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Local authorities operate in increasingly financially constrained circumstances, with increasingly complex service demands resulting from demographic changes and rising public expectations of service delivery. Councils must find new ways for local services to become more efficient and effective. One way of making this shift is to take advantage of new ‘smart’ capabilities – technology-driven infrastructure, data analytics and networks – which support more ambitious integrated service responses.
However, the pace of change is slow. Budget cycles exacerbating short-termism can short-circuit invest to save strategies; departmental silos can undermine the potential for integrated “whole system” responses to complex problems; and the skills needed to harness technology- and data-driven solutions are often seen as a workforce add-on rather than central component. Envisioning a different future is the first step, before working out how to get there.
In this context, NLGN propose a project which will help councils develop a clearer understanding of what the future looks like by identifying the potential of smarter, more integrated and networked cities and places. Only by taking a longer term strategic view towards the future can a clearer route map towards getting there be established, which can better frame decisions made today.