User-focused schemes rewarded

Tameside's public service IT project pips Camden and Southampton to the post

Tameside's public service IT project pips Camden and Southampton to the post

The 2000 Local Government IT Excellence Award winners have been announced, with Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council scooping the main prize ahead of the London Borough of Camden and Southampton City Council.

The award committee commented, "The objective of the award is to identify and publicise the introduction of best practice and value for money in projects large or small and in any area of local government processes or the services it provides to the public."

Tameside's "Customer First" project fulfilled the award committee's guidelines most comprehensively. The council created a single IT solution, at a cost of £300,000, to improve customer access to information and services across multiple communications.

Tameside's main objectives were to provide IT to support the aim of making customers the focus of council business, to provide access to local service that are inclusive and "joined up", and to extend the availability of access to information and services.

It achieved these by firstly introducing a system that provides access to information and services to customer service centres, call centres and directly to the public. It also supplied a system that allows mobile workers to access the same information and services as office-based workers, and provides access to council services by personal callers at a time when other agencies are retreating to remote call centres. The council also deployed technology to provide unattended access to information and services 24 hours a day.

Tameside said the Customer First project is part of a much bigger initiative to modernise how the council delivers its services. The council's aim for the future is to deliver a personalised Web presence for each citizen in the area. This will contain information relevant to them and their families and which will provide a portal through which each citizen can conduct their business with the council and other agencies.

Second prize was awarded to the London Borough of Camden for its 'Modernising the School Office' project which Computer Weekly reported on earlier this month. Southampton City Council was highly commended for its SmartCities project, which was aimed at designing a multi-application, multi-owner smartcard scheme for the city.

The award is a collaborative venture between the Computing Services and Software Association (CSSA), the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace).

Sponsors include First Software, Northgate Information Solutions, SouthBank Systems and TC Group.

Winning way

Benefits of The Tameside Customer First Project

  • More customer enquiries are dealt with at first contact, improving both customer service and council effectiveness

  • Legacy data can be effectively displayed on Web pages (for public use . The more people use the Web site, the more relevance it has to customers

  • The back office function is better equipped to deliver an effective service because it is not required to respond to public enquiries

  • Corporate information is managed better and reaches more staff via the intranet (65% of staff have intranet access).
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