A new report from tech industry organisation techUK encourages England’s six newly elected mayors to adopt a digital-first mindset, building a culture where innovation can flourish.
Digital Devolution: A Guide for Mayors is designed to be a practical tool for new mayors to use in their first 100 days to understand what needs to be done to deliver true digital devolution that benefits citizens, businesses and the wider city region.
As techUK explains, city regions across the UK face a range of challenges, from demographic change, traffic congestion and housing, to improving employment opportunities and local economic wealth.
Set against a backdrop of rising citizen expectations and budget cuts, this poses a significant public policy challenge for mayors — but digital devolution allows mayors to re-shape and integrate services, creating better places to live and driving regional growth.
Georgina Maratheftis, programme manager for local government at techUK, explained:
“Digital devolution presents one of the biggest opportunities to do things differently, break down the traditional barriers to service delivery to drive improved outcomes for all. The mayors, with their direct and convening powers, must use their new and unique position to accelerate the pace of transformation, working closely with public sector, the community and industry to deliver better outcomes for all citizens by creating truly joined-up services and places where citizens want to live and thrive. We are looking forward to working with the mayors to redefine what a 21st century city region can be.”
According to the report, becoming a smart city region and using digital tools can:
- Increase the efficiency of public service delivery, making funding and resources go further.
- Meet the rising expectations of citizens, by reducing congestion, improving quality of life and creating new employment opportunities.
- Create new sources of revenue by investing in digital platforms and services which the private sector can use to innovate within the city region.
Aimee Betts-Charalambous, programme manager for IoT & SmarterUK at techUK, said:
“With a trend towards urbanisation cities of the future are going to have to work in a very different way to how they work today. Leaders will need to rethink not just essential services but also determine a strategy for economic growth and improved quality of life. All within the context of budget cuts, resource scarcity and rising expectations.”
“This is one of the most consequential periods for city governance and will define the success of our regions in the future. In adopting a digital mindset the new mayors will have an opportunity to enhance local productivity unlocking their share of £208bn in gains over the next decade.”