A survey by Lagan Technologies shows that the public want councils to put more services on line and 77 per cent approve of government investment in IT to improve their access to services. There is also a high level of discontent with the response callers receive when they contact councils at the moment.
The survey showed that the public are prepared to embrace innovative communications methods. The 55 plus age group were the most enthusiastic about more technology, confounding the view that online services are viewed more favourably by the young or so-called “early adopters.
A quarter of respondents were in favour of their own web page for accessing services, a proposal outlined by the Government several weeks ago. More popular were mobile applications. Amongst the 18-34 year old age group 26 per cent favoured the use of mobile applications. Seventeen percent of the 18-34 year old age bracket favoured an iPhone-style app for communication with government services.
The three favoured methods of accessing local council services are phone, 68 per cent, email 66 per cent and the internet 63 per cent. Fewer than half chose mail, 48 per cent, or visits to council offices 47 per cent.
The topics that respondents are most likely to contact local councils about are the environment, including pollution, waste and vandalism; roads and rates.
The survey also revealed low satisfaction levels by people who contacted their local council. The main issues were that no one seemed to want to take responsibility for handling their enquiry, 42 per cent, there was too much buck passing, 40 per cent, and the service was slow 36 per cent. Twenty five per cent said that services were behind the times or that there was not enough emphasis on online services.