COVID19 Crisis To Recovery Local Authority Digital Transformation Breakthroughs
August 19, 2021
COVID19 Crisis To Recovery
Learning From Local Authority Digital Transformation Breakthroughs
Live Event: Learn from Local Authority digital transformation breakthroughs as we invite Asher Craig – Deputy Mayor of Bristol and Xavier Longan – UN lead for partnerships and operations in the global sustainable development goals action campaign to join us for our COVID Recovery Through Technology event.
Meet the speakers
Asher Craig – Deputy Mayor of Bristol.
Asher will be providing a powerful case study on how one local authority harnessed technology to address the sudden outbreak of Covid-19, and Bristol’s challenges and strategy for the recovery ahead.
Ismael Velasco – Head of COVID Response at Bookinglive
Ismael will share technology insights and tools for achieving COVID security and crisis preparedness, gathered from Bookinglive’s collaborations with local authorities across the country.
Xavier Longan – UN Lead for Partnerships and Operations in the global Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign
He will share lessons from local authority digital transformations worldwide and offer strategic insights for the next stage of the Covid-19 challenge.
As we move from crisis response to recovery, the challenges confronting local government are immense. This event will showcase and capture best practices from Local Authority digital transformations across the UK and internationally. By the end, you will be equipped with actionable local authority digital transformation strategies, specific tools and peer networks to help your immediate decision making as we re-open the economy and prepare for future pandemic waves.
WORKSHOP & REPORT
In addition to the keynotes from experts in the political, policy and technological arenas, we gathered cross-sector best practices through interactive workshops with attendees from a wide range of local authority digital transformations and local government departments. The data from all participant contributions provided a snapshot of the “state of the art” in local authority digital transformation preparedness, and together with the keynotes, has provided actionable and practical next steps for many that attended. The event also provided valuable opportunities for networking, collaboration and partnerships which have continued to flourish post the event taking place.
WHO SHOULD WATCH THIS?
This round table was aimed at senior decision-makers and influencers in local authority digital transformation and has provided strategic intelligence that is improving decision making across departments and organisations. However, anyone who is interested in how large structure organisations reacted, and continue to react to a global and local catastrophe, the digital transformation successes and lessons learnt, this has been an event full of insight and education and we strongly recommend you watching or reading the full round table event.
Discover more about local government digital transformation tools and solutions below.
– [Ismael] Well, welcome very much to everyone who has joined so far, I suspect we will have a few more people join us. But it is a very great pleasure to host you we have a really interesting cross-section I can see from, from the participants of, of local authority digital transformation teams, councils and experiences. And of course, we have fantastic speakers. So, without further ado, I will let our Chief Marketing Officer Sam Johnston, welcome, introduce today, and then we’ll continue to facilitate the proceedings going forward.
– [Sam] Thanks, Ismael, and we’re really glad to be able to throw this event alongside our fantastic speakers, I know that we’re going to get some really good insight from them as we go through this presentation. But equally, on the back end of this conversation, we’re going to be getting some insight from each other. There’s a really great diverse mix of local authorities, local governments and different organizations that are supporting society through the COVID-19 challenges, and through into the post-pandemic solutions that we need to start to implement. So we’ll have a couple of breakout sessions that Ismael is going to be putting forward and running. But really looking forward to seeing what those themes and findings are. Hopefully, we can get some actionable learning out of that at the end as well to develop things in place. Once we’re done with the event I’ll catch up with you guys at the end as well. So looking forward to it.
– [Ismael] Thank you very much. So today, we will begin by setting the frame obviously right now, we are in a moment of enormous transition. We’ve just gone past the lockdown and the most acute moment globally in many ways. And we’re entering a recovery phase, but we’re also having the risk of second waves. So I am going to welcome chubbier London, to introduce us to the bigger picture. Xavier is the lead for partnerships and operations at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals action campaign. And so he has a global picture of sort of how this crisis is playing out and what opportunities it also presents from that broader agenda of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. So Xavier, welcome.
