This policy briefing released by Socitm, the professional association for digital leaders in local public services, is an essential guide to emerging digital, technology and data trends and their implications.
Aimed at public sector digital and IT leaders in general and local authorities in particular, the briefing covers trends in nine key areas: cyber resilience; internet of things (IoT); machine learning and artificial intelligence; virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR); data ‘mash-ups’ and information analytics; cloud services and new IT supply models; partnership and sharing locally; low-code and no-code; and how the role of IT will change.
In highlighting cyber resilience, the briefing focuses on the importance of taking a place-based, cross-organisational approach that will demand an increase in resource, focus and effort (including widening the scope of business continuity and emergency plans).
Adopting many technologies, such as IoT, cloud, VR and others, will require digital and IT leaders in councils to build open, standards-based architectures for the future. In particular, Socitm predicts that application of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which is already achieving positive outcomes for early adopters by lowering costs and supporting the implementation of better services, is set to grow.
Virtual and augmented reality will become important tools for anything from physical infrastructure and service design to service triage and handling complaints. Improved data analytics is key to rethinking and repositioning public services. In 2019, Socitm expects to see an increased focus on data standards, ethics, sharing and analytics and their role in transforming public service outcomes.
The coming year will also be a tipping point for the adoption of cloud services and new IT supply models in the public sector, generating the need for a new relationship with IT suppliers in areas such as data management and cyber practice. IT-enabled service sharing will be another growing trend. However, IT leaders will need diplomatic and strategic advocates to navigate politics, culture and legacy barriers, let alone funding constraints.
Growing deployment of low-code and no-code tools and services will also allow a degree of solution customisation, without the traditional risk, cost overheads and slow development lead times of the past bespoke IT methods.
As digital strategies become embedded in public services design, with a growth of new technology possibilities and the frustration created by legacy IT, 2019 is likely to see significant pressure on public sector IT services to continue to adapt and change.
Martin Ferguson, Director of Policy & Research at Socitm, commented: “Councils need to look ahead to embrace the new digital opportunities for automation, resilience, innovation and, most importantly, improved outcomes for people in the places that they serve.”