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Digital Northumberland - FINAL


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Digital Northumberland - FINAL

  1. 1. 1Digital Strategy Digital Northumberland A strategy for Northumberland County Council and its partners
  2. 2. 2 Northumberland County Council
  3. 3. 3Digital Strategy Contents Statement of Commitment and Ambition 4 The Five Core Themes 5 Digital Places 6 – 7 Digital Communities 8 – 9 Digital Wellbeing 10 – 11 Digital Organisation 12 – 13 Digital Growth 14 – 15 Delivering a Digital Northumberland 16
  4. 4. 4 Northumberland County Council Statement of Commitment and Ambition Northumberland County Council is committed to make the most of digital opportunities in the way we design and deliver our services, the way we support our communities and the way we encourage our economy to flourish. We want to ensure that everyone who wants to can benefit from the diversity of digital products and services. Our aim is to build on existing assets to create a robust digital infrastructure in Northumberland. This foundation will not only bring communities together, but our ambition is to use digital platforms to create a climate of investment and growth. This Digital Strategy will serve communities and businesses across a diverse county. Northumberland is the largest unitary authority by geographic coverage with a land area of 1,960 square miles and is also the most sparsely populated in England with only 63 people per square kilometre. Home to around 316,000 people, Northumberland remains largely rural, with no settlements being home to more than 40,000 residents. Nearly half the county’s population is concentrated in the industrial and urban South- East Northumberland. With the exception of Berwick-upon-Tweed, on the Scottish border, most of the other principal settlements lie in an expanding commuter zone to the North and East of the Newcastle conurbation whilst also serving large rural areas. As such, Northumberland’s size and diversity presents significant challenges but also opportunities for delivering growth through digital services and infrastructure. This strategy recognises the importance of ‘digital’ to Northumberland, addressing the needs of a secure and robust infrastructure, enabling the delivery of cheaper and better digital services, and supporting improvements in digital skills. It describes the opportunities which digital infrastructure can provide in connecting our communities, enhancing businesses and supporting economic growth. Deputy Leader of the Council
  5. 5. 5Digital Strategy Digital Northumberland: The Five Core Themes Leading the way for digital transformation, Digital Northumberland highlights five core themes, which collectively will enable the digital growth and prosperity of Northumberland. Digital Places: providing the vital infrastructure to enable people to get online Digital Northumberland Digital Wellbeing: providing support to enable independent living and wellbeing Digital Organisation: developing higher quality, more efficient, responsive, and joined up online services designed around the customer. Digital Communities: providing support to individuals to increase digital skills Digital Growth: providing digital business support to grow our economy
  6. 6. 6 Northumberland County Council Digital Places Creating a robust digital infrastructure in Northumberland is the foundation of a physically connected county and is essential to deliver our digital ambitions. This foundation will not only bring communities together, but can also rebalance Northumberland’s economy and create a climate of investment and growth. iNorthumberland “Since 2013 iNorthumberland has been rolling out basic, superfast and ultrafast broadband throughout the County. By December 2015 our delivery partner, BT will have connected over 50,000 premises. During this time the engagement team have been working closely with communities and businesses, and we are now seeing some of the highest fibre take up rates in the UK. The team are continuing to lobby to deliver fibre services to some of the most rural places in England.”
