Friday, 25 November 2016

The rise of digital technology

Taken from this video (video) featuring an interview with Douglas Rushkoff (http://www.rushkoff.com/).

So this is a very short version of the information contained in the video above.

Basically at the moment everyone expects constant growth in the economy.  This is unsustainable, so as a species we have to change what we do.

History tells us that the need for constant growth had it's roots in the 13th century when the crusaders returned from the middle east and introduced the idea of trading and markets.  This led to sustained growth in Europe as people traded their wares and labour with the introduction of monetary systems.

At the time the "elites" were the nobility and they passed laws to outlaw local currency and to ensure that the various trades were employed under the control of the elites.  This was the birth of the employee.  Any money in the economy had to be worked for or borrowed with interest and hence the constant need for growth was born.  This worked well for centuries as the west expanded but now the planet is being plundered over it's capacity and can no longer support constant growth.

Then along comes disruptive technology like Amazon and Uber.  Uber uses technology to out perform local taxi companies.  A relatively simple application that costs little generates huge income for a very small company in a far off land.  This is a destructive relationship sucking money out of local economies.

Why do disruptive companies act in this way.  It is all about the way money is provided to start ups. A company like Twitter has a turnover of 2B$ which is seen as inadequate when compared to AirBnB and Uber. This is because investors and shareholders demand huge returns.  The only element that matters for these businesses is Capital.  They do not rely on people or owning land.  They act remotely and vacuum up money depleting local economies.

Basically the operating system of our economy is a 13th century relic being used to run 21st century technology companies.  We need technology companies that work locally so that cities can hang on to local generated money and create value.  We need to stop extracting money and focus on the flow of money in the local economy.  We need to decouple work from employment.

One idea is to create platforms co-ops like Winco Foods that out competes Walmart and is owned by it's employees.

We need to focus on our local cities.  We need to create high technology local businesses ideally based on co-operative principles.  Each city has people that need services, we just need to ensure these needs are met by local businesses and  skills and not outsourced to distant super wealthy technology companies.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Aberdeen City Council (ACC)-Digital Strategy

In November last year I contacted ACC and asked if there was a digital strategy.  I was told there was one in preparation and in a subsequent email in February 2016 I was told that the aim was to present the strategy to council in March 2016.  Well here we are in September and the strategy is in draft, for the meeting of the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee on the 20th September.

So here is my review of the strategy ( p243-p266 ).

First the bottom line, the strategy will deliver a saving per annum of 5M pounds  on a total spend of 4.5M pounds.  This is in line with other projects:

"Bristol’s digital roadmap includes many more ways of enabling meaningful citizen engagement,including facilitating collaboration between citizens themselves. The council has also achieved“staggering” business results. £3.5m was spent implementing their new digital platform, and the organisation has already saved over £60m. Significant cost savings, exceptional customer experience, and better customer insight can all go hand in hand." (Liferay 2016)

The strategy does not really mention shared services but I believe there are moves to collaborate across councils and other services on  digital transformation.( eduserv report ).

The report does not mention use of open source software where appropriate, which is a big omission.

There is little talk of process optimisation before any technology gets applied although the "emergent plan" does mention business process automation.  It is common knowledge that the process needs to be sorted before the technology is applied:
"Digital Transformation is the process of re-thinking a business model or processes in light of the availability of digital technology in order to meet ever-changing market demands. Such transformation requires coordination across the entire organisation since it applies new technologies to fundamentally change the way business is done, and it most certainly requires a strategy in place to achieve it." (Liferay 2016)

I would like to see a commitment, in the strategy, to creating local jobs for Aberdeen by encouraging local technology companies to get involved in the digital transformation, rather than buy in expertise from major US technology companies.

Nothing is made in the strategy of how mapping the business processes and opening up the council's data can engage citizens and improve local democracy and governance.

Apart from the above, the strategy is a welcome step in the right direction and if the "walk" is as good as the "talk" Aberdeen will catch up with councils such as Bristol and Camden.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

7 Questions to Ask Before Your Next Digital Transformation

 The original article is published by the Harvard Business Review here


Is this a digital upgrade or a digital transformation? 

A digital transformation occurs when you use digital technology to change the way you operate.
If you discover that you are actually embarking on an upgrade instead of a transformation, ask yourself if that will be sufficient to maintain competitiveness when business models based on digital networks create market valuations four times higher than the rest.

Are you really bought in, and is your team?

A situation that we have seen over and over again is a leadership team trying to lead a digital transformation that they aren’t particularly passionate about.

