Reimagining the Council of tomorrow

  • techUK techUK
    Monday02Dec 2019

    Guest blog on intelligent automation to drive a new wave of resourcing, efficiency and service delivery by Richard Boddington, Head of Local Government, Thoughtonomy...

Humans are rubbish.

There, I said it.

Now, let me qualify that a bit better. Humans are rubbish at the majority of work we are asked to do. I for one, am absolutely terrible at typing (I’ve already hit backspace more than any other key). I’m not saying anything we don’t already know, in that most humans are not good at manual, repetitive, rule-based tasks. We also need breaks, and sleep… in my case a lot of sleep.

So how do these fallibilities align themselves with the Council of tomorrow? The truth is they don’t because Councils have for too long relied on people for any new TOR or delivery model. Yes, there is technology involved, but for the most part it’s the same tech that’s always been used, just repurposed. The one overriding limiting factor has been the reliance on people to scale.

Don’t get me wrong, people are critical for the delivering successful outcomes for councils and the people they serve. But often our council officers are adding no value to the tasks they are doing, other than the fact they are doing it.

Take Social Care for example, this really is the sharpest point in a council, where the human skills of a social worker is essential to support, understand and make some of the toughest decisions imaginable. Yet up to 40% of a social workers time is spent processing data or administrative tasks. How much ‘value’ is there is releasing this time to support vulnerable people?

What we can’t forget is that Councils aren’t just about social care, but many other functions which a citizen is likely to cross. These citizens don’t care that the person they spoke to in the contact centre doesn’t work in licensing. They also don’t care that the CRM system doesn’t talk to the licensing system. They care about the services you’re offering and how they can consume them effectively.

And herein lies the rub… the council of tomorrow needs to free its people from the mundane, but also look at solutions that can overcome the organisational barriers that exist in every council.

The technology exists to do this: through Intelligent Automation the capability to deliver rule-based data processing across council depts is within reach. Additionally, the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence means that councils can harness things like language translation, natural language process, and computer vision to increase the use cases dramatically; all the time controlling the parameters that the technology operates within.

To talk examples, how much of issuing a taxi license actually needs a human in the loop? All (or at least the majority) can be processes automatically using automation to validate and process data. All pretty simple. At the same time, using language processing, this technology can be reviewing emails in the contact centre to triage to relevant departments, and even prioritise based on emotion of the sender. Or managing data gathering for FOIs. I could go on.

So if you had this capability, what else could you do? A reported life event could trigger countless activities in a council. The simplest things like a change of name can take months to flow through a council… it could be done in minutes, automatically.

If you could give even 20% of time back to your staff what could they do with it? How better could they support your citizens? And not to forget the impact on your staff directly, where evidence shows up to a 50% reduction is sickness rates in teams that have implemented Intelligent Automation.

So, what does the council of tomorrow look like then? I’ll let you answer that.

Releasing people to do what they are great at, because humans are brilliant.

See the rest of this weeks' #CounciloftheFuture campaign week blogs here

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