The pandemic has proven that digital is crucial for resilience

Local government has been at the forefront when it comes to delivering services and support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the many challenges, councils have coped remarkably well, using innovative approaches to support communities, while connecting with civil society groups and the private sector. One of the key lessons from the pandemic is that digital technology plays a crucial role when tackling major crises of this kind. Many councils have relied heavily on IT when delivering their services, and digital technology was also crucial for enabling staff to continue working remotely. In many cases, these technological solutions were implemented ‘on the fly’.

Going forward, it will be invaluable to explore how digital technologies can be deployed more systematically to bolster local government resilience. Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is still at the front of everyone’s minds, yet it is important to start preparing for potential future challenges too.

What is resilience?

Resilience can be defined as: “A community’s preparedness for, and capacity to withstand and respond to, emergencies or unforeseen natural or man-made events such as major flooding, fire or major pollution incidents”.

There is no single way of being resilient. That said, resilient councils tend share several common features, including:

  • Deep knowledge of the community
  • Organisational memory
  • Clear but flexible policies
  • The use of tools which let them deliver the right services at the right time
  • Relationships with local partners

Digital technologies can play an important role in resilience. Besides the more obvious benefits of IT (such as communication, information management and speed), it also provides less immediately tangible results, such as greater flexibility and responsiveness.

How can digital technology boost resilience in local government?

There are several ways that digital technology can support local government resilience during challenging periods. These include:

Faster decision making
When local government employees can make decisions quickly, they can respond to challenging circumstances more effectively too. Digital technology is well suited to supporting rapid decision-making. Using an online video conferencing tool like Microsoft Teams means that decision makers do not need to be physically in the same room at the same time when planning out how they will address an emerging threat.

Supports more accurate record keeping
At times of crisis it is essential to keep clear records for the sake of accountability. However, handwritten minutes always risk being lost, especially when the pressure is on. When councils use devices like the Microsoft Surface Hub 2S, they can immediately have all meeting minutes and decisions digitally recorded and transcribed before being saved permanently and securely in the cloud.

Work flexibly
The coronavirus pandemic shows just how important digital technology is for flexible working. The most advanced cloud-based workspaces like Microsoft 365 allow local government employees to use all their apps and software programs via the cloud. Whether workers are stuck at home because of a lockdown, a flood, heavy snow or some other unpredictable event, cloud workspaces mean that staff can continue to be productive and deliver critical services.

Improved interactions with the community
At times of crisis, communities expect local government to be the first touchpoint for information and reassurance. However, if the only way of contacting the council is a telephone number with a long wait time, citizens will be left disappointed. Once again digital technology provides a much more effective solution here. By using platforms like Microsoft Teams, members of the public can communicate directly with your employees via chat channels – whether or not the employee is physically in the office.

Improved ways of communicating and sharing information
Communities will also expect access to the most up to date and relevant information. Once again, digital technology is the most effective way to quickly generate and publish guidance, warnings and the latest safety information. Because today’s cloud technologies are designed to be collaborative, multiple employees – from operations to the legal department – can work in real time on the same guidance documents, making edits and suggestions as they go.

icon of a head with a lightbulb inside itBoost productivity and save money
If office closures and social distancing force local government officials to work from home, then productivity could face a dip – which is a cost for the taxpayer. On the other hand, when effective digital technology platforms in the cloud are already being used, a transition to productive remote working is immediate – which saves on time and money.

Are you planning for post-pandemic resilience?

One of the key learning points of the coronavirus pandemic has been that, when used well, digital technology can allow organisations to continue to be productive even during disruptive periods. As local governments look to build back better, investing in technology will help them be more resilient in the face of future crises.

Phoenix works exclusively with the public sector to build resilient digital solutions which means local government is well placed to respond to any challenging circumstances. We are here to help and to get your started on your journey to the future of your workplace.

To find out more about hybrid working and improving employee experiences, download our eBook ‘Building business resiliene in the UK Public Sector’

eBook  - Building business resiliene in the UK Public Sector >

Phoenix provides the public sector with comprehensive technology support for digital transformation and the transition to the hybrid workplace. If you want to accelerate your journey to create a hybrid environment contact a member of the Phoenix Team today on 01904 562200, email  hello@phoenixs.co.uk or fill in the form and a member of the Team will be in touch: