Citizen Experience United Kingdom Workshop Speakers

London Workshop: April 27

Our next Conversations Workshop will take place on the morning of Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the wonderful Town Hall Hotel in Patriot Square, East London.  This beautiful 5* hotel is an architectural gem and is (as the name implies) a former Town Hall. It’s a very fitting venue for a discussion about government tech.

Workshop videos are now now online…

The London workshop follows our first two events in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and San Francisco.

The theme of the London workshop will be digital transformation of government. We’ll be discussing how leadership and an unalterable focus on citizen experience can drive digital transformation strategies. We’re keen to get people involved in digital transformation initiatives at local, city and national level to come along, share their experiences and chat with our speakers and guests.

Confirmed speakers include (please bookmark this page for the latest speaker information):

Mark Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, University of Cambridge, Judge Business School

Charbel Aoun, Digital Innovation and Transformation Evangelist, and Non-Executive Director, Future Cities Catapult

Ricky Morton, Digital Transformation and Smart Cities Lead at Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Nick Vat, Managing Partner of Syzergy Limited

Martin Taylor, CMO, Redwood Technologies Group Ltd

Stephen Morgan, Co-Founder of Squiz

Stephen Roberts, Director, Vigilant Research/Digital Policing Review

Abigail Gilbert, Researcher, New Local Government Network (NLGN) – a ThinkTank focused on local government

David Moody, VP & Global Business Leader | Digital First EM at Verint

We have guests confirmed from (among others):

  • Hackney Borough Council
  • Ealing Borough Council
  • Sutton Borough Council
  • Slough Borough Council
  • Department of Health
  • Government Digital Service (GDS)
  • Urban Peer
  • Adapt2Digital
  • Digital Governance

As before, the workshop will run from around 10am and will finish with lunch. We’ll record all the conversations and presentations and feature the video content here on this site.  You can watch videos from our previous workshops here.

To register your interest in our London workshop please complete the form below.

Please note: we’re now full but you can register for our cancellations wait-list below.  Note our wait-list is for government employees only (local, city, devolved and national).

Fill out my online form.


Smart Cities United Kingdom

Future Cities Video Series

On November 17 we’re in San Francisco meeting with city innovators and technologists discussing future cities and citizen engagement. Just a few weeks ago we were in Newcastle upon Tyne having conversations with people from Newcastle City Council, Sunderland City Council and Newcastle University.

You can watch all the videos from the workshops here but you’ll need to register for the site to see them.  It’s quick and easy and free.

But here’s a taster for you if you’re not already registered on the site.

We recorded this short interview with David Moody of Verint and Sam Markey of Future Cities Catapult at our recent workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne.


United Kingdom United States Workshop Speakers

Announcing our ‘Conversations’ Workshops

Over the next few months we plan to run a series of workshops in the United Kingdom and North America. These workshops will explore how government is (or should be) transforming itself to better engage with the citizens it serves. Our first two workshops will focus on future cities.  

Newcastle Upon Tyne Workshop
San Francisco Workshop

We’re calling these Conversations Workshops because we plan to provide the opportunity for people engaged in or interested in government at city, regional or national level – who have interesting opinions or experiences – to converse and make their views known to a much wider audience. We plan to record the conversations on video and to feature the videos here on Citizen2020.

Our primary focus is on engagement. In short how should government provide services to citizens in new, more efficient, ways in the light of ever-tightening budgets and the need for greater taxpayer accountability?

For example, if you have trail-blazed a new initiative where you make public previously hidden data (to improve public information provision) we’d like to hear about it. If you are pursuing an initiative that results in more sharing of public data – or sharing of public resources – please tell us more. If you rolled out a new ‘crowd-sourced’ platform that allows citizens to share information to avoid the need for call center resources, please contact us. Or if you are from a think tank that has interesting perspectives on how to transform city services through open data (or open services) please get involved.

We want to hear about how to provide better services with less resources. We want to know about novel uses for social media. We want to hear about new ways for citizens to do things more easily, more seamlessly, enabled by digital technology, or analytics, or social sharing, or knowledge derived from the community. And we’d also like to stimulate debate by debating new ways to do things to provide better citizen engagement.

Our first two Conversations Workshops will be held in September and November, 2016 with further workshops planned for early 2017 in Washington DC and London.

If you would like to register your interest to attend these events please complete the forms on the relevant event page (see links above). Please note that we expect the events to be highly participatory – so most attendees will take part in the conversations that we’ll record.

So please do get in touch and join the conversations!

Digital Policy United Kingdom

Ideas for a Digital Nation

So what’s needed to make the UK a leading digital nation? That’s the question that’s being discussed at a breakfast meeting at Portcullis House, across the street from the Palace of Westminster, on April 19. The event is being organised by the Public Affairs team at Brands2Life.