  7. 7. 7Digital Strategy Our aim is to be the best connected rural county in the UK founded on a robust digital infrastructure of appropriate fibre, wireless and satellite products. To achieve this, we will enable a robust mobile network to all parts of the county, deliver fibre broadband to 95% of premises, and achieve improved connectivity for the remaining 5%. Mobile Network The county still suffers from a number of “not -spots” whereby there is either no mobile phone service or one that is limited to voice use only. To this end, we will work with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to deliver 100% mobile coverage for voice by December 2016. We incentivise commercial telecommunication operators to invest in Northumberland, by removing the barriers necessary to secure a significant step change in 3G and 4G data coverage in Northumberland. Fibre broadband Via an investment programme of almost £20million, Northumberland County Council’s iNorthumberland programme will provide, in partnership with British Telecom plc, superfast broadband connectivity to 90% of the county’s homes and businesses by 2015. The majority of these links will be facilitated by laying fibre to a network of cabinets (FTTC). This will deliver speeds of up to 24 megabits per second (mbps) to download. Some properties will receive fibre direct to the premise (FTTP), which can provide speeds of up to 330mbps download and 30mbps upload. In addition, we shall ensure that all new developments are provided with superfast broadband services as an integral part of the provision of core utilities. Connectivity to the Final 10% By 2017, the intention is to increase fibre broadband coverage in the county to 95% of premises. This target acknowledges the geography of Northumberland and the limitations of current technology. Nonetheless, wherever superfast broadband is not provided, we guarantee a minimum service delivery of 5mbps to every property in Northumberland. In order to meet this guarantee, we will continue to: • Roll out fibre broadband with British Telecom plc and basic broadband satellite solutions • Develop a comprehensive network of street level Wi-Fi particularly focused on our town centres and major tourist attractions • Incentivise and attract alternative network operators into the county, including through the current iNorthumberland loan scheme • Actively engage with network suppliers and universities to understand how advances in technology can extend superfast coverage and increase speeds   Andy Andy works from home and relies upon accessing the internet for meetings, said: “If superfast broadband hadn’t come our way we may have not been able to live here, which would have been disappointing as we love living here, close by to family and the beach - superfast broadband really is changing our life”.
  8. 8. 8 Northumberland County Council Digital Communities Across the county, approximately 84% of people are active online. This means that over 220,000 people of working age (16+) potentially have good digital skills and are capable of engaging meaningfully in a digital society. However, there are potentially 41,000 people in the jobs market who lack basic online skills and in some cases, have never been online. Digital Champions get residents online Around Northumberland there are thousands of people who are digitally isolated because they don’t know how to use their computers and the internet. Thanks to the Libraries team and a growing network of Digital Champion volunteers, residents who don’t have access to the internet, or the skills they need to make the most of it, can now get free help at their local library to open up the wonders of the web. Anyone who wants to find out more about becoming a digital champion or who feels they could benefit from the help of a champion should contact Nicola Tervit by emailing .
  9. 9. 9Digital Strategy Our aim is to support all members of our community to go online by providing low cost broadband access and developing the digital skills of individuals. To achieve this, we will work to make affordable broadband available to residents, utilise public access points to their maximum potential, and develop comprehensive digital skills education programmes. Affordable Broadband We are dedicated to finding ways of making affordable broadband options available to Northumberland’s residents. This will include working with social housing providers, and private landlords to address ways of providing low cost connectivity as part of tenancy contracts. Public Access Points There are currently 300 public access points throughout the county. We will continue to expand this network in collaboration with other community-based service providers. This network will be promoted to the public through a public access location finder service on our website. Digital Skills & Support Programmes We also recognise that having the confidence to go online can be a significant barrier to digital activity, as can a lack of understanding as to the potential benefits and applications of digital skills. We will seek to break these barriers down by: • co-ordinating the provision of a digital champion support network in Northumberland, working with a wide range of partners to ensure sufficient support is available for individuals, and helping signpost individuals to appropriate locations for support • creating an accreditation scheme for community-based ‘Digital Champions’ who are providing one to one support • continuing to offer digital skills programmes in our libraries and more formal training through our adult education service • delivering a model for digital support within our own organisation, to our workforce and our Members • working with schools, colleges and other learning providers to enable young people to share and transfer their digital skills to other members of the community, whilst also developing their own digital skills further to match those demanded by employers • exploring the feasibility of creating a digital academy in Northumberland, which will help to grow and retain digital skills and talent in the county Digital Inclusion In Northumberland we are proud that a number of local organisations have pioneered the delivery of digital inclusion activity within our communities. Northumberland Community Development Network and Blyth Resource and Initiative Centre are just two organisations who have secured external funding to deliver digital training and support to those who need it most. It is our ambition to continue to support our partners to deliver activity which meets the evolving needs of our communities.
  10. 10. 10 Northumberland County Council Digital Wellbeing There are considerable social gains to be made from increasing the number of people online. Promoting social engagement at all stages of people’s lives is fundamental to their wellbeing. So, for example, internet access can offer a lifeline from social isolation for older people who go longer than a week without seeing a friend, neighbour or family member. By embracing digital technology we can often reduce exclusion, isolation and loneliness. Digital Inclusion – Social Housing Pilot The Digital Inclusion pilot gave 143 social housing tenants a PC and free broadband for 6 months, getting them online for the first time. The Pilot’s partnership, between Northumberland County Council, social housing providers Bernicia, Four Housing, Homes for Northumberland and Isos, and Northumbria Health, was an unequivocal success, working together to tackle problems and provide support, despite technical difficulties and challenging rural locations. Results exceeded expectations. Participants reported financial, social and educational gains: IT skills improved; 65% saved money, and felt more connected with family, old friends and community. People looking for work were the heaviest users; some got jobs via the internet, and all improved their job search skills.
