This is the final entry in a series of blogposts unpacking my opinions about the local government digital service debate. In the first post I set out my opinion that a single entity with the mandate and resource to address the common needs of the public is overdue; in the second I wondered about what that might mean from a democratic point of view; my third wondered about the distinction between building and buying services and my fourth explored how this might work in practice. I hope it goes without saying that I don’t claim to have all the answers and want to know where my assumptions are completely barmy!
In this series of posts I’m expressing an opinion. I find the idea persuasive and the need obvious for a local government digital service. I’m certainly not claiming to have all the answers! I think your position on this matter will have a large amount to do with whether you think Baroness Lane-Fox’s cry of “revolution not evolution” is as appropriate in the local context as it was centrally. I believe it is. Happily, local government doesn’t need to revolt from scratch – GDS doesn’t have all the answers but we’ve got some very useful experience about trying to bring all the things together. I think the GDS design principles are brilliant and so to conclude I’m going to think about what they might mean in a local context.
Start with needs*
*user needs not government needs
Local governments have different priorities, different political makeups, different challenges and different histories. They are all unique. And our experiences as citizens can’t be separated from the characteristics of where we live.
But are our needs unique?
The Local Government Services List says not always. It’s imperfect but it is a helpful starting point for the user needs of a resident in any given postcode: if services or information can be described in a consistent fashion then why can’t they be surfaced and accessed in a consistent fashion?