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Policy themes

Socitm’s breadth and depth of membership gives it a strong and credible voice in influencing public services policy in areas driven by digital technology, data and information. Our policy work is broken down into five themes that are critical to delivering better outcomes for residents and businesses in the places that they live and work.

For each of these five themes, Socitm works with its members and Local CIO Council, and with strategic and international partners to develop evidence-based policy thinking based on what works, alongside practical guidance for successful local policy implementation.

Our policy work builds on and further develops Socitm’s existing relationships with bodies like the LGA, COSLA, WLGA, SOLACE, CIPFA, ADASS, techUK, MHCLG, the Government Digital Service, the Scottish Local Government Digital Office, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the third, private, health and university sectors, and the media.

The policy role is central to Socitm’s work in representing and promoting the work of digital leaders and ICT professionals in the public sector and helps to inform Socitm’s research, events and services priorities.

Our policy activity is led by our Director of Policy and Research, supported by the President’s Team and Director of Leadership Development and Research, and is advised by the Socitm Local CIO Council as the members’ representative body.

Policy theme lead

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    Nicola Graham
    Immediate Past President | Head of ICT at Aberdeenshire Council

What is the challenge?

The key challenge here is to understand and promote ethical use of emerging technologies, the data they produce, the public service designs, processes and interactions they enable, and the outcomes that they generate, whilst ensuring public benefit and minimising unintended consequences.

What are we aiming to do?

  • Identify what is unique and different about an ethical, place-based approach to use of emerging technologies and data in designing better services and leveraging the benefits and better outcomes
  • Understand how to address the human challenges posed by emerging technologies (enabling wrongdoing, reducing control, removing responsibility, devaluing skills and eroding self-determination), through self-reflection, discussion and scenario-based thinking
  • Generate a rationale for separating ethical use of emerging technology and data from regulatory compliance, based on how we demonstrate that the innovation is for social good, that the outcomes are for the benefit of people/communities and that, ultimately, we build empathy and trust
  • Explore ethical practice as an intrinsic part of our ‘business’, including:
    – risk management (spanning risks, opportunities, amplification of impact, unintended consequences and outcomes)
    – service design, delivery and marketing (including leadership, ownership, responsibility and liability)
    ensuring that ethics is part of the value proposition to users and customers
  • Consider the role of the CIO/Head of IT in taking responsibility, ownership, leadership and action on the ethical and safe use of emerging technology, data and design, alongside human resource, finance and other professionals
  • Consider the place of security, cybercrime, privacy, social interaction, governance and free will, as well as the relationship with ethical standards and codes of practice adopted by society in areas such as health, care, finance, business, politics and legislation
  • Develop ethical frameworks and guidance for practical:
    – use of emerging technologies, potentially including artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, drones, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, augmented/mixed reality, cloud and mobile
    – harnessing internal and external data, assessing its usefulness for social purpose, whilst also adhering to privacy and security obligations (building on the Open Data Institute’s Data Ethics Canvas)
    – design of services, processes and interactions, with users rather than for users (‘ethics by design’)
    – engagement of new, emerging technology and data analytics ‘micro-industries’
    – development of workforce capabilities and competencies
  • Promote the education of designers and users, particularly the roles of empathy, responsibility, competence and trust that underpin motivations to make “good” and “bad” use of emerging technologies and data
  • Research what ethical use of technology and data should actually look like, what should be the role of government and public debate around the use and limitations of these technologies, where and how to overcome gaps in current legislation and regulation, how should we communicate with citizens and create some guides

Key policy partners: TBC

Policy theme partners: Open Data Institute, Oxford Internet Institute’s Data Ethics Lab, Nesta, Thomas Frey’s Institute, Cat Macaulay

Policy theme lead

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    Samantha Smith
    Socitm Vice President | Head of Strategy and Architecture for LGSS

What is the challenge?

The primary focus of this programme is to enable the “left shift” of intervention in people’s health and wellbeing from the expensive acute end of the system to an earlier point at the community and locality end and with citizens themselves.

