Putting digital at the heart of service delivery

Source: PSE Apr/May 17

Following the recent Smart Essex Digital Summit, which was hosted by Essex County Council, David Wilde, executive director and chief information officer at the local authority, tells PSE why, in order to prepare for the challenges of the future, his council will ensure that digital plays a central role in the way it delivers public services.

​Our ambition at Essex County Council is to be the UK’s digital leader in public services, so we have put it at the heart of our organisational redesign. We want it to be an integral part of how we engage with partners, improve residents’ lives, ensure the places we live and work meet and exceed the expectations of our communities, and ensure public services deliver the highest quality of standards that people demand. 

Every area, really, is ripe for digital development, and our digital strategy will be based on a wholesale review of the organisation to redefine how we solve problems. Clearly the biggest spending areas should be targeted first, so certainly transport, adult social care and spatial design. But the potential for radical change and a very different way of doing things is significant everywhere. 

Digital strategy development and collaboration 

We will be taking the digital strategy and the supporting delivery plan to our cabinet during the summer, which will then set out how and when we will turn our ambition into reality. 

Collaboration will be crucial to completely redefine our business models in the way we have already seen in retail, some aspects of transport, banking and community engagement. 

With all these cases, disruption has been made possible by putting customers at the centre of the service being provided, rather than the institution. We need to do the same in public services if we are to challenge the history of institutional service provision. 

Equipping the workforce for the 21st century world 

Our workforce will also be better equipped for the 21st century world and focused on delivering where they make the most difference. 

We need to move away from agencies operating in isolation, and instead provide a more seamless experience based on what people need, with agencies blurring in the background. This means our workforce will be delivering alongside others and handing over some responsibility where duplication can be cut out. 

We will also be even more focused on outcomes and market shaping to improve resident experiences at a lower cost. Amazon, John Lewis and the DVLA have fundamentally changed the way they and their markets operate. We need to do the same, but across more challenging markets, including care for vulnerable people, spatial design and development and economic growth, to name a few. 

Our ambition is for Essex to lead the way in identifying the best use for digital services and how they can support how we live and work.


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