Many parts of the private sector are being changed dramatically by digital technology. If you want to buy a house you can now visit a range of properties on line and see their floor plans and their inside and outside appearance from your home computer. If you want to buy any good or service you can google it and see a list of competing offers, usually with prices. You can order on line from your armchair. If you want to find a new job there are electronic jobs boards with choices of openings on offer. You can bank online, insure your car on line, undertake a study course on line. The opportunities are endless. The role and nature of the estate agent, the insurance broker, the bank clerk and the employment agency have altered substantially.
As a result of all this change the private sector is rapidly having to adjust its staff and property to accommodate the new way of doing things,. Will we need a many shops when people shop more on line? How many bank branches and insurance broker high street outlets do we need when more is done on the home computer or on the mobile on the move? Does the Town Centre become more of a leisure and entertainment destination. with much higher proportions of restaurant and leisure facility space? I sense we have only just started to see wide ranging changes this technology has unleashed.
The public sector has been slower to adopt the potential of this technology. Education is still mainly conducted by going to a school or college and sitting down to hear and be guided by a teacher. Health care still mainly involves going to visit a Doctor or dropping into A and E for triage. It is true at the edges you can now renew your road fund licence on line, and can file your tax return electronically. The new Universal benefit system is a massive investment in new technology to deliver people’s state financial support.
Today I am inviting you to comment on what new applications and changes you would like to see in the way we deliver the main public services. If we can no order our food shop from our own living room and pay all our bills from our phone, what more could we do in this way when meeting government requirements or accessing public services?