I hope you started the year in good health and avoided the dreaded flu bug - unlike me!
Whilst being laid up over the last two weeks I’ve been thinking about innovation and technology, and how it can be used to improve the services we provide and the communities you live in.
Over the last eight years the council has really had to dig deep to try and find new ways to work to enable us to continue providing the best possible services, whilst managing the crippling impact of the Government’s continued cuts to our budget.
We’ve worked really hard to make the savings by being more efficient, innovative and by doing things differently - which has helped us save over £71m.
One of the key areas I want us to continue to focus on is using technology to help us deliver services, save money and make a positive difference to our residents lives.
Last November, the people who took part in our budget consultation told us that preventing and tackling anti-social behaviour was one of the areas that mattered most to them.
This helped us plan our budget and refocus our efforts, including reinstating a full-time team to remove flytipping. It is also one of the areas where I want us to be bold and innovative and try something new.
We already use technology to help us tackle flytipping, which is a problem that really enrages me – and I know it concerns many of you.
The covert sting operations, using trackers and CCTV were successful last year but use a significant amount of resources.
So one of the ideas I am considering exploring this year would be the use of drones to help us tackle this.
Perhaps we can target hot spots to monitor and identify the culprits or remotely capture the flytippers in action as they dump the rubbish?
Are there opportunities to use them to deal with other antisocial behaviour that blights our communities, like vandalism and littering.
We’ve already used drones to help us carry out some work on one of our historic buildings, which saved us tens of thousands of pounds, by reducing the time and resources, like scaffolding, needed to carry out the work.
We were able to do a full survey of County Hall roof using a drone to record and photograph the condition, saving us in region of £70,000 and causing no disruption.
There may be scope to use them to monitor the road condition, inspect progress on roadworks or even actually repair potholes!
Could we use drones to keep an eye on the environment like checking our parks and open spaces, or perhaps even removing graffiti from hard to reach areas?
There are challenges to using technology, especially drones, which we must not ignore.
But I believe this shouldn’t deter us from trying something different, especially if it helps us deliver better and more efficient services and tackle issues that matter to residents.
I am keen to hear your thoughts on the use of drones and would welcome your opinion or ideas.
You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org