Camden Council has been investigating ways to use new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to completely change the way it offers services to citizens.
According to the local authority’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) John Jackson, local government is currently “harnessing the power” of IoT and real innovation is being seen.
In Camden, sensors are now being use in parking areas to control car parking which allows the council to cut down on the number of enforcement officers it uses.
Jackson was recently interviewed by the Government Digital Service (GDS), where he explained that his organisation started with parking because it was system many people were complaining about.
The standard of service was not as good as it could have been and staff at the local authority were frequently dealing with calls and complaints about the system.
To tackle the problem, Camden adopted an open systems architecture and began to design a new system based on the user experience.
The council asked its suppliers to provide APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) so data could be shared effectively and a workflow could be created to identify whether people parking in Camden were residents or not.
“What’s great about this is we’ve harnessed the innovation, we’ve got a more usable system and we’re using an approach which is scalable to other councils who want to do it,” claimed Jackson.
“It’s scalable because we’re going to open source our code and share it with other councils,” he added.
The government is currently in the midst of a drive to increase the use of open data, open standards and transparency within the public sector, something which the Camden CIO is on board with.
“Open data is fundamental. I think part of it is getting the information out there helps us to become more transparent, but it also allows us to design new digital services because you can bring data together from different sources to design things that otherwise you couldn’t do in isolation,” claimed Jackson.
“I think also what I’d like to see is more of a commitment on open source really. I know it’s controversial in some respects, but I think we’ve got a great crowd out there. We’ve got lots of people doing civic development; we’ve got lots of councils developing solutions.
“What’s the point of doing that lots and lots of times? Let’s just turn government into one big crowd – open source stuff, share it; make it easier to get to,” he added.