Blog 02 March 2020

How low-code helps local governments aim higher – in spite of funding cuts

by Tommy Lai

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Local government people using low-code to improve services

Introducing the Citizen Hub – it’s low-code for local government

If you work in a local government you probably find yourself between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, expectations around quality of service are soaring and demand for social care, housing, schooling, waste collection, blue badges, town planning and pest control is growing.

On the other, your funding is being slashed and that limits your effectiveness. You can’t hire the talent or purchase the technology you need to make radical changes and you’re struggling to make even basic operational improvements.   

So here’s your situation – you’re dealing with a shrinking pool of resources, increased expectations and the things you’re building really matter to your citizens. 

Make no mistake, this is a difficult spot to be in.

But it is possible to do more with less.

You just need to rethink how you deliver your services.

IT – the problem and the solution

Every local government function relies on technology. Whether you’re issuing blue badges, tracking housing needs or managing citizen requests, you’re probably using some sort of IT solution to do it.

But whereas IT platforms have been a boon for commercial businesses, they’ve created problems for public sector organisations.

Most local governments rely on creaking technology stacks made up of dated and mismatched tools, many of which are no longer fit for purpose. And they can’t call on IT and developer resources either due to the funding cuts. As a result, even basic technical improvements can take months or even years to execute. All the while, they’re stuck with clunky paper-based processes.

One solution is to rip and replace these systems but this can be a dangerous move.

History has shown that big system replacements either cost too much, take too long to deploy, create too much disruption or simply fail to meet the unique needs of local government bodies. Meanwhile, time, budget and resources are being diverted away from critical services.

Because of this risk, most local governments just put up with what they have. The flexibility, speed and quality of service enjoyed by the Amazons of this world have completely passed them by.

But this might be about to change thanks to low-code.

The transformational power of low-code

Low-code is the easiest way to develop business applications, fast. You map the process you want to automate – including steps, actions and endpoints – and the software takes care of the rest.

IT establishes security and governance rules and multi-discipline teams build, test, launch and optimise apps on an ongoing basis. And because citizen developers can do so much of the work, low-code becomes a powerful way of eliminating IT bottlenecks. This makes life easier for everyone. Customer experts can build the apps they need, fast and IT can get on with more strategic tasks.

What’s so revolutionary about low-code is that it allows users to build very specific applications in very short timeframes. In fact, low-code development is five times faster than traditional development approaches.

That means you can react to new demands immediately. For example, if your customers are complaining about your approach to waste management, you can automate a new process in a matter of days.

There’s an aggregated benefit here as well. When you have dozens of digital team members solving problems at the same time, you can make big changes in short timeframes. And as there’s no need to rip and replace anything, or hire new developer talent, costs remain low.

Essentially, you enjoy the speed, agility and quality of service enjoyed by the most customer-savvy business at a fraction of the cost.

The Citizen Hub Framework

Citizen Hub Framework, is our low code solution, purpose-built for local governments. It offers all the functionality of a typical low-code platform along with many pre-built applications that will help jump-start your digital transformation.

These accelerators are based on tried-and-tested process workflows for typical local government use cases including blue badge, parking permits and social prescribing. 

Each module comes as a fully functional standard process but you can customise them to fit your councils’ specific needs and make improvements on an ongoing basis. 

More modules are available in our AppShare – a library of free tools developed and shared by other local government organisations. When councils create a new app, it can be uploaded, quality-checked by Netcall and then made available to any other council.

A brighter future for local government

There’s no denying that local governments are under immense pressure – both from their constituents and higher authorities. 

But new technologies are easing this burden.

Low-code is one of them. It lets you do something that was impossible just a few years ago – meet soaring citizen expectations while actually reducing costs. For the first time you can deliver the level of flexible, seamless, intuitive service your citizens expect. And as you can redeploy valuable resources and reduce ad hoc hiring you can actually save money.

Low-code also ushers in a new era of inter-organisational collaboration. You can now tap into shared resources, like our AppShare, to find solutions to specific problems in moments. That means you can slash development cycles and ramp up innovation.

Talk to us about how we can help.

Or take a look at our Citizen Hub datasheet.


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