County council powers up plans to improve online services and reduce cyber-threats
As more people access public services on computers or mobile phones, residents will see real improvements after Oxfordshire County Council revealed plans to ‘future-proof’ its digital systems as part of a two-year overhaul.
Councillors approved a new information and communication technology (ICT) strategy, which will lead to investment in smarter, more secure systems and better customer services.
The county council's website gets 370,000 page views per week and receives around 1300 online payments per week. A new online Blue Badge application process with credit card payments launched earlier this year. Since then, nearly 70% of applications are online - previously it was 40%.
The county council has also agreed to sign up to the Government ‘local digital declaration’. The decision was made at the council’s Cabinet today (16 December 2019) and commits the county council to designing online services that meet the needs of residents, while protecting their privacy and security.
The digital declaration promises: “We will design safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information to build trust among our partners and citizens, to better support the most vulnerable members of our communities, and to target our resources more effectively.”
The council’s ICT strategy emphaises the importance of protecting systems against cyber secrutiy risks, with the creation of a new dedicated cyber security officer responsible for protecting council data and computer systems.
The new ICT strategy includes a long-term commitment to switching to more efficient ‘cloud’ computing, which will also massively reduce energy consumption and contribute to the council’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
The county council is developing its ICT services with its partner Cherwell District Council, with a long-term ambition to improve digital connectivity across the whole county.
“Technology should enable more effective partnership working and improve service design, breaking down organisational boundaries and providing excellent customer service,” said Councillor Ian Corkin, Cabinet Member for Cherwell Partnership Delivery.
“Technology needs to be intuitive to staff and residents alike, and we should aim to be digital by design and best in class,” added Councillor Eddie Reeves, Cabinet Member for Transformation.