LOTI: End-of-year note


2020 has been a truly extraordinary and demanding year for everyone working in local government, both personally and professionally. As the year draws to a close, we feel very proud of what the whole LOTI community has achieved together. We’ve also been delighted to welcome Hounslow, Barnet and Enfield to the LOTI fold this year, bringing our total membership to 20 (consisting of 18 borough members, the Greater London Authority and London Councils).

LOTI Members Map

In our final weeknote for 2020, we wanted to shed light on what we’ve been able to achieve this year with the help of our amazing community of local government officers and private sector partners. The LOTI central team would like to put on record our thanks to each and every one who contributed to the development of our projects and resources, and has informed how we’ve approached innovation, grown our networks and created activities to meet London local governments’ evolving needs. We have loved working with each of the people mentioned below, and look forward to achieving even more together in 2021!

Resources


With the launch of LOTI’s website on our first year anniversary, we’ve been able to collaborate with boroughs to create an impressive library of resources, toolkits and guides to help everyone’s work.

LOTI website

Innovation in Procurement: We’re grateful to Waltham Forest’s Paul Neville and all the CIOs and procurement leads who fed into LOTI’s Innovation in Procurement Guide, which outlines practical steps boroughs can take to improve the way they buy technologies and services. Our thanks also go to Cameron Scott, Johnny Hugill and the team at PUBLIC for the creation of this excellent resource. Particular thanks to Steven Blantz, Jack McGarrigle and Joe Shah from Camden for their help and contributions to the early stages of this work.

Data Access and APIs: More than 30 people helped us crowdsource the wording to be used in all future technology tenders to ensure IT suppliers give boroughs access to their data. We hope many of you will try it in your own tenders in 2021.

Assistive Technology (AT) templates and research: Our thanks to Hackney’s Eden Munro, who helped us to create a plain English user agreement for AT trials; while Greenwich’s Colin Eckworth and Hackney’s Richard Smith developed our wellbeing questionnaire. Eden’s guest blog, summarising our thinking behind this resource is now available to read, here. AT leads from across boroughs have provided feedback on our work in this area. Special thanks also goes to Kingston & Sutton’s Bradley Coupar for supporting us on so many fronts. We are also grateful to Anneliese Levy, an independent researcher at Thoughtful Content, who has helped us to produce a detailed report on the effectiveness of different ATs, which will be published in the new year. She’s also been instrumental in collating a large library of over 100 AT interventions, which we’re equally excited to publish alongside the report, in the new year. The full recording of Anneliese’s research summary is now available on YouTube.

Digital, Data & Innovation Capability Models: As part of our drive to help boroughs become truly digitally-enabled organisations, we’re grateful to Newham’s Omid Shiraji along with Todd Asher, Tess O’Brien and Bridget Ackeifi from Bloomberg Associates. Together, we’ve been trying to articulate what ‘good’ looks like in the fields of digital, data and innovation. The first prototypes of our capability models have been created and our expert interviews are currently underway. Read more about this project here.

Smart city cybersecurity guidance: Following the success of IoTWeek back in March, we’ve been working with the South London Partnership team, specifically Steve O’Connor and his colleague Pierre Venter, to finalise our brief to turn National Centre for Cyber Security’s (NCSC) cybersecurity principles into practical guidance on how to assess and mitigate security vulnerabilities with smart technology. The outputs of this project are expected in mid-February 2021, so watch this space.

Products


Thirty3: We’re hugely grateful to Nick Swanson and Maria Geftar at the GLA, the whole team at Nitrous, and data partners Proactis and Jaggaer, for their work to develop the Thirty3 platform, which replaces City Tools and will become our main source of procurement insight in 2021. Our thanks go to all boroughs who have worked so hard to connect and upload their data!

Dapian: We’ve had great pleasure this year working with the amazing and efficient Information Governance Group for London. Their willingness to collaborate helped us to deliver an Information Sharing Agreement in record time, at the peak of the Covid response. We’d especially like to thank Marsha White (Greenwich), Ranisha Dhamu (Brent) and Sarah Laws (Camden) for their support in developing the Dapian Digital DPIA platform. Seven boroughs have now signed up, with more expected in the New Year.

Six measures for borough data and IG teams to improve London data collaboration

Electric Vehicle Charge Point Dashboard: We’re grateful to London Councils’ Claudia Corrigan, the GLA’s Paul Hodgson and the whole London Datastore team for their help on a number of data projects, including the development of the Electric Vehicle Charge Points Dashboard. Work is now underway to overlay data on future demand to help borough officers make more informed decisions about where to locate charge points next.

Projects


Data Exchange with the VCS: Our thanks and congratulations go to Camden’s Emma McGowan, our former LOTI colleague Ed Garcez and all of their dedicated colleagues for the work that went into the first phase of this MHCLG-funded project. It focused on the question: “How can we overcome the data sharing challenges between councils and the voluntary community sector that stop organisations being able to find and provide residents the right support when they need it?”. Pilots are expected to follow in Camden and Central Bedfordshire.

