The digital ambition is a tribute to local government’s breadth of vision
A total of 40 councils have now submitted their bid to win O2’s investment of either £125,000, £75,000 or £50,000 in technology and consultancy to help bring their digital idea to life.
The judging panel of Emma Maier (LGC), Simon Parker (NLGN), Michael Coughlin (LGA), Ben Dowd (O2) and myself will shortlist these bids to six, which will then present their case on 24 July in the hopes of securing a slice of the ‘future fund’.
The Future Fund has encouraged submissions that help join up the council, citizens or community, and will ultimately help drive real change for that authority.
Since the fund’s launch, I have been amazed by the breadth of vision among the sector’s innovators. There has been a real desire to engage, plus numerous and varied ideas. While all are based on digital technology, they are ultimately geared to solving business problems.
Some bids are focused on driving economic growth and engaging more effectively with the business community. Others have a slant towards tourism and the visitor experience. A number of bids have concentrated on how technology could help connect with younger people, and some prioritise health and wellbeing.
Other councils have looked at how they could improve internal efficiency. Some have taken a more external community view. A handful proposed ‘town hall’ projects, and several want to make staff more visible to the communities they serve. All of these ideas are valid, relevant and can be underpinned with digital technology. Deciding on a winner will not be easy.
While local government has some exceptionally ambitious modernisers, the initiative has also highlighted local government diversity.
There is an overlap of themes in the submissions, but also a strong sense of ‘place’ that serves as a timely reminder of the similarities and differences between local authorities. The response to the big questions will be different across cities, boroughs and districts. Thanks to the replies to the future fund, we may come up with a few new answers.
Neil Prior, Head of Local Government Futures Forum, O2
LGC IS SUPPORTING THE FUTURE FUND FROM 02 AS MEDIA PARTNER. LGCPLUS.COM/FUTUREFUND