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by Rebecca Hill and Jenni Davidson
11 November 2016
Scottish councils held up as good example of place as platform approach by SOCITM

Scottish councils held up as good example of place as platform approach by SOCITM

Martyn Wallace, Lorraine McMillan and Colin Birchenall - Image credit: Scottish Local Government Transformation Board

Scottish councils have been held up as a model for the place as platform approach to technology in local government.

In its latest briefing paper, SOCITM said that the collaborative project that has seen 27 Scottish local authorities co-fund a Scottish local government digital office and appoint shared chief digital and technology officers is a good example of the concept of place as a platform.

According to the society for public sector IT professionals, there needs to be a “root and branch overhaul” of the role and use of IT in delivering digital public services that goes beyond the single organisation.

In its ‘Platforms and places: the foundations for future ICT service delivery’ briefing paper, SOCITM argues that senior digital managers should be planning their future strategies around both platforms and places, saying that they need to think beyond their own council.

It defines ‘platforms’ as being all digital skills, networks and infrastructures related to services, while ‘place’ is “much more than the immediate organisational ICT estate”, but rather the whole locality extending to the development and use of innovative applications that involve communities in service design.

SOCITM named four elements that all IT leaders should consider when planning a platform approach: ensuring processes work for users, choosing the right new technologies, attracting and keeping people with the right skills and experience, and making the most of data.

On the last point, the briefing said that "open, accurate and accessible data and information are foundational to the platform for the future".

It said: “Internally, its liberation and study can help to break down organisational silos and help facilitate new organisational and process designs. Externally, transparency and availability can help build closer and tighter linkages between service delivery partners and the communities they serve.”

But, SOCITM said that councils need to ensure they use data and information management practices “that facilitate rather than impede” the other elements of their work.

Where possible, the briefing said, the more open the data is the better, which it said would help encourage the development of innovative apps and services in the wider marketplace – beyond the public services providers.

SOCITM also uses the briefing to promote its call for councils to “simplify, standardise, share” – saying that the aim is to get councils to work across larger regions and think beyond their institutional boundaries.

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