Published on in Public SectorInnovation

If your local council was a business, customer satisfaction would be a mixed bag. While some areas of the public sector have been transformed digitally in recent years, the scale and pace of this change lags behind 21st century expectations for the citizen and consumer. The combination of new technology with our drive and knowledge is changing the environment around us which results in smarter working and smarter places.

Wouldn’t it be great if traffic lights could change according to who’s there? It means if you’re the sole car on the road and stuck at a red light, the traffic light will recognise this and turn green – as oppose to operating on a timer.

This quickens citizens’ time travelling and cuts the amount of emissions exhausted the journey. IoT devices can also be used to monitor vehicle emissions within areas, which helps to plan public transport and road use strategies.

Additionally, IoT sensors solve the issue of finding a car parking space. Around 30% of driving in urban areas in spent looking for parking spaces, which isn’t good for pollution rates. Data can be relayed via these devices so parking availability can be monitored and the data from this used via an app to alert citizens when car parks are full to save time searching.

It’s small practical changes like this that make places smarter. And it’s these smarter places that improve the functioning of eco-systems, the quality of life for citizens, and increase job satisfaction and productivity for all that live and work in them.

Why bring in the robots?

The key to implementing the changes needed for smart places belongs to local councils and public services.

There’s an overarching pressure on the public sector to deliver hundreds of services with a depleting budget, insufficient headcount, political unrest, and increasing demand.

Technology, such as Robotic Process Automation, assists by increasing productivity without recruiting more people, increasing operating hours, and reducing training costs. Technology also helps employees get through the mundane admin tasks quicker, so they’re able to work on the more complex and challenging issues.

However, many public organisations don’t feel they’re able to make this change. In a recent report, 58% of business leaders said  they feel they’re being held back by public nervousness around technology. Some 44% were also worried they’d miss out on the benefits of emerging technology because they hadn’t planned radically enough.

What we’re seeing is that new technology is deemed a double-edged sword. A recent report, commissioned by Fujitsu, shows a 39% drop in public trust toward local councils in comparison to five years ago. This is coupled with only 19% of citizens feeling that their local council is prepared for digital.

So, while it’s important to move at pace and get less for more, we have to ensure that everyone involved in the introduction of new technology understands and is ready for the change.

Implementing smart technology

Local councils are in an evolving environment where they’re having to embrace emerging technology against a background of budget constraints, an unbalanced work-per-head ratio, and ageing systems.

By using multi-cloud, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), public sector employees time can focus on value creation roles which increases job satisfaction and ultimately produces a better service for citizens.

In 2019, there were over 600,000 applications to secondary schools. That meant each application needed to go through an eligibility criterion in order to prioritise who should receive a place at the school. By using automation and AI, schools are able to cut down this processing time, and notify students of their place sooner.

How can this work for my local council?

Emerging technology can be explored and tailored to any organisation or local council. This is why the Fujitsu Digital Transformation Centre exists. We walk customer teams through their areas of special interest and help them to find solutions to their issues within our customised environment.

Fujitsu can also run a full audit of your organisation, in terms of existing processes and systems, in just two weeks. The result from this exercise is a comprehensive report of the tasks that you can consider automating. We can then assist you in implementing the accompanying solutions to enable this.

We believe that our role is to co-create with our customers  to help build digital models across the UK. We want to assist you in your automation journey and realise the benefits of being able to use meaningful data to improve planning, deliver new and better services, and enable you to prioritise issues that matter to your citizens.

You can find out more about emerging technology and how to improve your services by attending one of our RPA roundtables, visiting Fujitsu’s DTC, or reading more here.

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Karen McCann

Karen has worked in IT services sales and delivery for over thirty years and has spent a large portion of this time assisting Public Sector customers. She currently works as a Lead Deal Architect in the Government to Citizen Pre-Sales area of Fujitsu, looking at how technology and services can drive value and business benefit for customers, whilst meeting their future strategic requirements. Karen’s ambition is to help local authorities share their knowledge and expertise and to learn from each other to ensure all citizens have a consistent high quality experience when interacting with their Council.

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