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Want to be a Creative, Innovative Manager?

Do you want to be a creative, innovative manager who makes positive change, through inspirational leadership?

Of course you do.

Kent County Council's Learning and Development (L&D) team are designing som
ething to help you achive this. It's called the Accredited Manager Programme and it can help you gain the knowledge, skills and attitude that every great KCC manager should possess.

This will be an exciting programme for those wanting a stepping stone to excellence. You will find that your competence and confidence will soar whilst your outputs become of a consistenly high quality. Not only will you notice the benefits, but as an Accredited Manager recognised by Edexcell, others will recognise your achivements too.

The programme is currently being polished ready for launch, so while it's under development keep updated with L&D's extramails or contact James Pope (james.pope@kent.gov.uk) for more information.

The Background

The idea behind the KCC Accredited Manager Programme was started by the question :
“How do we know that our managers are consistently excellent?”.
The answer to that question was answered “by living the core values of KCC - Putting Kent First”.

A team of Directorate representatives lead by the Corporate Learning & Development Team, are using the organisation’s 9 core values as the foundation to shape and develop the programme with input from Edexcel and Managers across the organisation.

Watch this space for further developments....

- James Pope, Learning and Development

(image: A manager at their desk, with thanks to Minifig from Flickr for photo published under Creative Commons some rights reserved)
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Imagine you are Profoundly Deaf...

Imagine that you are profoundly Deaf: English is not your first language, you do not lip read and you may have a reading age of around 8 years. Now imagine how you would get advice about benefits, register a birth or death, access housing information or gain other information and advice about public services. This might sound difficult, especially when you are told to wait 2-6 weeks for an interpreter.

SignVideo by Significant, a Social Enterprise run by sign language users, uses the latest videophone technology to provide remote translation. This addresses the shortage of translators and provides a valuable service in Thanet and Maidstone Gateways.

Those requiring the service wait just minutes to be privately seen by trained Gateway staff. The videophone uses a remote interpreter to translate speech into British Sign Language and vica versa, eliminating the requirement of a translator on site. Time and money is saved and most importantly disability equality is promoted under the requirements of the 2003 Disability Discrimination Act. In Thanet a group of local Deaf people are working to increase awareness of this pioneering technology and explore the potential of it.

Kent County Council uses British Sign Language clips on its website to translate information on Sensory Services and the Kent Graduate Programme, amongst others. The potential of these videos is huge; they can be distributed on CDs or spread virally as an mp4 on mobile phones. These clips can be generated by as little as £150, a small price to pay for accessibility.

Please contact Jo Frazer jo.frazer@kent.gov.uk or Glyn Pallister glyn.pallister@kent.gov.uk to express an interest.

- Claire Matthews
- With special thanks to Jo Frazer - ASD

(image: A sign language interpreter, with thanks to Scott Ableman from Flickr for photo published under Creative Commons some rights reserved)
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This is Not a Game

It seems there's a perfect storm going on public services and to be fair this storm has been brewing for a while.

As citizens, we often make contradictory demands to the reality we live in - we're getting older and older and yet we want to do the things we could do when we were young, we're getting richer than our predecessors and yet there's greater inequality, we want our institutions to be more transparent and our own privacy to be more protected.

Of course, this is human nature, but these growing contradictory demands mixed in with the impact of the recession are more likely to disrupt the way we work than what we are used to. As public services, we know that taking good ideas through the current processes and structures we work in are less likely to create genuine change, because those systems were designed for a different era.

Rather than spell out the "game changing" vision that we need to tackle these tensions, the
Social by Social game played at Reboot Britain reminded me that maybe games themselves have a role to play. I want to continue the conversation started by various people and spread into local government about the opportunities of gaming - today, I can start off with the big question - why?

To get the ball rolling, this is what we've found so far - gaming can help you simulate real life to train people,
influence behaviours and improve self help.

Thanks to Joelle Butler for the picture of her amazing game, This Is Not A Game.

Simulating real life to train people

Training needs to be far more related to real life scenarios, so that people can anticipate and prepare for working in new ways.

