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Practical placemaking collection | Article

Practical placemaking: Introduction

Authored by William Barker, Martin Ferguson, Diana Rebaza

Drawing on Socitm’s wider policy, research and leadership resources, this collection offers local public service organisations a range of thought leadership, trend analysis and practical insights that can help local public sector leaders, policymakers and practitioners to anticipate and adapt to the fast-moving place-based digital, data and technology agenda.

Using Socitm’s three-fold practical placemaking model as a guide (see Figure 1 below), the collection provides an introduction to the practical aspects of digital placemaking. With links to Socitm’s resource hub materials and wider capabilities, the collection sets out how local public sector organisations can in turn:

  • Discover the benefits of horizon scanning, joined-up policy making, digital leadership education and building capability from an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Develop through establishing a strategic focus, supported by continuous development, strengthening diversity and inclusion, and taking an innovative approach to adopting data and emerging technologies than can help place-based transformation and development.
  • Deliver so as to support place-based resilience and regeneration through networking, collaboration and inclusive service design, all in support of sustainable and connected outcomes that will deliver better public and social value.
Socitm practical placemaking model - table
Figure 1. Socitm practical placemaking model

Unpacking Socitm’s practical placemaking model

The practical placemaking model comprises the following three pillars, underpinned in turn by a series of factors identified in Socitm’s policy, research and leadership resources, as follows:

Pillar 1 – Practical discovery

This pillar outlines the benefits of horizon scanning, the role of moving from policy into practice and the pivotal role of digital leadership education, and examines how to build up secure digitalisation and cyber resilience capabilities. Factors supporting place-based discovery comprise:

  • Horizon scanning: Horizon scan to understand the wider digital, data and technology (DDaT) environment so as to anticipate and adapt better to changing circumstances and unexpected events.
  • Policy into practice: Establish an understanding of the interplay of technology and policy, together with the need to integrate DDaT into the heart of decision-making processes to inform policy making and achieve better outcomes.
  • Decision maker education: Nurture wider knowledge and understanding of place-based digital business change amongst decision makers across local leadership, policy-making and practitioner communities.
  • Capability building: Examine what is required around capability building that can support place-based secure digitalisation and wider cyber security.

Pillar 2 – Practical development

This pillar considers the strategic priorities that can help to revolutionise public services, including the roles of continuous improvement, diversity, inclusion and equality, and going on to examine how harnessing data and emerging technologies can help place-based transformation. Factors supporting place-based development comprise:

  • Strategic focus: Build upon local innovation to Covid-19 by sustaining the step changes that local public service providers have taken and harnessing digital cultures, capabilities, technologies and data to support people, communities, organisations and places.
  • Continuous development: Develop continuous feedback and improvement processes than can inform and improve policy outcomes and service delivery, gaining insights and evidence from what works and what doesn’t.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Create a culture of diversity and creativity to support innovation, encouraging people and teams who better represent and engage with the citizens and communities they serve, innovating improvements to place-based design and operations.
  • Supporting transformation: Identify how services can be transformed through the development and use of big data analytics and emerging technologies such Artificial Intelligence/Internet of Things.

Pillar 3 – Practical delivery

This pillar considers how to support post-Covid, place-based resilience and regeneration, champion the role of networks and collaboration across the UK’s nations and regions and deploy inclusive service design approaches, all in support of sustainable and connected outcomes that will deliver better public and social value. Factors supporting place-based delivery comprise:

  • Resilience and regeneration: Enable places to be resilient to disruptive changes, through stimulating regeneration that supports post-Covid recovery, sustains the positive changes that have been achieved and builds economically sustainable, socially just and ecologically safe places.
  • Networking and collaboration: Build upon the shared wisdom and practical experience emerging from networks and collaborations across the Nations and Regions of the UK and beyond. Adopt networked ways of working to improve efficiency and effectiveness to develop more effective forms of accountable and accessible place-based governance and organisations.
  • Designing out of difficult times: Support leaders in co-design, co-creation and co-delivery of public services, establishing a ‘bridge to digital’ that embraces digital, data and technology (DDaT) roles, makes the best use of systems and realises the full benefits of technology investments in designing, targeting and delivering better services and outcomes in the communities they serve.
  • Connected and sustainable places: Establish how a focus on outcomes, frameworks and systems thinking can help build resilient, connected and sustainable places, where digital services transcend the boundaries of related public services in an area and can help to address ‘wicked issues’ such as climate transition and the drive to net zero.