A key task for local government
As more and more homes and virtually all businesses become connected to the Internet, local authorities have a growing duty to use the Internet and emails to communicate with their citizens. This duty is made even more pressing by the increasing prevalence of broadband. These technologies can be used: To keep citizens informed, To provide new online services, To promote tourism and local enterprises, and to attract new businesses, To make consultation programmes more effective.
The dramatic increase in the public’s use of the Internet, and the current boom in broadband connections make ICT an essential communications tool for every local authority. Councils can use emails and the worldwide web to communicate highly effectively with all their stakeholders, especially in achieving the following goals:
- Provide a constant stream of information on events, initiatives and services using interactive content,
- Make available online information on budgets, elected representatives and council officials, tenders, administrative services, procedures and so forth,
- Supply advice and instructions to citizens in the event of crises or disasters, for example, floods, fires, healthcare alerts, and extreme weather.
To provide new online services (teleservices)
- The downloading or filling-in online of administrative forms (‘e-administration’),
- The exchange of documents (plans, surveys etc.),
- The reservation of tickets for shows, exhibitions and events,
- The provision of electronic voting facilities,
- The ordering of local authority smart cards,
- The setting up of companies,
- The payment of local taxes.
- Existing local enterprise through directories of businesses, including web links,
- New local enterprise through the presentation of the area as an attractive location to companies seeking to invest in new sites,
- Tourism through an attractive web presence that sells the area’s charm effectively,
- Local culture through online events calendars, venue profiles, and society listings,
- The site itself through ensuring optimum listings on search engines, and links from third party sites.
To make consultations more effective
- Provide moderated discussion forums,
- Post online the agenda for – and the minutes of – meetings,
- Give access to materials that will inform and educate citizens about controversial schemes, plans and initiatives,
- Publish justifications for decisions that have been made.