Newcastle and Buckinghamshire councils win O2 Local Government Digital Fund

Newcastle City Council and Buckinghamshire County Council have won a share of prize money from O2 which will be used by the councils to tackle social challenges using technology

Newcastle City Council and Buckinghamshire County Council have both won a share of prize money from O2 which will be used by the councils to tackle social challenges using technology.

The O2 Government Digital Fund has awarded the councils £200,000 worth of digital expertise and technology from O2 to be shared between them to help turn their visions into reality.

Over 120 local authorities submitted ideas as part of the competition, and six were chosen to take part in a dragon’s den-style pitch final, with a judging panel including chief exec of SOCITM, Adrian Hancock, CEO of New Local Government Network, Simon Parker and O2’s business director Ben Dowd.

Buckinghamshire County Council’s vision was to create a universal benefit calculator app to help frontline workers assist citizens understand the impact of welfare reforms.

“This idea is a winner for us because we can see the phenomenal reach the app will have, and the benefits it will provide for many citizens. We were really impressed by the enthusiasm of the team, and how well they brought their idea to life in their presentation,” said Dowd.

Additionally, Newcastle City Council want to use technology to help youngsters with special educational needs and adults with learning disabilities become independent travellers.

Mark Adams-Wright, head of local government, O2, said:  “This was an incredibly well-thought out plan, and an idea that shows the social value digital innovation can bring.”

Adams-Wright also said that technology holds the key to helping the public sector make crucial savings. “Whether through policies and devices to empower staff to work more flexibly, or a mobile app to make it easier for local authorities to engage with communities,” he said. “We are passionate about ensuring services in the public sector are of high quality for UK citizens, and serve them in the easiest and most cost effective way.

The Local Government Digital Fund

O2's Local Government Digital Fund aims to help councils develop services in three categories:

  • Mobile working: Helping employees to serve local communities, for instance an app that allows a healthcare worker to access patient information on the move
  • Connecting and communicating with citizens: Making life easier for citizens, such as an app that allows people to pay their council tax via mobile or tablet
  • Collaborating in the workplace: Improving service delivery for communities by developing online information sharing systems that allow teams to liaise with different departments to resolve queries or problems faster

Read more on Mobile networks