Public sector urged to embrace smart places and location intelligence

Smart places and location intelligence are two themes that should be at the heart of the transformation of local government and public sector, says Socitm.

In launching two new major research projects at its spring conference, the association is urging those in any way involved with the transformation of public services to adopt fresh thinking about the nature of ‘place’: by looking beyond the concept of smart cities, and also to consider new ways of using location data.

Presenting at Socitm’s spring conference, Socitm Director of Policy & Research Martin Ferguson introduced ‘Smart Places’ and ‘Location Intelligence’ research resources. Both are designed to help those in public service deliver a future in which digital is at its best: achieving public sector ambitions in everything from environment to economy.


Smart Places

In his presentation, he highlighted the extensive Smart Places project – a series of seven guides researched and written by industry expert and former Socitm president Jos Creese.

Of the resources, Jos says that they do ‘not attempt to repeat the many research works written about smart cities’. Instead, notes Jos, the guides offer ways to ‘apply the ideas and the best practice of smart cities to rural and semi-urban areas, including small cities and towns, whole regions and the whole nation’.

The suite of guides includes an introduction which is freely available to everyone, demonstrating how technology is the starting point in connecting infrastructure, business, communities, public service and individual citizens in ways that were previously impossible.


Location Intelligence

For Location Intelligence, Martin explained how Socitm worked with geospatial experts ConsultingWhere to produce five videos and accompanying material that shows the public sector the huge benefits of adopting location intelligence practices. This innovative discipline uses geographically-referenced data to predict behavioural, community and environmental patterns – all of which are crucial to making decisions in public service.

The videos, as Martin will explain, feature many case studies where location intelligence is making a difference to public life. For example, a Welsh Government project led by Newport City Council and Cardiff City Council, has used location intelligence to detect council tax avoidance and fraud, generating some £260,000 in revenue across the authorities involved. Using the figures from this particular scheme, it is believed that more than £7m could be saved across England and Wales.

The two research projects signal an ambitious new direction for Socitm’s research and policy work, with the aim that these areas are further developed and expanded in the future, through close working with members and partners. Above all else, the Smart Places and Location Intelligence projects are designed to help local government and public sector make a real difference to public life.

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