In their 2016 report, Nesta provided some insights of how councils will need to transform. In their publication – Connected Councils: A digital vision of Local Government in 2025 it sets a vision of where councils might be in 2025, but have we started on this journey?
The report outlines innovative organisational structures, fluid job and working arrangements for council staff, and the strategic use of volunteers to bring digital to everyone. With 2025 less than 10 years away, digital leaders will need to be thinking about how, and if, they could implement some of the changes such as those outlined by Nesta.
Local authorities approach to Digital needs to make our citizens more connected, well informed and able to share their experiences effectively, becoming fully engaged in their communities and empowered to take social action. It gives local authorities the opportunity to deliver on their responsibilities within financial limitations.
The vision of using data to identify local needs, and then bringing specialist teams together to meet that need, makes a lot of sense. Nesta suggest that councils will have become better at identifying which local issues require wider public engagement and those which can be dealt with through smaller expert and elected councillor led teams.
The Nesta vision is exciting, but have leaders fully started thinking about how, and if, we could support some of the changes now and how local authorities will learn from each other during the pioneering years?
In Staffordshire for some time we have promoted providing older people with more information on alternatives to care to facilitate greater levels of self-management. The Nesta report suggests that volunteers could help by visiting older people in their homes.
The idea of volunteers providing such a valuable service is exciting and echoed in our People Helping People agenda, but we also need to think about how we will respond if this service goes wrong, what contingency plans will we have in place and how do we monitor and evaluate?
To achieve the Nesta vision by 2025 Digital leaders need to ensure councils are more data-driven, and have re-focused on facilitating services instead of being providers, resulting in a shift change of delivery. Local authorities will need to enable citizens to be more involved in decision making, and utilising volunteers to support citizens is a key first step.
Head of Customer Service and Digital Leader