I am a great believer that Digital has the opportunity to reduce costs, improve services and change lives.
I had to renew my kids’ passports recently. My experience was that the online form was simple and quick to complete, gave me a copy for my own records by default and then a text message received to let me know that the form had been approved and the new document being printed. Left me feeling reassured and impressed by the government service. Not an outcome I was expecting I have to admit.
My job is working in an IT services company that works with organisations to make best use of technology to support their business, reduce costs and implement digital solutions – although unfortunately we can’t claim credit for the passport office system. We are advocates for the use of technology to reduce cost and improve services.
To me the public sector has no choice but to ‘go digital’. Not only does it give the opportunity for services improvement, such as the passport office example, it is also by going digital that we can reduce the cost of services, which unless we do we will be cutting services.
But in forging ahead we have a social responsibility to those who we are potentially leaving behind. We have to provide support to bring as many people with us as we can. To me, it is those who we often refer to as the digitally excluded who have the most to gain from digital participation. I have met carers who feeling isolated at home gained a support network online, older people with grandchildren far away being able to Skype chat and disabled people who can’t speak or write be able to communicate.
My organisation signed the Digital Participation Charter to pledge our support to achieving this aim. As an IT services organisation we have staff with very valuable digital skills. Just giving a little of their time, could help someone get online or better still train someone who works with the socially disadvantaged on a daily basis.
So I urge all to sign the Digital Participation Charter. Be an advocate for bringing the opportunities that digital has to offer to as many in our society as we can. By as many of us doing what we can, we have an opportunity to make a big difference.