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States aims to get smart and be the best

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

THERE is a lofty goal in the Smart Guernsey initiative – to simply be the best.

OK, there is a qualifier before Tina Turner starts blasting out, the States says that it wants to provide the best public service of any small jurisdiction.

Certainly it won’t take much to improve on the current digital offering, with so much of its limited offering awkward and unintuitive.

Government has been dipping its toe in to try and show it is modern while still being reliant on filling in forms and shuffling them around for too much of what it does and what the public needs to do with it.

We are signing cheques and walking to a post box when we should be sitting on a laptop and getting tasks finished in a flash.

There are many compelling reasons to embrace technology, some of them to do with efficiency in how the States works and how many people it employs, some to do with making the lives of the public and businesses easier.

In the race to turn the service offered to the public digital, the States must always be cautious that it is not leaving those who are not connected, for any number of reasons, behind.

The States and its digital partner also needs to ensure security of the data that it controls is not compromised.

And there also needs to be accountability about the costs and some clarity about just what success and value for money really is.

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This is after all a £200m. project that will run for 10 years, it is easy for the fog to descend and shroud what is going on.

When you break it down, being the best public service really does make you ask what you are measuring that against.

We have been promised digital improvements before, but the States is still struggling with old technology and legacy issues.

There is a working culture that needs to be changed, which is challenging when it has been so well established and people may feel that they are working towards ending their own job.

Smart Guernsey is a huge, exciting blockbuster investment – it needs to deliver results that reflect that.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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