Innovation and Efficiency

04.01.17

Unlocking smart capabilities for local authorities

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 17

Matthew Evans, executive director of techUK’s SmarterUK programme, discusses the need for the government to deliver a coherent digital strategy that demonstrates the importance of smart cities that local government and the technology industry can collaborate on to succeed.

Smart cities have the potential to create a better quality of life for citizens, and more inclusive and informed communities across the UK. Local government has a leading role to play in transforming cities and places for all citizens. With technology as an enabler, there is a huge opportunity for local government to redesign how to serve citizens’ rising demands. 

We are already seeing pockets of excellence across our cities – Essex, Milton Keynes, Manchester and Glasgow, to name just a few. However, now is the time to accelerate the pace of transformation. This can be achieved through a collaborative approach working with the technology industry to create more responsive and intelligent public services. 

The squeeze on cities  

In line with global trends, our cities are growing. London, for example, is growing by two tube trains every week. The population is also ageing; the median age of the UK population is over 40, up from 36 years in 1996. This places intense pressure on our services in cities. At the same time, local authorities have squeezed budgets and tough targets, such as reaching our domestic target to reduce emissions by 80% from 1990 levels. And cities also face their own unique challenges – air quality, a transient but demanding student population or inefficient housing stock. 

Why get smart? 

Digital technology can provide citizens with public services that are more responsive and intelligent. By implementing smart technology, services will become more joined-up and it will be easier to manage demand across public services and cities. For example, NHS figures have shown that using telehealth services for patients with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes can reduce A&E attendances by 15% and emergency admissions by 20%. 

Also, automated vehicles, when combined with a smart city platform, have the potential to drastically reduce congestion. This will  improve air quality, lead to productivity increases and help ease congestion, which is set to cost the UK economy more than £300bn by 2030. 

The opportunities are endless if we get this right. Not only will it help regional economic growth, but if the UK can become the exemplar for smart cities, then there is a worldwide market as large as $408bn by 2020 waiting for us. 

Capability to drive transformation 

There is no denying that those local authorities who sit at the heart of the most successful smart cities projects have done so by going through a complex process. Local governments often have universal service obligations with intricate and multiple services to deliver. However, those that have made the investment have found the rewards to be worth it. For example, Exeter and Devon councils were feeling the strain of congested roads and unhappy commuters. Having reviewed the problem, the councils worked closely with technology partners in the development of an Engaged Smart Technology project where real-time data from sensors, eyewitnesses and behavioural information generates accurate congestion updates and immediately act to solve the problems.

In order for any smart city strategy to be a success it must have the capability and buy-in to drive the transformation. Those global cities that are most successful have buy-in from the top and are often accompanied by a chief digital officer. There must be focus on leadership roles, skills for the whole team and capacity, driven by government, to support local government digital transformation. This could take the form of a central body to co-ordinate skills training and support capability-building for local government as a smart community is developed.   

In it together 

Knowledge and information sharing is critical as local governments go on this journey. There should be a unified approach to building smart cities where government and the technology industry work with local government to create the blueprints for digital transformation that others (at home and abroad) can learn from. 

The time is right for smart city investment. Technology can enable local authorities to transform and collaborate, and the technology industry and public sector must work together to deliver a shared ambition. The government also needs to espouse a coherent digital strategy that demonstrates the importance of smart cities that local government and the technology industry can collaborate on to succeed. Working together, the UK will be able to improve quality of life for all citizens, and become a global exemplar for smart city development.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

W: www.techuk.org/focus/programmes/smarter-uk

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Sales of social housing increase 10% on last year as Right to Buy takes hold

24/11/2017Sales of social housing increase 10% on last year as Right to Buy takes hold

The government has released figures showing that 13,400 social housing properties were sold last year under Right to Buy, an increase of 10% on 2... more >
Authorities given powers to recoup 80% of temporary accommodation spending in £70m UC reform

24/11/2017Authorities given powers to recoup 80% of temporary accommodation spending in £70m UC reform

Councils will be able to claim back over 80% of the money they spend on temporary accommodation after the government announced new reforms to the... more >
Living standards set to fall for longest period yet , think tank says

24/11/2017Living standards set to fall for longest period yet , think tank says

Britain is heading for the longest period of falling living standards since records began, the Resolution Foundation has warned this week. In it... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Sales of social housing increase 10% on last year as Right to Buy takes hold

24/11/2017Sales of social housing increase 10% on last year as Right to Buy takes hold

The government has released figures showing that 13,400 social housing properties were sold last year under Right to Buy, an increase of 10% on 2015-16. There was a total of 23,100 sales of ... more >
Authorities given powers to recoup 80% of temporary accommodation spending in £70m UC reform

24/11/2017Authorities given powers to recoup 80% of temporary accommodation spending in £70m UC reform

Councils will be able to claim back over 80% of the money they spend on temporary accommodation after the government announced new reforms to the Universal Credit system. As part of the &pou... more >

the raven's daily blog

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housing measures to changes to business rates. This year’s Statement was described well by Lord Bob Kerslake, who said it had been a “mixed bag” for hous... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Scotland, writes Rebecca Wallace from the local authority&rsqu... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a partnership of 12 councils across Kent and Surrey are jointly funding a ... more >
Delivering on estates

10/11/2017Delivering on estates

Sam Ulyatt, strategic category commercial director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on how a new framework can help public sector organisat... more >
Open for business

10/11/2017Open for business

Clare Moore, senior specialist of valuation and disposals at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), explains how public sector bodies looking to... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Business, tells PSE’s Luana Salles that health and social care orga... more >
HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

26/06/2017HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

Mark Hall, Chief Assurance Officer at Redcentric, discusses NHS Digital’s project, the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and what b... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >

public sector focus

View all News