Without doubt, but the geographic data from council websites paints a broader picture that may reflect just how mobile the UK has become. Or at least would force us to define more precisely what constitutes the “local community”.
Starting at country level, as you would expect, the vast majority of sessions – more than 95% - are initiated from the UK. But the breadth of countries accessing council websites is astounding – over 200 in the last quarter amongst CANalytic councils. These are not one-offs – users from more than 100 countries initiated at least 1,000 sessions.
The US checks in as the country most likely to visit a council website; France, Germany, Australia and Spain round out the top 6. Other notables – India appears at #10, Poland at #14, Hong Kong at #18 and South Africa at #19.
The cities that appear make interesting reading as well – Munich, Annan, Kuala Lumpur, Chicago, Zaragoza, Ahmedabad, Harare, Toulouse, Alexandria, Bengaluru, Alkmaar, Dubai, Hoi An, Anderlecht, Makati, Södertälje, Jeddah, Nairobi, Budapest, Jihlava, Auckland, Krakow, Emmental and the list goes on.
Also notable is the scale of international access to specific councils. One council has over 10% of its sessions from abroad, and another had visitors, amazingly, from 64 countries in the last quarter. And that’s not particularly unusual – 4 more had 50+ countries visiting, while a further 4 had more than 40. In fact, the average across the population is 28.
Coming a little closer to home, we looked at access from users located outside councils’ regions – where region is defined as the area 50 miles from a council’s border. We had assumed the vast majority of council website access would be from people living in or near the borough. Except for the London authorities, that turns out not to be the case. On average, nearly a quarter of sessions originated from outside the region. This was over 40% in the most extreme example, but that was not an outlier – 1 in 5 of our sample had out-of-region access greater than 30%.
The anomaly is, in fact, the London region. Fewer than 5% of sessions for London councils commence from outside the region. When viewed in context, this makes sense, London being by far the biggest city from which council website users come. Even for councils not within the capital region, London accounts for over 15% of total sessions.
So, what does this tell us? Probably that the council website is fulfilling one of its most important roles – giving access to residents, their families, carers or other interested parties, wherever they may be, whenever they need it. And as we can see from the data, the “wherever” and “whenever” can mean “any” – time or place.