  11. 11. 11Digital Strategy Young couple “He wouldn’t have got the job if we hadn’t had the internet. It’s been fantastic. I’d tell anyone to give it a go.” Lone parent, family all live abroad “It’s been wonderful, my family have been able to see my daughter for the first time and we’ve talked every day. I’ve used Facebook and told them to go on Skype and we’ve talked all the time – and it’s saved me so much money.”Elderly couple, both have mobility problems “It’s been a godsend, we have our independence back. I didn’t think I’d ever speak to or see some of these people again.” Our aim is to maximise the use of digital technology as part of a wider support package to promote the health and wellbeing of our communities and families. To achieve this, we will harness digital technology to promote safe digital participation, develop products that enable independent living, and enable the expansion of tele-health where appropriate. Promoting participation Increasingly we live and operate in a digital world. This world has steadily become integrated with the home, classroom, and workplace; and is now commonplace. This regular use of technology whilst bringing many benefits also carries potential risks. These are wide-ranging – from viewing inappropriate content to cyber- bullying. We need to ensure all users are using this technology in a safe environment. In addition, digital technology has the ability to connect people and provide access to information and guidance. Our aim is to maximise this power to support older and vulnerable people and keep them part of day to day community life. This will include using digital means of engagement to better understand their individual needs and thereby better tailor our responses to meeting those needs. Independent Living Recent research undertaken by the Digital Institute at Newcastle University has shown us that digital technology can be harnessed to maximise people’s capacity to stay or become more independent. Our aim is to be an exemplar county for delivering a range of innovative products which maximise the participation of people with long-term conditions or disabilities. Tele-health The term ‘tele-health’ encompasses all the different ways in which technology can be harnessed in the delivery of preventative and curative aspects of health care. We will work closely with Northumbria Healthcare to explore which options might be of benefit to residents across the county.
  12. 12. 12 Northumberland County Council Digital Organisation The Council aspires to operate on a ‘digital by choice’ basis. This means delivering digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so, whilst those who can’t are not excluded. However, to achieve this, we need to fundamentally review our own organisational practices and service delivery models. Learning Together “Connecting, developing and engaging a disparate workforce across Northumberland through the development of a virtual, integrated and networked learning environment. Northumberland’s award winning Learning Together platform has created positive channel shift with over 5,000 learners regularly accessing online learning, self-managing course bookings and collaborating in a digital community.”
  13. 13. 13Digital Strategy Our aim is to transform working practices and become a truly digital organisation, able to respond to emerging needs and expectations of our customers, partners and neighbours. To achieve this, we will maximise channel shift to digital transactions, improve civic engagement via digital methods, and promote agile working. Service Channel Shift The way people connect with local government is changing. Digital services can harness the power and convenience of the web to make interactions quicker, simpler and more secure – saving millions and producing a better user experience. To facilitate this, we will progressively make it easier for residents, customers and clients to access Council services online 24/7 at a time convenient to them. We will enable customers to request services, report issues and undertake transactions online, on any type of device. By 2018, we anticipate that around 80% of interactions with the Council will be handled digitally with the residual being done via telephone or face to face. Single View of the Customer Key to this digital shift is establishing a “single view of the customer”. Often referred to as “the Amazon mentality”; allowing a range of services to be available to the customer through an online, secure and personal account. Big Data We will review the information and intelligence we hold and look to utilise it in the most effective ways in a secure manner. This will enable us to assist in our service planning, ensuring that we are in a strong position to meet future customer demands. Digital Civic Engagement Digital technology harnesses the power to undertake meaningful two-way consultation and engagement with the community. The Council will develop a new transactional and interactive website, acknowledging it is our ‘shop front’ to the customer, and where engagement first occurs. The use of social media (including Facebook and Twitter) is particularly powerful in communicating service delivery information and gathering the views of residents on live issues. The Council will continue to expand the use of these engagement tools. New Ways of Working We will use digital practices to mobilise our workforce and support agile working. This will include supporting the use of smart devices, hot- desking and teleconferencing facilities. This can subsequently assist in rationalising our facilities and maintenance costs, reducing the need to travel across the county, and offering improved work-life balance opportunities for staff. Gazetteer “Transforming service delivery through the corporate street, land and property gazetteer has awarded the team many accolades. Recently the team improved the efficiency of the elections process – saving the Council £39k per annum. The gazetteer enables effective management of information, bringing data together and attaching it to individual premises. At the click of a button customers can add their postcode to a digital map on our website and see a variety of services available to them at their address. Our ambition is to grow our single view of the customer”
  14. 14. 14 Northumberland County Council Digital Growth The business base of Northumberland is dominated by small businesses with over 80% employing less than five staff, and less than 1% employing more than 250. Many of these firms are also operating in traditional, land-based sectors. It is therefore not surprising that the level of digital take up by the county’s network of businesses is among the lowest in the country. Arch Digital Business Support “Leading a pioneering Digital Business Support Programme, Arch Digital are at the forefront of modernising the delivery of business support. The online portal provides a wealth of training, guidance and advice to SMEs 24/7, enabling them to grow and prosper by maximising the opportunities of fibre broadband.”
