How the Fourth Industrial Revolution could transform local government

Today, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) published Tech in the Town report that explores the role that Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies can play in improving the UK’s urban areas and local public services. techUK was pleased to attend one of the roundtables that helped inform the development of the report.

The report highlights the state of local government and how emerging technologies can help solve the challenges communities face. Analysis in the report shows:

  • Local government finances remain under pressure.
  • Local transport infrastructure will struggle as the number of cars on the road is set to increase.
  • UK roads are in poor shape. 905,000 potholes were reported on UK roads in the 2017/18 fiscal year, costing councils on average £169 each to address.
  • Growing populations will place pressure on local community infrastructure, to a varying degree across the country.  

These challenges cannot be faced alone, and technology is the enabler to doing things differently and deliver more efficient services and create smart places and communities where citizens want to live, thrive and work. The report outlines the art of the possible when it comes to Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and connected and autonomous vehicles. It states that local government could do more to take advantage of the technologies outlined in reimaging local public service delivery.

An innovative example of where a council is doing things differently is Rugby.  Rugby Borough Council, for example, replaced 56 traditional bins, each of which had traditionally received between two and three collections per day, with 23 “BigBelly” stations fitted with bin-fill sensors. In only 12 months it reduced manual waste collections from 51,100 per year to just 1,509 per year – a saving of 49,591 collections. There are many other council case studies including in the report. You can read the full report here.

The report does a good job in capturing the challenges local government faces, as well as the opportunities technology brings in driving economic growth and transforming places. This is also a key area of focus of techUK’s smart place and communities work. We will be building on these themes at tomorrow’s Local Gov Transformation: Trends, Challenges & Opportunities briefing. On 26 June we will also be looking at how technologies such as Internet of Things can transform citizens everyday lives at the launch of techUK's State of the Connected Home report launch.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved in techUK’s local government work please contact Georgina Maratheftis and for our smart cities work Tom Henderson.





  • Georgina Maratheftis

    Georgina Maratheftis

    T 020 7331 2029

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