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COVID-19 and the acceleration of Digital Transformation

Nov 20, 2020

Nick Bolton, CEO, discusses how COVID-19 has accelerated the need for Digital Transformation within Local Authorities

25 November 2020 - COVID-19 has, undoubtedly, accelerated the need for Local Authority assets and services to be managed remotely. This trend was already taking place but has been accelerated with the shift to home working. Digital Transformation enables service operators and managers within Local Authorities to better manage public assets and improve services such as street lighting, waste collection and street cleaning. Yotta’s Alloy software ensures that public spaces, that we often take for granted, are kept well maintained and the public services we expect, continue to run smoothly.

The pandemic has prompted immediate and long-term changes to the way we live, work, and interact with our towns and cities.

Small changes making big impacts
Helping services and communities run more smoothly doesn’t require adding layers of new technology or processes. It is actually done by taking down barriers, using software that seamlessly connects people, systems and assets. For example, bbits’ Love Clean Streets app and Yotta’s Alloy are enabling a greater degree of connectivity by giving residents the power to instantly report to Local Authorities the status of environmental issues – whether it is a missed waste collection, fly tipping, or potholes. Local Authorities are using this data to respond and fix issues in real time. This isn’t something for the future – it is happening now.

Making constant incremental improvements through digital technologies to the processes that Local Authorities and citizens use every day, improves the public service and, these small improvements added together can create increased efficiencies that allow bigger goals to be achieved. Think cost savings that could be deployed elsewhere or energy savings that will help combat climate change. The path to achieving this is in managing and using the assets in smarter ways – connectivity is key.

Unpacking the ‘smart’ in smart cities
There is a lot of talk about ‘smart cities’ - the term sounds futuristic and still a long way away. But in reality, our cities, towns and even villages are increasingly using technology to increase efficiency all the time – they are ‘smart’ already. Local governments are already using and thinking about their assets - roads, street signs, gullies, streetlights, bins - in new and more digitally integrated ways. Our cities are already smarter than we think, and the acceleration of Digital Transformation is only going to make our already smart cities, smarter.

Telensa’s PLANet and Yotta’s Alloy are changing the way streetlight maintenance is delivered, making the management seamless for operators, leading to efficiency improvements. Using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, streetlights are increasingly becoming a key component in smart solutions, capable of measuring environmental conditions, air quality and road surface temperature - all leading to improved decision making. Our already smart cities are powered by smart solutions like these.

The asset connection
Lockdowns have made us reconsider how we do things and how important it is that the fundamentals are taken care of. Waste collection is a key example. A council in eastern England has vastly improved its waste and recycling service, using Alloy to improve the end-to-end process with its residents. This improvement means that more jobs are completed to a higher standard, reducing the number of incorrectly reported missed bins by 30% and freeing up 25% of back-office staff time to focus on other areas of public service. Both improving the service and at the same time making it more efficient.

Greater efficiencies mean greater value out of the assets Local Authorities currently hold. BCG* research suggests that governments worldwide control a staggering $75 trillion in assets, but often fail to derive the value opportunity from them due to a lack of connection. Rather than building anew, by simply connecting and managing these assets digitally, local governments can find vital efficiencies and solutions to problems – this is about improvement, not just responding to issues.

Connecting to the future, now!
The pandemic, and indeed the future, is unpredictable. Preparation is key. Digital Transformation is about replacing manual processes and using technology in a more connected and efficient way. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies – the want has become the need. Asset and service managers understand that connected assets are not just a nice to have, they are the future. For some, that future is already here. For others, it is now about making the management of their assets and services even more streamlined, connected and smarter than ever before.

*BCG, The $75 Trillion Opportunity in Public Assets, 18 October 2018.