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Local CIO group emphasises standardisation


Briefing document places focus on sharing solutions and measures including use of open standards and iterative approach to developing digital solutions

Local public service organisations have been urged to get on with standardising, simplifying and sharing their digital operations in the effort to cope with austerity and increasing demographic pressures.

The Local Public Services CIO Council has issued a briefing document that outlines a series of steps that it says can help local authorities work with partners to produce solutions to local issues, with an emphasis on keeping things simple and making them available for re-use.

It emphasises the importance of open design principles and standards to achieve the necessary interoperability, and says that if enough organisations follow the lead it will drive standards and create a more competitive market for digital systems.

A statement issued by public sector IT association Socitm, a supporter of the council, said: “This in turn provides the opportunity for local authorities to work with local communities, networks, individuals and technologists to identify and co-produce solutions to local issues that are aligned to open principles to ensure both interoperability and the flexibility to meet individual needs.”

It also emphasised the potential to avoid lock-in to technology as it becomes obsolete.

Series of steps

Among the steps the document, which is available on KHub, urges are to:

  • Focus on the place rather than the organisation in making decisions on technology and data.
  • Developing a digital transformation strategy and roadmap for a place, referencing investment decisions against place based outcomes.
  • Insist on the use of open standards for interoperability.
  • Find out what others are doing locally and join up, and make solutions reusable.
  • Take an iterative approach to developing solutions, beginning with minimum viable products then testing with users and refining.
  • Use the same design language and patterns wherever possible.
  • Make a business led senior officer responsible for benefits realisation.

It also highlights the significance of a handful of projects on which the council is working with the Local Digital Coalition: local waste services standardisation; blue badge applications; integrated digital care records; securing APIs from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for a range of services; and looking at the potential of GOV.UK Verify for local services.

While the document covers largely familiar ground, it will contribute to maintaining some of the momentum for national support for digital initiatives at a local level, following the winding up of the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital Programme at the end of the last financial year.

Its emphasis on place also reflects the priorities of the Whole Place Community Budgets programme, which is ‘rewiring’ services around people and places rather than organisations.

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