A Digital Innovation Strategy For London


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Thoughts on a Digital Innovation Strategy for London

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A Digital Innovation Strategy For London

  1. 1. Co-creating the Capital: towards a Digital Innovation Strategy for London January 2009 Contact: Dominic Campbell Founder, FutureGov dominic@futuregovconsultancy.com www.futuregovconsultancy.com
  2. 2. Introduction This paper sets out some early thinking around what a Digital Innovation Strategy for London might look like. The aim of the Strategy would be to assess London public sector’s current strengths and weaknesses in terms of digital engagement, cross- organisational collaboration and co-creation of services with Londoners themselves. Through the Strategy, this would be developed into a roadmap for London, outlining how it could best invest in digital media to meet its aspirations to both transform itself as an organisation, the relationships between organisations in London (in the public, private and third sectors) and fundamentally rework the relationship between London government and its citizens. The case for change Recent years have seen the rapid growth of what has become known as ‘web 2.0’ or ‘participatory web’. The emergence of tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasts, as well as social networking and content sharing sites such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, has enabled mass participation, communication and collaboration as never before. This shift has started to not only have a revolutionary impact on popular culture but also it is starting to fundamentally shift expectations placed on institutions, organisations and the government itself. Authors such as Clay Shirky and Charles Leadbeater, and film makers such as Ivo Gormley have begun to chart the impact of this mass movement, one where not only do people expect the state to act in a fundamentally different way but also self- organise outside of the state to co-create services once delivered by the government. There has been an equally significant shift in forms of democratic engagement and government policy. Embodied by the Obama factor, ‘open government’ has become a political imperative and with it the values of transparency, participation and collaboration. In the UK, values such as choice, independence, personalisation and user focus now crosscut all policy areas and have become accepted norms cross-party political divides. Change is happening in and around government while government at all levels has yet to truly embrace the agenda in the UK and truly reap the benefits it could bring. 2
  3. 3. An outline Digital Innovation Strategy for London government We identify five emerging strategic themes to a Digital Innovation Strategy for London. We also provide examples of the kinds of initiatives that might fall under each theme: 1. Connected councils (and wider public sector organisations) • Build on and open out the work of the London Collaborative • A Facebook for public servants in London supported with offline networking opportunities such as the BarCamp model • Providing opportunities to celebrate public service and public servants, such as the I am Public Service initiative in the US • Systems to provide opportunities for officers and members to propose ideas for sectoral improvement projects such as the forthcoming Innovation Exchange platform • Systems to capture and share ‘soft intelligence’, for instance safeguarding 2.0 project (forthcoming from FutureGov) • “Listening tools” for councils, drawing on buzz monitoring technologies developed for brand watching and marketing purposes in the private sector • Investigate the validity for a young and future leaders focus 2. Digital democracy • Open and deliberative policy making opportunities in line with the change.gov approach, drawing on similar tools as used for the show us a better way competition and supported through offline events such as Who Wants to be? • Getting councillors online including micro-blogging (for instance building “TweetyHall” to work alongside Tweetminster locally) and blogging network for all London councillors, supporting the Be a Councillor campaign • Real life stories of being a councillor, much like I am Public Service, as a means for drawing people into the democratic process • Online peer to peer support for new and not so new councillors • Develop tools capable of presenting back policy decisions and investment in interesting ways, along the lines of the Policy Map tool for instance • Theyworkforyou local for London • E-petitions for London 3. Cyber citizens/virtual voice • Hyperlocal agenda • Citizen involvement and engagement 3
  4. 4. • Citizen reporting, building on existing initiatives such as Kings Cross Environment (which has now received funding from Channel 4’s 4IP fund) • Invest in existing emerging services such as HopHive or tools like City Soup for real time reporting and crowd sourced community • Digital mentoring to upskill Londoners to take better advantage of the opportunities afforded by the internet • Simple ways of recording opinions of Londoners about London, for instance “Big Brother diary room” style video booths such as VideoBoo system 4. Co-produced services • Explore development and expansion of new tools/models of service redesign and improvement in line with co-production techniques used by companies such as thinkpublic and participle • Challenge and improve services, through examples such as AccessCity or Visiting Prisons, rating services and showing where investment should be prioritised • Client group social network platforms that can be replicated across niche groups and enable peer to peer support and learning • Development of tools for London to better provide access to public information and engage residents in customer service, in line with tools such as getsatsfaction.com, planningalerts.com and fixmystreet.com • Tools to provide access to performance information in a user friendly and accessible manner to enable citizens to hold public services to account 5. Explore new models of public service delivery • Social enterprise as new form of government delivery • Co-created, co-produced and co-owned services outside of government • Draw on the Social Innovation Camp model of service prototyping and rapid development for low cost and at low initial risk • Review potential to invest in or support emerging new institutions and forms of peer to peer or self-organisation such as school of everything or slivers of time for instance as existing trial blazers to exemplify and encourage others without reinventing existing initiatives • Explore where opportunities exist for people to come together to ask to take on public services fairly rapidly and at low cost and low risk to the public sector, for instance managing smaller local parks 4