– [Xavier] Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Good morning. Good evening, everybody. It’s such a pleasure to be part of this panel today. Let me let me start by saying that yes, what you see behind me is the design of a butterfly. And, and I will refer to this a bit later on. But, um, but I wanted to start by thanking you izmail by thanking booking life for inviting me and for inviting us in the UN SDG action campaign to be to be part of this conversation today. We had the chance to meet you is man, as I’m sure you remember, and to come across booking live during the global hackathon earlier this year.
This was a global massive exercise to where the UN SDG action the bank collaborated and helped to organize, and which was designed to co create solutions to tackle the challenges posed by the covid 19 pandemic. And this was done in the very, very early days of the Nemec, in fact. So allow me to first off to congratulate you, again, publicly, is you and moving live for winning the solidarity and action category of this global hackathon with the coordinate 19 solution, and also for being the only British organization to make it a top 10 among 16,000 participants, globally, which is no no small feat.
Let me also say a quick very quick word about the UN SDG action campaign about who we are. We are an interagency initiative of the UN Secretary General. And we are mandated basically to mobilize and inspire citizens, individuals but also organizations to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals, which as I’m sure everybody knows, were adopted by all the member states of the United Nations in the year 2015. With a target date for doing them in 2030. And we’re also mandated not just to mobilize, activate and inspire but also To connect these individuals and organizations with decision makers at all levels, so it’s not much different, in a way to what we’re doing today, we’re coming together locally in our rooms with other, with other stakeholders with other institutions, to seek solutions to work together and to connect with with each other.
Now, we have been since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we have been doing a lot of thinking, as I’m sure you will have, on the challenges that these pandemic poses. But we’ve also been looking and I think you mentioned that at the beginning izmail, we’ve also been looking very closely at what opportunities are emerging from the pandemic, what is what they Namib is the dynamic creating that we can leverage not just to recover. But to make things better to do things better, to change the way in which we operate, basically. And we have identified four opportunities, which I wanted to share quickly with you today. Now, the first opportunity is that the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals started as a political commitment. But they are now urging concrete priorities claimed by people and by leaders everywhere. So if anything, the pandemic has shown that the SDGs encapsulate the pathway to more resilient societies and a more sustainable planet. So issues, such as decent jobs, social protection, equal access to quality education, health services, also climate change, clean water, all these issues are now top imperatives, top priorities for people everywhere. So it’s not an abstract agenda anymore. These things are real. And these things are being demanded by people everywhere.
So what we see is that on the one hand, local governments are at the receiving end of this demand of the demand for action and delivery on these various areas. But at the same time, on the other hand, the same local governments can also are key also to more directly and efficiently tap on to these new audiences, which are now much more aware and much more sensitive to the goals, to the sustainable goals and to what they represent. So there is an opportunity here to work together to sort of reveal the trust between the citizens and institutions and work together. Now a second opportunity that we have identified is that transformative change is now possible. So until recently, the transformative changes required to achieve the 2030 agenda and the goals themselves were perceived as too costly or too difficult, etc.
But with the dynamic, what we’re seeing with COVID, with the impact of COVID-19, we’re seeing, we’re seeing that there is a debate that is being fueled, and there is a momentum with the potential to achieve and even accelerate a global transformation. Now, local governments and their constituents have an opportunity now, which we didn’t have before, to reimagine our societies, reimagine our economies reimagining, reimagining our governance to realize not just short term, short term gains, but also long term commitments to human rights to sustainability, and to mutual mutual benefit. Now from outside the local level, Trump’s save cycle routes across cities, sustainable building projects, to the digital transformation of citizen engagement, so that local services are accessible to everyone. necessity has made the public sector creative. And this creativity we feel must be nurtured to outlive the crisis. So in short, what I’m trying to say is that business as usual, is no longer an option. And that takes me to the third opportunity, which is that through a butterfly effect, individual action can unleash tremendous power. And that’s why I have this butterfly behind me because we I have seen that COVID-19 response has shown again and again consistently that the impact of individual action and individual behavior in addressing complex global challenges can make a massive, massive difference.
