Skip to main content

Blog Innovate UK

Innovate UK
Innovate UK

Building digital standards across local government

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Support

Before starting in my current role with Innovate UK in April this year I spent nearly 15 years working in local government digital innovation.

I worked with talented, committed people to introduce new digital services across lots of different Council functions in Bristol. It was a job I loved, particularly when the impact of the work was obvious and apparent.

One thing that did concern me though was the thought that there were probably 300 or so other similar digital teams, across Councils all over the UK, wrestling with similar problems, using similar technologies, but not really talking to each other.

Two people pushing giant puzzle pieces together.

Fragmentation blocking collaboration

Some of us did talk to each other of course, and there were networks of collaboration, but the general fragmentation did bother me, and I was always baffled as to why the same Council apps wouldn’t function in the city I worked in and the different city I lived in, just 10 miles away. The Urban Living team at Innovate UK focuses on helping innovative businesses access the market of cities, and have seen the same issues of replicability faced by businesses trying to work across cities.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get round to fixing this while I was working in local government but I’m really pleased to see that someone is giving it a good go now.

digital services depicted with a white jigsaw puzzle on a green background. The word 'Digital' on the 2 white puzzle pieces and the word 'Service' on the green background that will be covered by the puzzle pieces.

Launching the local digital declaration

Since 2011 the Government Digital Service (GDS) has been doing terrific work transforming the way that Central Government does digital, focusing on user needs and creating high quality experiences. GDS are working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to catalyse a movement amongst Local Authorities, encouraging collaboration to develop local digital services built around user needs, shared data and recognised design patterns.

GDS and MHCLG are launching a Local Digital Declaration today which sets out these commitments, and I’m pleased to say that Innovate UK have lined up behind the declaration as a Co-Publisher.

The efficiency savings to the public purse could be significant

Technology is one of the most important spend categories in local government with around £2 billion per annum spent on IT. Following agreed standards and patterns will not only deliver a consistent user experience across different services and different authorities, but also capitalise on the investment and experience of others across government rather than building new services from first principles.

jigsaw with the missing piece having the words 'best practice' on, looked at through a magnifying glass.

Standards which make things easier for private sector companies

Having agreed standards across local government also means that it’s easier for the private sector to work with cities.

Shared experiences, a standards framework, tools and design patterns will allow local governments to be more informed customers for digital services, and should enable more SME’s to work with authorities, working to integrate existing components together rather than building new functionality from scratch.

Do you work in digital within local government?

If you are working in digital in local government, I’d ask you to take a look at the principles set out in the declaration and encourage your organisation to commit to signing up to them at LocalGovCamp in Birmingham on 21st September.


You can follow Kevin on Twitter:@kevin_o_malley 

You can follow Innovate UK on:

Sharing and comments

Share this page