Councils ‘responding to demand for mobile services’

More than four in five UK councils have implemented strategies to use technology to better engage with the public, according to research.

A study, carried out for wireless network supplier Xirrus, found that 84 per cent of ICT leaders in local authorities say they are seeing growing demand among citizens for digital services such as mobile apps.

Respondents to a survey carried out by the firm said that 88 per cent of respondents believe that their organisation needs to become a digital business to better engage service users, with over four in five (84%) now focusing on the use of technology to connect with the public.

“The explosive growth in the use of smartphones and other connected devices, especially amongst younger generations, means that more people expect to engage organisations through digital channels first and foremost,” said Duncan Fisken, vice president of EMEA at Xirrus.

“Despite the challenges outlined, our research indicates that progressive IT leaders within local government are forging ahead as best they can to realise their digital vision.” 

The Smarter Digital Services study carried out interviews with 140 UK-based IT decision-makers from local government organisations.

Budget reductions were identified as the biggest hurdle to ICT transformation, with 34 per cent raising the issue.

This was closely followed by dated legacy ICT systems (29%) and a lack of appropriate resources to deliver projects (20%). 

Despite these challenges, three quarters (74%) have a strategy concerning the implementation of new technologies and 63 per cent are confident in the ability of their department to deliver significant IT-led innovation within their organisation.

When asked about the types of technologies local authorities require to develop the organisation, e-transactions (52%), wireless networking (49%), business intelligence tools (42%), and core ICT infrastructure, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools (41%), were ranked highest. Almost half of organisations (45%) have already invested in wireless networking, 30 per cent have focused on e-transactions and 26% have prioritised core IT infrastructure.

The survey found that ICT leaders believe digital can be a key method of building more trust with their service users.

The largest proportion hope to build trust with better engagement via social media (83%), while 75 per cent would like a standard online payment service and 63 per cent say that mobile apps for council services would help.

Four in five (80%) also said that crowdsourcing might help deliver better services.

Matt Service, chief technology officer at mobile services provider Nine23, said: “As more consumers rely on mobile devices it’s absolutely vital that local authorities adapt their technologies to keep up with the pace of change that is taking place within the wider marketplace.”

Colin Marrs

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