So we’ve seen how by taking individual action, beats physical distancing did washing our hands did staying at home, by taking individual action, people in many countries all over the world, have managed to flatten the curve, and save millions of lives. This is very important because we as a campaign, we advocate for individual action. And we’ve been advocating for a long time on the power of the individual, the power of the crowd to really have a global impact. And now I think that the COVID-19 and individual action, in terms of contributing to flatten the curve is the perfect illustration of that how local action can have this global impact. Also, around the world, people have inspired and comforted each other with simple spontaneous acts of solidarity of heroism that are sustaining lives and communities. So again, this illustrates with the syrup clarity, that local action can have global impact, and a local level policies can play a pivotal role in changing global trends.
– [Xavier] Now, let me refer to the fourth and final opportunity. And I’ll start my conclusion here. Before overdoing it, we have identified as a global solidarity, again, it’s not it’s no longer an abstraction that’s just like the heads disease, but it is now an imperative a priority for people everywhere in their daily lives. So a spontaneous Solidarity Movement is emerging. I think there is little question about about that. Now, this is lifting hopes that more unites us than divides us. And that also links up with other social movements that we’ve seen that with like black lives matter in the state and other movements that where there is an undercurrent of solidarity of helping each other. So that can work together. For a better world for a better world. And channel. Well, this movement is a very powerful force to respond to the pandemic, and to advance local and global cooperation, grounded in the values of global cooperation of multilateralism, universality and interconnectedness. So local governments and local state stakeholders from all sectors can join the effect change, but by leveraging this momentum, by riding this wave, basically this solidarity wave and supporting local institutions, to the current challenges.
Now, the crisis is showing, in our view, that there is a turning point at hand that we are at a crossroads. And we need to leverage this turning point for people and planet where their recovery efforts can be guided by the SDGs and the 2030 agenda, and can be inspired by local action, and local stakeholders working together in solidarity. That’s why we’re inviting local governments everywhere in the UK, but also all over the world, as well as individual terror organizations to join the global week to act presages their September, at the occasion of the General Assembly, but also the occasion of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, and the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the SDGs. We James this global mobilization precisely of showing that we’re stronger together, and also that we want to demand adjust and sustainable recovery.
– [Xavier] Let me close by thanking again. You Ismael by thanking BookingLive, and also by saying that I’m truly honoured to share this sort of virtual stage with the deputy mayor of Bristol Asher Craig. We are aware painfully of how much the United Kingdom has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by the COVID-19 crisis, the high toll that epidemic is having on the UK and we sincerely hope that we can draw Inspiration and strength from the resilience and strength shown by cities and citizens in the UK. And as I said, I hope that we can together contribute to adjust recovery for people and planet with the disease at the center and leaving no one behind. Thank you.
– [Ismael] Thank you very much. Thank you, Xavier for a really interesting frame, the fact that actually, we are part of a global process, and that there is an interaction between this global awareness and this global movement and what we do in cities. And I think that interaction between our institutions and our communities, has become incredibly crucial. And obviously, the Sustainable Development Goals allow us to have some sense of direction as to where we move this to address the challenges. So thank you for framing that. And I am extremely happy and thrilled to welcome now. Deputy Mayor, Councillor Usher, Craig, from Bristol City Council, to give us actually an illustration of how that looks like what that looks like, sort of as a case study. And I think I don’t envy the political leaders of local authorities at the moment having to suddenly react at speed. And yet, I think there is a lot of inspiration to be drawn from the sun the the topic that Charlie raised that this crisis is also an opportunity, I think, maybe demonstrated by the next account. So thank you very much for your participation. And welcome, Asher, I will let you share your screen so you can take us through your presentation. Actually, you are muted at the moment.