Are you prepared to share value creation with your customers?

The latest technology-enabled business model, network orchestration, is premised on the fact that companies can allow customers and other networks to share in the process of value creation. Uber relies on a network of drivers; Airbnb relies on a network of property owners; Ebay relies on a network of sellers.

Have you put walls around your digital team?

A digital upgrade requires a well-defined team with a narrow scope. A digital transformation requires a team with a cross-functional mandate and strong support.

Do you know how to measure the value you intend to create?

Digital transformations don’t always affect the KPIs a company is already measuring. Of course the end goal of a transformation is to affect revenue, profitability, and investor value.

Are you ready to make the tough calls about your team?

There is an old saying: “It is easier to change the people than to change the people.” Said another way, sometimes a new vision requires new people to create it.

Will you be ready to spin off your digital business?

Sometimes the upstart inside the organization becomes bigger and more valuable than the parent that gave birth to it—or risks not attracting the right talent or suffering turf wars between digital and legacy. (A great resource on this is The Second Curve by Ian Morrison.) Often, separation is required to enable both the parent and child to continue growth.

Transforming an organization is difficult, and the research proves it. But it is still worth doing. Forrester’s assessment is that by 2020 every business will become either predator or prey. As a leader, you likely already know the basics of managing change, but a digital transformation goes deeper, and thus makes different demands on you, your team, and your organization. In return, however, you have the opportunity to invest in the most profitable and valuable business models the market has seen.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

10 leadership behaviours for council innovation


The two most commonly cited qualities in a UK survey on key leadership behaviours are that council leaders should work on building innovative partnerships and be bold and ambitious.

The 10 innovation boosting behaviours

The report concludes political and managerial leaders in local government might boost innovation if they:
  1. Are clear, united and determined about the outcomes they want to achieve and their priority areas for innovation.
  2. Are bold and ambitious, while understanding residents’ concerns, learning from elsewhere, setting realistic objectives, and taking well-considered risks.
  3. Engage with key partners in an open way, evolving innovations together.
  4. Create an organisational culture that encourages creative approaches (particularly in the priority areas for innovation).
  5. Develop and empower other innovative leaders (eg. middle managers).
  6. Invest time, resources and effort into developing their innovation priorities.
  7. Convincingly communicate the reasons why their priority innovations are important (eg. engage in dialogue with their managers, employees, partners, residents and other key stakeholders).
  8. Genuinely listen to, and involve, relevant others in developing innovations (eg. managers, employees, residents, service users, partners, businesses).
  9. Track the development of their priority innovations (eg. using programme and project management, or more agile techniques, as appropriate).
  10. Persist for long enough to embed and scale up their priority innovations.
 Original article

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Digital in Europe, Major Cities of Europe Conference : Florence 2016

” The Organisation “Major Cities of Europe – IT Users Group” is composed of leading experts of Innovation in cities. They contribute to the continuous improvement of the value proposition of the association.”

 Top Ten Takeaways (Not in order of Priority)

  1. You achieve far more through collaboration than through competition and this includes collaboration regionally, nationally and internationally
  2. Open Platforms, Open Source and Open Data – we need all of these, one without the others will limit what we can all achieve.
  3. Cities have a role to incubate innovation, supporting start-up business; and to do so in a way that is easy, fun and relaxed
  4. A smart city involves and brings together all the City agencies, a smart city cannot be achieved in isolation by the Council.
  5. Block-Chain, I need to learn more about this as it will become an increasingly important and useful tool. 
  6.  It is people that matter and we need digital services that benefit people
  7. We need to design for now and the future and the Digitally native generations; but at the same time continue to support those who find it hard to access and use Digital.
  8. Keep it simple – the more simple and easy it is for people to use, the more benefit it will bring to the citizens, businesses and the respective city agencies. 
  9. The digital gender gap is a major challenge across Europe, and we can share the challenge and the ideas, solutions and actions needed to overcome this.
  10. Culture – how we can share art and culture digitally to enrich lives, a couple of great case studies.
Original Article by Nick O'Reilly from his Digital Blog

Sunday, 10 April 2016

How a start up in the White House is changing business as usual

 Haley Van Dyck is transforming the way America delivers critical services to everyday people. At the United States Digital Service, Van Dyck and her team are using lessons learned by Silicon Valley and the private sector to improve services for veterans, immigrants, the disabled and others, creating a more awesome government along the way. "We don't care about politics," she says. "We care about making government work better, because it's the only one we've got."

