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.