Top ten reasons to attend the Socitm President’s Conference



On 8-9 May 2018, the Socitm President’s Conference will come to Glasgow, providing an in-depth view into the technologies and trends emerging in the public sector today. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about citizen and community engagement, ethical automation, cybersecurity, and the new delivery models and technologies set to transform the sector in the years to come. Here are just a few reasons why we think you should attend this year’s conference.

Learn about digital transformation
Digital transformation has emerged as quite the hot topic over recent years, and the President’s Conference is taking that knowledge in its stride. With first-hand insights into case studies and exclusive information from digital leaders around the world who have already deployed successful digital strategies, you can learn exactly how to make transformation work for you.

World-class speakers
One of the best reasons to visit the President’s Conference is the impeccable collection of more than 20 renowned speakers set to share their knowledge about the IT and digital world. This is a fantastic opportunity for professionals to learn more from the best in the business and listen to the ideas of leaders who have been a part of the growing digital revolution in the public sector for numerous years.

Keynote address by Scotland’s Deputy First Minster
In what promises to be one of the highlights of the conference, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney will share his insights and visions on the future direction of public services.

Network with top IT professionals
The President’s Conference provides a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and chat with other IT professionals about new technology and the latest innovations in the public sector. It’s also a great way to learn about the challenges peers have faced and how they were met and overcome.

Important sector commercial backers
The supplier community have come together to commercially support the conference, too. These sponsors include, at the highest, Presidential, level, Trend Micro and SBL, with a number of other key public sector suppliers set to offer insights at the show, too.

Interactive and engaging panel discussions
We’re making our conference sessions even more interactive and engaging this year by using Poll Everywhere. With Poll Everywhere, we’ll be able to answer questions and run polls during the panel sessions. Responses will be displayed live on screen.

An evening of dinner, drinks and digital delights
The President’s Dinner on 8 May promises to be an exciting and enthralling event with a delicious three-course dinner, a goodie-filled auction and raffle in honour of our incoming President’s chosen charity, Headway, and an opportunity to network then dance the night away with our fantastic members and sponsors.

Learning is fun
Nobody leaves a Socitm event without learning something. On hand at the conference will be QA, the UK’s leading learning and skills development organisation. They’ll be running sessions that’ll equip you with the invaluable knowledge needed to meet the challenges facing the ICT and digital universe.

Your event, our expertise
We’re particularly excited to be producing the entire event in-house this year, and our talented and experienced team has taken exhaustive guidance from our members and commercial partners to design a conference that delivers the engaging and relevant content our members need, whilst offering the genuine engagement opportunities our commercial partners demand.

A vibrant and dynamic destination
As one of Europe’s most vibrant, welcoming and dynamic cities, Glasgow is justifiably renowned throughout the world for the friendliness, warmth and humour of its people whose civic pride lies at the heart of the city’s continuing success. The President’s Conference takes place the day after the Spring bank holiday so why not make a weekend of it and explore what Glasgow has to offer?

In short, the President’s Conference promises to deliver a lot of answers which your peers may not have access to. So take advantage if you can. Or recommend it to a colleague if you can’t make it yourself. To attend the conference click here to register now!

Top ten reasons to attend the Socitm President’s Conference

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Professor Bill Buchanan

With the excitement around the Socitm President’s Conference growing more and more by the day, we wanted to catch up with some of this year’s speakers to find out what they’re most looking forward to at the event and why you can’t afford to miss it! Read the full interview below which is the latest instalment of our Socitm President’s Conference Speaker Q&A.

This week we’re delighted to introduce one of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity Professor Bill Buchanan. As well as being the head of Napier University’s Cyber Academy, Professor Buchanan is a fellow of the BCS and the IET. He was awarded an OBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to cybersecurity.

Professor Buchanan’s presentation will examine the future prospects, threats and opportunities posed by cybersecurity for public services.

Q1. What are you most looking forward to sharing with your peers from your presentation? Can you give us any teaser stats, facts or insight?

