Weeknote 39 of 2021
Thinking about our networks and communities of practice
Last week we had a number of conversations about LOTI’s communities of practice. Developing skills and capabilities across our member organisations is a real priority that underpins the effectiveness of virtually all our areas of work. We’re constantly trying to refine and improve the ways we connect people across boroughs so they can share lessons, mentor each other and work on common challenges.
During the week, Jay ran sessions with all three of LOTI’s data networks. As each of those networks has started at different points and evolved over time, we realised our naming of them wasn’t particularly clear or consistent, so we’ve updated them to be:
- Data Leaders – a network of senior leaders who want to discuss how to use data strategically in their organisations. This group, which includes representatives from other major public sector organisations like the Met Police and the London Fire Brigade, meets monthly.
- Data Practitioners – a network for all those involved in the day to day running of data projects, who want to discuss common challenges and share examples of their work. They meet quarterly but have active discussions through LOTI’s Basecamp platform.
- Data Scientists – a network for data scientists and analysts learning to code. They meet monthly.
You may recall from our recent blog that 15 of our Data Scientists have recently undergone a bootcamp training course with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which was very well received. We’re now exploring the possibility of working with ONS to provide an Introduction to Data course for senior leaders. More details to follow shortly.
Last week, Eddie met with Cate McLaurin and Emma McGowan from Hackney to discuss their idea of setting up a dedicated LOTI Women’s Digital Leaders Network. While the gender balance in many areas of council life has improved significantly in recent years, it’s fair to say that councils’ IT and digital functions still tend to be very male-dominated. That imbalance risks being off-putting to women outside the sector who could provide real value working in local government, and also hinders the career development of women already working in council teams. As a result of this challenge, we’re missing out on the ideas and contributions that diverse teams can bring.
We’ll be working up the detail of this new forum with our members to see how it might provide access to training, mentoring and other forms of peer support to strengthen LOTI’s community and work, and help develop the careers of the next generation of digital leaders.
Digital Inclusion in temporary accommodation
We’ve continued to make good progress with our digital inclusion in temporary accommodation (TA) hostels discovery. Interviews with borough TA leads are ongoing and we’ve begun to meet with hostel managers. Thank you to colleagues in Camden, Kingston, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Kensington and Chelsea who spoke to us last week.
A session to support the discovery will take place on Friday 5 November. As well as sharing our initial findings, this event is an opportunity to add insights, ask questions and suggest other areas of exploration. If you’re a TA service lead, commissioner or hostel manager and interested in attending, please register here.
One of the next wave of projects that will fall part of our work on the Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme is exploring how boroughs can use the Social Value provision in large contracts to secure digital inclusion support. On Thursday 11 November at 10am, we’ll be hosting a demo session with Dan Ebanks from Social Value Exchange, a platform that can help automate some of this process and ensure social value is directed towards real community needs. For any boroughs who’d like to attend, we’ll share the invite on our Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme Basecamp space shortly.
Supporting DCMS Connected Places Research
LOTI gave an interview to researchers working on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who are gathering data on the market for connected places (essentially, smart city) technologies. LOTI shared ideas based on our conversations with boroughs about the importance of interoperability, cyber security and effective procurement.
We also conveyed the key principles from the LOTI Guide to Designing Smart Cities. That included the need for ethics and transparency, and that boroughs will require the provision of open APIs and a guarantee of ownership of data to be included in contracts with suppliers.
Coming up this week
Among other things, this week we’ll be:
- Conducting interviews with hostel managers and borough Temporary Accommodation officers as part of our digital inclusion discovery.
- Catching up with Joanne Cumper, our consultant recruitment expert, on producing a LOTI guide to better recruitment for hard-to-hire roles and hosting a careers day to promote the benefits of working in localgov data roles.
- Starting interviews for our discovery into creating a pan-London data ethics process.
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