Reduced costs. Britain’s 2012 Digital Efficiency Report found that a digital transaction can be 50 times less expensive than face-to-face and 20 times lower than phone. In 2015, the UK government estimated that moving transactional services to digital would save it nearly $3 billion a year.
The citizen services continuum. In general, services are less expensive (per interaction) as you progress to the right, although they may be more expensive to set up initially. Adding a new channel does not mean you can eliminate any of the old channels.
And there’s another way smart technologies can help a city’s budget. Digital solutions are increasingly available “as a service”, thus transferring upfront capital costs to operational expenses. Even if a city can’t afford to build a solution on its own, it may have the money to “lease” the solution month-by-month. For instance, the Norfolk County Council (UK) recently faced severe budget constraints. It used a cloud-based solution to transform municipal service delivery and achieve an overall annual saving of $10 million. As a bonus, the new solution transformed how internal departments collaborate.
The government of Belgium has turned to digital services to make life much easier for citizens and businesses while saving billions. The Crossroads Bank for Social Security brings 3,000 social services (3,000!) into one network. Citizens need only enter information once, after which it is shared with any other agency that needs it. The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises serves a similar function for businesses. The initiative eliminated more than 260 forms and statutory declarations. Employers alone save more than one billion Euros annually.