Internet and digital technologies have transformed lives on a global scale and continue to do so at an ever-increasing pace.

The effect has been to revolutionise banking, shopping, health care and social interaction as well as the places where we live and work. Companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are all now household names and even though they are relatively new, they have developed fast.

Having access to high speed internet is now often described as the fourth utility – and is an important consideration for residents and businesses when considering living, working or investing in a city. We need to influence the access to high speed internet with service providers including how we can use funding streams available for businesses to make it easier to connect homes. Digital technologies are helping to plan better, more sustainable growth in cities worldwide: to make cities better connected, safer, greener and better places to live.

The pace of technology evolution is also changing what people want from the services that the public sector - including the Council - provides. People want transactional services and information to be available through their own device, any time, day or night - mirroring the experience they have with banking and retail. Even services that require some form of human interaction, including social care, can be enhanced by technology and can often help people to live independently for longer or for families to better support their loved ones.

For more information or for any queries regarding this strategy, please contact Paul Ward,  Head of ICT & Digital

Get involved using #DigitalCov

Digital change

Digital change is already happening and it is important that Coventry understands how we can harness these changes to best effect – for the Council, for customers, residents and for Coventry as a 21st century city. It is also important that despite the widespread nature and uptake of digital technology, we don’t leave residents behind who don’t have the skills or access to take advantage of the opportunity.

Coventry is a city that is used to reinventing itself; it’s done so successfully for centuries. Digital is a fundamental part of the change we will make as we develop the physical environment of the city and deliver on the ambition of becoming an even greater place to do business.

The Council is facing significant challenges – since 2010 funding from central government has been cut by 50% this equates to grant cuts of £655m since 2011/12. This means we have £200 less per resident in Coventry to spend on services. We do not have the funding, capacity and all of the expertise to deliver the digital innovation that we know would benefit the city. We have strong partners, including two world class universities, communities and businesses in the city who are already engaged in digital innovation – relationships that we can develop to make Coventry digital. We have work to do to ensure that our workforce has the skills to deal with the digital age and we are facing unprecedented reductions in funding that will continue to change the services that we provide.

We know that digital can help us to achieve reductions in the cost of public services through increased efficiency, automation and effectiveness. We can use digital to increase the productivity of the public sector workforce - through flexible and agile working. We can also use the opportunity of digital to completely rethink the way that we deliver services rather than just computerising them. We need to focus on designing digital processes and solutions with a strong emphasis on user experience and ease of use – in the same way the Government Digital Service (GDS) has done for some central government processes, including renewing a passport or taxing a car.

The ability to operate effectively in a digital age is a key skill for all of our residents, and in particular young people leaving school. This will help to increase their job readiness and ability to thrive in work, maximising the use of technology to support health, wellbeing, community networks and democracy throughout a person’s life. The whole population must have access to technology, infrastructure and skills to ensure they will get the most from the digital age and we want everyone to have an equal opportunity to do this.

Digitalisation provides the opportunity to deliver vastly improved and accessible data that can be used to predict and plan both tactically and strategically – not only how public money can be spent to better effect, but also to influence the priorities for private investment that will underpin economic growth and enable a proactive and personalised service to users. Data is an asset which can be shared in a controlled way with citizens and local enterprises. Data can be used in new and innovative ways to support the ambition of the city.

The digital revolution also presents challenges that we must understand and prepare for, including cyber-resilience and cyber-bullying. We also don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining human interaction in our lives and the services the Council delivers – digital provides the opportunities to enhance the way things are done.

Our digital strategy - vision and aims

The sets out the Council’s vision and priorities for the city.

How does the digital strategy link to the Council Plan?

The digital revolution matters to Coventry because digital changes create the opportunity for innovation and growth, improving the lives of Coventry’s residents and helping the Council to deliver outcomes in a more effective and efficient way, working with partners and residents.

Supporting business growth, infrastructure development and city

Cloud computing, high speed internet connections including gigabit connections through Coventry Core, public Wi-Fi and 4G encourage new businesses to start up, reducing the need for upfront computing and communications infrastructure costs. This leads to a positive impact on inward investment and jobs. As the city grows, effective planning of new infrastructure – utilities, roads and fibre optics - through the use of smart data will make the city a more attractive place to live, work, learn, study and invest in. We can boost city centre footfall and tourism by making our city centre easy to navigate around and promoting events and businesses using technology.

Attractive cleaner and greener city

Faster internet connectivity and cloud computing can aid and encourage people to work, learn and study from home without the need for a long distance commute. This will have a positive impact on travel patterns, commuting and road traffic. Connected air sensing technology can provide real time information on air quality, which can be used dynamically for route planning as well as providing long term data for analysis and insight. This will provide the means to log progress against green targets and plan to reduce congestion.

Improving educational outcomes

Now an essential tool in education, increased internet connection speeds, digital tools and literacy can help raise the skill levels, employability and earning potential for all age groups.

Improving health and wellbeing

Joining up customer records and sharing data with partners and customers will enable us to act sooner with families with complex needs, and enable greater access to service choice at lower cost through My Account (our online customer portal). Online information/advice services, assistive and telecare solutions allow people to take control of their own lives, live independently for longer and positively impact social, equality and financial inclusion objectives.

