Empowering Today’s Local Government with Data and Innovation

Author: Martin Bradbury

Martin Bradbury
February 19, 2024

I’ve had plenty of conversations recently across local government, and there’s been a prevailing narrative suggesting that software functionality is on a path to convergence, with the potential outcome being that the only unique asset a council or organisation will possess is its data. While this perspective may hold some truth, it’s imperative to challenge this notion from various angles to see how it fits with your council’s technology roadmap and its current position.

First and foremost, it’s essential to recognise that despite the emergence of new regulatory services and built environment platforms over the past five years, a significant portion of the industry still relies heavily on software systems developed back in the 1980s using largely unsupported or niche code that rely on even the smallest of  changes to be made by the vendor at additional cost.  These legacy systems often lack the flexibility, scalability, and advanced features that modern technologies offer. Therefore, the idea of uniform software functionality across the industry overlooks the diverse landscape of software adoption and usage across local government. In fact, given the current pace of change it will take years for the notion of convergence to become a reality.

Moreover, the value of your council’s data lies not just in its existence but in the ability to effectively leverage and extract insights from it so you as council officers can provide informed outcomes and improved services to those that you have chosen to serve, the public. Your data may indeed be vast, but its potential remains untapped without the right platform to exploit it. This is where the importance of robust and adaptable software solutions comes into play. Organisations need platforms equipped with in-built AI (such as Salesforce Einstein), comprehensive analytics tools that don’t require costly third party software, machine learning capabilities, and genuinely intuitive interfaces to derive meaningful insights and drive informed decision-making wherever officers chose to use them.

In today’s dynamic work environment, characterised by remote working, flexible schedules and on-the-go productivity, the portability of data is paramount. Gone are the days of being tethered to the office desk for five days a week. Officers expect seamless access to data and software functionality regardless of their location or device. Therefore, the focus must shift towards meaningful mobile innovation, ensuring that data accessibility and usability are optimised to allow full access to data, casework, history and workflows on smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices.

When evaluating software providers, it’s essential to inquire about the tools and features they offer to enhance data utilisation and analysis. Beyond basic data storage and retrieval, look for platforms that empower officers to draw better insights and outcomes from their data. This may include advanced visualisation tools, customisable reporting capabilities, predictive analytics, and integrations with third-party applications that are in common use throughout the council.

When considering a new software platform, thorough due diligence is paramount. It’s not just about selecting a vendor or software platform,  it’s about ensuring that their software aligns with your organisation’s requirements and standards. Take the time to investigate.  Is the vendor’s software successfully implemented elsewhere? Does it cater to your specific needs?

Equally important is assessing the level of support provided by the vendor. Look into how other high-performing councils are utilising similar solutions. Investing a little extra effort upfront in research and analysis can yield substantial dividends in the long run, ensuring a smoother and more effective integration of software into your operations.

So In conclusion, while the notion of software functionality convergence and the significance of data are topics worthy of consideration, it’s crucial not to oversimplify the complexities of the modern local government of its required processes. 

Outdated legacy systems, diverse software ecosystems, the imperative of data exploitation, meaningful mobile innovation, and advanced analytics all contribute to a nuanced understanding of how organisations can thrive in today’s digital era. 

By challenging conventional wisdom and embracing innovation, Our local government partners can harness the full potential of their data to drive growth, efficiency, and competitive advantage.