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Where's LocalGov Digital?

Where would you base a LocalGov Digital service or network, a practitioner group that's aligned with local government's sector-led improvement agenda?

London? Edinburgh? Manchester? Birmingham?

People often refer to Local Government but in truth they should probably say Local Governments. This is because each Local Government has a unique political make-up, voted for by the residents of the respective Parish, District or County.

Decisions about local public services and how they're delivered are made by elected representatives, locally. This means that each have a different set of services and objectives.

Local Governments also consult on thousands of issues each year, and the results can vary by area. This also affects the services that they provide and how they deliver them.

As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for digital services, given no council is alike.

I've often read things like, "I worked in Local Government for five years, I know about it.". Unless you work in a Local Government now, you don't.

Cuts to funding, redundancies and shared services have changed things radically in the past couple of years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Not a criticism, just a statement of fact.

So, getting back to the question, where's LocalGov Digital? It's in London, in Hackney and Camden, but it's also in Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Derbyshire, Kent , Kirklees, Lichfield,  Liverpool, Monmouthshire, North Yorkshire, South Cambridgeshire, Surrey, Swansea Walsall and West Berkshire

In fact it's promoting innovation in every local authority (as someone clever than I from Derbyshire once said) because that's where the decisions on local services are made and that's where the expertise to deliver them is.

Comments

  1. I agree with everything you've typed except, "no one-size-fits-all solution for digital services, given no council is alike".

    No central government, agency or arms length body is alike. Yet many of them now share a common digital home; https://www.gov.uk/government

    I've even reignited discussions about a single, secure, cloud based email solution for government, i.e. first.last@gov.uk

    400+ local governments in the United Kingdom means 400+ different digital user experiences, levels of service and support contracts (for those who have outsourced).

    In reality, many of local government's users have similar queries, e.g. when will my bins be collected or how do I pay my council tax.

    With an increasingly transient population, wouldn't it make sense for common services to share a common platform, e.g. gov.uk/local

    Having looked at over half of all local governments websites, I know there is massive disparity between user experiences and service offerings. It seems logical to me that we continue to do something about this, with or without a local government digital service.

    We're having a bash at this in Project Maple, which you can access via http://j.mp/projectmaple

    By the way, I worked in local government for 5 years. They were without doubt the most infuriating and eye opening years of my life. I look forward to return to localgov(s) with fresh eyes and new knowledge.

    James Arthur Cattell
    http://cattell.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your reply. You make some good points but I can seem some problems that would need to be resolved before things like "when will my bins be collected" could be hosted on a gov.uk site.

    1) There's no cost saving. LAs would still need to maintain their own CMS for promoting initiatives and information specific to them.

    2) It's more work. Waste or Comms teams would need to learn another CMS to update which would take up more of their time. They'd update it infrequently so it'd be hard to retain the knowledge of using it.

    3) There seems no appetite for gov.uk to link to LA sites. Often people are sent to a general page on a LA site after seeking out a specific task on gov.uk, for example https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-performance-licence/reading

    4) The data would still have to be held locally as it's included in a "My Area" type page on many LA sites, for example http://www.reading.gov.uk/myreading/

    5) The system would need to be updates hour by hour in times of extreme weather. Not a huge problem as it could be designed to do this, but (2) comes into play again at a time when Waste and Comms teams are most stretched.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good points Phil.

    Agreed; 2 content management systems would make things worse, not better. How do you provide a common platform for multiple local governments, without introducing extra work?

    Fascinating :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Web services? GOV.UK could request the appropriate content in a standard way from the respective local gov site? Each local gov site could do what they wanted then in whatever dumbass way so long as they published it via a service in the right way. The fall back if the web service didn't deliver is to link to the local gov site as they do now.

    You could then potentially in time move local govs onto some standardised platform.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good idea Ben. First of all someone would need to create or adapt a data standard, like Open311 but for binfo.

      Whoever created this would need to consult with all local authorities to create something fit for purpose as each offer a slightly different service, do different things on Bank Holidays and so on.

      It would also need to cater for real time updates of disruption to services.

      Delete

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