However for anticipating crises, you can’t just base scenarios on real life, you need to take a leap into the future.
Either way, it’s crucial to involve people who have experienced the scenario to advise you on how design these into gaming.

In terms of preventing everyday crises, combining role playing by actors with simulation hardware may also be necessary. Videoing the simulation or game playing can provide crucial content for feeding back, debriefing and case conferencing. It puts learners on the spot in a safe environment. You can use a simulation lab as a living lab too to involve users.

It can be difficult to know the difference between a “worst case scenario” and a “crisis scenario”, especially if for the latter you may need to involve external stakeholders (like police, health, etc). If you don’t engage them, the game won’t reflect reality and if you do and it’s not a crisis, then you’ve made the game more complicated than it needs to be!

Why not mind map what constitutes a crisis in your area and if you need to develop a game specifically for that, rather or as well as a game using common scenarios?

Influencing behaviours

You need to develop games in ways that give people a better understanding of what your team does and what your customers can do to change the community and their behaviour - helping their friends and enabling them to compete against each other.

Given that gaming puts into perspective the wider choices that may not be so visible to us in our daily lives, it is important that it gets people to think the game matters to them in real life.

For example,
Akoha enables people to earn points while playing real world missions with friends, while Climate Culture gives points for people who help their friends take up greener lifestyles and challenges colleges to compete against each other in carbon reduction contests.

Adapting the technique from the game “
1 vs 1000” could be adapted so that the councillor (1) polls, asks or trusts their local constituents (100) as part of a remote council meeting. Norwich Union used gaming by giving players the option of becoming a government minister and having to decide how to divert rivers and change planning to protect neighbourhoods from flooding. The HOUSE campaign adopts social marketing concepts which use a range of activities (e.g. dance machines) interactive systems (such as the Wii) and knife-crime games.

These examples show that you need to get people to think the game matters to them in real life and think of the game as making what people may find mundane (i.e. volunteering) more fun. In fact, the process of playing not only encourages people’s creativity and confidence skills, it also puts into perspective the wider choices that may not be so visible to us in our daily lives.

It’s much easier making decisions about what you’d do you an ideal world than what you’ll actually change about your behaviour once you finish the game. So why not give people tasks in the game that ask them to make real changes both within and outside of the game?

Improving self help

By using gaming to improve support for people in need, you can help them plan, act and reconceptualise self help.

For example, Re-Mission, a game for young people with cancer and Routes to explore your genetics potentially play a similar role as Netmums does for digital engagement. World of Warcraft encourages natural mentoring between veterans and newcomers.

In this area, actors are used to either illustrate types of behaviours to gaming developers when designing the technology or to allow attendees to practice their intervention skills when using the online game in a live environment. The technology in this context would need to be customisable to changing circumstances.

Bringing in actors to work with game developers to design the behaviours can be costly and time consuming if the game needs modifying. So why not spend time working out which behaviours you really need actors to illustrate and which you can illustrate yourself to the developer?

Looking at self help for staff, such as when they require updating their knowledge with regards to the new duties they may have, you need the game to bring the perception and emotional connection between the learner and the environment they are confronted with.

Technology doesn’t easily create emotional connections with people. So why not use video embedded within the game which can show people’s emotions?

Market key messages virally

By letting different aspects of the game unfold gradually, you can make it go viral.

For example, uncovering different types of information for an event or mission gives people the incentive to want to keep playing until they can piece everything together. The power of completing a set of actions and visualising this through leaderboards is a very successful marketing tool in gaming. However, you do also need to let scenarios run instantly and interactively, not just describe the scenario.

Developing different levels for a game requires specialist skills and software – known as “level design”. So why not focus on scripting the instructions and steps of the game with the people that are going to benefit from it (either staff or the public) before commissioning a games developer?

PS. Do you use the SMOG readability test? This article has a readability of 14 so you'll only get what I'm saying if you've at least been at college or read the New York Times...apparently.

Have you used or developed games yourself? How have you used them and for why? What have I missed out?

Noel Hatch

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Data Mash-ups: Helping Granny and More

The Pic & Mix Project - What is it?

