With legal responsibilities and demand having increased, resources reduced, and the mechanisms designed to balance the two leaving an increasing gap, Government is focused elsewhere. Yet the pace of change is frenetic and doesn’t wait for us to catch up.
The world is in the grip of a ‘digital tsunami’, with a great deal of fossilisation and redundancy being built in to our use of new technology. The commonplace today, from the delivery of medicines by drones on automatic pilot to self-parking cars, was the stuff of science fiction ten years ago. New possibilities are presenting themselves, with some threats, but a deal of opportunity.
Never has local government’s ability to innovate and transform been more important with the opportunity to look afresh at all the things it does and doesn’t do. But with the future is arriving in bits and we require new strategies and models of service delivery to exploit it effectively.
We need to exploit our unique geography and deep local knowledge to support our populations to build resilience and better meet their own needs and in the process move from being a service provider to a community enabler, recognising and being comfortable with not having all the answers, but seeking to fully utilise the immense potential of our population to best effect.
This new approach needs local government to become intelligent, rethink what services it delivers, create capability, whilst continuing to deliver essential services on a day to day basis. But it needs to do this in the context of where the ‘digital and technology’ will take our localities.
As with all success we needs a shared vision for our geographic areas, co-created with its communities, with true alignment of the vision with the way resources are deployed across our geographies, working in partnership with all stakeholders, (including the myriad of innovative small companies that often have little or no access to the local government market place, because of the complexities of public sector procurement) drawing on best practice as building blocks for local approaches, taking every opportunity to build community resilience and sustainability.
There are immense challenges to these approaches and it is essential that local government utilises its assets to best affect, and fights to channel Government’s research and investment capacity into solving the real issues facing people on the ground such as refuse, not sexy, but an essential service with significant ongoing challenges.
iESE’s research to date is designed to help local government navigate this process avoiding the pitfalls and leveraging what is possible to make a difference that builds towards a sustainable future. We are holding a session on our newly published Digital and Local Public Services white paper at the Solace Summit on 17th October, read more about getting involved here: www.iese.org.uk/events/solace-summit-2019
Written by John Comber, Chairman of Solace in Business, Co-Author of the iESE white paper on a Digital and Local Public Services