Onyeka Onyekwelu
Sep 9 · 6 min read

Our latest weeknote arrives after the weekend, as last Friday we were out of the office, supporting Camden’s Information Governance workshop and visiting Hackney in the latest of our borough visits.

Information Governance (IG) Workshop

A number of LOTI’s projects are about fixing the plumbing so that it’s easier for Local Authorities to work on projects and initiatives with technology and data in the future. Our work on IG is a key example of this. Data has the potential to improve public sector decision making and service delivery, but there are currently a number of barriers that keep data siloed, limiting its value.

Views from the top of Camden Council
Views from the top of Camden Council

Our IG workshop with Camden on Friday was an opportunity to build up a more detailed picture of those barriers, work with our members to suggest possible solutions, and define what outcomes we could enable through this project.

Prior to the workshop, LOTI’s high-level ambition was to: “enable public sector organisations in London to be able to quickly and easily share data with each other when it is appropriate to do so, in a way that is legal, ethical and secure”. In the first workshop exercise, participants were asked to suggest what could be different, what specific use cases require/may require sharing data, and who (in terms of partners) they’d like to be able to exchange information with.

Group exercise 1: LOTI/Camden Information Governance workshop
Group exercise 1: LOTI/Camden Information Governance workshop

We’d set out to make data sharing easier between LOTI member boroughs and it became clearer from group discussions that there’s also a need to share with other public, third-sector and private organisations. The most common public sector organisations suggested were the NHS, police, and fire departments. Members also mentioned the need to be able to share with some third-sector bodies such as universities and charities. There was common recognition that boroughs’ primary motivation was to use and share data to make life better for Londoners.

After a break, participants discussed the challenges they’ve experienced when trying to share data. Their list included barriers related to technology (e.g. it’s hard to export data from some legacy systems), data (e.g. the use of different standards makes it difficult to compare some datasets), organisational (e.g. the siloed nature of some teams and the information they hold), legal (e.g. where organisations have different interpretations of the same legislation and different processes in place for information governance), resources and skills (e.g. a lack of data scientists who can create insights from data).

Group exercise 3: LOTI/Camden Information Governance workshop
Group exercise 3: LOTI/Camden Information Governance workshop

Having considered these and many other problems, the workshop then heard from a number of previous and existing IG initiatives that LOTI might learn from when developing solutions for London.

Ben Goward, Chief Information Officer at Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council, shared lessons from the former Tri-borough’s data-sharing arrangement. He emphasised the importance of getting IG and legal teams from different organisations to work as one, giving advice that works for the collective rather than for each individual organisation.

Phillipa Nazari, Assistant Director Information Governance and Data Protection Officer at Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), shared the journey that Greater Manchester (GM) has been on in developing more effective IG. GM has adopted a user-centred approach, thinking carefully about the different needs of people both within the public sector and the citizens they serve. It was clear from Phillipa’s talk that the path to more effective data-sharing is a long term endeavour that requires whole system change, rather than being a one-off initiative to tweak any single aspect.

Phillipa Nazari Assistant Director Information Governance and Data Protection Officer at GMCA
Phillipa Nazari Assistant Director Information Governance and Data Protection Officer at GMCA

Paul Hodgson, Senior Manager for City Data at the Greater London Authority (GLA), then outlined his experience of using a system called the Information Sharing Gateway (ISG). Along with the London Fire Brigade and the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the GLA has used this system over the past year to help standardise the process of creating information-sharing agreements. LOTI member boroughs were impressed by the ISG’s functionality and proposed to trial its use later this year.

Paul Hodgson, Senior Manager for City Data at the Greater London Authority (GLA)
Paul Hodgson, Senior Manager for City Data at the Greater London Authority (GLA)

Look out for a full write-up of the workshop in our next weeknote this Friday, which will include our agreed actions for addressing data sharing barriers in London.

Digital Apprenticeships

Last week we also caught up with Cate McLaurin from Hackney to further develop our digital apprenticeships discovery phase. We have created an online forum in our project management space on LOTI’s Basecamp (through which boroughs can support each other) and will be conducting a series of user research interviews with digital apprenticeship leads and digital apprentices. The interviews will explore each target group’s specific desired outcomes, the problems they have encountered either in creating or participating in digital apprenticeship programmes in their boroughs and their ideas for potential solutions.

We’re currently in the process of finalising our user research materials and will be trialling them in our meeting tomorrow with Tim Ellis, Digital Apprenticeship lead at Kensington and Chelsea.

Borough Visits

On Friday 30 August, we visited Lambeth and met with their newly appointed Interim Director of Residents’ Experience & Digital, Tiffany St James, as well as Paul Wickens, Harish Betchoo and Alex Tilouche. We learned about the exciting digital transformation journey they are about to embark on and their focus on embedding digital and technology in resident services. Key focus areas of their future digital strategy are likely to include: improving residents’ end-to-end service experience; modernising ways of working; removing the barriers to innovation; and developing a smarter connected place.

Lambeth Council
Lambeth Council

On Wednesday 4 September, we met with Rehana Ramesh, Sadie East and Peter Gadsdon from Brent. In our conversation, we learned about phase two of their digital transformation programme in which Brent hopes to establish itself as a Digital Place and a Digital Council. Brent are hoping to tap into the potential for digital and IoT solutions to help prevent, reduce or delay demand for relational council services. Through LOTI, Brent plans to collaborate with other boroughs on projects and initiatives that can improve services for their residents.

Brent Council
Brent Council

Last but not least, immediately following our IG workshop on Friday 6 September, we visited Hackney to meet with their Director of ICT, Rob Miller and Head of Digital and Data, Matthew Cain. Hackney have been active in a very wide range of initiatives, changing the physical shape of their working environment to encourage more agile ways of working, engaging with technology suppliers early (and with future project plans shared through Pipeline) to improve procurement, and developing an API Developer Hub to complement their ongoing work to make data from council systems accessible.

Hackney Council
Hackney Council

Future Project Ideas Bank

Thank you to everyone who submitted an idea to our Future Project Ideas Bank. The deadline was last Friday and we received more than 50 in total!

We’ll be spending the coming week reviewing all of your suggestions. All submissions will be published shortly and will be considered at the next LOTI all-member meeting on Friday 20 September.

What’s next?

This week our core areas of focus are:

  1. Reviewing and summarising the future project ideas to share with LOTI members
  2. Completing our write-up of last week’s information governance workshop and agreeing on next steps
  3. Conducting our next round of visits to Greenwich, Camden, Ealing and Newham.

Thanks for reading!

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London Office of Technology & Innovation

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