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Local Government Innovation Conference (Part 1) November 21, 2008

Posted by Kevupnorth in Uncategorized.

I’m just coming back from two days at the Public Sector Innovation Conference in London.

I’m going to blog some of the ideas I came up with more fully over the next few days, however I thought now was possibly the time to write a bit about the conference generally. Dominic Campbell, from FutureGov, was there and has done an excellent write up day one already, so I won’t re-invent the wheel. For me, this was a great time to get back to my general local government roots (as opposed to community learning) and also a chance to see innovation that’s happening away from social media.

That said, I was disappointed by the low-key role social media seemed to play in the minds of many of the delegates (though not in the organisation of the conference, which I felt pitched it just right). I was worried how few people there had even heard of Twitter, Immersive Worlds, or even Web 2.0. What was encouraging was the willingness to learn…I feel it may be better late than never, but it is nevertheless something that is finally emerging.

My strategy was, from a works point of view, to see how, if at all possible, local government E-Learning Strategies could fit in with general local government innovation strategies. The answer was a very mixed….on the one hand, I saw very many areas where community learning overlapped, both in terms of technology and general practice. However, there seemed an over-caution from some at the idea of doing any innovation with the customers directly and, with a few notable exceptions, learning staff were not often considered in terms of front line services. I’m very keen to try and change this, as adult & community learning teams, alongside community development workers, youth workers and front line librarians are more important in terms of contact with the priority “customers” than many customer service staff. I’ll try and develop this theme from this blog over the next few months, to see if I explain myself more clearly. However, National Express Trains are not the best agents to get my creative juices flowing.

My personal strategy was to see what was out there – see if innovation was really making a difference, and in this regard the conference was a great success. There were very clear examples of how ideas are making real changes to people’s lives and this event acted as a showcase as a well as a policy debate and, in this regard, succeeded in achieving something many events fail at. There was a quiet enthusiasm underlying the event and many ideas for and from lots of people.

I hope it will run again next year so that we can get a feel of how much these seeds have sunk in….and to give some of the Twitter crowd a chance to come and show off some social media, a side of innovation that, while accepted readily, clearly hasn’t been demonstrated at the higher end of local government.



1. John Popham - November 21, 2008

This will be brief, as I’m on my Blackberry, can’t get a table on ths train.

We need urgently to join up the learning, Digtal Inclusion, and public sector transformation agendas. I am hoping that the Digital mentors initiative will do this.

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