UK-based Accenture Global Cities segment lead Simon Giles spoke at the LGAQ conference.
UK-based Accenture Global Cities segment lead Simon Giles spoke at the LGAQ conference. Chris Lees

Embrace technology and save ratepayers money

EMBRACING data and analytics can save councils money while increasing efficiencies, according to one of the world's experts.

UK-based Accenture Global Cities segment lead Simon Giles spoke about how data was changing the way people ran businesses throughout the world at yesterday's Local Government Association of Queensland conference.

"I wanted to talk a little about our experience globally of working on analytics with other cities, councils and communities,” he said.

"It was partially to give a flavour of the types of problems that can be solved using data analytics.”

Mr Giles said identifying some of the challenges for Queensland councils was another reason he spoke.

"I wanted to try and localise it into the context of what is happening in Queensland, obviously there's a really broad church of councils and communities here so there's no one size fits all policy for how you use analytics,” he said.

Using analytics to prevent drain blockages, helping councils deal with barking dogs, and increasing the efficiency of watering plants to save money were just some of the applications Mr Giles spoke of.

"There are all sorts of different applications and that goes back to the point of one size doesn't fit all,” he said.

"At the end of the day you need to be thinking about analytics as a flexible and modular tool-set that allows you to tackle the problems that a community cares the most about.”

However, Mr Giles said any insight councils gained was directly related to the data quality.

"The other point is analytics can lead you to insight but insight isn't the same as action,” he said.

"So you need to make sure you're preparing to understand that if you get this insight, what am I going to do with it and how am I going to do things differently as a consequence.”

Mr Giles comments tie into LG Sherlock, which was launched yesterday (see right for information).

"What I'm really excited about in the context of Queensland, is that it is one of the first examples of where a local government association, is going to be providing the tools, services and capabilities for councils that may not have the resources, skills or capabilities to do this,” he said.

"I think this will shine as an example to other governments around the world about how they can assist smaller communities in taking advantage of the technology revolution to deliver better services for the constituents that they represent.”

The idea of the data is it provides facts for councils instead of having to rely on staff's "intuition”, Mr Giles said.

"Whilst the intuition is a great asset to have, unfortunately we have an ageing population, people retire and they move away, and with it the institutional knowledge goes,” he said. "Whereas if you have analytics you're not reliant on the memory and knowledge that's embedded within two or three individuals.”

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