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The Digital South Glos programme

We have started a programme of work looking at how we can make more of our services available online and how we can use technology to improve the services we offer.

Most people now use internet banking for all but the most complex transactions. Most of us are used to purchasing items, tracking their delivery and reporting any issues via online personal accounts. Residents of South Gloucestershire have told us they expect a similar joined up, personalised digital service from the council.

We believe this work will deliver significant benefits for local residents and businesses, by making it quicker and easier to engage with the council. It will also help us improve our internal processes, allowing us to do what we do more efficiently and cost-effectively.

How will you benefit?

Projects like this do need significant upfront investment in new technology and technical development. Councillors have agreed a budget of up to £5m over the course of the multi-year programme to pay for specialist expertise which we do not have in-house. This investment will enable us to use new technologies to become a more responsive organisation, with services redesigned around residents’ needs. It will deliver benefits for residents, businesses, staff and the whole council over a number of years, including:

  • streamlined and more easily accessible common transactions
  • improved communication, including new ways of contacting the council like web chat
  • access to your council services from a single customer account

Specifically, we will create easy-to-use services that are accessible online. Residents, businesses and our staff will be able to complete routine interactions and transactions quickly and track their progress via an online account, a similar experience to you currently get with online retailers and banks.

We will also be looking to how technology can improve the services we offer, so for example one of the first projects we will be looking at is harnessing the potential of social media to make it easier for dog owners to be reunited with their lost pets.

Shouldn’t this money be spent on services?

The money is being spent on improving services. It will enable us to become a more customer-centric organisation and deliver efficiencies, reducing the cost of providing services, therefore minimising future cuts to service provision.

This is an ‘invest to save’ initiative, through which we will recoup our investment quickly. We estimate it will help us deliver overall net savings in the region of £3m per annum.

Before embarking on this programme, we sought the views of residents, who consistently highlighted areas where we were not currently meeting their needs. For example you told us:

  • I want to tell you something once and not have to repeat this when I interact with you in the future.
  • I want to be proactively informed on the progress of my request, application or on-going issue.
  • I want to interact with you online, but I need to have greater confidence that my online requests will be dealt with in a timely manner.

This investment will help us meet these needs.

 Get involved

We want you to help us make these changes happen. Find out more about how you can get involved.

When will I start to see improvements?

A major programme of work has begun which will realise benefits over a number of years. The programme has been planned to deliver benefits as early as possible, prioritising areas of greatest potential for improving customer experience and delivering efficiencies. We will release new services regularly, as they are developed, so you will start to see improvements very soon.

Will there be a facility for people who can’t/don’t want to access services online?

Ensuring we continue to cater for the needs of those who do not have direct access to a computer, tablet or smartphone is essential to us and we will continue to offer offline access to our services. We are also looking at a potential role for advocates, whether they be family members or council appointed.

How will you ensure my data is secure?

The council already needs to collect, process and store information about residents and businesses in order to perform its functions. We are fully committed to maintaining the security of this data in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

Find out more about how we ensure the security of your data.

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