As the end of another busy year approaches, Christmas is always a good time to say thank you to all those organisations and people that continue to support and work with us. It’s also a chance to update you on what we’ve been up to and share with you some of the areas we would like to develop with your support in the New Year.
I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce Peter Bishop, Chief Information officer for Information, Technology and Digital Services (ITDS). Under Peter’s leadership, the Council is investing in its IT capabilities to ensure that technology and digital underpin the Council’s programme of change and new operating model once the Service Birmingham contract ends in 2021 and Digital Birmingham is now part of ITDS.
Also a big thank you to Councillor Tristan Chatfield, Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality, which included digital and smart city activities, for all his support. This portfolio now moves to Councillor Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader. We look forward to working with the Deputy Leader in taking the digital and technology agenda forward.
Digital Birmingham's move into the Information, Technology and Digital Services is opening up new opportunities to work across the diverse range of activities undertaken by the Council and its external partners. It is enabling us to work with them to develop their digital strategies, initiating new innovative and digital projects and activities to accelerate service transformation and exploit data driven approaches.
Our aim is always to work with our external partners and broker relationships, whether they be private or public, range from major corporate's to micro businesses; universities to schools, voluntary organisations to community groups, as we believe that it is through our collaborative partnerships we can create new and innovative solutions that will help transform our City.
In Birmingham, we are delivering innovative projects and activities that cut across many services and addressing some of the key priority outcomes;
- Mobility – SmartRouting, an innovative travel app that gives real-time information on public travel options even when you are not connected to the internet.
- Health and Social Care - City4Age, using wearable technologies and Internet of Things devices to enable elderly people to stay independent within their communities for longer.
- Public Health - PULSE aims to get citizens involved in sharing and using their data to promote healthier lifestyles and encourage more physical activity through behaviour change assessing individuals urban environment and the risk and impact on them developing diabetes and asthma.
- Regeneration and Development - FuturePlan, a data visualisation tool that maps major developments and city assets and impacts on the urban environment over a timeline.
- Digital Skills and Economy – St Georges CIC, Google Garage and the Financial Inclusion strategy, working with community groups, Small Medium and Enterprises (SMES) and individuals to enhance their digital skills
- Open and Big Data – Birmingham Data Factory and Big Data Corridor, we are continually releasing new open datasets onto our open data portal www.data.birmingham.gov.uk and are developing our Big Data Corridor platform that will enable access to open, commercial and personal data.
At a regional level, we are digital advisors to the Mayor, Andy Street and sit on the West Midlands Digital Board where we are helping to develop and deliver the digital strategy for the West Midlands, especially around digital infrastructure and skills as well as supporting the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership with its digital ambitions.
At a national level we continue to influence and shape digital and smart city strategy development. We have worked with the British Standards Institute (BSi) to develop their series of Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) documentation for Smart Cities and are working with them to develop an internationally recognised Smart City Maturity Framework. We are also advisory board members of the Cities Standards Institute and EIC Sustainable Smart Cities Taskforce and are helping to shape policies and strategies for digital and smart city standardisation. We have worked with Innovate UK national Urban Systems team to help shape their future funding priorities.
- Birmingham, for the second year running, has featured in the top ten listing of the Smartest Cities in the UK in the UK Smart Cities Index, commissioned by Huawei UK and conducted by Navigant Consulting - a very commendable achievement and we'd like to thank all our partners for the support in achieving this smart city status in delivering opportunities and services to our citizens. More...
- We contributed to the 'Rise of the UrbanTech - How Technology is Reinventing Local Services'paper which identifies the importance of supporting SMES in transforming public services using new digital innovations and thought processes given the constraints in public funding.
- The Google Digital Garage returned to Birmingham for the second time since 2015 in the form of a pop-up shop on New Street in the city centre, with a digital support offering to citizens as well as businesses through 1-2-1 mentoring and bespoke workshops & courses 7 days a week. More...
WHATS IN STORE FOR 2018...
As well as continuing with our current projects, we are also starting to look at new opportunities to work with partners to deliver and mainstream novel solutions that will help transform internal service delivery. This includes exploiting the learning from City4Age in the use of wearable technologies and intelligent decision support systems to create new approaches to health and care.
We have a number of consortium proposals in development and will be applying for grant funding as well as looking to align Birmingham City Council funded capital programmes and developing grant applications to Central Government. This is an important route for us in supporting the search for new ideas and piloting emerging technologies for potential digital and technological development.
We plan to set up a small advisory group in the new year to bring together the relevant stakeholders interested in working collaboratively on developing the data innovation framework and platform that is evolving as part of the Big Data Corridor project and our wider vision as set out in the ICT & D strategy.
Once again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and look further to working with you in 2018!
Raj Mack and the team
Head of Digital Birmingham
Information, Technology & Digital Services for Birmingham City Council