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President's Conference, 18th June, Birmingham

New insights, authoritative information; practical know-how and inspiring stories: all these and more await you at our 2019 President's Conference.

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Welcoming our new President and Vice President

A big thank you to everyone who attended our 2019 President’s Conference on 18-19 June.

The event was hugely informative, thought-provoking, inspiring and successful. Boasting an outstanding line-up of speakers and a packed programme of interactive workshops, the occasion also saw Nicola Graham bestow her presidential chain upon the capable shoulders of her successor Sandra Taylor. We were also delighted to announce the appointment of Alison Hughes as Socitm Vice President.
Our Socitm awards ceremony took place during the President’s Dinner on the evening of June 18 and the winners were:

Leadership Academy Advocate of the year
Jane Walton, Dudley MBC

Partner of the year
MLL Telecom

Member of the year
Arwyn Morris, Ceredigion Council

Innovative use Case
NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group

Improve Award: Best User Satisfaction 2018/2019
Conwy Council

BetterConnected+ Award: Most Improved Score
Harrogate DC

Better Connected+ Award: Most improved website score on accessibility 
Blaby District Council

Leadership Academy Award: Leadership Advocate of the year
Jane Walton

 

The winners each received a certificate and a bespoke award designed and hand-crafted by product design students from the University of Northampton. We hope these one-off items will be proudly displayed by each of our winners as a reminder of their outstanding achievements and the recognition they’ve so richly deserved to receive.

CCS set to replace cloud first with ‘more appropriate guidance’

The Crown Commercial Service has indicated that it is set to replace the government’s long-standing cloud first policy with more appropriate guidance.

Since 2013, government organisations have been required to apply the guidelines to all technology procurement decisions. The policy, which was developed by the Government Digital Service, stipulates that buyers should fully evaluate potential [public] cloud solutions first before considering any other option.

Doing so is mandatory for central government entities and strongly recommended for the rest of the public sector.

But CCS said that having worked though the digital transformation journey with many central government departments and wider public sector organisations, it has become apparent that one size does not fit all.

“Organisations should make sure they understand what the journey to ‘cloud’ is and means for them in terms of costs, risks, skills and timescales,” CCS said. “We are seeing more and more customers land on a hybrid solution and therefore ‘cloud first’ may not be right for everyone.  Therefore, we have engaged with GDS to find more appropriate guidance,” it added.

The review of the policy comes shortly after CCS took over running of the Digital Marketplace platform from GDS. Over the coming months, the procurement agency is to lead work to develop a replacement platform, currently dubbed Digital Marketplace 2. This comes instead of the Crown Marketplace – a planned ‘Amazonesque’ marketplace for all commodity goods and services – the construction of which is no longer going ahead.

CCS is also looking to create a new commercial agreement covering cloud hosting services. The framework, which will likely launch next year and will initially sit alongside the more generalist G-Cloud vehicle, is set to feature three lots, respectively addressing hyperscale hosting, smaller hosting environments, and related services.

The cloud hosting agreement is likely to feature longer-term call-off contracts – of five years, rather than the two-year deals available under G-Cloud – as well as the scope for further competition, and what it calls normalised pricing.

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Positive engagement: Smart Leeds

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Our next Leadership Academy Top Talent programme begins on 3-4 July in Leeds.

Those taking part will be involved in an exciting and ground-breaking research programme for Leeds City Council.

The council is keen to explore a rewards scheme that promotes behaviour change and positive citizen engagement amongst those who live, work and visit Leeds.

In recognition of the outstanding achievements of our Top Talent graduates, the council has asked us to undertake a three-month research phase in order to gain greater understanding as to whether the scheme could result in a strong business case that leads to the development of a multi-platform innovative solution.

Similar schemes are being trialled in a handful cities around the world including Belfast and Tel Aviv. These initiatives offer rewards such as free leisure passes for using public transport and free coffee-shop drinks for undertaking charity work.

Health and wellbeing, travel and transport, housing standards and growth and climate emergency are all key priorities in Leeds’ smart cities programme, Smart Leeds, and this is the first project of its kind in the UK, outside of Northern Ireland.

This is a fantastic opportunity for our Top Talent Cohort to be part of something that could change how local authorities motivate and engage residents and visitors. The project could set a benchmark both nationally and globally and the Top Talent group will be presenting their findings at Share Leeds on 15 October.

To book your place email: hello@socitm.net.

Leading in canal cities

venice

Preceding our President’s Conference in England’s very own Venice, i.e Birmingham (56kkms of canals), this year’s annual conference of Socitm’s Major Cities of Europe (MCE) partner took place in Venice (42kms of canals). Hosted and organised together with the Municipality of Venice, the Cà Foscari University and VENIS S.p.A. at the Cà Foscari Economic Campus, the overarching theme of the conference was “Channelling Change – Digital cities in a changing world – Explore more, Discover more, Create more”.

Close to 350 delegates came from 20 countries to share their experiences, including our own Socitm representatives.

Sandra Taylor and Nadira Hussain shared the many achievements from Socitm’s unfolding Leadership, Diversity and Skills Programme and some of the extraordinary testimonies from our Leadership Academy. Nadira also had the opportunity to chair a panel discussion titled ‘Digital Transformation: The Leadership Paradox’; sharing experiences as to how we can improve the adoption more widely of good digital government practice. The point of reference being we can all think of cities who are said to be “leading” in these areas, but few who can be said to be following that lead – in which case, is there true leadership?

Martin Ferguson gave an enthusiastic and thought-provoking contribution, drawing upon UK experience, to a session entitled: The Moral Maze – the role of cities in avoiding a digital dystopia.

The conference was a unique opportunity to:

  • interact and exchange directly with other European municipalities in a non-commercial environment
  • discuss about the real challenges that municipalities currently deal about digitization
  • test ideas with ‘digital leaders’ from cities across Europe
  • understand how to involve citizens in designing and achieving better outcomes
  • see how to use data and information more effectively
  • hear the truth, not the spin
  • be informed, challenged, and involved.

The topics for the different sessions of the conference included:

  • Cities as service hubs: Citizen at the centre – Local governments become integrated service providers and partner to provide citizens services with other local public and private players.
  • New and Emerging Technologies: How to ensure that innovative technologies add value to the lives of the citizens? How to leverage Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies?
  • The Moral Maze: How local governments ensure that the use of technology is ethical and that citizens’ participative initiatives through social media are managed in an ethical and protected way?
  • Troubled Projects – Good Procurement: How procurement decisions are taken and how solutions or technologies are selected to be the right foundations? How to manage troubled projects? How to take the right decisions and to persuade the organisation?
  • Changing roles, change management and digital transformation: to face the dangerous chasm between the existing managerial and professional skills and the new required skills and abilities.
  • World Café: On the second day the programme included the World Café. Several topics arising from the conference programme were debated at many different discussion tables. The discussions will be collated into a final report.

These conference sessions and future workshops provide valuable material for our own Socitm Inform research programme – evidence of this is in resources generated from the most recent workshop on leveraging data:

https://www.majorcities.eu/misc/workshops/take-smart-city-next-level-leveraging-city-data/

For anyone who may be interested, membership of MCE is open to all municipalities and provides a unique opportunity to gain fresh perspectives on the contemporary issues facing digital leaders in their many diverse places.

https://www.majorcities.eu/be-a-member/

Next year’s conference, which is free to attend for all MCE members, will be in Larissa, Greece 27-29 May 2020

By Sandra Taylor, Nadira Hussain and Martin Ferguson.

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