– [Asher] I firstly, thank you very much Ismael for inviting me to be part of this BookingLive Local Authority Digital Transformation event. And thank you very much Xavier for your introduction. I was making lots and lots of notes on the Local Authority Digital Transformation tips and insights as you were speaking. So one of the things that I will say is that I I’m really proud of the fact that Bristol is not an inward facing or city, we are an outward facing city. And I think over the last four years on end of in res 3d put Bristol on the map globally. And I am very proud of the fact that I think we were one of the first level authorities in the world to actually undertake our own voluntary review into the SDGs. You may have seen that. And that and the SDGs are what underpins everything that we do in the city across all of our partners, including the local authority. So we just published our statement of intent on the recovery of the city. And again, it’s embedded in the SDGs. And that is what is going to kind of drive us forward in terms of the recovery agenda. But I’m here today to kind of talk to you guys about what we have done in Bristol. And just before I go into the presentation, I just want to quickly set the context. It’s been it’s quite it’s been quite a strange experience actually having to go from normal what is now the new normal, but I have to take my hat off to our city and our partners of how quickly we actually adapted. And I think the reason why we have been so successful in the way in which we have responded to the covid 19 outbreak is because of all of the work that we had done around the one city approach, and the one city plan, the last two, two and a half years, we have been developing and working hard on the partnerships and the relationships that we have across the business sector, the public sector, and the voluntary and community sector. And I it stood us in good stead when we stood up gold command, silver command, and we just got into action. And it also said a lot about the trust as politicians that we also had for our own senior leadership team who, you know, sometimes decisions had to be made them decisions can’t, you know, haven’t got time to necessarily have that comfort level use the processes that we have within the local authority. So there’s a lot of lessons to be learned about as we look at the new normal, and we’re looking at that at this moment. So I want you to set the context as How great how we started. So my screen is disabled, wanting to share mine, could you? Okay, just about. Okay, great.
– [Asher] Then again and slideshare.
Right? Okay. So how did the Bristol local authority digital transformation team transform our digital response to COVID-19? Well, first and foremost, we needed to think about how we were going to communicate with the city. I’ve got the enviable responsibility of leading on both communities, equalities and public health. So I was very much at the coalface of everything that had been happening, and having to work extremely quickly and efficiently with our Director of Public Health. And then there in terms of getting information out of the door. So part of that involves weekly press conferences and radio phonons by the mayor and our Director of Public Health. We are have been producing citizens newsletters that have been sent out twice a week to communicate the key public health messages and sources of support that were available. We also have something called the we are Bristol helpline, and we’ve had nearly 14,000 calls have been completed in relation to that service. So anybody from across the city could phone in if they needed help with shopping, if they needed help with food, isolation, you name it, we provided it. We also provide it up until this week, weekly briefings and live webinars with all of our city leaders as part of our one city approach businesses. And that includes not just the usual suspects. But one of the things that we have done is starting to have conversations, particularly with those businesses who were have been really impacted, you know, the food businesses, the events that arts and festivals, and they have been back, I’ve been so successful that they want us to kind of continue going forward, because they really feel now that they’re very much a part of the city and involved in the Local Authority Digital Transformation decision making and the work going forward.
We also have facilitated volunteer weekly webinars with the voluntary community sector as well. Okay, I missed a volunteer response. So one of the things that was really helpful for us is that we have something called can do Bristol, which is an online digital volunteering platform. And when we started before COVID hit, we have maybe about, I don’t know, five 600 people registered on the platform, we haven’t really done a great job of advertising kind of marketing it. But as soon as this kicked in, we had to find a way in which we were going to mobilize the volunteering effort that just literally exploded overnight in the city. We had it felt like hundreds of mutual aid support groups that had been set up just by local residents in their neighborhoods. And we have to look at ways in which we were going to safeguard because as much as we wanted to embrace what was happening in local communities, we also have to make sure that those who might use those mutual aid online groups as a means to kind of undermine or take advantage of older residents, etc.
So we, we put out a call and we asked all of the volunteers who were part of the mutual aid movement, as well as just the whole city that they were interested in helping, then they should sign on to the platform. And literally, like within 24 hours, I think 3000 people were added. And within within a week, we now have maybe 9000 people who are actually registered on the candu Bristol website. These are 9000 people who are not ordinarily have any kind of relationship with the local authority or the city other than through the kindness that they have expressed. So through that we’ve delivered over nearly 5000 volunteer actions which include calls and visits made by pretenders shopping trips, prescription collections, dog walks, we also set up 22 community hubs to coordinate and support those activities. And those were distributed across the whole of The city. So I think every ward in the city have a hub. And the volunteers could actually relate to that. And in those areas where we didn’t have a hub, we were using maybe a library buildings because there are some areas where there is no community infrastructure in place.
