Welcome to iNews

Read about the latest innovations across Kent County Council and beyond.

Find out who we are, how we research, what we do, as well as our award winning project.

Contact us

Tell us about the innovative ideas and projects you're working on! If it's new and exciting and let us know!

Sign up to our updates by email

Tell us what you think here

Stop, Look & Listen

The Team have recently been featured in the December Issue of 'CountyBeacon' which is created by CNN and this month was based on the theme 'Transformation Through Technology'. Below is our article:

Kent County Council making research more collaborative and cost-effective Kent County Council has long been acknowledged as an ‘innovative council’. It has led the way on several fronts including Telecare and Telehealth, the Kent Payment Card, Gateways, Kent TV and a vast range of service specific projects.

In addition to those ground breaking initiatives, the Technology Research and Transformation Team has been looking at how the innovative use of technologies and tools can change the way business is done, support individuals to work smarter and enable knowledge and ideas to be exchanged seamlessly.

This has taken many forms, from the establishment of e-Catalogues to Innovations Fairs through to the development of a public sector ‘mash-up’ service. Our recent focus has been directed towards the deployment of tools that are more collaborative and cost effective. Part of that process has been the establishment of a blog called iNews.

You may be wondering why we are using blogging techniques rather than more traditional mechanisms? Primarily it’s because we recognise that it’s often difficult to find out the latest news and views across a broad topic area. At the moment we are testing out a range of new tools as we want to develop mechanisms for enabling ‘innovation conversations’ with a range of individuals and organisations including officers, Members, partners, private, public, third and FE sectors and the public. Blogging offers an alternative to more traditional ‘broadcast’ mode options as it is immediate, interactive and offers the capability for multiway dialogues.

We want to use emerging technologies to provide a better understanding of key topics as well as establishing a platform for comments, ideas and challenges. From using games to influence behaviours, clubbing for jobs to sharing links on managing knowledge, we feel it’s by sharing stories that we can best convey how innovation can help realise benefits, maintain tangible change and reduce risks.

In addition to sharing what we do, we also use the blog to highlight other projects, reports, conversations, ideas or articles via a free social bookmarking service (http://delicious.com/KCCInnovation). People can opt in to receive a daily digest of research findings, and they can personalise what areas are relevant to them by filtering for specific topics. To maximise participation and help users feel comfortable about using this new way of communicating we provide tips and guidelines on how to blog.

Other ideas we are currently researching and developing include better use of semantic web tools to enable greater engagement, text to speech visual presenters that may potentially save users and staff up to 40% of their time in answering standard questions by an enhanced (and hopefully intuitive) FAQ system, the impact of disruptive technologies on an organisation, opportunities within Web 3.0 and how interactive gaming tools can increase and strengthen community interactions. Clearly there is a lot happening and we welcome readers’ contributions and comments via i-News.

Picture: The Team's logo: Technology, Research and Transformation written in blue text with two arrows creating a circle around the text.

What next?
Subscribe to iNews
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles
Event: Innovating Out of the Recession
The Importance of a Pen and Paper
More information about what we are researching
Stop, Look & ListenSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wallace, Gromit and their Cracking Ideas!

The Cracking Ideas resource was officially launched on June 4th 2007 and was designed to appeal to a new generation of innovative minds.

The resource, in itself a cracking idea – a partnership between Aardman and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), is an educational resource developed for children aged 4 – 16 and is fronted by Aardman’s Oscar® winning characters Wallace and Gromit of enterprise, innovation and inventing fame.

Cracking Ideas consists of two main components: Firstly the Wallace and Gromit Present a World of Cracking Ideas exhibition – a new interactive and family-oriented experience - and secondly the Cracking Ideas website at www.crackingideas.com
Wallace and Gromit take the lead throughout and help the IPO spell out their messages. They help explain for example: What exactly is a Copyright? How can a Patent protect an idea? How do you tell a registered Trade Mark from a copycat version?

The exhibition’s first venue was the Science Museum, London and arrangements are currently being made for the second tour venue.

The accompanying current Cracking Ideas website compliments the exhibition and features interactive games, monthly challenges, a members’ forum for young innovators and lots of useful information presented in a fun and original way with opportunities for educators to link to the National Curriculum.

Visitors to the website and the exhibition are guided through the world of innovation to discover how simple ideas can transform into life changing products and how intellectual property impacts on every aspect of our daily lives. The IPO wants to generate a wider understanding of the need for creativity and encourages visitors to appreciate everyone has cracking ideas.

