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Now is the time for councils to push digital services

Councils have been in the spotlight recently over their reportedly slow adoption of cloud technology. Despite the government’s 2013 ‘Cloud First’ policy, 80% of local authorities are said to rely on systems stored on-premises to handle citizen data. However, it’s not too late for them to bring their technology up to date. In fact, now might be the perfect time.

Support for change

A recent survey by Phoenix Software of 100 IT leaders in local government found broad support for change. 72% sought modernisation of data storage, 75% said improving data analysis is necessary and 87% want to see more IT applications available to remote workers and workers ‘in the field’.

These kind of improvements are likely to involve cloud technology, both for data storage and the running and delivery of applications. In smaller municipalities and rural areas, it may even mean improving WiFi infrastructure.

Best practice examples

Many councils may remain wary of the challenges this presents. However, the examples of several trailblazing local authorities have been analysed in an academic study, published in the journal Information Systems Frontiers, and there are plenty of lessons for those following suit.

For example, central government's use of cloud technology is considered to have matured, and offers both examples and assistance. This is particularly so via the 'Government as a Platform' model, an approach which has already helped encourage many local authorities to successfully implement GOV.UK Notify and GOV.UK Pay.

Funding for change

With tight budgets, it may still seem a tricky time to introduce such things. Even stats that forward-thinking councils like Wokingham are saving up to £4m per year with cloud-based technology don’t help when it comes to bridging startup costs.

Fortunately, there is one area where assistance is still available: public WiFi. Technology giants like Nuvias and Nokia have been actively encouraging councils to apply for EU funding for public WiFi systems until Brexit comes into effect. By visiting the WiFi4EU portal, local authorities can seek ‘vouchers’ worth €15,000 each towards the cost of installing the infrastructure.

It’s also important to continue to maximise existing revenue streams – which means reclaiming unpaid council tax and business rates has never been more important. For information about how Dukes Bailiffs can help do so in a timely and sensitive manner, contact one of our operators today.

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