Pic & Mix is a project to help anybody re-use publicly available electronic data. This becomes particularly interesting if the data can be re-used in a way perhaps not first intended or thought of. Organisations and local authorities are large organisations that hold all manner of electronic data which is routinely published for public use. The problem Pic & Mix is trying to solve, is that the data -say a School Governors report is usually done in a nice glitzy PDF file – which looks lovely but is only usable in that format.

Wouldn’t it be better to release the information in way that can be fed into a database? This way the data can be picked apart, then recombined with other data to get a different report. Mixing data together to produce something new is known as creating a mashup. This can be much more useful to the person seeking or mashing up the data. All of this can be done through an Internet browser, using any device that supports Internet access, at any time.

How could it be useful to me?

Ok for example, let’s assume I need to put Granny into a care home. Someone had uploaded the following data for care homes in Kent:

• Locations
• Manager details
• Any specialist care facilities

Someone else has also uploaded:

• The local bus time tables
• Bus routes for Kent.

I then take:
The care home data + the bus information + a map.
(mix the data together) = local care homes and their specialisms conveniently displayed on a map.
I also have contact details for all the managers and the bus service route to the home. It couldn't be easier to find the right place for Granny! If I was feeling generous I could publish this new data mashup for others to use.

When will it be ready to use?

Well Pic & Mix does exist. The technology has been set-up and is in place. A selection of useful information is currently being uploaded onto the system. The system will be used by a small pilot group of users to help us iron out the wrinkles, and then we can let an increasingly number of users have access to the system. Initially there will not be much data, but over time and as more people use it, more data will be available.

Watch this space for further instalments on the Pic & Mix story! What are you doing to make your data more useful? Comment or get in touch.

-Glyn Davies
-Edited by Claire Matthews

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Innovation in Highways

It will soon be easier to report street faults thanks to a new online portal. My Highways Online will allow parish representatives and members to pinpoint the location of a problem, sending the co-ordinates and details of the fault to the Kent Highways Customer Service System Customers will then receive a reference number and commitment date so they can log in online to view the latest status of the reported problem. The whole process will increase efficiency with faults resolved faster and overheads reduced.

This system adopts an open and honest approach which will not only increase customer trust and satisfaction, but also put pressure on Highways to provide a first class service. Highways expects the service to be fully interactive by the end of this month and are looking to make it publicly available on the Kent.gov website by the end of this year.

Fixmystreet.com is a similar idea, run by My Society. Similarly it allows users to locate problems on a map but also to upload a picture of the problem, which is then displayed on the website. My Highways currently does not support this feature but it is hoped that users will be able to do this in future. Marcus Hobbs from Highways told me that 'aim is to integrate this (fixmystreet.com) and similar sites in time.. and provide automatic updates to them'. In addition, displaying previous problems and how they were resolved would be an excellent extension to the open and honest approach Highways are planning to adopt.

That’s not all Highways are doing to increase efficiency. Kent County Council and Parishes have access to Kent View a detailed map, which now shows Highways asset information. Users can view, at street level, the location of drainage, street lights, trees and traffic systems. There are plans to add information about reported faults, which will make identification of problems much faster.

Street level photos of A, B and C roads are available which allows remote monitoring and assessment of deterioration. There are plans to invest in a scanner vehicle to create a 360 degree view of streets, similar to Google’s street view. The pictures will be taken twice a year at a high resolution to enable desktop inspections, for example if a sign is damaged Highways can look at pictures to re-order rather than visiting the site. This avoids unnecessarily sending out crews, saving money.

What are you doing that’s innovative? Contact us now.

-C Matthews
-With special thanks to Marcus Hobbs from Environment and Regeneration

(image: screenshot of fixmystreet.com with an image of a reported fault)

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Using Mosaic to Personalise Campaigns

Kent County Council’s Countryside Access Service is using Mosaic, a customer profiling software, to promote healthier lifestyles. The NHS is funding the initiative to get people living in deprived areas of East Kent exercising, by using natural features on their doorstep. By encouraging a healthier lifestyle the NHS will save money by prevention rather than cure.

