The Royal Borough of Greenwich covers a densely populated area of south-east London, where the council delivers services to a large, fast growing and economically diverse community of over 286,999 people. Delivering timely and efficient services at local government level inevitably presents challenges, particularly in light of the paperbased applications, in-person inspections and manual administration tasks that form part of an exacting process. The council had been working to very traditional working practices, so the challenge for Greenwich – and for Idox – was in creating a digital solution that would better serve the population, particularly in terms of licensing.
By 2016, it was clear that software installed in the early 1990s was no longer fit for purpose. With the incumbent solution, online transactions weren’t possible, while upgrades were costly and problematic. Laborious, paper-based systems presented issues ranging from the degradation of data to sustainability. For example, officers were tied to manual processes that required their input and physical presence, reducing time spent out on district. The team at Greenwich could see the successful changes achieved by other councils already embracing the adoption of cloud-based technology – and the benefits of mobile working and digital citizen services were clear. The question was, how to implement them effectively?
Greenwich wanted to create a smart, responsive digital system that would open the door to smarter ways of working. Enlisting the help of Idox, a cloud-based solution was implemented for use by any council officer, regardless of location, whether working on environmental health, noise and nuisance complaints, contaminated land enquiries or trading standards. Using the citizens’ portal, business owners would now apply for their licenses online – from alcohol, entertainment to gambling. Once the project was initiated, the Idox team developed their solution with a collaborative process that included bespoke development, data migration testing, user training and finally live deployment.
Digital transformation: putting Greenwich in the cloud
Installing software has enabled the council to build and develop a faster, more streamlined system that pushes forward efficient working practices, in turn reducing costs. Crucially, the new software enables online payments and remote working. The system works on mobile devices and is easily accessed, anytime and anywhere – giving officers more time out in the field, serving the communities who rely on them.
Seamless online licensing
Digital means that some administration tasks can be eradicated, giving officers the freedom to work from their preferred location and on the move, to maximise their output. For example, business owners can now apply for a licence online. Once submitted and paid for, their application is assigned to a council officer, working remotely within the system workflow. The officer can visit their premises and complete the inspection via their mobile device, potentially emailing the license documentation straightaway.
A digital future at Greenwich
The introduction of smart, secure and innovative technology has transformed the processes by which Greenwich Council manages public protection and licensing across the borough. Embracing digital has transformed them into an efficient, secure and streamlined operation. The opportunity now is for them to continue learning, using the system to its full extent and allowing it to evolve. This could mean, for example, greater automation of processes and the expansion of their digital service provision to citizens and business owners.