Video conferencing units give rural residents remote access to services

Bassetlaw Council installs 13 video conferencing units

Bassetlaw Council installs 13 video conferencing units

A Nottinghamshire council has given members of the public access to its services and those of other public sector bodies in the region through video conferencing units.

People living in remote areas covered by the local authority can get benefits advice from council employees without travelling to meet them in person.

Bassetlaw District Council, which took the lead on the project, also enables people using the system to request services from seven other public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

The project – called Bassetlaw Information Services Communicating Using IT (Biscuit) – received £215,000 from the Legal Services Commission to pay for 13 video conferencing units to be set up and maintained for three years.

IT managers at Bassetlaw Council were awarded a further £70,000 from the government’s New Opportunities Fund to continue the project’s work.

The units have been set up in remote villages in properties owned by either the council or one of the bodies that support the Biscuit project.

Users are presented with a touch screen that they can use to select a service provider. Users speak directly to employees at the head office of the district council or one of the other service providers.

Documents and forms are available for completion on the units’ screens. People can sign documents electronically, and any documents that need to be submitted can be scanned.

The units take photographs of the people using them to enable citizens to apply for council services that require photographic identification.

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