From FOI to Keep Fit: Why You Need a Community Engagement Platform

SynApps has started to work with key customers on a very exciting new frontier in local government – digital outreach

Local authorities are very good at dealing with their service users on social care or benefits: they know who they are, they’ve got systems to deal with it.

But what they’re not doing so well is addressing the greater or wider community… which is a problem, as UK local government now has a much bigger remit to engage with residents.

We think we may have something to help – what we’re calling our new community engagement platform that can join up all your different departments that might want to engage with the community and provide a really, easy platform to connect all of your teams internally as well and reach out to the wider community.

The best way of explaining is this: if you or I make a FOI (Freedom of information) request to our local Town Hall, it would likely struggle to provide information back within the 21 days that’s required, because it has several separate departments, run by separate teams, all running separate software systems – and they have to go through a physical ring round, email round type of check to be able to respond to our FOI request.

Clearly, it would be much better if I make an inquiry, be it FOI or ask about where I can park my bike on my next big jaunt across the local terrain, that I get pointed to a portal or website where I can find the information I am looking for as well as check what information the council holds on me, which of course has to be available to me as part of the new GDPR compliance regulations.

Great for me – I get my biking info. But it’s also great I argue, for the authority, too. What’s happening now is that the local council has to engage with the NHS. More and more have responsibility for the local CCG too, as well as GP practices. They also have a social care system, they work with the emergency services, probably the local University level, too.

My point? Community engagement is about not just linking the council’s internal systems, but having the ability to share this information across the whole local area. A good example is a council currently working with us to build a properly linked-up, self-service solution that allows me, the citizen, to look at my council information, look at my NHS record, look at my GP system record and, if I’m in a social care environment –  look at that information, too.

And it can go further. How about allowing the local authority to advertise events and things going on in its community every time I log in.  It can also ask me questions like, what are your hobbies, what sorts of sports do you do, what are your interests? And, if I pick boxes, it will then start to feed me information on those things.

A big driver here could be the Keep Fit and Healthy regime councils are now being mandated to deliver. Just think about how great it would be to combine all of that content into one place.

We think this solution is a great way to engage with your community and deliver relevant, up to date, information, and I hope you have a minute or two to check out some more of the detail here, or by dropping me a line at chris.Brice@synapps-solutions.com.