PUBLIC hosted a roundtable event for local council members to showcase tech innovations from startups looking to support local councils with building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last year, councils have faced a number of complex challenges caused by the pandemic and its many repercussions on local services, which have accelerated a process of deep digital transformation. Councils are now innovating at a rate which was previously unimaginable and are now in an extremely strong position to build back better, taking advantage of governmental support for economic growth, investing in infrastructure, skills and innovation. PUBLIC believes that now is the time to capitalise off the innovation startups can bring to public contracts, incorporating user-centric design and cutting-edge technologies.
Our event began with an introduction by Johnny Hugill, PUBLIC’s Head of Research outlining some of the exciting trends we are seeing in the digital landscape among local councils: from the shift to remote working embraced by civil servants, to the increase in the adoption of cloud-based solutions, to the many examples of greater collaboration and data exchange between councils to identify and support vulnerable individuals (such as the Commissioning Alliance reporting tool and LOTI’s London Datastore).
The Deputy Director of Digital Policy at MHCLG, Laurence Hopper emphasised the importance of collaboration when introducing both technological, and crucially, cultural change in local councils to help pioneers gain traction and maintain momentum. He proposed that there is a role for government and the wider sector to enable innovation by removing regulatory barriers that hinder rapid progress – an example of this in practice is MHCLG launching a specific fund to help people solve common data digital problems.
PUBLIC has identified 500+ startups with strong local government applications, including back office tools, digital service delivery and citizen engagement, forming a valuable ecosystem of smart city technologies that can collaborate with councils to enhance and transform the service delivery at local level. On the day, four innovators presented a range of strong case studies of innovative technologies supporting local councils during the pandemic.
First was Zencity, a tool that uses AI and resident feedback to create a dashboard informing crisis management and recovery strategies. They are working across 200 local governments in Eastern Europe, US, Canada, Israel, including Los Angeles Chicago, Houston, Tel aviv, Austin, Ottawa. In particular, they illustrated the power of their solution by showcasing how their tool was used to allocate relief funds equitably and improve workflow with a city council.
Coplug followed, outlining how their solution supports local councils, such as Hackney Council, to plan for and manage future services and infrastructure demand. Their powerful SaaS platform extracts, collates and organises data from over 200 datasets then applies predictive algorithms to visualise real time spatial analytics.
Polyteia was third, outlining some examples from their range of modules, including healthcare, personnel and demography. By making data accessible for all across-government organisations, they have supported data-driven decision-making during the pandemic, helping the City of Oranienburg and Municipality of Rudersberg in Germany make well-founded decisions and engage with their citizens transparently.
Finally, Alcuris outlined how their remote care monitoring platform brought savings of £19,400 to East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership in their trial. By collecting and analysing data in the domestic setting, they not only brought huge savings, but their solution also reassured family members, improved the individual’s independence and helped the body deliver better predictive and proactive social care.
Overall, the event provided a comprehensive overview of one of the most exciting opportunities PUBLIC sees available to local councils. We are looking forward to tracking the progress of local councils in the future months and years as they work with startups to incorporate the benefits and insights their innovations bring into local delivery.