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How to design council services that citizens can trust

What if smart cities could discover innovative ways to use technology to redesign their services? Are citizens willing to trust their councils if they feel understood by them? Orange Bus undertook research with 14 local authorities – and the citizens they serve.

Digital transformation is well underway in the public sector. The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) is referenced worldwide for radically transforming the way citizens interact with their government online.

Putting citizens’ needs at the forefront of the service design process is becoming an expectation across the public sector. But there’s still some way to go.

Greater savings are needed at the same time as digital transformation is being called for. Funding across public services is expected to be cut by £1.3 billion over 2019-2020. With Britain’s exit from the EU creating further uncertainty, it is difficult for local authorities to undertake future planning and innovation.

Most authorities know what they want to do. However, they struggle to manage the shortfall in budgets while retaining, let alone improving, service levels.

Orange Bus, part of Capita, undertook research with 14 local authorities and the citizens they serve in order to produce a new white paper: How to design council services citizens can trust. Research was split into two streams – local authorities, their needs and challenges; and citizens and how they expect to interact with their council.

So what does it mean to put citizens first when designing services?

  1. Creating trust with citizens
  2. Making processes more visible
  3. Usable services designed for context
  4. Low-risk, smart investment.

The research reveals what councils see as the biggest challenges they face, as well as the views of citizens on the pain points they experience when accessing their local services.

The paper includes detailed next steps and recommendations as to how councils could move forward in truly putting the citizen first, designing improved services to better meet their needs and expectations.

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