Jon Kingsbury - 11.05.2010
Going forward into cash-strapped times, there will be increasing pressure to deliver better public services for less.
This challenge reminds me of the trend over the last decade or so where consumer services have been radically changed by the web.
From banking to entertainment, sites that enable collaboration and on-demand tools have increasingly disrupted traditional services to give the user more choice and control, usually by cutting out the middle-man.
Despite the roll-out of big businesses on the internet, the web remains a space which has huge potential for public good. Some of the most talented UK digital developers are the ones who are beginning to innovate with this potential.
I want to propose that public service innovation has 3 clear generations, analogous to the development of the web:
Public Services 1.0 - transactional services, such as emailing your MP or buying your Tax Disc online.
Public Services 2.0 - opening up public data and linking it in a way that allows others to build useful services. Over time, this data will become increasingly dynamic and hence useful. Data.gov.uk is a great start.
Public Services 3.0 - merging public services with open public data and aggregated user/frontline input to deliver new types of public service. Services like Patient Opinion are moving the NHS towards this.
The problem is that many existing public service providers are not geared up, incentivised or rewarded for experimenting with these new types of services. As Tim Davies points out, there are more than 50 Barriers to effective use of social media and technology in many public organisations.
The trend I’m predicting over the next 3-5 years will be one of our web development community working much more closely with public service providers to deliver 21st century services that put the user and front-line workers at the centre of service design and delivery.
Doing this will not only deliver services which are more tailored, but by putting the emphasis on-demand rather than on-supply could bring significant cost savings.
The challenge is to rapidly make a strong and efficient marketplace between those who commission and those who can build this next generation of public services.