Future Gazing: Where Next for Local Government Tech in 2022?

Reflections on the digital trends of the past year and predictions for 2022

2022: Year of data, transparency and interoperability

Every December, techUK’s Local Public Services Programme holds its annual future gazing event which is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the achievements of digital local government of the past year.

We were delighted to welcome a fantastic array of speaker across local, national government and industry who shared their reflections on the key digital trends and predictions for 2022!

Local Gov spends circa £1.8bn annually on tech

First up we heard from Gus Tugendhat, Founder, Tussell who shared some great data insights and visualizations on the size of the market, the biggest buyers, and from which regions. Local Government has spent £10.5bn on tech since 2016, an average £1.8bn per year. 64% of the total has been spent on tech by local government bodies outside London and the South East. A positive picture also for SMEs as they have increased their market share of local government direct tech spending to nearly 30%. Gus stressed that with £845m of live contracts coming up for renewal in the next 24 months it’s crucial that tech suppliers pre-engage.

Partnering for success

Henry Harris-Burland, VP of Marketing, Starship Technologies shared his experience of working with local government in the roll-out of delivery robots. Their robots focus on short local deliveries. The pandemic has led to more people ordering deliveries, whether that’s from supermarkets or deliveries. The autonomous robots have offered people convenient new services that improve everyday life, whilst also reducing congestion.

Henry stressed that partnering with local government is key to its success and encouraged councils to work with start-ups on trials. Milton Keynes and Northampton were referenced as areas embracing emerging technologies and their robots have become part of everyday life there. That is because of the close relationship with councils in helping to build trust, transparency across the community to ensure residents and citizens feel comfortable with the technology.

Power of data and increase use of low-code

May-N Leow, Head of Local Digital Collaboration Unit and Digital Planning Strategy Lead, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shared her reflections from the past year. May-N set the scene by introducing the cornerstone of the Unit’s work which is the Local Digital Declaration, a shared vision for local public services. The Declaration now has 254 council signatories.

May-N first reflection was the power of data being used to help the most vulnerable. Eighteen months on local authorities are taking on what they have learnt in sharing and using data to the next level and have seen some exciting projects develop as a result. The next reflection is low code use is increasing in the low government space. May-N said this could be due to low-code development platforms maturing and offering a middle ground as it is not as risky. As such one their latest funding rounds focused on low-code.

Future of local public services

Our final speaker was Aruj Haider, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Westminster City Council who outlined her vision of the future of local government. Aruj’s view is that the role of local government is one of matchmaker. Councils know what the problems, and this is something they must continue investing time in understanding before finding solution. Given their role as place shapers they can matchmake the problem to the right partners. Aruj shared Westminster journey to becoming the council they want to be known for and the outcomes they’d like to achieve. Key to this is effective collaboration with citizens and partners. One of Aruj’s key asks to suppliers is for them to understand the context of local government, help guide them and challenge councils to do things differently.

And the predictions from our speakers for 2022 are…

  • Autonomous delivery will become a more regular sight on multiple pavements in this country in as local gov becomes more comfortable with new technology use across our communities.
  • Data-driven policy becoming the norm.
  • Radically different operating models to meet user needs.
  • Open data, infrastructure and interoperability key driver for national and local government and suppliers championing and embedding this will be future proofing their organisation and services.
  • Tech suppliers coming together and collaborating to solve problems and demystifying technologies.
  • Local government leading the way in innovation, but first they must seize the moment!

Watch the full recording below which includes key asks to suppliers too.

Share your local government tech predictions using the hashtag #techUKLPSFutureGazing

Georgina Maratheftis

Georgina Maratheftis

Associate Director, Local Public Services, techUK

Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services

Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.

Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.

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