The organisers are keen to get ideas about how the UK can become a leading digital nation. And to help stimulate the discussion speakers include Matt Warman MP (Chair of the All-Party Group for Broadband and Digital Communications); Louise Haigh MP (Shadow Digital Minister); Debbie Wosskow (Chair of Sharing Economy UK); Antony Walker (Deputy CEO of techUK) and Eddie Copeland (Director of Innovation at NESTA).

We recently interviewed Matt Warman for this site.

If you would like to register for the event further details and registration can be found here.

Smart Cities United Kingdom

Smart City Experiments

OrganiCity is an EU-funded project that is attempting to (in the organisation’s own words) “put people at the centre of smart city development.” (Alternatives to putting “people in the centre” aren’t fully spelled-out on the organisation’s website).

The initiative, apparently, has some 7.2m Euros of budget of which €1.2m will be allocated to “citizen-driven experiments based on the Organicity platform in 2016 and 2017.”

Some 15 organisations are involved in the initiative with three cities acting as the key collaboration agents: London, Santander and Aarhus.

Organicity’s partners (that include Future Cities Catapult in the UK) will make available a series of tools that commercial and public sector bodies can use to build “experiments” using urban data and the internet of things.

A recent open call for experiment proposals was made in London in January and bidders can access up to €60,000 of funding. The call is open to experimenters from anywhere who are willing to use the OrganiCity platform.

Further information about Organicity is available here.

Smart Cities United Kingdom

IoT and Smart Cities

There’s a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). And smart cities. But, increasingly, there’s a view that citizens are going to be denied anything that resembles a smart city until the city, itself, becomes a lot, well, smarter.

I took the opportunity to meet with Andy Mulholland, former Global CTO of Cap Gemini (and now a VP at Constellation Research focusing on IoT) and Bill Clee, CEO of Asset Mapping, in London last week. Asset Mapping, by the way, focuses on collecting IoT data from building management systems and other feeds. The firm was recently selected to provide its solution to the Manchester Verve smart cities project.

In the video Andy outlines how big data often doesn’t provide the answer in terms of improving citizen experience of so-called smart cities. In the same way a phone is smart (because it’s aware of what its user needs, and of its environment) cities need to react to citizen needs. Cities need to respond appropriately to information to provide better services.

Bill tries to provide examples of how this can happen. He also talks at length about Manchester Verve and what it’s trying to achieve.

One does sense that there’s the whiff of the future about all this. Cities will, inevitably, take cloud and IoT technology to new ‘service’ levels where things just appear to work better.

Citizen Engagement United Kingdom United States

Tax and Accountability

Two interesting stories have been doing the rounds on either side of the Atlantic over the last few days.

Both relate to tax. Both relate to the policies adopted by the tax collection authorities.

The UK story is that HMRC (the UK’s revenue and customs service) has been rapped over the knuckles by the Public Accounts Committee for poor levels of customer care. In particular, the Committee takes a dim view of HMRC’s apparent inability to handle calls from tax-payers:

“HMRC is still failing to provide an acceptable service to customers and could not tell us when it would be able to do so. In March 2013, the previous Committee concluded that HMRC had “an abysmal record on customer service”, having only answered 74% of telephone calls received by its contact centres during 2011-12. In 2014-15, HMRC responded to just 72.5% of calls and over the first half of 2015 this had fallen to 50%. The previous Committee considered that HMRC’s target of answering 80% of telephone calls within five minutes was “woefully inadequate and unambitious” and recommended that HMRC should set a more challenging short-term target for call-waiting times and a long-term target that is much closer to industry standards. HMRC has consistently refused to set more demanding targets,however, and in 2014-15 it answered only 39% of calls within five minutes. HMRC did not provide us with any indication of when or by how much its customer service would improve, beyond a vague aim to improve year on year. It acknowledged that people are more likely to pay the right tax when they find HMRC easy to deal with, but, in the words of its own Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary, “we are still struggling”. We are concerned that customer service levels are so bad that they are having an adverse impact on the collection of tax revenues.”

The States-side story is different but related. Apparently a record number of Americans are giving up their citizenship. The main reason for this relates to aggressive tax collection policies adopted by the IRS and aimed at US citizens that live abroad.  Such citizens are getting so fed-up with being hounded for tax – when they derive no services from Uncle Sam – and they are renouncing citizenship as a result.

One of the issues we discuss in our soon-to-be-published paper is that the nature of the ‘contract’ between citizens and government is changing. Part of the reason for this is that there is an expectation on the part of citizens that government needs to know its place in society. It’s no longer more important that any of the other actors in citizens’ lives. Therefore it needs to behave accordingly – adopting a more humble attitude, perhaps.

But there’s clearly a transition period. Government will inevitably shrink as governments continue to grapple with huge debt burdens. But the means of dealing with annoyed citizens who are being squeezed for tax is neither to provide appalling service nor hound people for tax when there’s no reason for them to pay.