With the help of Wallace and Gromit the core concepts visitors have the opportunity to learn are:

• Everyone can innovate

• Creativity has value

• Innovators own their ideas

• Ownership should be respected

• Innovation and creativity can be linked to financial reward

• Ideas can be exploited if protected by intellectual property rights

• Innovation is exciting, being creative is fun, being enterprising is exhilarating

Visitors between the ages of 4 and 16 also have the opportunity to participate in the National Cracking Ideas competition. All they have to do is come up with Wallace and Gromit’s next business venture. Following the ‘Top Bun Bakery’ in their latest film ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ participants will be asked to identify Wallace and Gromit’s next successful business and identify how intellectual property can help the innovative duo protect their creativity.

Entry to the competition can be in groups or individually. It’s a great competition to have a go at with the Christmas holidays coming up - It’s good fun, educational and there’s some fantastic prizes to be won.

For more details visit www.crackingideas.com/competition or contact nicola.jenkins@ipo.gov.uk

- A special thank you to Nick Warren, Education and Enterprise Co-ordinator.

Picture: Wallace and Gromit dressed in brown coats with scrolls and a clipboard under their arms. The text on the picture reads: Ideas can be big business. Enter yours into the Cracking Ideas Competition! Time to get cracking!

What next?
Subscribe to iNews
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles

Changing Your Recycling Behaviour
Are you in the Red Zone or the Blue Zone?
Could you be the next Apprentice?
Wallace, Gromit and their Cracking Ideas!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Event: Innovating out of the Recession

The next decade is likely to be one of acute fiscal austerity, in which government will inevitably have to do more for less. In these difficult times, a common approach may be to freeze new developments and put innovations onto the back shelf. However, as the Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell has recently indicated, this is exactly the wrong thing to do – the fiscal pressures are too severe to be sat out using unchanged approaches, for then the pain of real service cuts will only be maximized. The challenges of achieving modern public services are too urgent to make sitting on a cutback status quo a sustainable option. Innovation from inside and outside the public sector will be critical in finding new, more cost effective solutions to existing problems.

The LSE Public Policy Group
(in conjunction with the Institute for Government) is holding a series of seminars looking at the scope for innovation across government. These seminars bring together practitioners from central and local government, academia and other sectors to explore how innovation can drive us to do more with less and be more efficient with what we have. Our speakers have included Sir Richard Mottram, Jim Easton, NHS National Director for Improvement and Efficiency at the Department of Health, Sir Michael Bichard, Irene Lucas, Director General at Communities and Local Government, and a memorable contribution from Peter Gilroy OBE, Chief Executive of Kent County Council (KCC). They have covered innovation in areas such as the Public Services and Public Sector Productivity, Local Government and in the NHS.

Peter Gilroy impressed our audience with KCC’s recent innovations and the savings that have been estimated from these. Telehealth, while initially subject to a great deal of scepticism from local health providers, has saved £1.5million on bed days alone in a year. Kent TV, which is an online showcase for Kent, has saved up to £200,000 on publications, and allows people from outside the region to take a look as what’s going on in Kent. The Kent Card is equally ambitious - it’s a new credit card agreed with RBS that has agreed, pre-loaded, amounts, and this simplifies direct payments extensively. This has already led to an estimated £2million per year in savings. Building from this is the planned ‘Gateway’ Card. It is estimated that 42 cards across the public sector are currently needed to access entitlements; the ‘Gateway’ Card will give access to library, leisure and care services, all in one.

There are many synergies and points of agreement between what Kent has already accomplished and a particular forefront model of where UK and other advanced countries are heading in terms of public management. This model has been summarized in the influential book Digital Era Governance (Oxford University Press, 2008), written by me with Helen Margetts (Oxford) and PPG colleagues. It stresses that for public managers it is now long overdue to move out from the idea of a ‘digital channel’ that supplements older modes of public service provision, and into a ‘digital world’ where increasingly citizens expect to interact (all the time, on everything) with government primarily by digital and digital-plus-other means.

What the idea of ‘digital era governance’ (or DEG) stresses are three themes that are already very clear and evidence in Kent’s extensive innovations and pioneering achievement:

- Reintegration – pulling back together services that have become grievously fragmented in the 1990s and early noughties.

- Needs-based holism – which puts the citizen or the customer first, and builds services around their needs, and not just administrative traditions or convenience. And…

- Digitalization – moving as many services as possible online, in ways that citizens can directly access and control themselves (a kind of ‘do-it-yourself-wherever–possible’ form of government.

Our forthcoming programme of seminars will continue our comprehensive look at innovation. In January, in our seminar New Strategies in Human Resources; we will look at how we can move towards a public sector with fewer but better staff, especially in the context of digitalization. Our other topics in 2010 will include Rethinking IT and shared services procurement, Innovating through Public Sector Information, Innovating out of Digital Exclusion and Innovating through Learning and Knowledge Transfer.