  15. 15. 15Digital Strategy Our aim is to create a thriving digital economy where businesses can access the digital infrastructure they need and are supported to maximise the opportunities available to them. To achieve this, we will increase levels of broadband take up, deliver comprehensive digital business support, and improve connectivity in business parks and hubs. Business Take Up Driving the take up of superfast broadband is widely acknowledged as a vital activity to drive economic growth and business competitiveness. It can improve access to markets, improve productivity, encourage innovation, and facilitate new business start-ups. To this end, we will use every opportunity to promote the use of broadband to existing and emerging businesses. This will include running regular grass roots road-shows to illustrate the benefit of digital processes to businesses regardless of their scale or sector-base. Tailored Business Support With the support of a significant European funding programme, Arch Digital will offer a unique package of digital business support to individual enterprises. This will include financial subsidies to support the take up of superfast broadband and access to online business support tools, offering both general utilisation support and specialist sector-based advice. Ultrafast Business Parks and Hubs The first phase of fibre broadband roll-out has ensured that the Enterprise Zones sites in the south east of the county, and the Rural Growth Network hubs in the north and the west have been upgraded first, with improved speeds being available since early 2014. The second phase of fibre broadband roll out will commence in autumn 2015 and will prioritise the remaining business parks and key business sites. We will steer deployment to connect businesses to the infrastructure they need to enable their business to grow. To complement this widespread roll out of superfast broadband (24mbps), we also aim to provide Ultrafast Broadband services (330mbps) to businesses. This will equate to the digital infrastructure normally only found in cities and set us apart from our rural counterparts. From 1st April 2015 the Superconnected Cities voucher scheme will operate in Northumberland, providing connectivity grants of up to £3,000 for SMEs, to enable them to double their connectivity speeds and secure speeds of at least 30 mbps. Forge Studios Allendale Amanda Galbraith, founder and Managing Director at the Forge, explains how she feels the businesses at the Forge will benefit.“We aim to not only house small businesses, but support them in any way that we can. While our broadband has never been terribly slow at 6mbps, we have several businesses relying on the connection for a variety of reasons that require a fast connection. When we found out fibre broadband was available in Allendale, we took the opportunity to upgrade immediately and after an engineer visit, we receive a connection upwards of 70mbps – over ten times faster! Now our superfast broadband is just another reason that people want to work in one of our studios.”
  16. 16. 16 Northumberland County Council Delivering a Digital Northumberland The development of the Digital Northumberland strategy has included detailed and extensive stakeholder engagement. This process identified a long list of strategic and delivery actions. The next stage is to revisit these actions and focus on where we can make a positive difference. From this the Digital Northumberland Delivery Plan will be created, which will demonstrate how our key actions will be delivered. This Delivery Plan will be set and reviewed on an annual basis, in recognition that the digital market progresses at a pace which would mean any longer term plan would be meaningless. Delivery of Digital Northumberland will be led by Northumberland County Council, working in partnership with a wide range of Public, Private and Third Sector Organisations.
  17. 17. 17Digital Strategy Anita Nicholson Photography
  18. 18. 18 Northumberland County Council