The New Local Government Network and Socrata have released a new paper which warns that if councils fail to understand and harness the power of data, they risk making themselves irrelevant to their citizens.
Data is at the heart of the better running of all modern public services but councils are not yet taking full advantage of the data assets they hold or of the information it could give them if used properly. The paper ‘Demystifying Data’ sets out the challenge local authorities face in learning to properly utilise local data, but equally sets out the vast scale of the opportunities doing so affords them.
Data can help local authorities make huge savings, as they are able to target their services much more effectively. But they will also be able to use this data to bring inward investment and put themselves at the centre of the data driven economy.
In the paper, NLGN argue that data is not just a financial asset, but equally that it is the key that unlocks council’s ability to fully integrate and transform the services they offer local people to truly develop the full potential of their places.
Report author Maia Beresford said: “It is only through the proper use, understanding and interpretation of data that councils can achieve any of their aims to transform their services to make them more personal and more effective. Data is the oil that will smooth the wheels of integration, personaliation, and economic development. If councils don’t realise this asset, they will miss huge opportunities for investment and transformation – ultimately failing their people and places.”
Kevin Merrett, CEO of Socrata said: “With reducing budgets and rapidly shifting expectations from residents, local government runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in this digital age. Transparency, accountability and innovation are no longer a choice. Being open and using data to drive decisions is a necessity if you are to remain relevant to the citizens you serve. You can no longer act in isolation. The data you hold, locked in spreadsheets and databases, is the key to engaging others in tackling the issues that matter.”