Reboot Britain: an introduction
Collaborative technologies, which many of us every day to create, share and discuss information, have brought about a profound change in the way we organise and go about our everyday lives. These cheap, ubiquitous technologies have changed the way products and commercial services are delivered and social needs are met.
No longer need we be the passive recipients of a service that has been created for us, because by making it easy for people to create, share and collaborate with others, we now have the opportunity to shape the services we receive.
This will have a significant impact on our public services and the way in which they are delivered, because the application of technology has moved from making routine, mundane tasks easier to strengthening human relationships and enhancing how some services are delivered.
Yet, until now, the public sector has largely resisted this trend. Although you can go online to pay bills such as council tax, make your views known or access a wide range of public data, little has been done to understand how these technologies could support or transform high cost, high anxiety service areas, such as: patients with mental health needs; young people not in education, employment or training; individuals who are disabled or have mobility problems; offenders; families in chronic crisis; and vulnerable children and adults.
Through Reboot Britain, we have sought to test and understand whether collaborative technologies and the principles and behaviours that surround them can change the way public services are delivered to achieve better outcomes, using fewer resources.
Some of the successful early stage prototypes that we supported, such as Buddy, Patchwork and Future You, are starting to scale across the country. These projects illustrate how digital collaborative technologies have the potential to deliver financial savings for public services and achieve improved outcomes for the people that use them.
These platforms, plus the others we have supported, make it easier for citizens and service users to do more for themselves: staff time is used more productively, and the new insights they open up can be used to improve the coordination and effectiveness of service interventions.
Developing and building these tools is relatively easy; successfully implementing them in a frontline service environment, however, is a significant challenge and it is clear this is a space that public service professionals need help negotiating.
In this series of blogs, we will outline a number of the challenges that are frequently encountered when applying collaborative technologies in a public service context. As we will show, those willing to embrace this change and take advantage of the new tools and ways of working they offer, open up the possibility of achieving transformative outcomes for service recipients and providers.