A ground-breaking event has challenged the way local government thinks about digital technologies in providing services to citizens.

The event was delivered by Scotland Excel, the centre of procurement expertise for Scottish local government sector, in partnership with the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government. It featured keynote speakers from local government and industry experts. Delegates also took part in interactive sessions which explored the power of new technologies and discussed their application in a local government environment.

The sessions focused on three key areas which have the potential for a range of applications across local authority services:

Business Insights: How real-time information from multiple sources across the council can be brought together to support short-term tactical responses and long-term strategic decision making.

Digital Accounts: How a citizen’s identity can be verified remotely, in a secure online environment, enabling councils to improve the efficiency of their processes and provide convenient access to services for citizens.

Case Workers: How mobile staff working with citizens in the community, can be provided with remote access to case work files and the ability to record and upload new data during visits.

The event was hosted by leading technology company, DXC, which provided access to its Digital Transformation Centre, allowing delegates to visualise and accelerate their organisation’s digital transformation journey.

Martyn Wallace, Scottish local government’s Chief Digital Officer, said: “Digital for us means user by design, technology by default, not the other way around. The challenge we see in a lot of businesses – private and public – is that a new technology becomes available and they try to create a business out of the technology, rather than looking at the problem they want to solve first. The Digital Office is a proponent of the Scottish approach to service design, which is focused on making the most of user stories and research in designing technology that can improve certain pain points.

“Digital is the last lever local government can pull to get the savings and efficiencies they need. The fact is no-one will ever truly deliver ‘digital’; however, the transformation we are seeing is as much an evolution as well as revolution. It is about putting digital solutions all the way through the business. This means frontline staff having the right tools, equipment and data to help them make better decisions in the field, as well as collecting that data to help senior managers make improvements elsewhere.”

Martyn Wallace will be speaking at FutureScot’s Digital Scotland Conference in Glasgow on 30 May.

Hugh Carr, Head of Strategic Procurement at Scotland Excel commented: “Collaboration is central to digital transformation in local government. This event was designed to help delegates think about how new technologies can be applied to service delivery and help them take a significant step forward in specifying their system requirements. As the Centre of Procurement Expertise, we are working with the Digital Office to implement a range of innovative procurement approaches which will provide access to partners that can deliver the right digital solutions for the local government sector.”

Carr added: “Local authorities have been facing unprecedented challenges in recent years.  They are balancing a real terms funding cut of 9.6% over the last eight years with increasing demand, particularly from a growing older population. For some time, councils have been asked to do more in terms of service delivery with less resources. Now more than ever, there is need to increase focus on business transformation, consider new ways of delivering services, and work with communities to provide digital access to services for citizens. That is why finding ways to harness the power of digital technology is so important.

“We need to work together to embrace the opportunities that the digital agenda brings. Collaboration within local government IT is being driven by the Digital Office and supported by Scotland Excel and is definitely encouraging a shift from legacy systems to new ways of working. Councils are increasingly learning and benefiting from each other as digital transformation becomes more and more integral to their service areas.”

Read about local government digital transformaton in FutureScot Magazine in The Times Scotland: Download PDF.