This is how we should tackle business as usual in the councils.  We need private enterprise working inside local government in small teams protected from. interference.

Video

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Connected Councils: A digital vision of local government in 2025

This report examines how digital technologies could help councils save money, foster local economic growth and deliver better outcomes for local residents and communities.

It sets out a vision of where councils might be in 2025 to better understand what opportunities they face now.

Key Findings

Local government has made huge progress in enabling residents to carry out basic transactions online. But most councils have a long way to go to deliver smooth, frictionless services and fully digitise their back offices. Digitisation isn’t just about developing digital services; depending on the level of ambition, digital tools can help:

Save money and deliver better outcomes by intervening earlier and helping people manage their own conditions.
Transform the way that councils work internally, commission services and partners, diagnose and solve problems, use public space, and attract talent.
Make services smoother and easier to access, more personalised and user-responsive.
Put residents at the heart of local problem-solving and decision-making and create an environment which supports businesses to startup and scale.

The 2025 vision

Like the best tech companies, future councils will be lean, agile and data-driven. Siloed services will be replaced with multi-agency teams that form around specific local challenges. A truly mobile workforce has freed up public space. Almost all transactions take place online. Instead of two-dimensional council websites, interactive platforms connect users with third-party apps and services, and stream personalised content on local democracy, jobs and services.

Relational services (such as social care) still rely heavily on face-to-face contact. But digital tools help people to manage their own long-term conditions and connect to a broader network of support, such as peer mentors, health coaches, friends and family, volunteers and group-based activities. Digital technologies have helped councils take a more ambitious approach to place-shaping. A larger share of public contracts go to high-growth SMEs. Councils systematically engage residents in decisions about how services are commissioned, delivered and evaluated.

Policy Recommendations

The report recommends:

Councils become digital by default, moving all transactional services online and fully digitising their back offices by 2020.

The Cabinet Office should bring together key local government actors to define - and continuously update - open standards for data for the whole public sector.
Leading councils should come together to create a market for new digital products in cases where local authority needs are not currently being met by off-the-peg solutions.

City regions should be required to establish an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) as part of devolution settlements. The ODA – modelled on the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics pioneered in New York City – should be tasked with helping city leaders and public bodies bring together and analyse data to support regional economic growth and local public sector reform.

Councils should invest in accessibility, by providing online and human navigation support to help people use digital services in public spaces, such as libraries and jobcentres. They should also ensure that pathways between different services are seamless, jargon free, and that people with different digital needs are appropriately ‘triaged’.

The Cabinet Office should review and publish detailed guidance on the ethical dimensions of data-sharing and algorithm-supported decision-making.

This report examines how digital technologies could help councils save money, foster local economic growth and deliver better outcomes for local residents and communities.
It sets out a vision of where councils might be in 2025 to better understand what opportunities they face now.

Key Findings

Local government has made huge progress in enabling residents to carry out basic transactions online. But most councils have a long way to go to deliver smooth, frictionless services and fully digitise their back offices. Digitisation isn’t just about developing digital services; depending on the level of ambition, digital tools can help:
  • Save money and deliver better outcomes by intervening earlier and helping people manage their own conditions.
  • Transform the way that councils work internally, commission services and partners, diagnose and solve problems, use public space, and attract talent.
  • Make services smoother and easier to access, more personalised and user-responsive.
  • Put residents at the heart of local problem-solving and decision-making and create an environment which supports businesses to startup and scale.

The 2025 vision

Like the best tech companies, future councils will be lean, agile and data-driven. Siloed services will be replaced with multi-agency teams that form around specific local challenges. A truly mobile workforce has freed up public space. Almost all transactions take place online. Instead of two-dimensional council websites, interactive platforms connect users with third-party apps and services, and stream personalised content on local democracy, jobs and services.
Relational services (such as social care) still rely heavily on face-to-face contact. But digital tools help people to manage their own long-term conditions and connect to a broader network of support, such as peer mentors, health coaches, friends and family, volunteers and group-based activities. Digital technologies have helped councils take a more ambitious approach to place-shaping. A larger share of public contracts go to high-growth SMEs. Councils systematically engage residents in decisions about how services are commissioned, delivered and evaluated.

