As the most successful parties celebrates the outcome of last week's local government elections, the in-trays of the newly elected councilors will already be quickly filling up. How we can deliver more services for less? In what ways can we harness technology to prevent the culling of key local services? How can we empower citizens to self-help? These questions have already confronted incumbent counsellors for some time and will almost certainly pose new challenges to those recently selected to represent their local communities.
Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any of these issues. We're in the fall-out of an era of austerity, with budget cuts affecting vital citizen services across the country. Many have been reduced in size or scale, some have been cut altogether. Yet, a number of councils have deployed innovative solutions - underpinned by cloud services - to transform the delivery of citizen services.
From the tracking of movement data in busy and congested cities – such as London – for the planning of public transport routes, to the sale of data as a commercial asset, forward-thinking local authorities are changing the game for citizens.
This blog explores just a couple of recent live examples of how some councils are taking that approach one step even further…
Alexa to Help the Elderly
Hampshire County Council is trialing Amazon Alexa in a bid transform the way it cares for its elderly population. More specifically, the local authority plans to use a specialist version of Amazon’s Echo to help older people live more independently. Alexa, which is being developed with Amazon’s Open Support, was introduced to a small number of vulnerable adults in the area on a test basis.
The virtual assistant can be used in many ways to improve the lives of those who are living alone later in life, or those who need additional support due to mobility problems or common ill health. The system could be set up to remind the person to take their daily medication, suggest certain types of exercise, or notify them that their carer will be arriving at a certain time, for example.
Worcestershire County Council’s Smartphone App
With Worcester County Council's app, residents can do numerous activities - from checking waste collection days to keeping up with the latest news. They also provide a dedicated tool for reporting issues such as potholes, streetlight faults, fly-tipping and more.
These kinds of apps are available across multiple local authorities and provide a simple and user-friendly way for citizens to engage with their local council – all while offering a much more enhanced experience than the traditional task of picking up the phone and waiting on hold.
Transforming the Future
All of these examples showcase the potential for tech-enabled citizen services. Yet they all require a healthily managed cloud infrastructure to underpin them. Whether it's via a public, private or hybrid cloud environment, local authorities need to identify the best execution venue for their cloud solutions - and then manage those applications and platforms, so they perform most efficiently.
New and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence or the internet of things (IoT) could well represent the future for citizen services. Today's challenge is to get the infrastructure, software and applications aligned in order to cohesively work together. Our experts can help you do that, harnessing best-in-breed tech to reimagine citizen services.
To find out how CenturyLink can help you on your digital transformation journey, get in touch here.