03 May 2023

Talking 5 with Local Public Services Member Dispace

This month's Talking 5 guest is Ross Cox, Co-Founder, Dispace

Each month, techUK's Associate Director for Local Public Services, Georgina Maratheftis, interviews a member active in the local government space about their vision for the future of local public services and where digital can make a real difference to people and society. This month we talk to Ross Cox, Co-Founder, Dispace about the role that digital plays in communities using local government facilities and services.


Welcome Ross. Firstly, tell me more about you, your career and how you got to this position today?

I love coaching my children’s football teams and going to live music.  Those things, and the people I do them with, make me happy.

I think life is simple in some ways.  It’s about trying to do as many things that make you feel good as possible and limit negative experiences.

I spent a big chunk of my career in financial services, and I was never entirely at ease with whether we were doing anything positive.  When I started Dispace I had a simple mantra, I wanted to do work that people believed was of value to them and that they felt good about interacting with.

We saw an opportunity in local government for technology to be used for communities to use local government facilities and services in a way that enhanced that experience for the council provider and the end user.

Our Switch software digitises booking and related processes to provide efficiency, community and revenue benefits to local government customers, and a great service for local people.

I’m happy when our work is valuable and helpful to people, and it has a positive impact on their day so they can do the things they love without feeling frustrated.

What is the greatest opportunity for local government when it comes to digital?

Tech is an enabler.  It should be the thing that deals with all the transactional, simple stuff, so that the valuable interactions rely on amazing, unique human beings.

People spend far too much time doing low value activity that technology is perfectly capable of handling, and sacrifices are made with opportunities and ambitions because there isn’t the headspace to get to them.

If you can find, book, and manage your access to ALL council facilities and services online, through your own customer portal to support your queries, manage your payments and capture your feedback so many manual processes would be removed.

This single view of customer would simplify how the community interacts with local government and shift the effort from query management to service delivery and enhancement.

We see so many amazing assets underutilised, and capable colleagues overwhelmed by admin when the issue is not the services themselves, but the way in which they are accessed.

The greatest opportunity is not the digital solution itself, but the possibilities that it affords from more time, process improvement and engagement levels.

What is your vision for the future of local public services and places?  

I believe in matching local demand with local supply.  We want the communities we live in to be appealing places with access to the services we need and experiences we crave.

We want to have what we need on our doorstep, so we feel good about spending time where we live.

We also desire our local services to be provided by local people in an ecosystem where our money is being reinvested in the community in a virtuous circle.

In our village we raised community shares to buy our failing pub from the brewery.  It is now the heartbeat of where we live, a success story for the local tenants, employees, and suppliers it works with.

With our clients we are working to facilitate this ethos by creating a network of local suppliers for the meetings and events people book so that the value they are generating for the council and the money being spent by the community is being leveraged to create more local value.

Entertainers, caterers, travel providers all benefitting from local government digitising access to their facilities.

The future of places is people wanting to spend time in them because the local service proposition is strong.

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.

If you’d like to learn more about techUK, or want to get involved, get in touch.

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