I think it is fair to say that this really is just the start of this conversation, but I really hope that folk can take inspiration from what Eddie shares in terms of thinking about how certain services could be completely transformed from the ground up.
As I explained in this post, it isn’t always going to be possible to be truly transformative, and sometimes less ambitious approaches are more suitable. But I think every council needs to have this kind of thinking in their lockers, ready to take the opportunities as they arise.
It turns out that if you want to know whether a chatbot is a good idea or not, it’s not as simple as a yes or no. There are a number of factors to bear in mind, such as the complexity of a service, how transactional it is, and what the emotional state of the service user might be.
Add on top of that the fact is that you need to train the chatbots with the good content and provide access to back office data via APIs. Anyone thinking chatbots are a shortcut are very much under the wrong impression!
Check out the project’s website to download the various outputs, so you can benefit from this research too.
I’ve always liked the idea of bringing together in one place all the great stuff that has been shared over the years in blog posts and articles, so people don’t need to answer these problems themselves, over and over again.
So, I’ve started my own library of evergreen, ever-helpful links. What’s more, in the interests of preservation, I’ve also stored my own PDF copy of each article, just in case they disappear from the web, for whatever reason.
Each link has a title and a description, tells you who wrote it, and provides a link to the orifginal, plus to the PDF copy in case you need it. I would always encourage folk to read the originals if you can, so you see them in context and so the author knows their stuff is being read.
Each link is also tagged, so you can easily find other links on related topics, or other content across the SensibleTech site that likewise is along similar lines.
For those that want to keep up to date with additions to the library, there is a trusty RSS feed. I might build out an email alert system at some point, if people would be interested in that.
Hopefully this is a useful thing – do have a browse and let me know your thoughts!
Huge thanks to Steph Gray for his help making this work. I managed to do some clever stuff with custom post types and fields, but needed his magic to make it all look pretty and functional on the front end!
I had a fun chat last week with Richard Godfrey of Syncity. Richard, like me, has a big interest in how local councils use technology, particularly acknowledging the need for more traditional IT to be modernised alongside the sexier digital stuff.
In this video we talk about good digital and technology strategy, what levels of digital confidence people in senior positions need, and what’s happening in smart cities. It’s well worth 45 minutes of your time!
LocalGovDrupal is an open source implementation of the classic Drupal content management system hat has been developed by councils for councils, with the help of some funding from MHCLG.
It is, by my reckoning, the best example I have seen of open source use in local government, largely because councils are contributing to the project as well as consuming it.
16 councils are now involved and conservative estimates calculate that millions of pounds have been saved compared to using commercial off the shelf alternatives.
What is great is that councils are using those savings to invest in other things to make their websites better, like content design and user research.
Will Callaghan has been the main driver of the project and he gives us some of the background, while Kate Hurr talks about the progress Cumbria Council are making in implementing LocalGovDrupal. We also talk a little bit about pies! 🥧
I honestly can’t praise this project enough, I think it’s brilliant, and a wonderful example of the benefits of open, collaborative working, and sharing and re-use of technology across the sector.
I had enormous fun last week chatting with Ben Proctor from Data Orchard about the concept of data maturity in organisations.
Data Orchard have identified 5 stages of data maturity, each of which describe the extent to which an organisation uses data to improve the way it works. The stages are: unaware, emerging, learning, developing and mastering.
In this half hour or so, we discuss important topics such as:
why using data is a cultural, not a technology issue
what some of the technology barriers can be
what steps needs to be taken for an organisation wanting to be data mature
the state of open data in the UK
why bats are interesting in a data sense, much more so than newts
Ben mentions are few projects and things during the conversations, here they are for your convenience:
I really enjoyed this conversation with Sharon O’Dea about the digital workplace. She shares an absolute tonne of insight into how organisations have responded to remote working in lockdown, what impact that has had on the use of internal technology, and what culture and behaviour change is going to be needed in future.
I managed to exert some self discipline and kept this video to 30 minutes or thereabouts. I think you’ll get a lot out of it!
It’s taken a while to record the second CDO Chat video, but today I finally had the joy of an hour of Ben Unsworth‘s virtual company!
Ben has done loads in digital government, including stints at the Home Office and with FutureGov, and these days he is the Director for Service Transformation at Essex County Council.
In this video, we talk about Ben’s role and what it encompasses, the importance of accessibility in digital services, the roles needed to make change happen, and the impact of the lockdowns and the future of work. Oh, and of course we hear a little about his shed too.
A few months ago, I recorded this chat with Kit Collingwood, from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, about her work at the council, the new digital strategy she authored, and how she and her team are tackling the many challenges facing those working in digital in local government.
Stefan at Strategic Reading said about this interview:
This video conversation is modestly billed as a CDO chat, but is actually a master class in strategy development and application. The approach is deceptively simple. Two people who bring both depth of experience and thoughtful reflection range over everything from rapid mobilisation in the face of a pandemic, through the vital importance of using data effectively, the challenges of dealing with dominant vendors, creating a team with the right balance of expertise and humility, and giving that team the support to design and build services which meet the needs of people outside and inside the organisation.