– [Asher] In terms of Local Authority Digital Transformation in terms of democracy, so that was a new one. And it took a little time. So at least for the first couple of months, we had no, we were having no online full Council, or cabinet meetings, or planning meetings or anything like that, because we had to wait on the government to instigate Local Authority Digital Transformation and pass the legislation to allow that to happen. But that didn’t stop us as a cabinet. We were consistently meeting anyway prior informal cabinet meetings to ensure that the city was taking over. But since then, we’ve held over 43 public council meetings that have taken place by zoom. And we’ve been using the broadcast live, the public are able to ask questions and statements. In fact, we had full council last night and we had quite a heavy agenda. A couple of technical hitches, but people managed to get in. We also have something called the city gathering where twice a year we bring together all of our city partners. And obviously, this was the first time that we had used zoom technology. And it was absolutely It was a phenomenal its success.
In fact, a lot of people said that they, they they felt it was one of the best ones that we did. And we have the Bishop of Bristol speaking at that event, historian David Allah solgar, who happens to be a Bristol resident. And we also have Lord Bob kerslake speaking to us about economy, and recovery and what that’s going to look like going forward. Social media has been like a Bible. It’s been it, we’ve needed that and we use that relentlessly. And so we have regular video updates from the mayor. He holds a fortnightly Facebook Live q&a for up to an hour, we’ve delivered a number of videos and social media campaigns, staying at home around domestic violence. We are Bristol City of Hope. And that was in response to the rise in race hate crimes that were happening in the city. And again, are you okay, a safeguarding campaign that we set up to encourage people to check on their loved ones and make sure that people who may be living at home and are isolated are being looked after. So very clear messaging, using all of the platforms that we have to get our message across. Tackling that digital exclusion was another Biggie because obviously one of the issues particularly from older, older generation, in the conversations that we were having with the monitoring community sector, clearly there are communities in the city who are not accepted who, who we make assumptions that everybody is digitally included, but they’re not and particularly migrant and refugee communities. So black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, people who are living in kind of overcrowded, but you know, a lot of people who are some of those frontline workers who have been on the frontline, kind of helping to fight the pandemic. So we have to find a different way in which we could also be as inclusive as we aim to be as a city. So we made sure that we wrote to every single one of our Bristol City Council tenants so that we can explain and provide information about what they needed to do around social distancing, and how to get in contact with the council during COVID.
– [Asher] We worked with the Muslim strategic Leaders Group at Somali community forum, and we produced a range of multilingual posters for businesses around social distancing because we were having problems with some communities, not really adhering to that and instead of using the heavy arm of the police, to get that up, resolve it for us it was really about information information and going out and having those conversations and that quickly turned around as soon as we put that into place. We also kept open our citizen service point in the city center to allow any emergency cases to come in obviously, adhering to social distancing, washing hands, etc. And then finally, we work with the Bristol oil people’s forum to co produce a printed bulletin for all the residents and that that went out to about four or 5000 residents and we will continue to do that going forward. And I’m ending my I’m ending the screenshare now but I just wanted to before I end do I Have any more time Ishmael?
– [Ismael] Two minutes, you’ve got about three minutes.
– [Asher] Oh, good. Okay, so what I didn’t put on screen. And again, it was because when happy I was speaking, I thought, Oh, I forgotten to write this down. So I’m going to tell you what, what else we did. We’ve done a phenomenal Local Authority Digital Transformation job in moving all of our library services, online, new can do online storytelling, we’ve got virtual book clubs, we have seen, I think, triple the amount of ebooks and E audio that has been downloaded from, from the site. benefit, phenomenal uplift in membership. So whereas I think library membership, or just you know, steady state, we’ve seen a huge uplift in the number of new library members. And as we phase the opening, we are still retaining a lot of the online resources that we have there. We also created a new online platform around active travel. So in order for citizens to actually a lot of people getting quite frustrated about social distancing in then local neighborhoods and making sure that we put the appropriate measures in place. And so we have created an online, digital map and platform, and through this Local Authority Digital Transformation, local citizens can kind of put in their ideas about which roads, which streets that they think should be social, you know, the be addressed. Obviously, the caveat is not everything you want, you’re going to get, because we obviously have to make sure that whatever it’s being put forward doesn’t have unintended consequences.
