Council of the Future (Guest blog by Amazon Web Services)
At Amazon Web Services, we believe technology will play a critical role in enabling local authorities to achieve the best outcomes for the residents and service users, now and in the future.
To achieve this, while meeting the challenges of increasing demand and reducing resources, there are five key areas the council of the future will need to focus on:
- Using data effectively
- Engaging and empowering citizens
- Digitalising and automating services
- Enhancing skills
- Increasing sustainability
Using data effectively
Local authorities deliver services that impact every stage of citizens’ lives. Using data effectively will enable councils to make interventions earlier, leading to better outcomes and more cost-effective services.
Hackney Council used cloud services to analyse its data and better serve residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. The council compiled data from a broad range of sources, including housing benefit, council tax, housing, and social care data. By analysing this data, the council was able to identify local people most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the crisis and ensure that council teams could take the necessary steps to provide support to these residents.
Engaging and empowering citizens
It is important for councils to ensure they can offer a broad range of contact options to the citizens they serve.
Omnichannel cloud contact centres make it possible to use custom channels to send messages through third-party services, while improving customer service agent productivity and customer experience.
Northumberland County Council used this approach when it needed to modernise its legacy on-premises contact centre. Within four months, the council went from proof of concept to operating a fully functional contact centre in the cloud. Taking this approach has allowed the council to enhance communications with its 316000 citizens, take more calls, and provide a higher quality of service. The solution is highly scalable and operates at higher reliability than the previous on-premises contact centre, which saw frequent downtime.
Digitalising and automating services
Swindon Borough Council has transformed the way in which citizens report fly tipping and related issues. Whereas previously citizens would need to use a webform, they can now report problems using photos and map locations. The system automatically analyses submitted requests to allocate the correct resources to the job, and also to prioritise the collection of harmful waste. The new system has seen average clean-up times fall from over 10 days to just four, and a 98% satisfaction rate among those who have used the service.
Councils will need to invest in the skills of their staff to ensure they can take advantage of digital technology. Upskilling both technical and business teams will increase resilience in local authorities, while ensuring both service and digital teams understand the transformational potential of cloud services.
Councils can also take steps to grow their skills base locally. This not only helps achieve their economic development goals, but can help improve their own organisational talent pipeline. For example, Westminster City Council used the AWS re/Start programme to provide free, full-time, classroom-based skills development and training to local people, particularly those who were unemployed or from underrepresented groups.
Climate change is a pressing issue for local authorities and improving their sustainability is therefore a priority for many.
Utilising cloud services will form an important part of ensuring councils can achieve carbon net zero. Studies by 451 Research have shown that AWS’s infrastructure is up to five times more energy efficient than the average data centre in Europe.
Local authorities are at the frontline of public services. Through technology, we know we can help local authorities to continue to deliver for their residents now and in the future.
techUK's Local Public Services Innovation Week 2023
A curation of guest blogs looking at how we create the conditions for innovation to thrive in local government and create the council of the future.
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