The case for an open source library for local government digital services

Man in animated conversation about public services at a workshop

Written by Richard Friend, Customer Success Director, Jadu

If public services are going to transform for the digital age and provide services fit for purpose, which are focused on real users, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way Government works.

Technology suppliers have an important role to play by opening up their platforms for sharing and interoperability.  We all need to change.

At a business process and technology level, many of the 430 councils in the UK are pretty much replicating versions of the same things. There is simply no need. If a local authority can just ‘download’ or ‘stream’ established service patterns and standard forms and workflows, it will accelerate the delivery of digital services.

Local authorities are non-competing and it’s essential that the building blocks of digital services be shared and reused. By working together, a great amount of time and resource can be saved.

Sharing must be driven by government, but it will only work if government suppliers are also 100% behind it and to achieve this I believe that an open source library is one of the answers

A library of solutions will help accelerate adoption of service standards and raise those standards through peer review and the sharing of best practices. In time, the sharing and reusing of work will enable councils to become hubs for economic and social exchange as the library serves as a forum for sourcing digital expertise and collaborative working.

The challenge is building and maintaining momentum. Whilst a Library can be set up initially by a supplier and populated with their solutions for their customers it should be built based on a Github repository that can hold any type of artefact, therefore generic artefacts such as process flows, test scripts and service design documentation can all be surfaced in the Library. 

The aim should be to build and grow a community that shares the standard building blocks or ‘LEGO bricks’ of local government, along with expertise and insight.

Public sector organisations can get involved in a library by sharing their service components so that digital services can finally be consumed (and treated) as utilities across the board.

That’s why we’ve just launched the Jadu Library, a community driven repository of shared material or ‘artefacts’ where local authorities can partner and collaborate by uploading and downloading artefacts for building digital services.

Our move follows the call for the proactive adoption of ‘shared plumbing’ in the recent Green Paper, ‘Better Public Services: A Manifesto’. The old ways of doing things – and of reinventing the wheel time and time again – are not sustainable.

Now is the time for local government to work and innovate together to build better local digital services and to accelerate transformation.


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