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: www.sharedigital.net

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

Shortening the innovation cycle in local public services

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Successful innovation in one part of the public sector that ought to spread rapidly to other parts. After all, there’s no competition to worry about and lots of what is done is replicated all over the place. But of course, it doesn’t work like that in real life. There are many barriers, including procurement processes, cultures, hierarchies and above all, the business-as-usual, analogue thinking and practice still prevails in too many places. Continue reading “Shortening the innovation cycle in local public services”

Shortening the innovation cycle in local public services

Accessibility – Better Connected turns up the volume

By Vicky Sargent, Director, Better Connected Programme

The Better Connected programme is putting website accessibility under new levels of scrutiny.

People with disabilities account for around 15 per cent of the UK population, and for many of them, access to websites is vital. Accessibility should therefore be built into the design of websites as well as all third party software used to manage services, forms, and documents presented via websites. Website text, videos, and imagery must also be made accessible to all, including those using assistive technologies like text-to-speech screen readers or magnification software.

Continue reading “Accessibility – Better Connected turns up the volume”

Accessibility – Better Connected turns up the volume

Different perspectives on familiar problems

By Martin Ferguson, Socitm Director of Policy & Research

As Brexit debate intensifies towards the 23 June referendum, I thought I’d look to Europe, and our Swedish partner association KommITS. It recently held its 20th anniversary conference and I was delighted to join it, discovering different perspectives on familiar problems.

Taking place in the resurgent city of Malmö, Sweden, the conference saw more than 300 KommITS members, some 30 vendor partners, and an international delegation from Sweden, USA, Canada, UK, Holland and Belgium meet to gain new knowledge, discuss collaborative opportunities, forge relationships, and reflect on policy and practice back in our respective home countries.

Continue reading “Different perspectives on familiar problems”

Different perspectives on familiar problems

46 days in the life of a digital transformation newbie

By Anna Sexton, Socitm Head of Marketing and Digital Communications

I have been at Socitm for 46 days, joined two big events (the Socitm Spring Conference and Better Connected Live), connected with 100+ fascinating and passionate people, and this week seen 29 local authorities win awards for digital innovation (some pictured above).

Continue reading “46 days in the life of a digital transformation newbie”

46 days in the life of a digital transformation newbie