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Guest blog: Emerging technologies will have an increasing role to play

Miles Gabriel, Esri UK Lead on Smart Communities and Collaboration, discusses three capability areas that offer the potential for significant return-on-investment as...

Emerging technologies will have an increasing role to play within the ‘Council of the Future’. 

Government will continue to define the statutory duties placed on Councils, but technology must play a significant role if these duties, and the aspirations of Council leaders and staff, are to be delivered successfully.

MHCLG’s Local Digital programme provides a useful proxy for understanding Council’s digital aspirations.  It is a “…nation-wide movement to support the delivery of excellent digital local public services.” In October this year the fund received 389 Expressions of Interest for collaborative projects from 171 organisations (~45% of English local authorities). 

What do these applications tell us about Council’s aspirations for the future?

Open Data

Despite the large number of datasets published by government as Open Data, it is clear that more needs to be done, as highlighted in the 4th European Open Data Maturity Landscaping report.

Over time Councils have become more proactive in their data publication, due in no small part to the Local Government Transparency Code.  However, much of this data is published as static data tables or pdf documents buried in Council websites.  The data is also often restricted to just that specified by the Code, i.e. salaries, expenditure, contracts and assets.

To fulfil Open Data’s promise of driving economic benefit, enhancing trust in government and supporting data-driven public services, Councils must publish data beyond that specified by the Code and in a more intelligent manner.  Councils must embrace modern technology to provide data services, for example using language independent APIs or dashboards, that meet best practice guidance regarding reusability, discoverability and interoperability.

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