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The search for efficiency #economy

For an economy to grow it must become more efficient. In simple terms, we can choose to use a motor mower instead of a hand mower. We can choose a cordless electric drill or we can use a calculator instead of doing maths by hand. Increasing efficiency is usually brought about by using technology or robotics to make the job easier or to do the job quicker. Increasing efficiency can also increase profits or save money.

Efficiency

If we look at the supermarket checkout where we see technology replacing people in the bigger supermarkets we do see a problem. Supermarkets sell products but they also provide a service and a customer experience. The use of technology can devalue the experience. Technology that isn’t thoroughly tested and fool-proof can also put people off using the store. I find budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl use manpower fairly efficiently and offer a quite good service. It might not suit everyone but it seems to have a competitive edge and that is another result of increased efficiency.

Public life

In some areas of public life, there has been some effort to increase efficiency by asking DWP claimants to claim online and councils ask for things to be reported online. How efficient are these systems? There are computerised telephone systems that put people in a ‘queue’. Are those systems efficient or do they simply fob people off and keep them waiting.

People complain about crime and lack of policing but is the police service simply inefficient? They too take a long time to answer phone calls and they keep on closing down police stations and magistrates courts. It does appear that in some areas of public life inefficiency seems to be endemic to the point the job doesn’t get done.

We don’t actually hear the work efficiency much these days so perhaps the search for efficiency and better service has gone out of fashion. Who do enterprise and public services actually serve? Often they appear to serve the employees rather than the public. Service to the public might be more efficiently met by first striving to make systems more efficient. They should try to serve the public by being more interactive and actually listening to the concerns of the public.

Closed circuit TV

Closed circuit TV and computers could make town centres safer than they have ever been before with one police person monitoring a large number of cameras. If we add the detection of loud sounds such as screams or car crashes then the system becomes even more efficient at detecting problems and also deters criminal activity. So why isn’t technology being used to effect?

I have noticed technology being used to make sure people are reminded of their hospital appointments. Missed appointments costs the hospital money they say. No it doesn’t, the obsessive use of technology costs money. If someone misses their appointment, the doctor sees the next patient and the queue in the waiting room goes down faster. Those text messages reminding people of their appointments just make it look good, few people actually forget hospital appointments.

The search for efficiency is a good thing, it is what makes Britain a successful nation. However, we now seem to follow trends even if the trend isn’t in our best interest. The Brexit bus with a slogan promising more money for the NHS was a lie and it didn’t promise more efficiency. More money without increasing efficiency is always a lie. The government will always try to con its citizens by printing more money rather than develop systems that work better and serve us better.

Perhaps we should all be thinking how things can be done more efficiently and serve people better?

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