Digital and information technology strategy

Introducing digital government

When we talk about a digital world, we are referring to the way that people and organisations interact. This new world has evolved through the emergence of technologies that have fundamentally disrupted the way that we now think and behave. For example:

  • mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – are rapidly changing the way that we work, rest and play by giving us the ability to access business and social data from almost anywhere at any time
  • social networks – for example, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – have fundamentally changed the way that we organise our social and professional lives by enabling us to rapidly communicate with an expanding network of friends and contacts
  • analytical insights – for example, store loyalty cards and online product searches – have fundamentally changed our shopping experiences by predicting our choices and preferences, and enabling us to make quicker informed decisions
  • cloud computing – for example, Office 365, Dropbox, iCloud – has allowed both individuals and smaller organisations to gain access to technologies that were previously prohibitively expensive – this is already resulting in wider inclusion during the continued evolution of the mobile digital world

Connected Thurrock has been developed in collaboration with our key partners and describes how we believe digital technology can be used to make life in Thurrock better for everyone. It is a strategy of 2 sides: The 'digital' side describes the behavioural, commercial and social outcomes that we aim to achieve. The 'information technology' side describes how our current technology will evolve to enable these outcomes. From our consultation, what emerged as important to people was:

  • a need to invest in ultrafast broadband infrastructure and public Wi-Fi across Thurrock to remove existing gaps in provision and enable economic growth
  • the council needing to enable more collaboration, including virtual conferencing, flexible working and integration with its public and private sector partners
  • building a data analytics capability to enable a more intelligent understanding of the needs of communities and individuals and to manage demand
  • working with the education and voluntary sectors to provide courses and promote digital inclusion so as to avoid people being left behind by new technology
  • ensuring our local education offer equips people with the skills needed to build a digital economy
  • getting the basics right – ensuring our workforce is equipped with the right tools and applications to do their jobs and work from a reliable and stable platform
  • making it easier for citizens to access services via mobile devices as that is their device of choice
  • increasing the amount of service offers that are available online
  • reducing the number of large scale business applications used by the Council and building more targeted applications that enable users to operate more agilely from mobile devices
  • ensuring that future technology solutions are implemented via business change activity that redesigns existing business processes to make them agile and responsive to future change

This strategy builds on the achievements of previous IT strategies and is a statement of intent for the next 3 years and beyond. Connected Thurrock will be a journey to make Thurrock a digital exemplar. We will do this by embedding 5 key cultural building blocks in everything we do:

  • digital leadership – focusing on 'place making' by enabling economic growth, improving peoples' quality of life and strengthening the relationship with our communities
  • digital awareness – building a recognition amongst our staff of the need to think and be digital
  • digital by default – as part of the service review process, services will become digital
  • digital platforms – deploying technologies to improve efficiency and deliver user centric services
  • digital skills – equipping our people with the skills needed for the 21st century

We have taken these 5 building blocks and set out the steps that need to be taken to enable us to become a digital exemplar. These buildings blocks are underpinned by the delivery themes, digital principles and architectural principles – see appendices – of this strategy together with the wider programme of service reviews.