Register here to ensure you get our latest paper when it’s published

Digital Government Digital Policy United Kingdom

Mike Bracken Leaves GDS: Passing the Baton

The Head of the Government Digital Service, Mike Bracken, has announced he is leaving the civil service. We asked Emer Coleman, former Deputy Director for Digital Engagement at GDS, to give her personal reaction to his departure.

Over the past two years – since leaving Government Digital Service – I’ve spent a lot of time working with senior people on digital leadership. Well, on leadership really, digital is just the trojan horse.

One of the things I try to get them to understand is that successful leadership is now a distributed function. It doesn’t come from the top down – rather it exists all over successful organisations and is determined by the hierarchy of contribution not the hierarchy itself. My interest in this stems from a quote from Nietzsche: “he serves a teacher badly always to remain only a pupil.”

I thought of that quote quite a lot with the announcement, last week, that Mike Bracken will be leaving Whitehall at the end of September. Apart from the digital legacy for government and citizens that Mike will leave, more striking for me is the fact that he created a template for change in one of the most risk averse environments one can work in – government.

Real change only happens in the civil service or public service when individuals care enough to lift their heads above the parapet and really care about better outcomes.

Before Mike there was no template for what that looked like so he created that template using a combination of street smarts and keen strategic skills. He wouldn’t give up and he wouldn’t give in he just kept pushing forward with a laser like focus on what needed to change to better meet the needs of citizens in a digital age. So now there is no room left for excuses. We know what change looks like. It looks like someone who understood what Billy Bragg meant when he penned Talking with the Taxman about Poetry:

Outside the patient millions
Who put them into power
Expect a little more back for their taxes

It behoves those that Mike leaves behind, therefore, not to remain pupils but to come together across Whitehall and step into his shoes. Not just one or two. But all of them. A baton has been passed but in the digital race the baton is no longer exclusive. I’m looking forward, therefore, to seeing those new digital leaders whizzing past with the same zeal and courage that Mike has demonstrated so ably in government. That is, of course, if rumored cuts are not to derail the whole digital transformation of government with truly unfortunate consequences for the most important people of all – users of government services.

I’ll finish by exhorting: The strategy is delivery folks. Onwards.

Emer Coleman is the former Deputy Director for Digital Engagement with Government Digital Services. She is now Director of Development and Engagement with TransportAPI  and CEO of Disruption Ltd a consultancy specializing in Digital Leadership Training for Senior Executives.

Smart Cities United Kingdom United States

What Makes Cities Great?

Smart cities. Innovative cities. Cities fit for the future. There’s a lot of discussion, these days, about cities and how they need to evolve in order to be able to accommodate demand.

But not all cities are growing. Not all cities are successful.

Consider Detroit. In 1701 it was a mere village. It was over 100 years before it became a city. By 1860 it had over 45,000 inhabitants – with growth driven, largely, by the railroad. But Detroit’s main growth spurt came as a result of the road and the automobile. Assembly line manufacturing by motor manufacturers like Ford made it Motor City. After the Second World War, Detroit had a second economic boom.  Massive increases in motor manufacturing caused urban sprawl and a myriad of suburbs.

With the decline of the US automotive sector and questionable planning policies, Detroit fell from grace. Between 1960 and 2012 Detroit’s population declined by more than 50% (from around 1.5 million to a little over 700,000).

Other cities have suffered similar fates. Since 1950 some 59 American cities have shrunk in population size, 27 in Britain, 26 in Germany and 23 in Italy.  Meanwhile, a whole new raft of cities is emerging like Beihai in China or Ghaziabad in India.

Not all growth is good growth, of course.

Future Cities Catapult, in conjunction with NESTA and Accenture, has published a new guide called CITIE.

According to authors, “The guide provides a means of benchmarking the way in which cities encourage innovation, assessing them on criteria such as investment, regulation and willingness to adopt new technologies and processes. The approach was developed through consultation with city government leaders, policy experts, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs, ultimately identifying 36 policy levers that enable innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Such policy levers, presumably, are the reasons why cities grow and thrive rather than shrink and stagnate – or grow in all the wrong ways.

CITIE’s 215 analysis puts New York at #1 spot in the league table of World’s Top Performing Cities. London was pushed to number 2 slot – because of London’s “lack of CTO and Innovation Team”. Whether such titles/teams are that important to city success is subject to debate. But it’s good to see Future Cities Catapult and its partners encouraging that debate.

Digital Government Digital Policy United Kingdom United States

18F: Where next?

We have done our fair share of speculating, on this site, about the similarities between 18F, GDS and USDS.

But where do the similarities start and end? What is 18F and how is its role evolving now that its honeymoon period is over and it’s now into its second year of operations?

The Citizen 2015 team had the chance to meet with 18F just over a week ago in Washington DC. We interviewed Noah Kunin, Director of Delivery Architecture and Infrastructure Services at 18F.

We asked him about the relationship between the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) and 18F (and the similarities between the two). We also asked him to outline the government services most likely to be focus areas for 18F in the coming year.

We’ll feature more from the interview with Noah in the coming weeks.