking over control of their budgets, technology can help by creating a shared service environment for IT and other council services in the region.
But to make this happen there needs to be an underlying grid infrastructure to ensure that all these services and different local government departments are wired up. Without BT’s promise to bring fibre to 99.9% of the UK, councils cannot bring this joined-up vision to the masses.
The winds of this perfect storm are reaching gale force. But will the councils be brave enough to take positive action rather than brace themselves for the storm? Let’s hope so.