A. I believe many of our systems are fit for the 20th century, and we need to start to build an infrastructure which is fit for the 21st century. Overall we can improve our provision of public services, but we need to create a more trusted infrastructure, and one which is citizen-focused. At the core of this is identity and trust, and we need to look to new ways to integrating consent, governance and ownership. Too often our systems are silio’ed across agencies, and we must redesign in order to effectively share information. I will thus outline how encryption can be used to protect data, and also outline key risks in the protection of our critical national infrastructure.

Q2. Do you think the response and attitude towards cybercrime from public services is still behind where it needs to be?

A. Yes. We need to train every person in the public sector to be aware of risks, and also in responding to threats. While risks exist, it should not hold us back building new citizen-focused services, and transform areas such as health and social care. I believe we need to do everything possible to promote innovation, and especially supporting our great SMEs.

Q3. Does the public sector, including councils, have the level of funding needed for cybersecurity?

A. No. They are a long way short of the investment that is required to properly protect citizen-data, and, especially in transforming their systems to focus on the requirements of citizens.

Q4. What are the best ways for public sector organisations to tackle the latest threats?

A. The public sector needs to transform their operations and integrate encryption and improve access control (such as with multi-factor authentication). With GDPR coming up, our public sector organisations need to understand how they capture, store and process data which has personally sensitive information. This, though, should not hold us back from increasingly using data to support the provision of public services.

Q5. Do you think the public sector should look at examples of best practice in the financial sector to improve security?

A. Yes. Many finance companies run 24/7 security operations centres and have a whole lot of analysts working on incoming alerts. Many finance companies now see themselves as technology agencies, and which their operation is built on a foundation of data. We need to transform our public services in the same way, and focus on “digital-by-default”.

Q6. Is there potential for public sector organisations to co-operate in tackling future problems?

A. Yes. The public sector has to transform their existing methods in order to improve the access for citizens. There should be an increase in sharing information, but in order to do this, we need to invest in ways which can anonymise and sanitise data.

Q7. Do you think centralised solutions and standards could help public sector organisations combat something like WannaCry?

A. Sometimes centralisation works, but we need to improve processes and support virtualised infrastructures, and where we improve the security of data. We got off lucky with WannaCry. The next time it could be serious. Increasingly we need to understand the elements of our infrastructure which could fail, and how systems interconnect. The next wave of the internet is just around the corner, and this time we will see an increase in the number of devices which will be connected to our networks, and each will bring new risks. If we fail to secure our core infrastructure, we will especially struggle to integrate these devices which connect at the edges of our network. One thing that is for sure is that we need to move into this information age, and make full use of the automation that cloud-based systems can bring.

The conference in Glasgow on 8-9 May promises to inspire the Socitm community through a phenomenal line-up of the industry’s finest speakers paired with a knock out agenda! You can find out more information about the event and read Professor Buchanan’s full profile here.

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Professor Bill Buchanan

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Martin Ferguson

Martin Ferguson2

With the excitement around the Socitm President’s Conference growing more and more by the day, we wanted to catch up with some of this year’s speakers to find out what they’re most looking forward to at the event and why you can’t afford to miss it! Read the interview below, which is the first instalment of our President’s Conference Speaker Q&As.

Martin Ferguson, Socitm’s director of policy and research, will be delivering the keynote address on the first day of the conference. His thought-provoking presentation will explore what lies in store for the future of public services.


Q1. What does it mean to be the keynote speaker for the first-ever Socitm President’s Conference?

A. I’m excited to be both keynote speaker and part of the team producing the first-ever Socitm President’s Conference.

In a year when so much in Socitm is changing – totally refreshed national and regional conferences, our new packages of Improve services, a revamped Inform research programme and a vibrant Socitm Advisory service – working with our members and partners, we have so much to offer!

Q2. What do you think the public sector might look like in 2030?

A. Public services are at a tipping point. Either we grasp a future that is ethical and secure, where public services conjoin to achieve politically contested outcomes supporting the well-being and prosperity of people in places, or we run the risks that harnessing data and new technologies threaten to undermine the very fabric of our society.

Q3. Is local government making sufficient use of technology, and is it using it well?

A. We have many leading examples reflecting the rich tapestry and diversity of places throughout the UK, while adhering to the principles of: Simplify – Standardise – Share.
Our series of Socitm Inform guides on Smart Places, Location Intelligence and Shared Services reveal a myriad of examples. While lack of capacity, investment, skills and risk adversity are just some of the barriers to be overcome in pursuit of innovation, we have outstanding examples of digital leadership: some of the leading exponents exist in local government in the UK (see our Modern Leadership Guide 6).

