Ruli Pennington is senior healthcare writer for i-D Information Daily & a frequent contributor to Public Service Digital. She is passionate about better public services, devolution & women's football. From Jan 2017 Ruli will write leaders for i-D & PSD@unruliP
Local authorities and other pubic services looking to join up development on digital projects and programmes are signing up to a new collaboration platform designed to help them realise their ambitions.
Co-fund and Collaborate to Innovate (CC2i) has been developed to enable effective digital collaboration across UK public services, including co-funding, co-design and collaborative development to deliver better, more relevant and more sustainable digital products.
The new initiative is the brainchild of Guy Giles, managing director of LookingLocal, the digital development company owned and managed by Kirklees Council that was first established as part of the national e-Government programme of the early noughties.
Like many others with wide experience of public sector innovation, Giles sees that if public sector organisations - which face many identical challenges - were to collaborate, sharing technology and digital development would deliver significant savings.
Writing about the genesis of the new platform on CC2i’s website, Giles expresses frustration at all the talk about the need to transform, share and collaborate more. He points out the high cost of ‘doing digital well, ensuring it's robust, secure, fit for purpose, integrated, usable, engaging, and transformative’ and that ‘profound change, delivered via professional, reliable and effective digital technology’ does not come cheap or from a hackathon on a Saturday afternoon.
Austerity poses challenges to the sector, but Giles suggests that there is money to do digital transformation properly, but not if ‘we all do the same things, marginally differently from our colleagues elsewhere in local government, housing and health.’ The time is right, he says, for ‘structured and supported public sector collaboration that will result in significant savings, better products and improved outcomes.’
The CC2i platform is open to teams across public sector. They may have an idea for a digital solution or want to take something they have developed in-house to the next stage. Collaboration might be built around developing a digital solution for a specific and identified need, or could be focused earlier in the development process - for example on research and consultation to inform a digital approach.
Ideas could come from any service or department within public sector. Already in the pipeline are pitches focused on personal data protection, adult social services, crowdsourcing content for customer services and change management.
A number of health related projects are already underway including ‘Everybody Active’ - a digital tool that supports physical activity – as well as a number of products focused on welfare & benefits, self-care and improved customer service provision.
As well as supporting public sector teams, CC2i is designed to support SMEs who want to develop solutions and digital products in collaboration with public sector bodies, but who are often shut out or stifled by complicated procurement procedures.
The CC2i process involves an initial pitch, through to a co-funding stage where the idea is shared and promoted by CC2i across relevant public sector bodies and agencies to raise interest and pledges. Once the co-funding target has been reached, the pitch goes into the project phase, and when delivered and rolled out the end solution can remain visible on the CC2i platform as a product for other public service organisations to access.
CC2i is keen to hear from digital teams across the UK who have developed in-house products that are ready to be commercialised or who are keen to do so, as well as SMEs who have smart ideas for digital transformation but can’t get a foothold in the public sector market.
CC2i believe that there is a lot of good development happening across the country that can be shared: ‘It’s time for a change in how the public sector does digital and collaboration is key.’ says Giles