How technology is shaping regulatory services within local government

By |2021-05-05T14:57:22+00:00April 27th, 2021|

When the Public Health Act was introduced in the UK in 1848, a profession was born. The Act created Inspectors of Nuisances now most commonly known as Environmental Health practitioners. At the heart of this profession are dedicated individuals with a desire to protect and serve the public through effective regulation.

For members of the public going about their daily lives, they are probably blissfully unaware of how much impact their local council regulators have in keeping them safe. Issues around health & safety, the quality & safety of the food they eat, ensuring that the taxi journey they take is safe and that environment in which they live is protected from pollution, the list goes on.

To be effective regulators, the profession has had to keep pace with the changing face of the industry, commerce, health, and all things environmental. Embracing scientific and technological advancements has allowed the profession to continue to protect the public for over 170 years.

Having spent over 20 years working in local government, most of that time spent within Environmental Health, I can safely say that members of this profession are well known for being adaptable and for embracing change.

The good old days

When I first started my local government career, we had one computer between the whole team and a telephone shared between the two. Everything was done on paper, even the records put on the green screen database were printed off and filed along with all the other associated paper records and scribbled notes by the ever-willing filing clerk in the ever-burgeoning file room.

When I left, I had a PC, two laptops, a tablet, digital pens, a digital camera, a mobile phone, and a landline, email, and the internet. The office was effectively paperless, the file room and filing clerk were long gone as everything was stored digitally. Computers and software had become the essential tools, recording and reporting all activity. Customer contact had moved from face-to-face in receptions to self-service portals and contact centres. Application processes had been moved online along with payment for services.

Technology has not only empowered the regulators, but it has improved customer access to services and information. Online databases providing public access to information such as food hygiene ratings and licenses allow customers to make informed decisions of where to eat and who to trust with the boarding of the family pet or for the taxi ride home.

With this comes a requirement for information technology that is reliable, easy to use, and secure. All of this being as essential as a white coat and hat or a high vis jacket and a safety hat to the modern-day regulator.

Software design needs to adaptable to deal with rapid changes in legislation such as we’ve seen recently with COVID and the demands that this can bring to already stretched departments. It’s no longer practicable to have slow software deployment with changes happening once every 6 to 12 months with a server down for a day. Modern regulation needs a reliable cloud-based system rapidly updated out of hours on a regular basis ensuring consistency across the user base with the minimum of impact.

My Council Services – the 360-degree view to regulation services

Introducing My Council Services Regulatory Services. This new module brings together all the requirements of modern-day regulation into our established local authority-focused cloud-based platform My Council Services. With its integral mobile working and forms capabilities, the new module aims to bring a 360-degree view to regulation.

The bespoke module is being developed with statutory reporting, process improvement, and automation, combined with a 360-degree view of data to ensure our users will be well equipped for any future demands.

Summary

As a company, our focus has always been on local government and how through the My Council Services platform, we can assist our customers to continuously improve the services they offer by working together. The Regulatory Services module is no different and is a direct result of us listening to our customer’s needs.

When I left local authority employment and joined Abavus I wanted to be more than a part of the process of change, I wanted to drive the change. Since joining Abavus, I have transferred my knowledge and experience to collaboratively work with the product development team at Abavus to develop the new regulatory services software. I’m looking forward to working with customers old and new in a similar way to make our regulatory services module the best available software for modern regulation.

 

 

 

About the Author:

Spencer has 23 years of local government experience as a field officer, system administrator, manager, and IT consultant, enabling him to successfully deliver projects including system implementations and mobile working solutions.