Local councils are missing potential savings of over £400 million and the opportunity to improve the services they offer to citizens by not capitalising on the benefits offered by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technologies, Vodafone UK has found.
To understand why local government is yet to reap the benefits of M2M for the efficient delivery of public services, Vodafone research, unveiled today, found that although the vast majority of urban councillors are positive about investment in technology, two thirds (67 per cent) are not familiar with M2M. This gap in understanding would explain why M2M is yet to be widely used to improve public services such as street lighting, refuse collection, urban traffic and transport management, whilst at the same time saving the tax payer millions.
Vodafone UK worked with research partner ComRes to poll 629 GB urban councillors and over 1,600 residents living in or on the fringes of the country’s urban areas to understand their views on the use of technology for public service delivery and to gauge which services are of concern to residents. The poll found that councillors agree that investing in technology is important in delivering better public services. This approach is also supported by the majority of urban residents.
The provisional local government finance settlement means that councils in England face cuts of almost £8 billion this year (1.8 per cent of 14/15 budget)1. By utilising M2M – also called the Internet of Things (IoT) – local councils could benefit from significant savings while improving key services. Smart street lighting and energy management systems in local government buildings, for example, could save over £400 million (£402.3 million), making up around 5 per cent of the cuts expected over the next year with just two M2M-based solutions.
Today’s research suggests those savings would be welcomed by citizens who overwhelmingly said (77 per cent) they would fully support their council’s decision to invest more in new technology to drive improved public services.
Matt Key, Director of M2M sales and commercial at Vodafone said, “While the importance of technology seems to be widely appreciated by local councillors and residents in urban areas, the lack of awareness of the massive benefits to be gained from M2M and the Internet of Things means that urban councils are missing out on opportunities to deliver better, smarter and more cost effective services in the areas which matter to their local communities.
“Among the small amount of councillors who are familiar with M2M, almost all of them (83 per cent) feel the technology will be important in delivering better services and improved value to the community. If we can help more councillors understand the possible savings and the benefits, then we have a real opportunity to help local councils improve the services for their communities, as well as free up more budget to be reinvested in front line services.”
“The benefits that are already being seen by the private sector, other markets and some local authorities are just too significant for urban councillors to ignore,” said Matt Key. “Those at the highest level in Government are starting to recognise the potential with IoT making its way into the Spring budget for the first time earlier this year. We recommend that urban councillors find out more about M2M technologies to see how they can improve the services that matter most to their residents while making budgets work harder. At Vodafone, we are committed to working with local councils to make best use of technology to create some of the smartest, most efficient cities in Europe.”