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Local public services must become more responsive

In recent years it has become clear that local public services must become more responsive to the needs and concerns of users, citizens and communities. Not simply to make government more legitimate and transparent, but even more importantly to improve the quality of the services themselves. As a consequence legislation and policy has been introduced to ensure the publics concerns are at the heart of local government DNA.

However, these new demands are happening at a time when public services are facing the biggest reduction in resources since World War II.This situation forces us all to profoundly rethink how and why we engage our citizens; and in particular ensuring that any engagement is both cost effective and hardwired into service delivery.

Izwe has been founded to meet this exact challenge.

Engagement Now

Now involvement happens whether government wants it or not. Citizens are now able to go online and talk, e-petition, tweet, blog and, importantly, mobilise themselves through their social networks for what they care about. The idea that engagement is simply choreographed through a government communications department no longer holds.

This should not be seen as a loss of control by government. But rather a new opportunity to channel civic energy into improved service delivery at radically reduced costs.

Not everyone is online, but over 75% of us are. And more people are willing to participate online, than attend a community meeting, answer a telephone survey or complete a questionnaire. Until now, many online developments so far have lacked the rigour of social research or sensitivity of community development. We’re doing what we can to change that.