Reboot Britain project sought to test and understand whether collaborative technologies, and the behaviours that surround them, can change the way public services are delivered to achieve better outcomes, using fewer resources.
To test this, it specifically focused on essential but often challenging, high cost, high anxiety services such as those for 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.
We wanted Reboot Britain to be grounded in the reality of public services so it was essential that each idea we supported was built and tested within service areas, with involvement from users and front line staff. Launched in July 2009, ten practical projects received funding to work in partnership with a public service partner to develop and prototype a new approach to public service delivery that utilised collaborative technologies.
Buddy, from Sidekick Studios and the London and Maudsley Mental Health Trust (SLaM) - making therapy more responsive to users through text message diaries.
FutureYou, from Beat Bullying, helping young people into education, employment and training using online networks.
Patchwork, from FutureGov and Lichfield District Council - the safeguarding app that helps care professionals work better together.
LIFE, from Participle and Swindon Borough Council - supporting troubled families to lead the lives they want to lead.
Buddi, from Buddi and Hertfordshire Police - adapting Buddi's existing GPS tracking service for the monitoring and rehabilitation of persistent offenders, as an alternative to custodial sentences.
Person to Person, from Slivers of Time and Herefordshire County Council, an online service that uses text messaging and email to make it quicker and easier for volunteers to give up their free time to help others.
FLiP, from commonground and Camden Council - A portfolio platform to help showcase young people's achievements and potential.
Go Genie, from Pesky People and Telford District Council, an online tool that provides accessibility information to help people plan their journey to a destination or venue.
Where Do I Feel Unsafe?, from Thumb Print City and Greater Manchester Police - using text to connect with local service providers like Police Community Support teams.
Ideas for Bristol, from Adaptive Lab and Bristol City Council - a place where residents could collaborate around ideas for developing Bristol.
What did we learn?
These projects showed how collaborative technologies can be used to support and enhance our public services and deliver more for less in a number of ways:
- The tools offer a better understanding of users' needs and reduce costs by helping eliminate aspects of services which are not serving users
- They can help access and unlock spare capacity that exists within services, local communities and individuals; and
- Collaborative technologies support earlier interventions that are more effective in supporting users and will reduce demand on more critical and expensive services.
Digital innovation in public services is an emerging field and the outputs from Reboot Britain are aimed at helping public service professionals negotiate this space.
Those that are willing to embrace this change, and take advantage of the new tools and ways of working they offer, open up the possibility of developing new models of service delivery that can be scaled up to deliver personalised services to ever increasing numbers of service users, achieving potentially transformative change in the process.