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Local government is running out of time to think about how to make services better and prototype options. There is a greater need to take a radical approach and everyone needs to act.

What future do we want?

It’s a truism to say people feel disenfranchised with democratic structures and leaders, voting for any kind of change rather than staying with old models.

Meanwhile technological advance means many tools we’ll use in 2028 won’t even exist in 2019. Data will increasingly be the currency of choice. And homes are becoming more and more automated via Google and Amazon.

But rather than bring us together, access to technology is seen as separating us further. It’s a dismal glimpse at what could be a dystopian future. There is hope, but fulfilling that requires bold leadership. …

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In July 2018, we hosted the latest NLGN Innovation Exchange at our London office. Participants from local authorities came together to discuss how we transform the relationship between councils and their residents for the better.

Since 2008, FutureGov has explored the ways we can improve engagement between councils and the people they serve. Either through communication channels, the services delivered or the way councils work with communities, building strong relationships is an important way of creating lasting change.

Not all local needs are the same

The need to create better public services is clear. A cut and paste approach to service delivery doesn’t work.

We must work hard to understand local needs in different ways because the priorities from one place to the next are not always the same. By taking a place-based approach to solving problems, we can uncover the different obstacles councils face in their areas. Whether it’s supporting leadership buy-in across partner organisations, or building collaborative relationships with communities to better understand local challenges, we need to find the opportunities to create sustainable change. …

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Rural bus services are often a lifeline for citizens. Through our work over the last year, we’ve met with communities who rely on these services. They include families who require access to jobs, schools and childcare. They include young people just starting their career, older people who need access to shops and friends, and those with disabilities who need support to move freely.

The stark reality of public sector cuts is that many non-statutory, rural transport services are at risk of being cut. With cuts comes the very real truth of alienating communities and negatively impacting the economy.

It’s time for something different

FutureGov has been working alongside Suffolk and Essex Councils to understand the needs of residents to access rural transport and understand the opportunities available. …

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This post comes in response to a flurry of posts about the emerging use of low code platforms in parts of UK local government.

At FutureGov, we try to remain technology agnostic when working with councils, because we realise that one size does not fit all. Though, we advocate strongly for open source and open standards wherever possible.

We recognise that many of the proprietary software providers and their commercial off-the-shelf solutions (COTS) are widespread across local government, playing important roles in the foundation of running our public services. Yet, that isn’t to say that all COTS solutions are born equal. There is an emerging breed of solution referred to as ‘low code’. …


Matthew Skinner

Managing Director @futuregov interested in all things #localgov #opendata #digital #design

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