Weeknote 19 of 2021

Seeing in three dimensions

Last week felt like quite a turning point for the LOTI team. For the first time since the start of Lockdown 1, we met in person in the office. It was also the first time we’d met Jay – LOTI’s Programme Manager for Data, Smart Cities and Cybersecurity – since his job interview in March 2020! It felt strange but really positive to see each other in three dimensions and to have a whole conversation without the usual “You’re still on mute” interruptions.

As a team, we’ve been carving out time to reflect on how we want to work once the option of being in an office regularly opens up. You can read our notes on that here. Our sense is that much of our work can be conducted really effectively while working remotely. However, at least once a month, we want to get together in person to have a different set of conversations – about strategy, purpose and planning – where being physically present together can provide the energy and pace needed for real creativity.

Thinking about LOTI’s Year 3 Strategy

On Tuesday last week, we used the time together to do just that: thinking through and debating the ideas and feedback that LOTI members shared with us concerning our Year 3 strategy.

Approaching our second year anniversary on 15 July feels like quite a turning point. We’re no longer really a start-up. Where the last two years have been about trying to figure out our ways of working in the absence of much precedent, we now have lots of experiences to reflect on and to learn from. As a community, we’ve come a long way. We’ve:

  • Grown from 15 to 19 members and we’re in discussion with three other boroughs about joining. (The original business plan assumed ~8 would join.)
  • Secured substantial external funding for digital inclusion work (thanks to Theo Blackwell, London’s CDO, and his colleagues at the GLA)
  • Supported boroughs to access funding from MHCLG’s C-19 Fund
  • Formed partnerships with Microsoft, Google, AWS, ONS and other organisations to deliver skills and training for boroughs
  • Created a library of 18 resources
  • Run or supported the design, funding and delivery of 16 projects
  • Funded projects in 11 boroughs that benefit the whole community
  • Started 6 peer support networks

Building on boroughs’ views and our team reflections on what has worked during our time in operation, our ideas for Year 3 are currently focused around 9 areas of activity, split under three headings, as shown below. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be holding individual meetings with LOTI members to discuss these topics and get their feedback before we publish our strategy next month.

Slide showing LOTI's Year 3 Strategic objectives and areas of focus

Covid Innovation Fund Show & Tells

Last Wednesday we held not one but two show and tells to share the progress that LOTI boroughs have been making on projects we’re supporting as part of our Covid Innovation Fund.

The first was for the Preventing vulnerable residents from reaching crisis project. Led by Hackney and Newham, this initiative aims to equip customer service staff with the tools and knowledge they need to make better referrals across services when supporting vulnerable people. View the video on YouTube.

The second was for our project on Mapping Digital Exclusion with Data. In this YouTube video, colleagues from Barnet, Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark and Westminster share their latest activities to use data to map and understand the scale and nature of digital exclusion in London.

Last week also saw that same project group publish the third major iteration of their pan London map of digital exclusion in London. Paul Hodgson and his team at the GLA have been working with the boroughs’ GIS teams to assess which datasets to include. The current map includes data on the spatial distribution of people in the key groups likely to be digitally excluded, as identified in Westminster’s prior persona research. These include older people, low-income families, people with a disability, unemployed people and micro businesses. You can find a full list of data sets we are exploring here.

The next step is for individual boroughs to analyse how the national data sets compare with similar data sets held locally.

Coming up this week

  1. Genta and Jay are taking part in Lou Downe’s “Scaling Good Services” training course. If you haven’t yet read Lou’s excellent book, check it out and the associated training here.
  2. Setting up meetings with all our members to discuss their involvement in our Year 3 activities.
  3. Pushing ahead with our research and project planning for the Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme in advance of a second workshop next week.

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Eddie Copeland
17 May 2021 ·
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