We’d welcome other Kent staff and citizens to these sessions, and to keep an eye on our website for further updates please go to - http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSEPublicPolicy/EventsandSeminars.htm

If you would like further information please contact Chris Gilson at c.h.gilson@lse.ac.uk

To learn more about Digital era governance

- A special thank you to Patrick Dunleavy (London School of Economics) for the blog post.
Picture: A green arrow with coins on it striking the ground with a man running in front of it with a lightbulb above his head and paint brushes in his hand, with thanks to colinwhite for publishing on Flickr under the Creative Comms license.

Event: Innovating out of the RecessionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Innovate to Save 09

Come and join us on the 17th December at Sessions Lecture Theatre (Maidstone) and see how people have used innovative tools that could save you money and time. If you wish to tweet at this event, the hashtag is #innovatetosave.


09.00-09.45 Registration & Refreshments - Networking

09.45-10.00 Introduction to the day

Alex King MBE, Deputy Leader, Kent County Council.

In a time of economic difficulties, it is important for all of us to weigh up the risks and rewards of innovating and its potential to transform. Alex will be discussing the need to invest in innovation and how it fits into the bigger picture for both Kent as well as KCC’s future.

Finding the needle in the haystack

10.00-10.20 X Factor or Why Not Factor? Turning ideas into innovations

with Dr. Alan Kennedy, Innovation Manager at NHS Innovations South East

Everyday, thousands of people have lots of great ideas. NHS Innovations South East (NISE) provides a service to NHS staff in the region to help them convert their ideas into reality (you could say like Dragon’s Den). Alan Kennedy will be sharing the secrets of NHS success and how this approach can be adopted more widely.

10.20-10.45 Aggravation or Collaboration? Developing innovations between agencies

with Damien Kennedy, PM for the Key Innovation Programme, the National Pan Government Knowledge and Procurement System.

You may have an idea or a problem you need to solve in your area of work. Have you considered if other councils and public sector agencies are doing something similar? But supposing if someone else had already done all the hard work and solved it or had tried and failed? How could you find this vital information? Damien Kennedy will discuss how ‘The Key’ will pilot ways for the public sector to share and develop ideas, from showcasing to procuring the solution you're looking for.

10.45-11.30 50:50 or Call a Friend? A problem shared is a problem solved

with Tim Milner, Knowledge Manager at IDeA Knowledge Team

Collectively councils have the information and skills to support ongoing improvements across the local government sector. Knowledge management helps staff tap into this resource and gives them the tools to improve the way they capture, share and use the knowledge. It also reveals what works and helps people build on experience to ensure better practices and policies are established. Tim Milner will be discussing specific techniques and the process of adopting these within daily working life.

11.30-11.45 Break

11.45-12.15 Empowered communities fighting decay? The unlikely role of the web in regenerating local areas.

with Will Perrin, Founder of Talk About Local and former technology policy advisor to the Prime Minister.

‘Talk About Local’ is a project to give people a powerful online voice. The team behind the project want to help individuals communicate and campaign more effectively to influence events in the places in which they live, work or play. William Perrin, the founder of Talk About Local will be giving a presentation on how it is working to get these voices heard.

12.15-12.45 Social Media for improved internal communications

with Hollie Snelson, Internal Communications Manager at Kent Communications & Media Centre

Spotted an interesting team you would like to learn more about but don’t want to leave the comfort of your office? Got a question and don't know who to contact or want to shout out about what you are working on? Have no fear as Hollie is here to discuss how you could be using Yammer like 400 other KCC workers to break down the directorate barriers and share knowledge. She will also highlight some other tools which could further improve internal communication in the future.

12.45-13.00 Break & Mince Pies!

The best things in life are free

13.00-13.15 Here comes everybody? Using technological innovation in a recession

with Noel Hatch, Projects & Research Lead

Transformation in society doesn’t happen when it adopts new tools. It happens when it adopts new behaviours. Thanks to digital technologies more people are creating content, sharing resources, and collaborating online in ways that weren’t possible before. Maybe it's time to look at different ways we can use digital technologies to mobilise untapped resources, like people's creativity, energy and innovation.

13.15–13.45 Do you get the picture? Simplifying complex information.

with Andy Collett, IBM.

‘Many Eyes’ is a web site where people can create and upload their data in a variety of ways. It allows users to undertake online conversations about their information. Andy Collett will demonstrate how to navigate around the free online programme, and the many different settings that can be applied within it.

13.45–14.15 The power of social networks: Social Network Analysis and Collaborative Software.

with Dr. Norman Lewis, Open-Knowledge UK.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) identifies the threads of influence and trust that flow through and between social networks and communities and the individuals that hold pivotal positions within these networks – from spreading information to influencing decisions that their peers make. Dr. Norman Lewis will discuss how this approach has been used in other organisations.

