Wigan Council’s Deal 2030: harnessing digital

Wigan Council's Life centre

Written by Alison McKenzie-Folan, Chief Executive, Wigan Council

Harnessing the power of digital is a core element of Wigan Council’s strategy for the next 10 years; Deal 2030.

Under the umbrella of ‘Confidently Digital’, we want to help our residents prepare for the future and take every opportunity to improve their lives through digital innovation. We already have a number of initiatives in place that have laid a foundation for that journey. Some of these have been operating for a number of years now and are delivering tangible results. But when it comes to improving people’s lives, our teams know it’s not just the ‘big wins’ that can have the most impact.

Often it can be subtle changes to something that our residents are encountering day-to-day that can have such a knock-on effect to their quality of life. A prime example of how large-scale innovation can change lives is our Smart Bungalow. In 2017 the council set up a test-bed and demonstration site in a vacant property within the borough and filled it with assistive technology that is transforming the health and social care sector.

From voice-activated systems that can be customised to help those in supported housing, mobilisation equipment to help residents live independently when they otherwise may not have been able to, through to cutting-edge devices to help residents with visual impairments carry out everyday tasks, such as making a brew, it’s all in there.

In the years since, we have given hundreds of tours to families, social care staff, doctors, nurses and pretty much anyone who has a vested interest. In the case of the bungalow, seeing is believing. Everyone who visits can see in front of them – in no uncertain terms – how this technology can help. And there have been so many awe-inspiring success stories as a result.

Outside of the health and social care sphere, several other digital packages have recently gone live to support residents, families and providers. Council housing tenants now have an online repairs service which means they can instantly request assistance and monitor the progress of how their case is progressing. It also gives them the flexibility to book appointments around their lifestyles and removes the reliance on the manual paper process.

Our early years teams and providers now share an online portal to record attainment data, allowing for real-time data and information sharing to help the delivery of our early years service. In addition to this our lone-workers – staff who are based away from the office environment – have a specially tailored App called Tonto to help them keep in touch with managers and co-workers and, again, cuts out the need for paper based processing.

These examples are just a snapshot of how we’re utilising the power of digital to help transform the way we deliver services. Large scale initiatives or more subtle touches, they all contribute to Wigan Council’s long-term goals.

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