Q4. How do local authorities introduce software-based automation in a fair and ethical way? For example, should citizens be told they are talking to software, or is it OK to pretend they are talking to another human?

A. For me, the issue is not to whom the citizen is talking. Rather, it is whether a quality outcome is being delivered. The public are increasingly well-used to ‘talking’ to automated telephone systems, to interacting with maps depicting online order deliveries, to watching interactive TV and audio, to booking trains, flights, hotels and holidays online, to managing a host of specific home, work and leisure services through apps and, now to physically talking to technology based systems.

The trick is to ensure that the benefits and the outcomes are transparent to the user, rather than the frustration of being directed into some kind of technology ‘black hole’. If data is required, then explain why, assess the risks of sharing versus not sharing information, and only then do it.

Q5. How should staff be asked to work with automation – training software to eventually take over their jobs, or in partnership?

A. We need to be honest and open with staff about what is in prospect – not to give them a ‘fait accompli’, but to give them the opportunity to engage with the challenge and to become a part of the solution. We need to say to our staff: “Do your job as best you can, but always ask yourself, why do I do this, is it still necessary and can it be done better?” Innovation is everyone’s job.

This is the approach that has been taken at Aylesbury Vale District Council, where they have turned the organisation inside out, dispensing with traditional service departments and working with their staff to co-design and co-create services that have the well-being of citizens, local businesses and the place at their heart.

Q6. Why do you think adoption of new technology has been slower in the public sector versus the private sector?

A. We need to see the adoption of technology less as competition, more as co-opetition – local authorities working with the best that the private sector and its entrepreneurship can bring to innovate solutions and a future that benefits the well-being of people, places and productivity. Blind adoption of technology for its own sake benefits no-one.

Big outsourcing projects and public-private finance (PFI) initiatives have fossilised inputs and failed to deliver on outcomes, instead mortgaging the future against the present.
We would do well to look at the lessons from the likes of CivTech in Scotland, Data Mill North and new, streamlined approaches to procurement and partnership working with start-ups and SMEs in cities like Antwerp.

Q7. As the automation age inevitably draws ever closer and we see human roles evolve with the advent of machines, what can authorities do to prepare for the changes to come?

A. Encourage your staff to look outwards, not inwards. Adopt a constructively critical mindset. Engage at every level – with citizens and businesses, with universities and communities, with local and global interests. Above all, constantly seek to learn and be generous with your knowledge and expertise.

Q8. What advice would you give to anyone deciding whether or not to come along to the Socitm President’s Conference?

A. Broaden your horizons. Come prepared to give something to your colleagues. Be surprised by what you receive. Above all make the effort to come and participate. You won’t be disappointed.


The event in Glasgow on 8 and 9 May promises to inspire the Socitm community through a phenomenal line-up of expert speakers paired with a knockout conference agenda.

You can find out more information about the conference agenda and read Martin’s full profile here.

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Martin Ferguson

Southend robot clocks on at residential care home

By SA Mathieson, editor of Socitm In Our View magazine

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has used a humanoid robot showing clips of George Formby and the Queen’s coronation to help older people reminisce about their lives.

In December the council used the robot, known as Pepper, in a reminiscence therapy session at Southend Care’s Priory House residential care home. Pepper showed videos on its built-in screen and staff asked questions about when residents first saw the clips and how they made them feel.

Residents also sang along to audio played by Pepper, which the council believes is the first robot used by a UK local authority.

Paul Mavin, group manager business support at the council, says that he was “a bit taken aback” by how easily the seven or eight residents accepted the robot. “We were half expecting a little bit of fear or trepidation from some of the residents, but they really took to Pepper straight away,” he says.

Southend is planning more such sessions, but with an expanded role for Pepper. “We were asking questions, they were directing their answers to Pepper,” says Phil Webster, manager of Southend’s equipment service. “At the end of the session, they said ‘goodbye Pepper, thank you Pepper’.” The robot will be programmed to ask initial questions in future sessions, which will also use shorter audio clips to match the length of time residents like to sing for, as well as larger images.