Mosaic was initially used to better understand the 3000 subscribers to Explore Kent. Now it is being used to target new customers. Detailed information from Mosaic, for example receptiveness to different types of media, will be used to personally target groups in the most relevant way. Mosaic shows that people living in deprived areas may respond better to flyers and leaflets rather than magazines.

The success of initiatives may be greatly influenced by using this kind of technique in the future. There is huge potential for Mosaic to increase efficiency and benefits in other areas by personalising KCC’s approach.

-C Matthews
- With thanks to Rebecca Hoffman, Senior Projects Officer, Countryside Access Service.
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Look What We Found Online.. Top 5 Websites.

We now use Delicious, on online book-marking tool, to share useful websites. The trouble is most people keep their bookmarks private and so often really great websites won’t be shared. Some of my colleagues have great online resources that I can now view through our Delicious Team account.

Bookmarks are tagged so that they can be easily searched for relevance. For example, if I find a website with open ware courses it could be tagged under 'learning' and found by The Learning and Development Team (L&D). Delicious lets you make up your own categories to group tags in, so in theory a department name like L&D could become a category with relevant tags like ‘learning’ and ‘training’ grouped under it.

Our top 5 bookmarks for July:


Tags: skills sharing, knowledge management

Horsemouth is an online mentoring service for just about any issue. We all have valuable life experiences and knowledge which Horsemouth helps us share in a safe and convenient way. The Horsemouth website describes itself as:

“The social network for informal mentoring, where everyone can give and gain. You can search for a mentor, be a mentor, or simply browse the inspirational profiles and stories on the site. It's safe and it's free.”
Mentors specialise in anything from:
Starting a business, Bullying, Love/Life, Divorce, Anger Management, Confidence, M.E, Abuse, Duke of Edinburgh, Bereavement, Debt, Self-Harm, fashion, OCD, to Poetry.
The above is just a selection from Kent based mentors. There are currently over 6200 mentors on Horsemouth with a large selection of young mentors. It only takes seconds to sign up so it’s well worth taking the time to share or learn something new!

The Point

Tags: web 2.0, campaigns, community collaboration

The Point is an excellent resource for organising events, petitioning and raising money. It acts as a tool for bringing individuals together to achieve things that they can’t do alone.

The Point website says:

‘The Point offers a new approach to leveraging the influence of groups and making things happen’... by using the collective power of individuals.
Although the website mostly features American campaigns, it’s a fantastic concept that could be applied to Kent. Pledge Bank is a similar website but for the U.K. It would be great to see some Kent action on there! The added bonus of Pledge Bank is that users can pledge action not necessarily cash, i.e. ‘ill do it but only if you help’. Successful campaigns include ‘donate books : build a libray India for the Bakul Foundation’ which finished with over 1000 people signed.

Net mums

Tags: skills sharing, hyperlocal

Net Mums is a rapidly growing support website for parents. This site not only features a section for Kent, but divides this into East and West Kent. Local mums can get support on anything from where to find playgroups to advice on meeting other mothers.

The Heart of the City: Rubbish

Tags: personalisation, campaigns

This site illustrates an innovative litter campaign using bus shelters. Everyday the rubbish dropped around a bus shelter was placed inside its bill board. The advertisement acted as a personal shaming for the users of the shelter. Research shows that the public normally respond better to campaigns which are personal or where good actions are highlighted to shame others into acting. Perhaps the next step would be to include a tagline which asks users to compare their levels of litter with the next nearest bus shelter?

Nearby Tweets:

Tags: Hyperlocal, web 2.0

It’s important to know what people are saying about you, especially local people. Nearby Tweets lets you enter keywords to bring up all mention of them within a certain area. This will help business and service providers follow up on feedback and better understand the local market. Other uses could include researching the level of concerns over particular issues, for example Swine Flu.

Found an innovative website? Then drop us a comment below.

-C Matthews

( Top image: pledge form from Pledge Bank, bottom image: photo of bus shelter's bill board with collected litter. With thanks to the corresponding websites for the screenshots.)
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