Blog archive

When there’s a bit more that I want to write about a topic.

  • Why I’m excited about the launch of #LOTI
    Today has been a great day in local digital collaboration. It began with our friends at FutureGov * holding the London event of their 'Designing 21st-Century Government' series of conferences / unconferences in Hackney Town Hall. (Check out the tweets from the event here to see what was covered: … Read more
  • The ‘Smart City’ is as much a political challenge as it is a technology challenge
    I've read a few pieces covering the Sidewalk Toronto initiative, which raises interesting issues about the way that authorities should engage with and try to shape 'Smart City' developments. I saw a link to a draft research paper yesterday which looks at the relationship between Sidewalk Labs and the City … Read more
  • Let’s talk about tech – getting IT and digital out of the basement
    It's hard to think of an area of life where technology and data haven't been part of huge changes over the last 10 – 30 years. Well rehearsed examples of that include travel, shopping and banking, where ease of access to doing transactions online is just part of a fundamental … Read more
  • The future is here (it just doesn’t last the whole day yet)
    It's almost four years since I blogged about my initial experience of using my first Apple Watch ( At the time I could see that it had lots of potential, but 'unless you’re a bit of a geek I’d probably recommend waiting a bit before leaping in.' Roll forward to … Read more
  • Personal reflections on how I prefer to work
    I’ve seen a number of people posting ‘This is how I work…’ blog posts recently and in a recent conversation someone mentioned that it was helpful to understand how colleagues prefer to consume information and get their work done. That’s made me wonder whether it might be something that would … Read more
  • Delivering digital change for the long term with apprenticeships
    We’ve been thinking hard about how we can best make sure that we have the skills that we need to help Hackney continue to improve the services we provide for our residents and businesses. Having an in-house ICT and digital team means that we can be lower cost, more agile … Read more
  • Smart London Camp 2018
    Yesterday I joined a large group of people whose idea of the best way to spend a beautiful sunny Saturday was to gather together in London’s City Hall and discuss ideas for ways that London can get the most out of the opportunities that ‘smart city’ developments offer. I found … Read more
  • A Digital Detente
    A fairly common theme in conversations I’ve had over the years has been the struggle between ICT and digital teams — where the IT team are perceived to be the ‘department of no’ and the digital team have acquired a reputation for being all about creating whizzy websites, but not caring much … Read more
  • The Wile E Coyote moment
    I was very taken with Benedict Evans’ description of the way that companies like Nokia and RIM (BlackBerry) responded to the advent of the iPhone in 2007: You might call this the ‘Wille E Coyote effect’ – you’ve run off the cliff, but you’re not falling, and everything seems fine. … Read more
  • Designing the future of work
    A new year and a new commitment to updating this blog a bit more frequently than once every year… I’ve decided that little (ie more than I can fit into a tweet) and often(ish) might be the way to go. Let’s see… A theme that’s popped up in quite a … Read more
  • On collaboration
    I thought that this article from the Economist on collaboration that a colleague pointed out to me last week was an interesting read. It warns that in this age of Slack, chat rooms and instant messaging we are at risk of ‘over-collaborating’. I can see the sense in this argument, … Read more
  • Is email here to stay?
    This post from @ballantine70 hit on a favourite topic of mine: Five hurdles between us and the death of email. Are we doomed to suffer with email for ever? What gives email its staying power? And am I missing something which explains its popularity despite the regular complaints I hear … Read more
  •  Watch… a few thoughts after my first week
    An ever so slightly geeky digression. As an avid iPhone user I was intrigued to find out what an Apple Watch would offer. I think it’s interesting to consider whether the emergence of the ‘smart watch’ is just a fad that will soon vanish (in the way that Google Glass … Read more
  • An interesting model for supporting BYOD
    As I’ve blogged before (probably too many times!), taking a much more flexible approach to the types of devices we enable for connection to our systems and services feels like an inevitability, and something those of us responsible for providing business IT services need to be prepared for. A Canute … Read more
  • Early adventures in exploring social tools for smarter working
    We’ve just ‘gone Google’. It’s still early days, but now that we’ve moved everyone over from our legacy Microsoft Exchange platforms to Google Apps for Work I’m seeing lots of really encouraging examples of people beginning to use Google Apps’ powerful collaboration capabilities to rethink the way that they do … Read more
  • Positive signs from the PSN?
    I was surprised to find that it’s approaching six months since I last posted here. I’ll make sure my New Year’s resolutions include a commitment to do better in 2015… I think a good topic to get myself back on track is to write something about the working group I … Read more
  • Thinking about ‘Think Digital’
    I enjoyed Dave Briggs’ Think Digital webinar. I thought it was a good walk through some of the key principles which should underpin a different way of delivering public services. I jotted down a few notes as I listened, picking up on the key point which stood out to me. … Read more
  • Defining digital
    Never one to miss the opportunity to get involved in a debate on a topic I’m interested in, I thought I’d add my tuppence to the ‘what does digital mean?’ question which I’ve recently seen discussed… Matt Jukes posted a piece mulling over the question on his blog. Phil Rumens … Read more
  • One Local Gov Digital: some further thoughts
    An otherwise slightly frustrating day has been brightened up by some really interesting conversation about local government digital today. A (digital) coffee with @bmwelby at the start of the day was followed by an equally good (and also digital) pre-lunch chat with @PhilRumens, @pmackay, @_BforBen and others. My first observation … Read more
  • One Local Gov digital?