What are we aiming to do?

  • Explore how taking a fresh look at the determinants of people’s wellbeing can enable the public sector in the widest sense – housing authorities, leisure providers, environmental management, education, police, public health, care organisations and health providers – to refocus its efforts on addressing the often entrenched and endemic problems in our communities
  • Using this broader approach provides the context for us to examine how digital technologies and better use of data can help deliver this transformation in collaboration with people in their diverse settings. Focussing on the whole lifecycle of people and all potential touch points for their wellbeing
  • Identify and capture good use cases where digital and information are enabling citizens to live independently and self-care, avoiding entry into the care systems, and to be better informed about conditions, thereby preventing illness, enabling faster discharge and out of hospital care
  • Consider methods such as Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) that can be better enabled by digital and information, connecting people and communities together to become more resilient and caring for each other
  • Champion “Frugal Innovation” in this area, particularly how the basic technologies of today, digital literacy and so forth can be a significant enabler to better Health and Wellbeing
  • Where services have to be provided, capture use cases where they are done through new integrated teams, across organisations including the independent sector, enabled through common, open governance frameworks and integrated technologies
  • Capture use cases where data is combined, across different sources and organisations, for secondary uses such as “population health management” to inform more targeted interventions and commissions that make better use of the limited budgets available
  • Consider a strong push for Open Platform approaches to Digital Health to challenge the current industry incumbents, who provide systems where the data is locked in and not available for analysis or for others to develop new innovations on as detailed above. (Note: The open platform approach is as relevant to other verticals of government as this one)
  • Set out our policy position on this and work with NHS Digital, England and the Devolved Nations on progressing it as best as we can, as well as utilise the Learning from Local Programme and Platform to support

Key policy partners:

Dell EMC logo

Team members: Dylan Roberts, Russ Charlesworth

Policy theme partners: NHS-England, NHS-Digital, NIB National Social Care Advisory Group, BCS Health and Care Group, Fed-IP, ADASS, Newcastle University Business School

Policy theme lead

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    Sandra Taylor
    Socitm President | Head of Digital and ICT Services at Dudley MBC

What is the challenge?

The Information Age and Digital Technology will enable the Public Sector to operate more efficiently, lower costs, improve services, and achieve better outcomes with citizens and businesses. In order to realise this, leaders will need to acquire digital acumen, redesign processes, digitally upskill the workforce, develop diversity, and attract and retain talent. Ultimately, the new technology available must be complemented by the right leadership in order to work. Better outcomes will only be achieved if public sector employees at all levels are up to the task.

In the Information Age, public sector leaders risk missing promising solutions or failure to achieve transformational digital services, when they lack voices from diverse backgrounds.

What are we aiming to do?

Socitm is marshalling its efforts to help address the challenges that we have highlighted. We are keen to ensure the society is well-placed to guide and support our members in tackling the gaps in this important area of work. Our approach is inclusive to ensure that all key stakeholders impacted by these challenges have a better understanding of what needs to be done to respond and how that can be achieved. We will also aim to offer targeted advice and guidance for directly impacted professionals. Our intention is to present and make available a holistic package that will pull on existing resources and create a repository of easily accessible material for all. We are optimistic that our efforts will achieve digitally-adept organisations and workforces with the appropriate capabilities, skills, attitudes and behaviours.

The following specific actions are being developed and will be made available:

  • Promote steps to build a digitally capable workforce and to address gaps in leadership, diversity, and hard and soft skills
  • Drive the development of digital leadership in the public sector, championing the need for all leaders and managers to have a strategic vision of the possibilities and potentials of the use and deployment of technology in support of process review and service redesign – delivering user-focused services that are accessible and responsive › Improve digital proficiency among managers and employees at all levels of the organisation and the sector
  • Champion the importance of diverse leadership and teams, including the empowerment of women, for the design of services and products that work for everyone
  • Examine how to gain, re-train and retain skills within the workforce including apprenticeships and returners and addressing the salary gap in the sector
  • Reference the work being done across the sector, in particular the NHS, voluntary/third sectors to ensure that the Socitm leadership and skills development programmes are aligned and demonstrate and complement other initiatives
  • Provide collaboration across the sector and with other agencies so that we can facilitate information exchange, knowledge-share, and learn from the best practice that we have individually adopted and promoted
  • Start to articulate and define the evolving roles of ‘tomorrow’s digital leaders’, including relevant skills and experience

