Infrastructure > Devices

Socitm outlines council digital service progress ahead of innovation awards

Neil Merrett Published 06 June 2017

With 50 councils shortlisted for awards focused around online functionality, updated findings from UK public sector IT managers group welcomes broader work on mobile innovation

 

Socitm has announced that 50 local authorities have been shortlisted for awards at the upcoming Connected Local Government Live event, which will build on the outcomes of its Better Connected survey that has found an improved focus towards providing services via mobile devices.

With the award ceremony set for June 28 in Birmingham, the public sector IT managers group says the shortlisted authorities will be competing across 16 categories relating to providing digital services for business licensing, council tax and social care functions, as well as addressing issues such as online accessibility.

The awards are part of a wider event bringing together stakeholders such as Socitm, the Local CIO Council, the Society of Chief Librarians, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, and planning professionals body RTPI to build on and share their expertise in transforming how authorities provide services.

Winners are expected to be picked, in part, on information and data compiled through Socitm’s Better Connected survey that aims to research and measure online performance for UK local authorities and has been updated for the last financial year.

According to the 2016/17 findings, the websites of 416 UK councils were tested by the group, with 89% of these authorities found to have responsive online functionality when accessed via smartphones.  This was up from 80% the same time the previous year.

However, the number of authorities earning the group’s highest two marks during 2016/17 was down to 52% from 67% during the previous fiscal year, albeit it based on “significantly more rigorous and demanding criteria”.

Socitm said that 68% of surveyed council were found to have passed its tests - classed as earning either a four or three star rating - for ensuring sufficient tools to support easier access to online content based on search, navigation and A-Z functions.

Although the number of councils earning the group's top four star rating was down from the previous year in the latest findings, the survey had found a positive number of websites that it classed as offering a ‘good’ or 'very good’ experience.

“36 councils have been awarded 4 stars overall in Better Connected 2015-16, and a further 190 have been awarded 3 stars, indicating that 55% of UK local government websites provide a good or very good experience from a user perspective,” said Socitm in its findings.

“The percentage of 3 and 4 star sites has risen by 11 percentage points since 2015-16. Although individual tests were different this year, overall they were comparable, and this is an encouraging result for UK council websites.”

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