A planned £6 million investment in the council’s digital services will see more smartphone apps, online forums, mobile technology for staff and use of digital data to plan services and combat fraud.
Residents could use it to pay for parking permits and council tax, make planning applications, renew library books, check when their bin collection is due and those who use social services could even use it to adjust their personal budgets and care relationships.
The report, which will go before next Thursday’s policy and resources committee, points to the city’s higher than average use of digital media, saying the population is “crying out to engage with services digitally” and expects to use apps on their smartphones and tablets to access council services.
And it’s estimated the changes will pay for themselves by 2019, creating more than £5 million in revenue and savings a year through staffing reductions, less travel, better fraud detection and less paper.
A digital transaction costs up to 40p, compared with £3.50 for a telephone one, and as much as £8 face to face – and publishing more digitally could also help slash the council’s £880k annual printing bill.
If the committee approves it, work could start next April, with a budget of £2 million a year for the next three years. As well as services for residents, it includes investment in mobile technology for staff – a new platform for efficient, productive mobile working by staff in the field.
And data would be collected digitally on transport, parking, public health, adult social care and housing to allow the council to make better informed decisions about future services.
Council leader Warren Morgan said: “We have listened to what residents and customers want and know that there is a huge demand to be able to do more online with the council.
“We also know that our staff could work more efficiently if they had the right equipment. This will help us get the basics right for residents and modernise our relationships with communities.
“This programme is key to the transformation of the council and will help us achieve some of the savings we need to make in years to come.
“It’s about investing in residents, communities and local digital companies to take advantage of the wealth of experience in our city.”