Croydon’s commitment to embracing new technology and maximising its benefits for customers has seen the authority named as ‘digital council of the year.’
The council was shortlisted in over a quarter of the categories in the hotly contested annual Local Government Chronicle awards and took the digital title after adopting a range of technologies that have made it easier for local residents to access services online.
In-person visits to the council have been reduced by around 30% each year, and those who do come in person can pre-book a range of appointments. This has saved on staffing costs and seen customer satisfaction rise from 57% to 98%.
Over half the population of the borough – 180,000 people – have now registered online for a My Account to enable them to quickly and easily make payments and order services without constantly re-entering personal information. There have also been almost 20,000 downloads of the My Croydon smartphone app.
These changes alone have saved local taxpayers some £8m, and the plan is to reduce spending on old ways of working by around £1.2m in the coming year.
And with Croydon recognised as having one of the fastest growing technology-based economies in the UK the council has also invested £2m in the development of a tech community centred on TMRW, which has become a hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses keen to take advantage of gigabit internet connectivity and shared expertise.
The council was also the first London authority in the country to partner with Doteveryone (formerly GO-ON UK) to help residents who struggle with technology or lack digital skills. As a result digital skills levels in Croydon have risen from 70% to 79% within one year, and now 1,000 of the council’s old computers are to be distributed to community groups.
“In an increasingly digital age there are huge benefits to be had from fundamentally changing the way we do things as new technology becomes available. Croydon has very much led the way on many advances and we’ve been recognised as having the fastest growing technology ecosystem in the UK. Our work extends well outside the council itself and we’re both helping tech firms to thrive and assisting those local people who need a hand getting to grips with computers and the internet.
“I’m absolutely delighted we were chosen by the judges as a leader in this field, but I’d like to congratulate all of the other shortlisted councils for the work they have done. These awards are as much about sharing good practice as they are receiving the prizes, and not only will Croydon continue to share our learning with other councils, but we will also look at what others have done to see if we can improve still further.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council