Launching the Local Digital Declaration

Launching the Local Digital Declaration

Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of supporting Paul Maltby and his newly created Digital Directorate in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government as they work to establish a new role for the centre, focused on co-producing a shared vision of great digitally inspired change in council services, and providing the capacity and capabilities needed to enable collaboration.

Linda O’Halloran described the Local Digital mission of her new team in a recent post on the new MHCLG Digital blog

while councils can easily see the benefits of moving towards more standardised ways of using data and digital technology, no individual council can make it happen…

…Our aim is to enable these kinds of cross-sector projects to happen and to demonstrate government’s commitment to driving a more open, flexible and interoperable… local service market.

As part of this mission I’ve had the task of speaking with dozens of councils — districts, counties, unitaries, Metropolitan and London boroughs — and learning just how widespread the appetite and ambition is for digitally inspired service design. It’s been exciting to discover the depth of knowledge and skills, and the openness to sharing and learning — things you guess and hope will be the case, but now we can say with certainty are true.

I know that in my previous role as Chief Digital Officer for Bristol I would have welcomed the opportunity to collaborate across the country with open arms. Our launch of the Local Digital Declaration today with over 40 co-publishers shows how many others feel the same way. And this is just the start. We know that dozens more councils are interested in getting involved in the next stage, over the summer, as we develop ideas about the highest priorities for collaboration and work towards the first projects that will get investment from the Local Digital fund.

If you’ve read my other blog posts you’ll know that I have a view that digitally inspired business model change is the most important element of local governments response to the challenges it faces. But that won’t be possible if we don’t #fixtheplumbing and ensure that the basic digital technology infrastructure, skills, mindset and leadership attitudes are fit for purpose.

Today’s launch is the next step along that road.

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