How could councils use digital technology to improve life for their residents, businesses and communities? We’ve imagined the future of local government in a series of case studies on what life could be like for citizens in 2025. Find out more about our vision for local government in our report, Connected Councils.
Martin is in his 70s and far from being a ‘digital native’.
His former job as a bus driver didn’t require him to use a computer and he was never taught how to use one. Though he’s been using a laptop at home for over a decade he still finds them unintuitive and confusing. He’s also concerned about putting his personal information online and doesn’t use online banking.
His local authority has moved all of their transactional services online. He has to pay his council tax and buy his parking permits online. At first this made Martin’s life difficult, but the council’s ‘IT Help at Home’ service was really useful for him.
The volunteer who visited showed him how to be secure online and set up regular online payments so that he doesn’t have to pay manually each month. A fingerprint reader was installed on his laptop meaning that he doesn’t have to remember multiple passwords, and feels more secure about using the council’s service.
He feels reassured that if he’s unsure about submitting personal details or documentation, he can connect to a pop-up or video chat through the council website.
His personal portal on the council website has some clear and simple tick-box options about personal data storage and sharing, so that Martin was able to choose what happens to his information. It also has a timeline of things he might find interesting or useful, like a local exercise class for retirees or opportunities for him to vote online on how funding for some council services is allocated.
Depending on which links he clicks on and how long he spends reading each article, an algorithm optimises his timeline so that it becomes more relevant to him.
Digitisation has meant that there’s now much greater integration between the council’s services. For example, if Martin doesn’t put his rubbish out for two weeks in a row, this is automatically registered on the council’s system through the sensors in his bins. The integrated system knows Martin is in his 70s and has mobility issues, so automatically generates a notification for his GP that Martin might need support. From this his GP can make a quick phone call to check everything is ok.