Delivering our priorities

Using digital solutions will enable the Council to develop a more flexible and skilled workforce, to integrate services across functional and geographical boundaries, to rationalise our property estate as services become less dependent on buildings and to save money. We will build stronger communities by enabling customers and businesses to be included in the digital economy and digital society, so our most vulnerable residents are included.

Raising the profile of Coventry with active citizens, strong and involved communities

Using digital and social media to showcase Coventry and the work that has happened and is underway to improve the city. We will be able to engage with citizens and businesses about the city’s developments and projects via new digital channels. Communities can create their own networks and take a leading role in creating a vibrant economy and places to live and work.

Supporting open data and innovation

Coventry can make real time data available which can be used local businesses to create new digital solutions, making connections that have never been considered before. This could link traffic information with air quality and health and social care, enriched with demographic data. Coventry can be seen as a digital city not just by its infrastructure but also in the way information is shared and collaborated with partners in all sectors.

The Digital Strategy also aligns with:

  • The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Strategic Economic Plan objective of Unlocking Our Growth Potential through programmes that address digital connectivity and support for the digital sector.
  • The West Midlands Combined Authority Strategic Economic Plan – with a particular focus on delivering growth and public service reform across eight priority themes – new manufacturing economy, creative and digital, environmental technologies, medical and life sciences, HS2 (High Speed 2 - the planned high-speed railway linking London to the West Midlands and beyond), skills for growth and employment for all, housing and maximising the economic geography.
  • The draft City Centre Area Action Plan and the Draft Local Plan which include policies which directly encourage the expansion of digital infrastructure.
  • The emerging Digital Economy Bill as announced at the 2016 Queen’s speech for the state opening of Parliament.

The aims of our digital strategy

  • To set the scene for Coventry City Council and partners for the future direction of digital services, infrastructure and innovation.
  • To be an over-arching document that gives a clear direction of where the Council, working alongside all of our partners, wants to be in the next five years – recognising that we will continually adapt and evolve to keep up-to-date with the latest advances in digital technologies.
  • To focus limited public resources on achieving the best digital outcomes across the whole Council, the city and beyond. To encourage and direct investment in the digital programme by others and to maximise limited public resources.
  • To encourage services, people and organisations to work together to share developments and knowledge.
  • To address the growing demand for digital services and focus on what residents want in order to deliver outcomes that matter to them.
  • To enable the Council, residents, businesses and partners to get the most out of digital.

The Council will play a part in delivering the Digital Strategy, but we will not do that alone. This is a digital strategy for the city and not just for the Council. The universities, businesses, residents, public sector including the NHS and the police, the voluntary and community sector will all be
progressing digital work and will continue to innovate and devise solutions. This agenda cannot be controlled or directed by one organisation alone.

The Council’s role will be focussed on helping to identify the priorities that will lead to the biggest impacts on economic growth and public service reform – this will include the infrastructure to support digital innovation in the city, providing insight and delivering public service reform directly,
including working in a more digital way as a Council and promoting work that will support every resident in the city to benefit from digital change.

Our Digital Strategy will need:

  • Us to ensure that our key policies and strategies are integrated with our digital ambition and principles including planning, procurement, economic growth, early help, adult and children’s social care, education, workforce, ICT, customer journey programme and commissioning. The use of digital must be designed with the customer at the heart and is not an end in itself.
  • An effective and progressive digital connectivity infrastructure in the city, including broadband/fibre, mobile telecommunications (4G) and public Wi-Fi. This supports the Council’s Local Plan and Government’s Digital Communication Infrastructure Strategy ambitions.
  • Us to develop the digital skills and confidence of our workforce so they are equipped to apply technology productively and proactively to find better ways of delivering public services. We need to continue to develop specialist skills and capabilities through insight and business intelligence to enable us to achieve our ambitions. This also includes skills of influencing and working collaboratively with partners to achieve outcomes through different means.
  • Influencing the development of digital skills and solutions within our communities through partners (including voluntary organisations), schools, colleges and universities, so they are engaged, not excluded from the revolution. Engaging residents digitally too so that we reinvigorate democracy across communities.
  • Changing the way we design, procure and build digital systems so that the customer journey is at the heart of how new systems operate and work. Reshaping the traditional local government software and service market to ensure there is increased choice and better value for money. Suppliers will be challenged to offer functionality rich digital systems with a focus on the customer experience, data quality, integration and adaptability.
  • Protecting privacy, delivering robust information, data and cyber security and investing in delivering digital resilience so that our online services can be trusted to be safe, reliable and to work through implementing the actions in our Information Management and ICT strategies.
  • Redesigning and implementing business policies, strategies and processes to have digital and customer focussed design at their core.
  • Focusing on, and maximising the value in, our data and information. This includes identifying our core data and information assets. Creating “golden records” for these core data sets with a focus on data integrity and quality. Making data open when we can and sharing with our partners where governance allows.
  • Designing and implementing digital services which align with industry and sector standards, policies and procedures. Where these do not exist, we will define them.