19 Jul 2022
by Chris Melia

Capita: Digital enables thinking space for better placemaking

Guest blog by Chris Melia, Growth Director at Capita Local Public Service

Placemaking and digital projects, due to their intrinsic connectedness, require thought. As we deal with a hydra of crisis issues, how do we make time for placemaking?

As political leaders and civil servants react to an ever-increasing array of challenges, it leaves little time to step back from the frantic pace of service delivery to think about the bigger picture.

For those on the frontline, it’s a case of running just to stay still as demand rises and resources decrease.

If we are going to make changes, even incremental ones, we need to free up the public sector to do things differently.

While council-wide digital transformation may be desirable, it must comprise more than channel-shift and digitisation of processes – and rethinking your entire process of delivery is a substantial project. Taking a pragmatic approach to productivity can help create the space you need to think differently about your placemaking strategy for the future.

More than digital

Digital alone is not the answer. It is merely a tool or a channel. It is what you do with that tool or how you utilise that channel that matters. When poor processes are digitised, they don’t cease to be poor – they just get faster.

Too much data?

Organisations collect a vast amount of data while delivering services. We normally err on the side of collecting more than we need, just to be safe. However, it is estimated that only 3% of the data collected is ever used.

With pressure to spend every minute of our time on delivering better outcomes, having to collect data that may never be used or performing administrative tasks whose fitness for purpose has never been reviewed – this seems like something we can do better.

Making data work for you

Gathering data is all very well, but what counts is how that data is applied. Many organisations have lakes of data that flood in from every part of the organisation, forcing those compiling reports and looking for insight to fish around for the information relevant to their needs.

Getting to grips with your data is essential if you are to make the best use of it and deliver services that are quick, efficient and successful.

You can significantly boost productivity by looking at the way data moves throughout your organisation.

It’s likely that, even with expensive and widely used systems, somebody, somewhere is downloading your data in a spreadsheet for a report, spending valuable time on a process that can be automated.

Small automations can provide gains that really add up over a month – and might be as simple as creating a Microsoft Power Automate process that helps manage reporting requests, automatically sending a form once a month to a set group of people and then consolidating the results into a PowerBI dashboard. Small changes that compound yield big results.

Find out more about the role of digital at levelling up and some practical steps for local councils to take to achieve better placemaking. Download the report here.

The techUK podcast: Innovation in place-based care

In this episode we explore the concept of ‘place’ in care, the principles behind it, the impact of Covid-19 on care delivery, prospects for innovation following the introduction of Integrated Care Systems, examples of industry best practice, and where listeners can go to learn more about ‘place’ and innovation in care.

We were joined by Helena Zaum (Social Care Lead at Microsoft and Chair of techUK’s Social Care Working Group), Scott Cain (Associate at the Connected Places Catapult) and Hannah Groombridge (Healthcare Engagement Manager at Person Centred Software).

This discussion forms part of techUK’s Digital Place Week 2022 activity and features on our recently-launched Social Care Innovation Hub.

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Read techUK's latest flagship report, released on Thursday's 'Health and Wellbeing' day:

Right from the start: What should Integrated Care Systems prioritise to make digital, data and technology work for them and their populations?



Chris Melia

Growth Director, Capita

Chris has worked in digital and business transformation for over 14 years, working primarily in Local Government before joining Capita in 2015. He has successfully led large scale transformation programmes with a focus on people, process and technology within the public sector for the last 10 years and have experience of delivering innovative change that really works in an operational environment.