Chapter 2

Using technology to help people live better lives

The role of local government is to enable citizens to live good, prosperous, and more productive lives. At least it is according to the Chief Executive of one local authority who also attaches the same significance to that of technology “What is the purpose of embracing new technology? To help people live better and longer lives.”

Yet most authorities would acknowledge they’re too reactive. A consequence of operating with limited budget and resource. Technology can help here.

Tools such as Power BI allow you to analyse data and create a 360-degree view of each household. Detailing each individual and where they are in the system, can shape how authorities interpret, react, and respond to different situations and events. And go some way to reducing demand.

If something is happening with a child, such as anxiety or behavioural problems, unsurprisingly, what is happening with that child is impacts the entire family and may then guide additional support needs that may not have yet been requested. The key is in aligning systems to purpose and people.

“Post pandemic, I’d love to see local councils become a hotbed and incubator for technology skills development especially with the advent of lowcode/no code platforms and do this in partnership with their IT vendors and suppliers”

Sam Bramwell Head of Public Sector, Microsoft

Enabling people

Using new technology to improve the lives of people also has benefits for local authorities.

Creating a highly skilled talent pool of digital experts enables local authorities to solve challenges to service delivery in-house. Tools such as Microsoft’s Power Platform mean you don’t need to be a developer, or technically minded, to create the solutions you need. Barriers to use – and value – have been removed. And as Sam Bramwell says: “there is no better person to develop an application than those who use the process every day.” This is a point difficult to argue with.

Those working in social care go into it because they want to help improve lives – if they can direct solution development, this could have a profoundly positive on outcomes. Something Microsoft’s Sam Bramwell is keen to see “Often, we have these brainstorming sessions, but we don’t bring the user in, or involve them in actually how to improve delivery. Lately though I’ve seen many smart people become empowered to create new services and we’ve got to continue with that.”

By empowering workers with the tools and skills needed - showing them new technology is not there to take away their jobs, it is going to make their job better - they’ll spend closer to 100% of their time providing the care needed. This rather than overcoming challenges brought on by a lack of capability because, after all, they could be the one’s developing the solutions to solve them.