Coronavirus may represent an extraordinary challenge for local authorities and their communities, but they are rising to that challenge in truly exceptional ways.
I’d like to start by paying tribute to the incredible efforts of staff working in councils all around the UK. Your work, commitment and energy are an inspiration to us all.
And to digital teams in London boroughs in particular, I want to say LOTI is here to support you. If you feel we can help, please get in touch.
Below are a few things we’re already doing or planning to do.
We can help connect borough digital teams working on Coronavirus response
We’ve created a Basecamp space for those working in or in support of London boroughs’ digital teams as they respond to coronavirus. This is the best way to reach the LOTI team, and — if others join — could be a forum for communicating across boroughs and with the GLA.
Join us at: https://3.basecamp.com/4232067/join/azNkJaWxHstE
If you haven’t used Basecamp before, use:
- Campfire for instant messages. Use @ to notify a specific person.
- Message Board for longer messages — like you’d use email. People can comment below.
- Docs and files to upload or link to any content you like.
We can help share great examples of what boroughs are working on
We can help identify and share examples of great work and their associated tools, code and resources and disseminate them via:
- Mayor of London’s coronavirus website: https://www.london.gov.uk/coronavirus
- LOTI Twitter: https://twitter.com/LOTI_LDN
- LOTI Medium: https://medium.com/loti
The work currently going on in Camden — where multi-disciplinary teams are working to rapidly design and roll out solutions to critical challenges such as food poverty, childcare and coping with social isolation — looks to have huge potential for scaling across boroughs and is receiving interest from right across London.
We encourage boroughs with examples of initiatives to share to add details and links in this document. Alternatively, please contact LOTI’s Engagement Lead, Onyeka Onyekwelu on Basecamp or via email: email@example.com.
We can help scale successful initiatives
Where boroughs have great initiatives to share, we’re ready and willing to act as a hub for scaling and replicating them to other boroughs. Specifically, we can support with virtual convening and project management. Please contact Genta Hajri, LOTI’s programme manager, on Basecamp or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where boroughs have a list of challenges they want to address, we could help boroughs divvy them up to share the experiments and accelerate everyone’s pace of learning. Again, the easiest way to do this is via Basecamp.
We are also staying closely in touch with London’s CDO, Theo Blackwell to support London scaling.
We can help source and publish vital datasets
This week we’ll be working to identify datasets that can play an important role in the coronavirus response. This could include open data or other datasets that can only be shared between specific groups.
Specifically, we can:
- Liaise with data leads in London boroughs to support them and ask for their help in providing vital datasets.
- Work with the Information Governance Group for London to accelerate the pace of handling any data-sharing agreements or GDPR queries.
- Work with the London Datastore team to publish, visualise and create APIs to datasets on the London Datastore: https://data.london.gov.uk/
We can help research, create and curate useful information and offers of help
As well as helping broadcast what London boroughs are working on, we’ll be sharing best practice from other councils and cities.
In the immediate term, we’re putting together a quick guide on how to hold elected member, planning and town hall meetings online. Working draft to be published shortly.
LOTI is speaking to TechUK today about ways in which their membership of tech companies can help councils. If no-one else has already created one, we can establish a searchable directory of company offers.
We can help think ahead
As boroughs seek to respond minute-by-minute to urgent needs, we’ll be working closely with borough colleagues, the GLA, and others to think a few weeks ahead and see how we can pre-empt and offer more support for the challenges to come.
LOTI boroughs convene on Monday morning (23 March) to plan next steps. We’ll share details shortly thereafter.
Of course, as well as working on the current urgent needs of London’s communities, part of the show must still go on. LOTI has an ambitious work programme of activities to deliver for July, from building digital skills to helping boroughs make the best use of their data. Where possible, we’ll continue working to ensure these vital foundation stones are put in place. Keep following LOTI on Twitter for the latest information.
In the meantime, we send our best wishes to everyone working in local government!