Fun in the city #Socspring132 Comments
On Wednesday 24th April I attended the Socitm Spring Conference at The Royal College of Surgeons and wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with you all.
On the morning of the event, I woke up in London, a significant change to rural Shropshire and wondered what the day ahead may have in store. It was apparent from the Chair’s introduction that this was going to be a day full of interesting discussions, debates and ideas.
The event got off to a great start with a presentation on Digital Insights by Martin Ferguson (Director of Policy and Research at Socitm) which was followed by a very entertaining presentation by Carl Haggerty from Devon County Council who talked about being open by default, digital by design. I specifically liked the fact that Carl seemed to share my frustrations with the phrase ‘Digital by default’.
I do have a special thanks for Carl because it is down to him that I now really understand what it feels like for a customer when you change things “Disrupt yourself, see how it feels for your customers” . For those of you that attended I thought I’d actually lost my watch when I swapped it to the other wrist!
Before lunch, Tom Loosemore, Deputy Director at the Government Digital Service gave a thought provoking presentation about the Governments Digital Strategy.
To my surprise, I looked up at the screen and saw new.shropshire.gov.uk in front of me.
I instantly starting thinking “Oh dear, let’s hope that this is being used as an example of best practice not worst!”. I have been to so many events in the past where the speaker has said “Is there anyone in the room from x authority… no, well that makes it easier” and then ripped their website apart. A moment of pure panic for me, however, I should have known better and had confidence in our approach to new.shropshire and indeed Project WIP.
“Shropshire’s use of Open Source solutions is one of the best I’ve seen, it has realised huge savings at little cost, and I encourage all authorities to start considering this technology as a serious option. I am also impressed by Shropshire’s openness and the use of Project WIP as a way of involving customers and the rest of the web community in the development of their new site. “
The praise given by Tom was gratefully received by me and colleagues who were in attendance and shared by the team back at base. This came at just the right time as we start reviewing the last 12 months and our next steps. Tom’s last slide about Shropshire simply said ‘wow’ – it is very rare that I blush but on this occasion I was glowing!
Throughout the course of the day, I also attended 2 discussion tables:
1. Keeping up with accessibility – An hour well spent with Dan Jellinek sharing useful information and tips on how to ensure that digital media is accessible to all.
2. Building a digital strategy – Conversations around having an independent digital strategy and where ownership of that strategy should sit provoked lots of differing opinion. My thinking is that we spend a lot of time in local government writing strategies and although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I don’t think they are important, do they really have any bearing on real culture change in an organisation? I have seen them used time and time again as a stick to beat services with but with little or no effect. In my experience, one size does not fit so why should one strategy be suitable for all? Unfortunately, my time at the table was cut short as I had to leave early to get my train (it may have been for the best as once I get started on this subject it is hard to stop me!)
I had a fantastic day and just when I thought that my trip to London couldn’t get any better, Matthew Tooke from East Sussex came to speak to me about his interest in the work we are doing and I couldn’t wait to follow up our conversation with an invitation to Shropshire to meet the Project WIP team!
If anyone else would like to come and talk to us about new.shropshire, Project WIP, Umbraco or just to throw a few ideas around, we would love to hear from you!
Overall, a great trip where I learnt a lot, met some great people and had a lot of fun.