Sunday, July 21, 2002

Kable published an interesting piece this week on local councils and their status on implementing e-government, based on a new report from the Audit Commission, "Message Beyond the Medium" - nice pun that, not at all like auditors. Some good conclusions: it's going to cost more than they thought, they don't know where to start (it's everywhere!) - and 1/5 are still doing strategy, 1/3 think it's too hard for them to do and 2/3 think it's too expensive. Doom, doom and even some gloom. But then you see something like the Somerset hub, also talked about in Kable and you start to realise that all is not lost. How long will it be before all bits of government realise that just because they went solo for the first stage of computerisation (and pretty much ever since then), it doesn't always have to be that way. Joining up to solve common problems, develop common technology and infrastructure, reduce the implementation cost is how you crack this stuff. From the beginning. Joined up strategy, collective attention to issues, assigned leadership etc. The Somerset project is clearly only a start - it collects info from several different councils and pulls it together (in real time as you search as far as I can tell) - it's not clear whether this is all co-hosted (if it's not, it should be). And I can't find any transactions yet. But they will come - and because these councils are doing it together, it will happen faster than in other places and maybe give them a competitive advantage over others. That's not really the point I guess, but it could work out that way. If one set of councils make it easier to live your life with them, why on earth would you move and why wouldn't property values increase there and more people move? It must be part of the equation along with low crime rates, good schools and clean, country air. I look forward to seeing more from this project. And even more to seeing others do similar work.

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