    There’s been a conversation bubbling around lately about the need for a single Local Government Digital Service (one LOCAL.GOV.UK if you will). If memory serves, the current round of this discussion was kicked off by @dominiccampbell, and I’ve read some interesting contributions to the discussion since. These include: @Copley_Rich, who … Read more
  • An applications strategy fit for digital?
    There’s been lots of debate lately about the best approach for local government applications and digital services. As councils work to manage further dramatic budget reductions and to meet the demand for more personalised services, our legacy business systems are very often among the key factors which hold us back … Read more
  • Keeping our information safe and using it well
    Getting the right balance between security and flexibility has become a really hot topic across local government of late. Traditionally, the way we’ve kept information safe is to implement as many security controls as we possibly can. We make sure that we have full control over everything and that’s made … Read more
  • Securing mobile BYOD: keeping up and doing it right
    The technologies for securing access to business information and systems from personal devices are becoming very capable, and they are developing very rapidly. These should be taking away the fear of ‘Bring Your Own Device’, which is still surprisingly common among ICT teams, and allow us to embrace a change … Read more
  • Does ICT need a manifesto?
    I was struck by this blogpost from @ThinkingPurpose recently: It’s a cri de coeur describing how it feels when the ICT tools you’re provided with at work seem to be designed to stop you being productive. I suspect that this is a sentiment that more than a few other … Read more
  • Bring your own and self-service support (conversations at SITS13)
    I’m not sure how “a few days” has suddenly become “a few months”, but time obviously flies when you start a new job! In April I talked at the Service Desk and IT Support show (SITS13) about our work on self-service and bring your own device. (I was a bit … Read more
  • Some slides…
    I had the pleasure of attending yesterday’s Service Desk and IT Support show (SITS13), talking about the work we’ve been doing to give our users online self-service access to IT and other support services and enabling bring your own device. It was great to see how many other people are … Read more
  • Sharing our digital endeavours
    A few weeks ago I attended the first event of what will hopefully become a thriving community of local councils using open source web platforms (Open Councils — Drupal Public Sector Exchange). This was a group of public minded web folk who are passionate about using open source software to deliver better, … Read more
  • One of my clouds just vanished
    I woke up this morning to a flurry of tweets about Google’s announcement that they’ll be killing off Google Reader in a few months time. If you haven’t used it, Reader is a neat tool which brings together feeds from websites which you want to follow into a single place, … Read more
  • Digital Lambeth
    [This first appeared as a guest blogpost on the G-Cloud blog] At Lambeth we are rebuilding our digital services. This is a key part of our strategy and our goal is to create a completely different online experience for our citizens. Not just providing clear, useful content and excellent transactional … Read more
  • Self-service: making it work
    I recently had a great conversation with one of our suppliers discussing our work to make self-service a core part of the way we interact with and support our users. Providing online access to the helpdesk is only part of the challenge, and achieving a genuine shift in the way … Read more
  • Bring your own helpdesk?
    The consumerisation of IT is changing the way we support our users. In the ‘good old days’ IT were the experts. We knew our standard builds and applications inside out, we knew the idiosyncrasies, and we could provide the fixes and work-arounds needed to help our users do their work. … Read more
  • Some thoughts on BYOD (part two of two): so, how can we do it?
    In my last post I explained why I think that bring your own device needs to be taken seriously. In this post I’ve tried to bring together some thoughts to suggest how we can go about enabling bring your own in a way that strikes a balance between appropriate security … Read more
  • Some thoughts on BYOD (part one of two): why does all this matter?
    Bring your own device seems to crop up everywhere these days, and I’ve been struck by the wide range of attitudes and approaches to this trend. For some BYOD seems to be an unmanageable threat which has to be resisted at all costs, to others it’s a distraction from the … Read more
  • Getting the right perspective
    For many years now our focus in public sector ICT has been hugely on securing the information which we’re responsible for. There are good reasons for this, and plenty of examples which demonstrate the importance of taking care of the information people trust us with (not that they always do … Read more
  • A big step forward in opening up our data
    [This first appeared as a guest blogpost on the Lambeth open data blog] At Lambeth we’ve been delighted to be recognised as one of the leading local authorities for open data (see Openly Local’s ratings), and we see this as an important part of our commitment to be a cooperative … Read more
  • Getting agile in #localgov : with a bit of help from G-Cloud
    [This first appeared as a guest blogpost on the G-Cloud blog] Technology is changing fast and we’re excited about the potential that this offers for us to improve the way we deliver services. This couldn’t have happened at a better time given the urgent need to sustain local services while … Read more