The Panel to receive an update from Mr. Michael Gates, an independent ICT Consultant, and Mr. Ian Harrison, Corporate Director, on the progress of the digital strategy since the all-Member seminar that was held in September, 2015. The Panel to consider its future role in oversight of the implementation of the strategy.
The Panel welcomed Michael Gates from MGS Consulting Ltd, and Nick Harding, Head of ICT and Facilities Services, who gave a presentation to the Panel updating on the development of the Council’s Digital Strategy and the changes made since the Members’ Seminar in September 2015 (copy available on the website page for the meeting).
By way of introduction, the Panel watched a short video with real-life examples of how digital technology had improved the delivery of public services in Edinburgh from the perspective of both residents and service providers. The key messages included how digital services had enabled enhanced accessibility to services, increased engagement and sharing of information, more personalised services and real-time updates. Significantly, the digital evolution was moving quickly, and local government could achieve significant savings from digitisation.
Michael Gates then outlined the process for the development of, and content of, Rushmoor’s digital vision and its eight supporting digital ambitions. With reference to the points raised at the Members Seminar, the Panel highlighted the need to ensure that no one was ‘digitally excluded’ from services, as there were a large number of people in the Borough who did not access the internet or use mobile devices. It was noted that the Council’s digital ambitions reflected the need to design services to be fully accessible.
The Panel noted that the Digital Strategy itself would be built around six key themes, as described in the presentation, with projects identified within each theme. Nick Harding then outlined the current Phase 1 projects, which included:
· transactional website re-design
· mobile working for frontline services
· channel shift – applications
· Modern.gov - committee papers and members webpages
· Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme
· cyber security
The Panel considered and discussed the content of the proposed digital strategy, and it was asked whether there should be a greater emphasis on income generation. In response, it was stated that while the strategy was focused on delivering service transformation, the introduction of new technology had made a positive difference to income in a number of areas. For example, in the car parks service, a large proportion of parking fines were now paid within a few hours of an offence. Following further discussion, it was advised that the introduction of technology to enable credit card payments in Council owned car parks would be investigated in a future phase.
Panel Members also indicated support for greater use of, and standardisation in accessing, electronic agendas, committee reports and meeting calendars, and it was confirmed that improvements in this area would be delivered through the introduction of Modern.gov software this autumn. In response to a question, it was confirmed that robust IT security arrangements were in place to protect the Council, and that the cost of contracts for cyber security had reduced.
The Corporate Director, Ian Harrison, confirmed that the Panel’s comments would be taken into account as part of the development of the Strategy, and that the approach to public engagement on the Strategy would be carefully considered.
The Panel NOTED progress on the preparation of Digital Strategy.