For me any Digital Strategy is about creating the new institutions that will be needed in the near future to manage our places when Digital, Data & Technology are even more embedded in our everyday.
This will mean they should be able to do the things I want them to - houses, jobs and investment in growth,transport, devolved power (Greater Yorkshire/West Yorkshire/ Leeds Region whatever works), whilst also having fun.
But these institutions will be smaller. They will be publishing more data, they will need to use technology and digital services, they will need to manage in real time, they will need to have data ethics sorted, they will be porous organisations, they will be more open, they will have more partners, they probably will be more devolved (hopefully will be more locally relevant and have bigger influence over what is spent and where). It's not going to be simple. It won't be straightforward and they'll need to be digital.
So what does an institution that has to deal with all of this look like? That is what our strategy should be preparing us for, and it should make it as easy as possible for us all to join in.
In Leeds, we're lucky that an experiment has been underway for the last 4 years at ODI Leeds where digital and data people have been working on projects and challenges, and not thinking too much about strategy or policy - just getting stuff done.
The sponsor group is made up of thirteen partners from across the Public & Private Sector: Leeds Council, Bradford Council, Calderdale Council, WYCA, University of Leeds, Highways England, KPMG, ARUP, Jaywing Intelligence, BJSS, AQL and Yorkshire Water.
The strategy needs to learn from this and the other great work that's happening.
Three examples that we know about but we're sure there are more.
- The Leeds Care Record - a nationally recognised open process that is getting results with the Ripple Foundation as delivery function.
- The work TfN are doing to build a Northern Transport Network where they don't own any transport assets - but are helping the existing system to change and develop and using data to do it;
- Bradford Council - planning a complete redesign using Digital to do it.
We're also lucky to have many Government Digital Institutions here - DWP Digital Academy, NHS Digital, Government Digital Service and a globally significant Digital and Data ecosystem.
If we create the Digital Strategy in the open, all these organisations can reach in and share what they know, make it world class and contribute.
So what? We'd love to share what we've learned at ODI Leeds and I know all of our sponsors and partners would as well. I'm sure there are lots of people and organisations across the region who would share as well. An open process helps us do that at the lowest cost.
Whomever is building the strategy needs to try and understand the different ways organisations works and are funded, and respect the time that people give up to share and be part of this. So get control of the budgets, spend it wisely, and don't expect people to do stuff for free.
Founder of ODI Leeds