Sharon Houlden, Southend’s director of adult social care, says the council bought Pepper to move social care innovation beyond assistive technology such as flashing light doorbells. “As part of our social care transformation programme we wanted to do something that genuinely was very different to anything else we saw out there,” she says.

Photo: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Pepper’s Twitter account:

Read a longer version of this article in the new issue of Socitm’s In Our View magazine, now available to everyone.

Southend robot clocks on at residential care home

Theo Blackwell: London can be world’s data capital

By SA Mathieson, editor of Socitm In Our View magazine

London’s first city-wide chief digital officer has invited public-sector IT professionals to get involved in making it the “data capital of the world”.

Theo Blackwell, who moved to the Greater London Authority last autumn, has started a listening exercise to gather new ideas. “A component of it is to get the people on the ground, the experienced professionals delivering services, to give us their views on what measures we should take to enable London to become smarter, whether it’s about connectivity, collaboration or our approach to data,” he says.

“They are totally invaluable in shaping our vision, as they are the enablers,” Blackwell adds of the capital’s public sector IT staff. “We really want them to play a full role, whether through a CIO forum or contacting us with individual submissions, because it’s a real moment for the profession to express their ambitions here.”

He says that London’s approach to digital devolution, which could work in other city regions gaining powers over local public services, will include the capital’s 33 councils but also local NHS, transport, police and fire organisations.

The exercise, which will also include companies and other organisations working in technology, will feed into the production of a new Smart London plan, to be launched during London Tech Week in June. “It’s about how we make London the data capital of the world,” Blackwell says, using innovation to deliver benefits such as jobs or new digital services.

“London so far has been a collection of things that are good, but together we can do more than that – we can be greater than the sum of our parts,” Blackwell adds.

Theo Blackwell and Socitm president Geoff Connell will be giving the closing keynote at ShareDigital’18 on 8 March at Church House in Westminster. Information and registration:

Read a longer version of this article in the new issue of Socitm’s In Our View magazine, now available to everyone.

Theo Blackwell: London can be world’s data capital

Local CIO Council discusses cybersecurity funding bid

securityBy SA Mathieson, editor of Socitm In Our View magazine

The Local Public Services CIO Council has discussed a bid for government cybersecurity funding, made on behalf of members of the Local Government Cybersecurity Stakeholder Group, including Socitm and the Local Government Association.

The funding would enable the local government sector to carry out research to understand current cybersecurity arrangements. It would also put in place support and assistance for English local authorities using already-existing organisations, such as Socitm and the network of warning, advice and reporting points (Warps). The council discussed the bid at its meeting in London on 6 December.

If approved, the first year of what is planned as a three-year programme will focus on research and analysis of local authorities’ capabilities and weaknesses. In its second year, the programme would target councils and Warps in need of support and assistance, based on the initial research. It could also work on particular local government systems identified as being at risk.

For councils, the programme would aim to help them embed cybersecurity in corporate arrangements such as business continuity and civil contingency plans; make cybersecurity part of councils’ standard ‘business as usual’ work; put reporting and escalation plans in place; nominate a named senior officer and a lead member with responsibility for cyber security; and put in place appropriate training for all staff and councillors.

The programme would also aim to recruit all councils as active members of a Warp, which would themselves implement reporting and escalation plans along with training and assessment work. A ministerial decision on funding is expected early next year.

* A fuller account of the LCIOC meeting will be available for Socitm members in the publications section of the website in the New Year.

Local CIO Council discusses cybersecurity funding bid

What did I learn from taking part in the Empowering Women in a Digital World programme?

Samantha Smith, Head of Strategy and Architecture and Interim Director of IT Operations at Local Government Shared Services (LGSS), discusses how the Empowering Women in a Digital World (EWDW) programme helped her grow on both a personal and professional level.

What do I want to accomplish and what did I want to be known for?

Two of many questions we were asked on the EWDW course. I thought I knew myself quite well when I started the course but when asked those questions I had to pause and reflect. I was keen to attend this course and really looking forward to it but found I was not prepared for its impact.

Continue reading “What did I learn from taking part in the Empowering Women in a Digital World programme?”

What did I learn from taking part in the Empowering Women in a Digital World programme?