Key policy partners:

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Policy theme partners: BCS, QA Training, SOLACE, LGA, MHCLG,

Policy theme lead

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    Alison Hughes
    Socitm Vice President | Assistant Director for ICT Strategic Partnerships at Wigan & Bolton Councils

ICT service delivery is no longer business as usual. We need to modernise and to make decisions about how we manage and resource our operations in different ways. We need to make sense of emerging technologies to underpin new service patterns while recognising ongoing funding challenges and making sure that we meet the changing expectations of service users.

What are we aiming to do?

  • Explore existing proven and emerging service delivery models, reflecting changes in how our diverse users operate and the growing demand for integrated public service delivery and shared data and intelligence
  • Identify innovative technology to help us to respond to the changing expectations of our internal and external service users, recognising that the way we all work is changing
  • Evaluate future models of user support and service desk best practice in our changing landscape of ICT service provision
  • Highlight modern, engaging, pragmatic solutions to our ICT security and data management challenges, working with information governance colleagues and managing risks in this area
  • Maximise learning across the public sector though partnerships, collaboration and sharing proven best practice in building robust ICT services and supporting value to our citizens
  • Develop a technology roadmap, including the role that cloud and hybrid technology models play in designing ICT service models for the future
  • Work effectively with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), partners and re-sellers to ensure the sector is achieving best value for the provisioning of tech products, solutions and services
  • Identify future roles and skills sets for our ICT people, to reflect the demands of our organisations for the future, particularly focusing on developing the next generation of ICT professionals and making public sector services attractive to talented young people
  • Create and embed a culture and ethos in our service delivery teams, whatever the model operated, to enable relationships to be formed with our users, suppliers and wider public service partners that deliver innovative, effective and successful public service outcomes

Key policy partner: TBC

Policy theme partners: TBC

Policy theme lead

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    Huw McKee
    Socitm Vice President | Head of IT and Digital Transformation at Conwy Council

What is the challenge?

The key challenge here is to transform places through a dynamic, digital economy enabled by the modern, people-centred service designs. This requires future focused, digitally aware leadership within our organisations, partners, businesses and communities to embrace new and totally different ways of collaborating and working.

What are we aiming to do?

  • Identify and capture examples of where councils are already demonstrating transformation to a digital economy enabled by service re-design and transformational leadership, generate standardised, simple, models of these and share them across the public sector
  • Promote people-centred design principles, such as Service Design Thinking, where everyone is involved in the design of services, especially the final recipient of those services
  • Champion taking control of our data, setting standards for data exchange, and finding companies that will work with us to develop the business applications to support this
  • Research emerging technology and new business models and seeking ways of harnessing them in ethical and secure ways
  • Use modern technology to automate as much as possible, freeing workers to further enhance services, while at the same time driving out efficiencies and increasing productivity
  • Enable the sharing of methods/components/solutions by promotion of simplify, standardise and share
  • Support public sector leaders in obtaining a modern leadership skillset and toolkit, enabled by the Socitm Leadership Academy and making available research and policy briefings related to the public sector

Key policy partner:

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Policy theme partners: MHCLG, GDS, LGA, Local Government Delivery Council, Local Government PSN Programme Board, COSLA, Scottish Government, Scottish Improvement Service, Scottish LG Digital Office, Scottish Local Government Digital Transformation Board, Welsh Assembly, Welsh LGA, Eduserv, SOLACE, CIPFA, Major Cities of Europe, LocalGov Digital, QA Training

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