Tech industry body techUK
is calling on councils to become local digital leaders and work better with charities to tackle digital exclusion.
Its guide Council of the Future: A Digital Guide for Councillors
recommends a number of measures local authorities should take to lead on efforts to ensure digital technology is improving the lives of their residents.
This includes working with community partners including the voluntary sector to address digital exclusion and help residents to better engage with local services.
Measures being put forward include councils creating digital leadership roles such as a chief digital officer, the establishment of a digital board and appointing a councilor to a cabinet level digital role.
Local digital leaders needed
Essex, Camden and Hull are among councils to already have a cabinet-level digital role.
The report states: “To build relationships with residents, it is important that citizens can engage in the way they prefer, this could be both face-to-face or digital. Digital can offer a seamless and practical alternative when face-to-face is not possible but it must be an inclusive approach.
“Furthermore, as part of the digital portfolio and council digital strategy, elected officials can work with officers and community partners, from schools to libraries to the voluntary sector, to tackle digital exclusion and give residents more choice in how they engage with their public services.
Georgina Maratheftis, techUK Local Government Programme Manager, added: “By grasping the digital agenda and having a digital-first mindset, councillors can be at the forefront of spearheading the transformation of the area into a ‘smart community’ where citizens are empowered to shape services and create the places where they want to live.”