  5. 5. Initiatives to support the implementation of a Digital Innovation Strategy There are a three areas that if implemented would support the delivery of a Digital Innovation Strategy for London, in short enabling innovation by rethinking funding streams, supporting public sector staff to take advantage of this agenda and freeing up public data: 1. Innovation fund for London There is now a relatively well proven model of for funding innovation that London has the chance to tap into and grow to meet its own aims. Seed funding initiatives such as NESTA’s Big Green Challenge as well as the Social Innovation Camp (another NESTA supported initiative) have shown how much can be done to mobilise the passion and involvement of individuals and their ideas for relatively little financial outlay. Using the same model, and most sensibly run through and/or with UnLtd or NESTA’s challenge teams given the existing infrastructure already in place, London could consider establishing a small fund itself – known as ‘Social Capital’ for instance. The board would potentially be led by some of London’s senior public sector officials and politicians, but also social and private entrepreneurs. The board would establish clear ground rules, establishing the fund as pump priming innovative ideas capable of redefining public service delivery in the city, not to prop up existing (failing) service delivery models. The key to its success would be to develop a funding process that was fast and flexible and able to react swiftly to invest in good ideas to address some of London’s key challenges through a relatively easy to access application process. It may also consider investing in some of the infrastructural needs for social start ups, such as using the extensive public sector estate in London to create a low cost or even free space within which these companies/ideas could be incubated to give them a head start and in turn create an innovation hub. 2. Ensure the systems, processes and capacity are in place to support public servants and organisations in London into new ways of working Collectively review and rework existing IT, HR and other policies and cultural issues within the London public sector that currently hamper the adoption of new media and more collaborative ways of working. This may range from providing more explicit support, guidance and training that encourages and rewards the use of (on and offline) social media and approaches on the one hand, to understanding the blockers to 5
  6. 6. adoption in terms of technology in London’s public sector undertaking a risk assessment of use of social media within organisations. Even those organisations leading this agenda have yet to embed a culture of rapidly turning listening into learning and changing to better meet the needs of their citizens. In part this might be due to the fact that new models of delivery are required in certain cases (see point 5 above), but developing a model for organisational change in a web 2.0 world is the key to embedding practice in public institutions. 3. Open up data Relating to national initiatives, such as the Power of Information Review and the Show Us a Better Way competition, and in line with projects in forward thinking cities such as Washington DC and its Apps for Democracy competition, London has an opportunity to lead the way and make its datasets publicly available. On the one hand, this would involve working with all public bodies, from local boroughs to TfL and the LSC, to prove open access to currently closed data. By providing open access to (anonymised data), it will allow the leading digital thinkers in London to reuse, represent, mashup or combine the information London government holds to make it useful to a wider audience in ways that do not happen currently. The tools that have arisen out of the Show Us a Better Way competition and other tools such as the FutureGov project AccessCity are prime examples of what is possible when data is made available publicly at no cost to government. Taking it one step further, a more adventurous approach to data that would be the first of its kind might be to consider allowing individuals' data to be released back to them, and allow individuals to share data with the public sector as they wish. This would enable a far more personalised level of service from public institutions with individuals as well as providing a far more sensitive picture of true need in the city. In both cases, London is well placed to draw on the expertise of global experts in the city to the sector free their own data and support individuals to manage their own files. 6
  7. 7. Next steps The main tasks of a fuller scoping exercise would include: 1. Map current practice and set scope • Review current adoption of social media and digital engagement practice across London government • Desktop research and interviews with key stakeholders at a London and borough level as well as wider cross-sectoral conversations • Highlight and cost quick wins. 2. Implement quick wins • Identify some quick wins to provide a proof of concept and demonstrate some key benefits and outcomes from innovative approaches to digital engagement. • This would require a small budget to be set aside to enable the team to quickly move from highlighting and agreeing quick wins to implementation. 3. Develop and implement a Digital Innovation Strategy for London • Work up a full Digital Innovation Strategy for London including: o Strategy document o a fully costed and prioritised list of actions o project plan • Programme manage technical delivery partners to deliver on strategy 7
  8. 8. About FutureGov Government focused strategic communications, engagement and organisational change consultancy with specialist expertise in the use of social media and online tools. Our expertise lies in driving change in the areas of: • Community engagement o Democratic engagement o Conversational communications o Open government and policy development • Collaboration o Enterprise 2.0 o Change management o Joined up working within and across organisations • Customer service o Coproduction of services o Coproduction of services o Feedback and peer support o Driving brand loyalty and engagement FutureGov also has in-depth knowledge and expertise in public service innovation, closely involved in the running of sister organisations Enabled by Design and AccessCity during 2008. Enabled by Design supports anyone looking to make adjustments to their lives through the use of assistive equipment, be it as a result of disability, injury or personal identified need. We aim to make independent living more accessible through the use of clever modern design, bringing users of equipment together with product designers to challenge the traditional hospitalised take on assistive equipment to create more design orientated and personalised products. AccessCity allows Londoners to record their frustrations, hints and tips for fellow Londoners and visitors to London creating the real view of London based on people’s own experiences. AccessCity challenges the traditional top down expert approach to accessibility and provides a platform for users of services (transport, shops, restaurants and others) to highlight issues and propose solutions in their own terms. Both social enterprises are working to redefine relationships between the citizen and the state, creating a new form of organisation that draws on the wisdom, energy and creativity of their communities to co-create public services that better meet their needs. We believe that this is a model that can provide lessons for public sector organisations moving forward. 8