Policy Recommendations

The report recommends:
  • Councils become digital by default, moving all transactional services online and fully digitising their back offices by 2020. 
  • The Cabinet Office should bring together key local government actors to define - and continuously update - open standards for data for the whole public sector. 
  • Leading councils should come together to create a market for new digital products in cases where local authority needs are not currently being met by off-the-peg solutions. 
  • City regions should be required to establish an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) as part of devolution settlements. The ODA – modelled on the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics pioneered in New York City – should be tasked with helping city leaders and public bodies bring together and analyse data to support regional economic growth and local public sector reform.
  • Councils should invest in accessibility, by providing online and human navigation support to help people use digital services in public spaces, such as libraries and jobcentres. They should also ensure that pathways between different services are seamless, jargon free, and that people with different digital needs are appropriately ‘triaged’. 
  • The Cabinet Office should review and publish detailed guidance on the ethical dimensions of data-sharing and algorithm-supported decision-making.
- See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/connected-councils-digital-vision-local-government-2025#sthash.VIN7bLvi.dpuf
This report examines how digital technologies could help councils save money, foster local economic growth and deliver better outcomes for local residents and communities.
It sets out a vision of where councils might be in 2025 to better understand what opportunities they face now.

Key Findings

Local government has made huge progress in enabling residents to carry out basic transactions online. But most councils have a long way to go to deliver smooth, frictionless services and fully digitise their back offices. Digitisation isn’t just about developing digital services; depending on the level of ambition, digital tools can help:
  • Save money and deliver better outcomes by intervening earlier and helping people manage their own conditions.
  • Transform the way that councils work internally, commission services and partners, diagnose and solve problems, use public space, and attract talent.
  • Make services smoother and easier to access, more personalised and user-responsive.
  • Put residents at the heart of local problem-solving and decision-making and create an environment which supports businesses to startup and scale.

The 2025 vision

Like the best tech companies, future councils will be lean, agile and data-driven. Siloed services will be replaced with multi-agency teams that form around specific local challenges. A truly mobile workforce has freed up public space. Almost all transactions take place online. Instead of two-dimensional council websites, interactive platforms connect users with third-party apps and services, and stream personalised content on local democracy, jobs and services.
Relational services (such as social care) still rely heavily on face-to-face contact. But digital tools help people to manage their own long-term conditions and connect to a broader network of support, such as peer mentors, health coaches, friends and family, volunteers and group-based activities. Digital technologies have helped councils take a more ambitious approach to place-shaping. A larger share of public contracts go to high-growth SMEs. Councils systematically engage residents in decisions about how services are commissioned, delivered and evaluated.

Policy Recommendations

The report recommends:
  • Councils become digital by default, moving all transactional services online and fully digitising their back offices by 2020. 
  • The Cabinet Office should bring together key local government actors to define - and continuously update - open standards for data for the whole public sector. 
  • Leading councils should come together to create a market for new digital products in cases where local authority needs are not currently being met by off-the-peg solutions. 
  • City regions should be required to establish an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) as part of devolution settlements. The ODA – modelled on the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics pioneered in New York City – should be tasked with helping city leaders and public bodies bring together and analyse data to support regional economic growth and local public sector reform.
  • Councils should invest in accessibility, by providing online and human navigation support to help people use digital services in public spaces, such as libraries and jobcentres. They should also ensure that pathways between different services are seamless, jargon free, and that people with different digital needs are appropriately ‘triaged’. 
  • The Cabinet Office should review and publish detailed guidance on the ethical dimensions of data-sharing and algorithm-supported decision-making.
- See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/connected-councils-digital-vision-local-government-2025#sthash.VIN7bLvi.dpuf
This report examines how digital technologies could help councils save money, foster local economic growth and deliver better outcomes for local residents and communities.
It sets out a vision of where councils might be in 2025 to better understand what opportunities they face now.

Key Findings

Local government has made huge progress in enabling residents to carry out basic transactions online. But most councils have a long way to go to deliver smooth, frictionless services and fully digitise their back offices. Digitisation isn’t just about developing digital services; depending on the level of ambition, digital tools can help:
  • Save money and deliver better outcomes by intervening earlier and helping people manage their own conditions.
  • Transform the way that councils work internally, commission services and partners, diagnose and solve problems, use public space, and attract talent.
  • Make services smoother and easier to access, more personalised and user-responsive.
  • Put residents at the heart of local problem-solving and decision-making and create an environment which supports businesses to startup and scale.

