Top trends shaping the future of local governments

25 August 2021 5 min. read

Global accounting and consulting firm KPMG has released its global ‘The future of local government’ report, outlining the top trends that are shaping local government services and interaction with citizens, businesses and their own people. A round-up of some of the most notable findings. 

KPMG’s near 50-page report is based on surveys and interviews with government leaders in major global economies including the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, and concludes that local governments are facing growing pressures from stakeholders (central government, businesses, citizens, society, etc) to “transform they way they operate, communicate and work internally.”

Get personal

One of the eight overarching trends uncovered, local authorities are expected to increasingly offer “personalised services for every customer,” said Liz Forsyth, Global Head of KPMG’s Government practice. 

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“The challenge for local governments is to effectively serve today’s customers and communities in new ways, ideally with a single timely view of customers to deliver what they have come to expect in terms of service and outcomes amid the modern digital experiences of other service-based organisations,” she explained. 

Among the best practices highlighted by the researchers is Amana 940, an innovative customer-centric application developed by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipalities, Rural Affairs and Housing (MOMRAH). This app lets concerned residents report to authorities any violations they see that affect or disrupt regular municipal operations in neighbourhoods and along roadways. 

Users of the Amana 940 app can submit a digital photo to local authorities for quick follow-up and remedial action by local services. “Such application fits the global trend for local governments to strive for citizen-centricity and creating valuu at the street level,” said Ismail Daham Alani, Head of Government & Public Sector, at KPMG in Saudi Arabia. 

Embrace technology

Not surprisingly, in an era of rapid digitisation and tech-driven innovation, technology is also part of the eight trends identified. “Local governments have opportunities to change how they operate using technology. Better personalisation, effective identity management, integrated front, middle and back offices, and a more flexible workforce are among the rewards for technology adopters,” said Forsyth. 

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“Modern technology and data infrastructure can unlock powerful new capabilities to provide an end-to-end view of the government ecosystem. At the same time, analytics across key data points will help drive timely and informed decisions across the spectrum of public needs and related interactions – asset placement, service requirements, customer feedback, budget prioritisation, communications, event management, emergency services and beyond,” she continued. 

When it comes data management, three quarters of the local government leaders surveyed said that they have a data and analytics strategy in place. Yet, a majority currently lacking the right technologies to fulfill analytic requirements as well as the ability to curate a variety of data sources to enable a 360-degree customer view.

A different workplace and culture

Similar to trends seen in the corporate space, several employee-driven trends are impacting the workplace. One example: “The massive cohort of passionate and socially conscious young workers are reshaping traditional workplace cultures,” Forsyth said. “Local communities and the need to demonstrate a strong sense of purpose that aligns with modern values.”

Aligned and empowered workforce

A case from Saudi Arabia is put forward as a best practice in this regard. The Royal Commission for AlUla, a new governing entity in the Kingdom, is a social responsibility initiative to encourage community engagement and provides 2,500 employment opportunities for AlUla governorate locals and inspires them to become representatives of the region’s historical heritage. 

Alani: “The program is structured such that locals have a say in protecting and promoting the archaeological and heritage sites in AlUla. This empowers them to take ownership over their livelihoods, spread awareness within their community while also promoting AlUla as a tourist destination for regional and global visitors.” 

More megatrends?

Among the other mega trends identified by KPMG’s researchers are: ensuring trust in government data services and privacy, building an integrated back-office and technology backbone providing the platform for connected services, and a clear vision on sustainability together with a commitment towards execution. 

Download the full ‘The future of local government’ report for more insights on the trends.