But it gives the citizens an opportunity to also be heard. And for us to kind of consider what they need. We, we also are now about to launch a new deliberative democracy process. And so we are going to be delivering online surveys, focus groups, and it will culminate in a citizen’s assembly, mailed out online depends on where we are towards the end of the year. And we are going to use this process in the next six months to feed into the recovery planning process. So even though we’re going to be producing the recovery plan, in September, we deliver the statement of intent. But we, this process will feed into the economy board, which is leading on the recovery process, so that they can also hear the voices of members of the public about what they see are their priorities about recovery going forward.
And I know that this is a new day for many, because I’ve been talking to other local authorities who haven’t even thought about that. But for me, it has as someone who leaves on communities, it’s really important that what we do up here, it has to relate to our citizens and people on the ground that communities want to play their role, whether that’s individually in communities in the neighborhood, you know, how do we how do we enable local citizens to deliver on the high level objectives that we’ve set out for ourselves in our one city plan, and this is an opportunity for us to to kill quite a few birds with one stone through this recovery process. And then finally, we’ve also just turned, we have an award winning leadership program called stepping up, which we set up specifically to increase the number of black Asian and minority ethnic senior leaders across the whole city.
And we quickly had to we’re now on cohort three. And we have now devised an amazing online virtual online learning platform that we will also plan to roll out to other local authorities a lot more I could say a lot going on. But it just kind of gives you a flavor that it’s local authorities who are at the at the coalface were the ones his place bagel place based leadership that is going to get us out of this situation. And hopefully, government may or may not kind of give us the reins on the resources to enable us to just get on and do what we need to do, as we have done already. They have it. Thank you. Thank
– [Ismael] Thank you very, very much. This has been a really fascinating and quite inspiring Local Authority Digital Transformation presentation. I think, this sense that we you know, clearly we are in a moment of crisis and there’s a moment of loss as well. But it is also seems to be a moment of creativity and Local Authority Digital Transformation reinvention and actually are the kinds of things initiatives that you’ve discussed, I imagine a lot of the Local Authority Digital Transformationwill survive this crisis, because they really, again, linking up to the sort of Chinese presentation, they are linking the citizen. And the institutions are an enormous level. And it does seem that compared to central government, local government has a capacity for that kind of collaboration and symbiosis that is really powerful. And in that sense, there is an agenda beyond crisis management and response that that has been accelerated. And I think you’ve provided a fantastic sample, and lots of very concrete initiatives that hopefully will trigger some ideas in our in our participants, which are brings me now to my own presentation, which is to share the our booking live experience. And let me just quickly check and everyone see the slide there. Great, thank you. Um, so the background for us is that we are a tech company. And clearly at the heart of all these discussions, one of the things that has become very clear certainly from your presentation, Asha, is the enabling power of technology, when applied, and the fact that he also catered for those who were excluded, so that you took everyone with you. But really, that technology has that potential to go beyond sort of additionality into transformation. And in that respect, when the crisis hit, booking live, which was I’ll discuss in a second, asks itself, how can we play apart? How can we not just be a commercial player, but actually part of this movement, part of this community, part of this global search for answers and for change and interactions? And what I will share is some of the lessons that we have had from working with multiple local authorities in facing the challenges of this transformation and its opportunities and what are perhaps the opportunities and the pain points.
