Well, that was a full on week! Lots of good stuff, but I definitely needed to remind myself to pause and breathe on a few occasions.
The biggest news this week was the launch of the London Office of Technology and Innovation (‘LOTI’), of which Hackney is a founding member. This is the result of a lot of work by colleagues at the Greater London Assembly and London Councils, supported by 15 boroughs who have committed their time and some funding to get LOTI off the ground.
On Monday evening, Cate and I went to the Bloomberg offices in the City along with our Mayor and Ian (the boss) for the official launch event. There was real energy in the room and it was good to see Hackney at the forefront of many of the initiatives that LOTI will be focusing on. I was sufficiently excited about all this to write up a short blog when I got home, with some thoughts about why I think LOTI could be a really important development for London: https://bytherye.com/2019/06/10/why-im-excited-about-the-launch-of-loti/.
Hackney Tech Week fringe
Last week was London Tech Week, and we held a series of events in Hackney to link in with that. The first was actually run by FutureGov, not the Council, and was held in Hackney Town Hall. This brought together over 200 thinkers and doers from a wide range of organisations to explore ways that we can reimagine local government for the 21st century. I enjoyed meeting lots of new people, as well as old friends in local government digital, and was also really impressed by the work that our digital design team did in their day long design sprint looking at ways that we can support community led action.
On Tuesday we hosted the launch of the very first LOTI project, where colleagues from across the LOTI boroughs came together to look at what we need to do to grow a pan-London digital apprenticeship programme, with a working target of 100 digital apprenticeships across the LOTI boroughs by September 2020. I was particularly impressed by the excellent presentation that Darrell, Erdem, Micah and Nana gave about their experience of starting apprenticeships with Hackney and also Mal’s talk sharing a manager’s perspective.
And on Thursday, Matthew and Cate hosted a breakfast event for SMEs who are interested in working with local government on digital innovation projects. Increasing the share of work that we commission through SMEs is another important part of the way we are working in HackIT and Matthew’s blog here shares some of the things that we learned from the conversation: https://blogs.hackney.gov.uk/hackit/working-in-partnership-with-suppliers.
Other highlights from last week were:
- Joining Ian for a meeting with Cabinet members to discuss the approach we’ve suggested for bringing them closer to the Council’s work to design digital services for our residents and businesses. We had a good discussion and hopefully we’ll have this up and running soon, linking together work across services and using that to help accelerate pace.
- An excellent walk through the Spacebank prototype with Philippa and Richard. We talked through the things we’ve learned from the team’s user research and how that’s reflected in the prototype. The team held their service assessment on Friday and it’s reassuring to hear that went well, reflecting the team’s hard work to move this forward.
- On Wednesday we had our quarterly DMT Away Day, where we discussed a range of strategic topics, including checking in on the actions from our finance review, engaging with services who are exploring ideas for new technologies and services, and the next steps in the work we’re doing to modernise Hackney’s workplace technology.
- On Thursday morning, Henry and I joined the Mayor and other Cabinet members for our quarterly meeting to catch up on the work to improve digital connectivity in Hackney. We discussed the work that Henry and team have been doing to design the approach for engaging with residents to develop the thinking together with them and also the areas of social value that we will be looking to maximise through the work (eg improved connectivity for social housing, new business opportunities and support for digital skills).
- And I also worked with Cate to move our finance work forward, with a strategy stand up to help the team understand more about how our finances are managed and a workshop with cost centre managers to dig into the way we manage recharges so that we can do these efficiently and effectively.
Something I’m learning
Unlike the previous week, where I felt that I’d managed to keep lots of time for focused work, last week was almost the exact opposite. As a result, I felt that I was falling short on a number of the areas of work that I wanted to move forward. There are inevitably trade offs like this, and I think it’s important to recognise that focusing on one of set of priorities will mean that other things will pause. But I think the things I prioritised were the right ones and I’ve kept a bit more clear time in my diary next week so that I can try to catch up.