Weeknote 33 of 2021

Building the LOTI team

This week we’re delighted to welcome Sophie Nelson as LOTI’s new Digital Inclusion Projects Manager. Sophie joins us from the Office for National Statistics, where she was Programme Officer for their Data Science Campus. She’ll be working closely with Genta Hajri on delivering the Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme (DIIP) – part of our commitment to helping digitally excluded Londoners in the wake of Covid.

Joining the team, Sophie said: “I’m really excited to be joining LOTI and having the chance to work with boroughs on such an important issue. I’m looking forward to meeting boroughs’ digital inclusion leads soon and seeing what we can do together.”

Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme (DIIP)

Talking of digital inclusion, last week Genta and Eddie caught up with Theo Blackwell and the Connected London Team at the GLA to discuss what direction DIIP should take over the next two years.

We identified that the most important aspiration behind DIIP is to create a Minimum Access Package (or service) that “provides a menu of options, backed up by a range of reliable and affordable provision to meet individuals’ essential device, data and skills needs”.

A big question remains as to what exactly that Minimum Access Package should look like. Directories and portals listing services are notoriously difficult to keep up to date after they’re created. However, we know we need to find a practical and reliable means for public and third sector staff to easily identify relevant sources of support when they meet someone who is digitally excluded. Tackling this will entail a number of things, including working to understand what existing provision is available across boroughs, creating new offers where current services are not meeting demand, and making it simpler to triage individuals’ needs so they can be quickly connected to the help they need.

Diagram showing component parts of the minimum access package

The week concluded with LOTI, London Councils and GLA assessing tenders for our recent call for suppliers to help with our discovery into the nature of digital exclusion in temporary accommodation. More details will follow once a final decision has been made.

Mind the Data Gap

On Wednesday, we brought together colleagues from across LOTI’s three networks of data professionals to explore the question: “How might we increase boroughs’ access to data talent?”

The workshop started by reviewing feedback that LOTI had collected through a survey with local government data professionals. You can read our report summarising the survey responses here.

While it was positive to read comments such as: “Only in Local Government can your work have a positive influence on so many important fields”, the responses also contained some candid feedback about where things are not working. Factors such as having to use old or inferior tools, encountering teams who are reluctant to share datasets, and experiencing senior managers who don’t fully appreciate how their organisation can use data effectively, led many to agree that: “We are not able to deliver the full range of insight which we could to support the borough to improve outcomes for all.”

The majority of the workshop focused on exploring potential solutions, stimulated by expert commentary and analysis provided by Joanne Cumper, a recruitment consultant with significant experience in recruiting for data and digital roles in both London local government and other sectors. The group spent time generating and discussing ideas for solutions under the following six headings:

  1. Training and develop existing data staff
  2. Recruiting better
  3. Forming useful partnerships
  4. Improving the experience of incumbents
  5. Educating non-data professionals
  6. Developing more effective structures & practices

The LOTI team will be summarising participants’ ideas this week before starting to prioritise them at a meeting on Friday with our project leads, Yogita Popat and Sudip Trivedi.

Data Warehouses

Still on a data theme, LOTI’s network of Data Managers convened to hear a presentation from Graeme Hutchinson from Newham and Havering, in which he described his team’s efforts over several years to develop an effective data hub and data warehouse strategy. As a result of this work, both boroughs benefit from being able to see a single view of each person, place or business, making it easier to support residents in a more holistic manner.

Coming up this week

This week we’ll be:

  1. Bringing Sophie up to speed with our team ways of working and the details of the Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme.
  2. Conducting interviews as part of our first cyber security discovery.
  3. Meeting with the main reps from LOTI boroughs at our latest All Member session, covering project updates, MHCLG bids and much more.

For all the latest on LOTI’s activities, follow us on Twitter.

Eddie Copeland
13 September 2021 ·
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