Advancements in technology over the years have transformed the way local public services are delivered in communities. From the use of pagers to the development of shared public services, technology has been a key tool that local leaders can use to service needs of their communities. As local public service delivery embraces a “place based approach” it seems obvious to say that digital technologies should be at the heart of this next stage of public service transformation and delivery. Particularly at a time when budgets are tight and the demands on local delivery bodies are increasingly shared and crossing agency boundaries.
Findings ways for bodies to collaborate and partner together to address local challenges is key to enabling a place based approach to be successful. So what are the key digital technologies that could be applied today and what are the emerging technologies that could be transformative for local public service delivery?
With a place based approach focused on increasing cross agency working and greater collaboration between delivery partners at the local level technologies such as cloud based services will have a key role to play. Cloud provides services not only allow local leaders to work securely from any location the cloud can help partnership to grow by enabling real time sharing of up to date information and resources by multiple partners that may be needed to address a specific challenge. For example, information around town planning issues that will involve a number of partners. The cloud provides the tools that could speed up collaboration meaning decisions that impact communities and peoples lives could be made more efficiently and effectively. The use of data analytics and increasing machine learning, which is an element of AI, can also play a key role in enabling informed decision making to be taken based on multiple, and potentially large, data sets from different partners. The increased use of Internet of Things sensors in key local assets, such as roads and bridges which can cross local boundaries, also provides another opportunity for local agencies to work together by enabling a common view of the state of local infrastructure and also coordinate and take action together where needed. In a future where digital twins (or computer models) of key local public service assets could become a common resources used by local public service delivery teams, these technologies will work together to make this a reality.
Looking into the future we can also see how other AI technologies such as computer vision and natural language processing could also assist local service delivery. As communities become more diverse the ability to use NLP to provide automatic translation services for example could increase collaboration between different community groups and local leaders. This translation technology is already being used in the private sector via chatbots to provide 24/7 customer services to consumers and citizens.
The introduction of a place based approach provides many opportunities for local agencies and bodies to embrace advanced digital technologies to create a shared, holistic approach to public service delivery. To achieve the full potential of this approach requires both confidence and vigilance. Leaders must be brave and empowered to embrace advanced and emerging digital technologies that could make a real difference but also vigilant to identify and address possible areas of concern, such as privacy and security, and build a culture of trust and confidence that will be key to the delivery of a successful technology enabled place based approach to local public service delivery.
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