Local authorities in Worcestershire are to spend £55m over the next 10 years to meet e-government targets.
The 'Worcestershire Hub' project, which includes county and district councils, is aimed at improving citizen access to council services and to share county- and district-level information.
By sharing technology and business processes, Worcestershire Hub claims it will be able to provide citizens in the county with a single contact point for accessing information and using online services, ranging from registering a birth and paying council tax to notifying the council about potholes in the road.
Hewlett Packard Services will work with Worcester City Council and the other five district councils of Malvern Hills, Wychavon, Redditch, Wyre Forest and Bromsgrove to link them to the county's technology hub.
A web portal and seven new service centres will be in place by March 2005, combining telephony, email, online and walk-in facilities.
"It will create a one-stop shop, so it doesn't matter who [citizens] go to," said Trevor Norton, director of corporate services at Worcestershire County Council.
"[Joined-up services] will stop people being passed from pillar to post, and they can use them when they want to rather than just when we're open."
By linking up disparate information and services, Worcestershire Hub claims it will be able to answer 80 per cent of citizen queries at the first point of contact.
The council says it will also be able to make cost savings and allocate capacity more flexibly by combining voice and data traffic over one network.
Plans to create a virtual service centre using the system will also mean that overflow calls can be shared around the service centres to reduce call queuing times.
HP Services said it has overcome the issue of data privacy by using authentication and rules-based technology.
The next phase of the Hub project will involve the building of secondary citizen service centres and information kiosks around the county.
The council is also urging other public services, such as the local police and JobCentre Plus, to integrate their information systems with Worcestershire Hub.
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