Joining up the grey cells: moving forward

27 Mar 2015, 2:37 pm

by William Barker, Head of Technology Strategy and Digital Futures, DCLG

grey cellsLast month I noted that in an ever changing digital society top down thinking and decision making no longer offer us a viable way to deliver the range of services that communities want. In its place I put forward the need for public services to take a ‘Open Policy Making’ approach to help broaden the range of people we engage with, and make use of the latest tools and techniques to take a more agile and iterative approach.

‘DCLG’s ‘Grey Cells” Open Policy Making Initiative, working with the Transformation Network, has been joining-up the ‘grey cells’ of user experience, innovation, new thinking and service transformation – using a people and places centred approach to explore how digital technology and approaches can make a positive difference.

Over the last few months we have been looking at the following issues:

Digital Inclusion – Helping understand the key steps that places need to take to help people become more confident online, DCLG has been running a digital inclusion policy checklist around how digital inclusion should be at the heart of local service delivery and transformation.

#Better Services
– Grey Cells has been gathering the evidence on how digital approaches can help transform services and transform lives. The Grey Cells connections database, contained in our ‘Locator’ app, highlights over 300 local case studies of how places have engaged with local people around service re-design and digital delivery.

Elders as Assets
– Smarter working and digital solutions can help to transform older people’s lives. DCLG and Government Office for Science hosted a ‘Digital Connectivity for Older People’ strategic roundtable to help develop a Grey Cells-resource pack that provides links to place-based initiatives from combatting isolation, to safety in the home, online support for dementia sufferers and their carers and tracker for local support services.

Digitising Government
– the Transformation Challenge Panel report highlighted the need for rapid digitisation to underpin service transformation. In response the Grey Cells wrote a keynote blog on digitising government and the opportunities for better local services which provides a link to draft Digital Connectivity blueprint a new open policy making tool, developed by Grey Cells team, to help wider open policy making around what it is required to support digital delivery, design, data analytics and thinking around devolution to improve services and solutions.

William Barker is Head of Technology Strategy and Digital Futures at DCLG; he Visiting Fellow at Brunel University looking at the wider implications of digital government for policymakers and practitioners.

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