– [Ismael] So there are two challenges that I think we face right now going forward. One is the Local Authority Digital Transformation Recovery Challenge. So millions of people public services and businesses have been suspended have suspended work. Millions or the cost of the economy to mental health is gigantic. So safely reopening the economy and our society depends on making services and venues COVID secure. And the way the government guidance has outlined this COVID security seems to be primarily about ensuring that as we reopen the new normal, so to speak, allows us to maintain physical distance to limit the number of people that individuals come into contact with to change the shift patterns to reduce occupancy. So you don’t have everybody at once in the same building in the same space in the same side of the same building, and minimizing the need to physically queue to achieve some of those things. These seem to be the challenges ahead because we’re desperate now to go out we’re desperate to go out and to open. And I think here technology again can play a crucial role. And this is an area where we thought we in particular could help councils and businesses and society generally achieve these goals with minimum friction.
The second challenge is the Local Authority Digital Transformation resilience challenge the business continuity challenge, the pandemic, when it hitters stretch the logistics of society to breaking point, we all had to improvise at speed organizations with advanced digital transformation already. And I think following from Asher’s point, also, with solid community engagement in place that combination of the two, those authorities that had solid community networks and advanced digital transformation were the most able to be resilient to these changes. This which were behind on this have continued to struggle. And as we move into reopening, it is important to recognize that this isn’t behind us. Lester obviously went back into lockdown and we really don’t know this is an unknown map. So second waves future crisis, future lockdowns and crisis, unlike the pandemic that we haven’t been able to predict, have made us think about being prepared next time not being caught, sort of having to react and plan at the same time.
So what does this mean? This means automating the processes for accessing essential public services. If your helplines get swamped, you’re struggling. If you have to go physically to a venue to queue in order to access those services, you’re at risk and there are many other dimensions. Secondly, integrating fragmented supply chains for volunteers, staff medical supplies donation. So I am aware that this is something that certainly, Sir, I’ve discussed with usher in the past. But I’m sure it’s familiar to all of you that suddenly you had you were flooded with offers of solutions, and equipment and resources, which were vitally needed. But you did not have the bandwidth or the system to process them strategically or intelligently. So some places just went for the biggest players, etc. So we’ll discuss it. But being able to be prepared in case this happens, again, to engage all of society’s solutions in a systematic way, is another challenge. And lastly, freeing up staff from routine queries and our non essential duties to concentrate on emergency or complex queries. So these are the two areas where we identified we had a place to a role to play who who is booking live, we’re an example of a tech company, one of your potential tech partners out of many of us who are there, hoping to make a difference. We are concretely the number one public sector booking scheduling and reservation provider, we have 11, more than 11. Now, Product Solutions for all kinds of elements of digital infrastructure, we also have created as a free solution for SMEs and community groups to be able to fill that gap and there is at the moment, no real alternative. So it’s it’s really the only thing in town for that. And finally, we also have worked with very large corporates. So the the kind of this gives you a range of the kind of people that we’ve worked with. This is the kind of experience that we’re coming from. And this is what we were doing before the pandemic, when the pandemic came, we try to use all of the experience of these interactions and the domain knowledge so to speak, to identify how do we help you help the rest of society including ourselves in that sense.
So, our experience was we basically reshaped who hacked our our our systems to provide solutions as needs emerged. And there were a number of needs that we identified. So what I have mentioned already, public services automation, so running your pest control, your social housing, maintenance, your libraries, your bulk waste collection, your registrar’s your tree officers, childcare, taxi, licensing, all of many of these services ground to a halt in many local authorities, because there weren’t the systems to allow interaction between the citizen and the authority, without layers of now furloughed or home-based workers. So being able to automate these core public services, so that the citizen can access them at all times 24 hours, in very fine-grained ways was one area. Secondly, clearly, appointments and training sort of become either are crucial or are restarting now. So a counsellor might have a surgery, or you might have counselling services, or you might have advice services, or you might have start training, especially now with health and safety or equalities or induction. And if again, people have to ring someone that has to be available at the time being put on a waiting list, you are disenfranchising people at a very critical moment. So this was the other sort of broad area. Another area was capacity and density management. So how do you ensure that you don’t have the scenes that we saw in beaches in parks, with masses of people, some private beaches used parking apps to try and manage this, obviously, they were improvising. But so we’ve developed a set of approaches to do that. And we’re looking to further innovate at a very sophisticated way with you know, university partners, etc, for that kind of density management for their high streets, etc.