Residents urged to 'Save time. Do it online.'

A drive to encourage residents to increase their online contact with the City of Edinburgh Council has taken a major step forward today with the launch of a new public awareness campaign.

The ‘Save time. Do it online.’ campaign will encourage residents to use the Council’s website to report issues such as problems with street lighting, pot holes and litter.

The Council’s ‘channel shift strategy’ agreed by the Finance and Resources Committee in January 2015 will make estimated savings of £5.9 million by 2017/18 and aims to transform the way residents interact with the Council.

It will also speed up answers to common queries which frequently involve a call to the Council’s contact centre such as questions about school holiday dates, bin collection days and student council tax enquiries.

Today’s campaign launch will involve a series of posters and bus shelter ads being displayed at sites across the city and on outdoor media, Council refuse lorries, as well as targeted online and radio adverts highlighting the service.

Since the drive to move customer contact online was launched a year ago, the number of online transactions being processed by the Council has risen to 2,500 a week. There are currently 35 services available ranging from requesting a new recycling bin to reporting a problem with a streetlight. From April 2016, the number of different issues residents can report online will double to include new areas such as benefit claims, parking and new licensing transactions.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, Convener of the Finance and Resources Committee, said: “We know that internet use is increasing, from people shopping and doing their online banking to booking their next holiday. It presents an opportunity for the Council and we have responded by moving many of our more popular transactions online – with more to follow next year. The online service benefits us both as residents and as council tax payers - enabling the Council to invest the saved money in improving the city. We will however, continue to provide services for people, who for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to access services online.

“We're the first local authority in Scotland to offer a fully integrated online customer experience, with faster response times, automated transactions and quicker answers for customers. 

“Research has shown increasing numbers of residents want to use online services as a way to get in touch with the Council – over 80% of Edinburgh homes are now equipped with broadband and 75% of Edinburgh citizens own a smartphone.

“The Council is leading the way with digital services, focused on everyday needs of residents and keeping them informed and up to date.”

A core part of the campaign is to make sure we help as many citizens as possible get online. One way the Council encourages this is with the Get Online initiative. Five sessions a week are run in libraries and community venues across the city, which help develop digital skills for those who aren’t confident using the internet. Since the sessions began in March 2014, more than 1,500 people have attended individual sessions and over 380 people have signed up to five-week blocks of tuition.

As well as supporting residents getting online, existing customer service channels such as the contact centres and customer offices will remain open to ensure the Council continues to meet the different needs of residents.

Following the recent announcement of the new ICT contract with CGI, the ‘Save time. Do it online.’ campaign further establishes the Council’s commitment to being a digital leader. The contract will deliver £45m of savings while an estimated additional £46 million of essential services will be provided at no extra cost over the 7 year contract. CGI bring with them vast experience of transforming ICT services and will help to accelerate moving more services online. 

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