Councils urged to create ‘digital boards’ of public and private sector experts

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 September 2018 in News
News

Report from techUK advises that, to make good on digital transformation plans, local authorities should assemble a leadership collective

To ensure they make good on their transformation plans, local authorities should create a “digital board” comprised of leaders from both the public and private sectors, a report has recommended.

The What makes a good digital board? advisory document from industry body techUK urges councils to ensure they have the necessary expertise in leadership in place if they want service transformation initiatives to deliver the best results.

“Despite the benefits it can bring, digital evolution is not an easy process, and can be perceived to be both financially and politically risky,” the report said. “Local authorities must set themselves up for success in digital evolution by building internal capacity through ‘coordinated programme leadership and support’.”

It added: “Establishing a digital board, which brings together experienced digital leaders from across the public and private sectors and builds the necessary ‘mindset, technical and digital skills’, is a way for local authorities to coordinate leadership and formalise senior-level support. In doing so, local authorities are putting in place the foundations for meaningful transformation so that they can meet current and future operational and service-delivery demands.”


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The report makes seven recommendations for local authorities, the first of which is to conduct a “mapping exercise” to identify between eight and 12 people who might be good candidates for a spot at the digital top table. Once the board has been established, techUK advises that it should perform six key tasks:

  • “Develop a vision for digital evolution;
  • Develop a digital delivery plan with measurable objectives to which it is held accountable by the local authority’s executive leadership;
  • Incorporate regular and ongoing civic engagement as a digitally enabled factor of the local authority’s digital ambitions that supports user-centric digital ambition and delivery of smart cities initiatives;
  • Oversee the secure and effective management of data and data-related capabilities within the local authority;
  • [and] position itself as a facilitator of collaboration, communication, knowledge sharing and coordination between local authorities and police, health, education, and third sector organisations operating within the local ecosystem.”

Julian David, chief executive of techUK, said that councils “should not be tasked with delivering the nation’s smart cities and communities agendas alone”.

He added: “By building internal capacity and capability to utilise the strengths of digital, which is not always as easy as it seems, we believe that local authorities will be able to commission and implement smarter, citizen-centric services for their localities.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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