01 Jul 2021

Civica: Transforming public services in a data-rich world

Throughout the pandemic, the public sector has overcome huge challenges. Despite living through the most disruptive period in a generation, our public services have been at their best and most innovative. We’ve witnessed just how important technology is in connecting local and global communities. Using digital tools to collaborate and partner across local government, suppliers, voluntary organisations and the community has proved vital to deliver services to those most in need.  

UK Digital Minister Oliver Dowden said that the pandemic has: “Turbocharged the digital transformation of almost every part of our days,” as technology played such an essential role in keeping us working and connected. So as we move closer to normality, these are some of the key tech trends which we see continuing to transform public services for everyone’s benefit.  

Blended experience between physical and virtual worlds 
For many of us, our homes will remain a part-time office. As a result, we’re seeing an increased demand for technologies to deliver and enable consumption of public services, anytime, anywhere. Automation and conversational AI will continue to provide initial triage, freeing up human support for those who really need it. Being able to seamlessly blend these physical and virtual environments will continue to be key for improving the overall citizen experience and public service resilience. 

Contactless everything 
The pandemic has both accelerated the cashless agenda and prompted a further move towards a contactless society. As the pandemic lifts, we’ll want more. We’re already seeing an increase in technologies to help us access services and entertainment with less physical contact – whether using our mobiles for more interaction with public services, or non-touch devices to monitor our health and pay for goods. 

AI + Human Collective Intelligence  
Collective actions have been a vital part of the response to the pandemic, sharing intelligence and connecting experiences to solve problems. In the post-Covid world, we’ll see the use of AI to assist this human collective intelligence; enhancing our capacity to make decisions, adapt and learn. By embracing this approach, our collective potential is limitless. 

Improving experience 
The pandemic has intensified citizen expectations and galvanised demand for more digital public services. People are more aware of what can be done online, more comfortable in doing so, and increasingly critical of those not meeting those expectations. With a more tech-savvy population across all age groups, it will be vital for public services to further digitise and improve the experience for everyone. 

The datafication of me, the internet of us 
Which brings us to data. We live in a data rich world, and one that continues to grow at exponential rates. But we also live in an era where we can better understand and use that data for the greater good. A doctor tending to a patent in hospital for instance, can now access their entire medical history at the click of a button, rather than having to rely on basic information on a paper chart.  

Digitally-enabled public services, fuelled by high quality, carefully managed data, can better adapt and respond to our needs and preferences as citizens and provide earlier interventions for those most in need. The coming years will continue to see a trend towards ever more personalised, innovative services and care… the internet through us, and the internet for us. How quickly we get there however, will depend upon how successfully we can harness the wealth of data which exists. 


This article was written by Liz O’Driscoll, Head of Innovation at Civica. Liz O’Driscoll is a strategic leader with two decades' experience working in systems engineering, open innovation, and change management for the public, private sector and third sector. Passionate about finding solutions to wicked problems, she forms strong relationships to integrate new processes and technologies to drive lasting impact.

Liz has recently curated the Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan for Exeter City Council; an example of a whole city collective response to the challenge of climate change and the desire to create a better place to live. This plan is being used to restart the Exeter economy in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more...

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