The 2025 vision

Like the best tech companies, future councils will be lean, agile and data-driven. Siloed services will be replaced with multi-agency teams that form around specific local challenges. A truly mobile workforce has freed up public space. Almost all transactions take place online. Instead of two-dimensional council websites, interactive platforms connect users with third-party apps and services, and stream personalised content on local democracy, jobs and services.
Relational services (such as social care) still rely heavily on face-to-face contact. But digital tools help people to manage their own long-term conditions and connect to a broader network of support, such as peer mentors, health coaches, friends and family, volunteers and group-based activities. Digital technologies have helped councils take a more ambitious approach to place-shaping. A larger share of public contracts go to high-growth SMEs. Councils systematically engage residents in decisions about how services are commissioned, delivered and evaluated.

Policy Recommendations

The report recommends:
  • Councils become digital by default, moving all transactional services online and fully digitising their back offices by 2020. 
  • The Cabinet Office should bring together key local government actors to define - and continuously update - open standards for data for the whole public sector. 
  • Leading councils should come together to create a market for new digital products in cases where local authority needs are not currently being met by off-the-peg solutions. 
  • City regions should be required to establish an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) as part of devolution settlements. The ODA – modelled on the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics pioneered in New York City – should be tasked with helping city leaders and public bodies bring together and analyse data to support regional economic growth and local public sector reform.
  • Councils should invest in accessibility, by providing online and human navigation support to help people use digital services in public spaces, such as libraries and jobcentres. They should also ensure that pathways between different services are seamless, jargon free, and that people with different digital needs are appropriately ‘triaged’. 
  • The Cabinet Office should review and publish detailed guidance on the ethical dimensions of data-sharing and algorithm-supported decision-making.
- See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/connected-councils-digital-vision-local-government-2025#sthash.VIN7bLvi.dpuf
Connected Councils: A digital vision of local government in 2025 - See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/connected-councils-digital-vision-local-government-2025#sthash.VIN7bLvi.dpuf

Friday, 11 March 2016

Why common data standards are so important for local services: Introductory video

Video

This video explains what our local waste service standards is about and why it needs to be done. It explains what a data standard is and how standards and APIs could help local services and digital systems to run more smoothly, and save a lot of money.
You can find the evidence that we refer to in the video in this business case. It suggests that local authorities could make significant savings and improve their services if data standards and APIs become a part of all sorts of other local public services.

1. Executive summary

  • Use of a waste data standard could drive a total of £505 million in savings for English local authorities over a 14 year period
  • £120 million of these savings could be realised in the first 7 years
  • £362.8 million of the 14 year savings are directly associated with waste data standards, with an additional £142 million coming from associated channel shift savings
  • We estimate that individual councils could save between £117,900 and £219,255 annually by implementing data standards (including resulting channel shift savings)[4]
  • We make the case that data standards are essential for enabling better systems integration, which in turn leads to more successful and sustainable channel shift
  • Standards can also enable new partnerships and business models as well as stimulating innovation
  • While we make the case that councils and suppliers should invest in adopting common standards, we acknowledge that the benefits of adoption are only guaranteed when a critical mass of councils and their suppliers have implemented the standard, and that there are some barriers to achieving this
  • Based on the experience of this pilot project, we also make the case for local data standards to be developed in an agile, iterative, integration-driven way, both to sustain the momentum this project has created, and as a means of tackling other local service transformation challenges



Friday, 4 March 2016

Video by ex GDS deputy director, Tom Loosemore

Original Article

"What we need is a critical mass of revolutionaries across local government that are willing to work together, are willing to collaborate, are willing to give up their old ways of thinking, give up their old ways of doing things and completely redesign (local) public services from top to bottom.

Ex-Deputy Director for the Government Digital Service, Tom Loosemore, describes it far better than I will be able to here in a talk given to attendees at the Code for America Summit. If you’ve got a spare 50 minutes, I HIGHLY recommend you watch this video":


Notes from the video:

We need to create new public institutions that are aligned to the digital age.

"Enough of this internet jibber jabber" said the senior civil servant.  There in lies the problem.

We need to bring government into the 21st century, we need new government institutions.

There have been changes in our government structure but we were not nearly bold enough. We have had a paper based government since 1200 in the UK.  The institutions live in total silos from one  another.  Currently we  are making existing processes, digital.

We need to reshape our government infrastructure from scratch.
Create a small team.
Hide them away.

We need:
Services so good they were previously unimaginable.
Services that work first time in real time.
New services set up in a matter of weeks.
Those in the front line helping the people that need it most.
Fraud to be designed out.
Minimum viable personal data.
Responsive services.

Policies and rules that are visible as code.....
Open source software that is transparent.
Everything should be open to be used by the wider community.

Data is the foundation of the digital nation.