Assistive Technology pilots: There’s been a huge rise in interest in the role of Assistive Tech as a result of Covid. We’re grateful to Hackney’s Rob Miller and Eden Munro, Greenwich’s Kit Collingwood and Colin Eckworth, as well as Waltham Forest’s Paul Neville, Conrad Eydmann and Priya Javeri for sharing great ideas for AT pilots that can further the whole LOTI community’s knowledge in this area. We’re looking forward to supporting these pilots, which are due to start in the New Year.

Digital Inclusion: Our thanks go to the borough leads who have been so forthcoming with information and ideas on how LOTI can support London to bridge the digital divide. Special thanks go to Hackney’s Susan McFarland-Lyons who was instrumental in organising our Digital Divide pitch-fest, which was a great way for us to help boroughs to share and reuse resources, tools and approaches such as Southwark’s DiTo model, which was presented by Dionne Lowndes, and Camden’s crowdfunding campaign for devices for kids, presented by Ally Round and Philip McCorkell. We are equally grateful to Theo Blackwell and Luke Marshall-Waterfield for keeping us connected with the GLA’s activities in support of the Recovery Board’s mission on Digital Access for All.

Housing Services – Innovation in Procurement: Our thanks go to Hounslow’s Mark Lumley for leading the charge, alongside Waltham Forest’s Paul Neville, to apply the guidance from our recent Innovation in Procurement toolkit to housing services technology tenders. They’ll be joined by Kingston & Sutton’s Steve O’Connor and colleagues, and it’s a chance to see how boroughs can work together to shape the Govtech market.

Networks


There’s rarely been a greater need for or benefit from peer support than now, and we’ve been delighted to see LOTI’s networks grow thanks to boroughs’ willingness to share and learn with each other.

Digital Apprentices: Mayor Sadiq Khan joined us during London Tech Week to celebrate LOTI boroughs successfully achieving their goal of recruiting more than 100 digital apprentices by September 2020. Since, the network to convene and support them has gone from strength to strength with over 75 active members and counting. We’re hugely grateful to Microsoft’s Rebecca McKenzie, Anna McCormick, Jess Coomer and Nat Van Gulck and Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Katie Blunt and Harry Goldie who have supported this network with a series of brilliant challenge and training days. If you’re curious to find out more about them, be sure to check out these guest blog retros from our Digital Apprentices here and here. We’re really looking forward to what the future has in store for our Digital Leadership workstream, and will be working closely with Barnet’s Yogita Popat, Tower Hamlet’s Thorsten Dreyer and Camden’s Sudip Trivedi to support data apprenticeships and data skills development in the New Year.

LOTI Data Managers: Our network of 145 Data Managers and Analysts interested in tackling common challenges and sharing approaches across London boroughs has been meeting every fortnight since the start of the pandemic. They’ve shared everything from their use of data warehouses to the tools and approaches to managing local outbreaks. A full playlist of who is doing what, and where, is now available on YouTube.

LOTI Data Scientists: A new network of over 60 Data Scientists (and analysts learning to code) was recently set up to help share code, techniques and technical approaches to difficult data questions. So far, the network has discussed topics such as using network analysis for complex data sets with poor data quality, python for address matching to support contract tracing, led by Lambeth’s Sean Pedrick-Case and Francisco Giordano Silva, and using R to identify unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation led by Camden’s Chiadi Lionel. A big thank you to the GLA’s Libby Rogers for sharing her expertise and insights and supporting borough colleagues through a drop-in ‘office hours’ offer.

Campaigns


Two main issues have warranted a collective LOTI voice this year, and we’re grateful to all boroughs who have helped us make a joint ask on behalf of the whole sector.

Covid Data Issues: Following feedbackfrom our data networks, we’ve been working with colleagues in Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Digital to improve how boroughs use Covid shielding and Test & Trace data to support their residents (please see the full blog outlining the challenges, here). In addition to that, LOTI and the GLA also shared boroughs’ concerns in a submission to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Call for Evidence. Special thanks go to Camden’s Mark Brennan, Ealing’s Anthony Lewis, Hackney’s Lisa Stridle and Newham’s Jaffa Brown and Graeme Walsh, for helping us to identify common challenges and articulate effective solutions for improving their work with Covid datasets.

Engagement with Ofcom on analogue to digital switchover in Telecare: We are grateful to all LOTI’s Assistive Technology leads who have helped us understand potential issues associated with the upcoming analogue to digital switchover affecting Telecare. Particular credit goes to Kingston and Sutton’s Bradley Coupar, Westminster’s Karen Bradshaw and Hammersmith & Fulham’s John Patterson for their contributions. In the new year, we will be hosting an open forum featuring speakers from Ofcom, Openreach and Virgin Media to explore the implications of this switchover on the provision of telecare services in future. Full details and a link to register can be found here.

From the whole LOTI Team, we want to say a massive thank you to all of the above and many more who’ve made 2020 a huge success. We wish you all a great festive break and a very happy new year!

Weeknote
by Onyeka Onyekwelu
21 December 2020 ·