Yesterday I spent the evening at the BT Tower in London, chatting with local authority managers, central government digital teams and a whole host of interesting and inspiring Thought Leaders about technology, the future and local services.
The Local Digital Futures event was part of a wider Local Digital Campaign led by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and UKAuthority.com. The aim is to support the delivery of excellent, seamless services to users at a local as well as a national level.
We heard from Deloitte that there’s a big appetite out there for better online services, and from Future Cities Catapult’s Dan Hill about how to work iteratively to achieve them. BT futurologist Nicola Millard also talked about how people really just want an easy life, and a future trend in digital consumer services will be “Easy” (making it as easy as possible to use, to transact, and to buy).
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that I was there to talk about digital inclusion, and how vital it is in the development of local services. We need to make online services as good and as simple as possible, and we need to put in place programmes to bring along the 11 million people who currently don’t have the skills or confidence to use them.
This is fundamental to Tinder Foundation’s thinking, and I talked about the picture of the Digital Nation we’re currently living in, and the vision we set out for a 100% digitally included in the recent A leading digital nation by 2020 report earlier this year.
It’s great to see that digital inclusion is becoming central to DCLG and UK Authority thinking, and last night there was a commitment to it becoming a key underpinning strand of the campaign as it develops, and that’s only going to be a good thing for local services and local people.
I have always said that leaders need to embrace the transformation that digital is bringing to our lives and to our work: embedding a digital strategy is a change programme not a technology project. This view was echoed by local authority leaders, technologists and digital planners; people are aware of the challenge we face and aware of some of the existing solutions. The UK online centres network, for instance, operates at a hyper-local level AND on a national scale, and some of the conversation that went on into the evening was about how Local Authorities can interpret this to achieve the Local Digital vision.
Maybe we just need for a few Local Authorities to group together and work together to make Local Digital happen – to take risks together, make investments together, and to innovate together. I hope it happens, as it’s only in doing so that they’ll be able to be brave, share the burden and eventually reap the rewards.
With thanks to @lindasasta for the Twitter pic. Follow #localdigital for more.