In what is said to be a first in the public service, a local authority has set up a dedicated unit to take on board ideas from individuals, community groups and businesses to offer better services into the future.
Cork County Council, in cooperation with Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), has set up the unit to tap into comments from the public which can be made via YourCouncil.ie and through a new twitter tag #ServiceRePublic, which was launched at a special function in County Hall yesterday.
The six-strong council team will analyse comments and enter into discussions with various groups to refine and develop services.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said he hoped the new system would one day be of benefit to other local authorities and government departments when engaging with the public.
He said it is hoped this dialogue could help provide proper services in the years ahead for an ageing community and also let younger people have a say in what they need.
Mr Lucey said it could be used to address rural decline and the better design of towns and villages.
“We want to identify what matters to people and identify solutions for them,” Mr Lucey said.
Julianne Coughlan, acting head of the council’s IT department, said they wanted to build a “citizen-centred council which would give people the opportunity to interact” with the local authority.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Séamus McGrath, said #Service rePublic will engage with citizens, elected members, community groups, businesses etc to be part of the design and creation of better services.
“It will fundamentally change how services are delivered by placing a more innovative focus on those who use these services and on how outcomes can be delivered as efficiently as possible,” Cllr McGrath said.
Orla Flynn, CIT vice president for external affairs, said that by developing their collective expertise they would be cultivating skills, ideas and knowledge and building a community of service designers in Cork.
Mr Lucey said he hoped to showcase the benefits the new system has accrued at an international conference on IT which will be hosted in Cork in September.
Meanwhile, the county council also unveiled a new website yesterday which Mr Lucey said is more user-friendly having being refined from 15,000 pages to 1,300 pages.
He said it uses more plain English and is far easier to navigate.
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