Local governments had to quickly adopt new digital tools to engage, communicate and collect data in 2020. While technology had already been shifting, the pandemic initiated a real-world case study of what digitally-enabled local government could look like. As citizens have spent more time in their local areas, they’ve been looking to make the most of their local services and amenities. They’re now expecting to be more involved in the decisions that shape their local areas, while being able to access more services online. The ‘new normal’ in the aftermath of COVID-19 offers opportunities – and adds new pressure – for local governments to accelerate their digital community engagement.
Community-as-a-service for local government is all about improving digital connection and using this to strengthen civic engagement and trust within communities.
Areas of focus moving forward:
- Optimising self-service and digital access
79% of citizens expect their main interactions with their council to be through self-service technologies in the next five years.
- Connecting via social media
Social media is a vital form of contactless communication, with 47% of citizens saying they’ll primarily use social media to connect with their local council in the future.
- Supporting staff
Staff expect more flexibility and mobility in the wake of COVID-19 to help them carry out their roles. Browser-based access, mobile apps and self-service improvements can all support this.
- Encouraging engagement
Citizens perceive a future where they’re more likely to participate in local decision-making: for example, 64% expect to engage with their local council on local issues over the next five years. Technological change can be planned accordingly.
- Assuring citizens about data safety
While citizens expect their council to improve community services via digital technologies, only 28% completely trust their council to manage data. Robust data policies and infrastructure can provide peace of mind.
- Adapting to financial pressure with innovation
Councils are facing budget constraints, even as they’re called upon to deliver on millions of dollars in infrastructure projects. The streamlining of routine processes and workflows is now a necessity for efficiency and agility.
- Easing the transition between legacy and new systems
Our Changing Landscapes research has identified the need to develop internal digital capability during change – that is, upskilling staff to understand the implementation, risks and value of new systems.
Solutions to consider
Authority Altitude for local government, to transform customer engagement and service delivery.