14.15-15.00 The "Why Don't You" Web? Using online tools to help each other in the real world

with Dougald Hine, Co-Founder and Director of School of Everything and Signpostr

Until recently the internet was largely about replacing real world activities with virtual ones: why go out to the shops, the bank or the library when you can do it from your desktop? Increasingly, however, people are using online tools to organise face-to-face interactions. Drawing on his experience as co-founder of School of Everything and Signpostr, Dougald Hine will talk about how we can use the web to help people help each other in the real world.

15.00-15.30 Wind down – Time for informal Q&A with presenters, networking, a mince pie and the raffle draw.


At the time of going to press this programme was deemed correct, however, alterations may occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Please also note that the views expressed by the speakers and featured in their presentations are not necessarily those held by Kent County Council.


Thursday, December 17, 2009 from 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM (PT)

Add to my calendar Add to my calendar
County Hall
Lecture Theatre (Sessions House)
County Road
Maidstone, ME14 1XQ
United Kingdom

Via Michelin | Google


What next?

Subscribe to iNews
• Check out our Twitter
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles

Are You Experienced?
Who said all pop-ups need to be blocked?
All consuming Google?
Innovate to Save 09SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Changing YOUR Recycling Behaviour

The Technology, Research and Transformation Team are currently working with a University of Greenwich gaming student on his final year project which he wishes to share with you in the following post:

'Hi, my name is Kel Ezekwe and I am a final year student studying Games and Multimedia Technologies at Greenwich University. For my final year project I am looking to design and build a game that promotes recycling and informs the player of the benefits it brings to both the environment and the earth’s resources. Kent County Council are interested in my project and will liaise with me throughout to see if they themselves might be able to use it at the end of its development.

Presently games that promote the use of recycling are very basic, using 2D graphics and are mostly aimed at kids, this product will attempt to be a bit more complex in terms of using 3D graphics to hopefully give the game a wider appeal to adults yet still being attractive to children. This game I will develop will be an easy game to play as it will be aimed for everyone, with no specific target group directed for it.

Even though the game will be basic it will not be played through a story book format as it would give off the impression of it being more a kid’s game instead of a game aimed at both adults and kids.

The Source game engine (from Half Life 2) will be used for this game as it is an engine I know quite well, plus it is very good when it comes to dealing with character interaction which I am hoping feature in this game at some point.

Finally my project should be finished sometime in February latest to allow testing and final additions to the game.'

- A special thank you to Kel Ezekwe for the blog post.

Picture: A black recycling box for bottles and cans on a lawn surrounded by crushed multicoloured cans, with thanks to Kingdesmond1337 for publishing on Flickr under a Creative Commons license some rights reserved.

What next?
Subscribe to iNews
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles
Having trouble finding a video?
Gaming and Behaviour
The Year is 2020: The Future Agenda Programme
Changing YOUR Recycling BehaviourSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Knowledge Management: The Importance of Pen and Paper

Tim Milner will be speaking at our 'Innovate To Save' event on the 17th December. To view the agenda and sign up, please visit our Eventbrite page. He has kindly written a blog post about his view of Knowledge Management...

This may well be the most luddite post on Kent's innovation pages, but I would like to highlight the importance of a piece of paper.

Networks have always been an important part of working life, whether you're a milkman or the Prime Minister - our netorks are essentially the map of our working life so far: our contacts, our projects, events we've attended...

These networks have arguably become even more important now, where a lot of the work we are all doing is with people we've never even met, nor are likely to ever meet. Whether it's someone you only know online, or someone you see once a month over a fuzzy conferencing screen, or hear over the phone - these are important contacts, and the future of a lot of the work you will do in your life.

My work as a member of the IDeA KM Strategy team involves helping teams join up and communicate better with each other; retain and disseminate their knowledge; and work to understand and realise the potential of networking. That includes finding ways that staff can solve problems online. The results of this have been the development of the communities of practice platform, and an online Peer Assist tool, as well as the use of applications such as Yammer. It is important to realise that all of this work is intrinsically and unavoidably linked to having an awareness of the myriad relationships we are all involved in. And the only way to keep up with these is to start work immediately on creating a relationship map!

Relationship mapping provides an overview of the relationships a knowledge holder (you) has with key contacts in the organisation. It's a perfectly simple thing to start, and the more you tend to it on a contact-by-contact basis, the less time it takes to maintain. Like an oak tree growing out of an acorn (main tip is: make sure that piece of paper is big!), it starts with your name in the centre, and branches out from there - the key comes in the way you define these relationships: direction of contact, frequency of contact, difficult relationships, internal and external, and, potentially most revealing of all, where the links lie between different contacts - that's not how you relate to contact A and B, but how contact A relates to contact B. This process feeds into many of our different knowledge management tools, including playing an essential role in our knowledge retention tool.

There are many ways to keep track of these relationships - lots of fancy software and complicated mapping techniques, and, of course, online social networks help do this for you - but where your relationships are spread across different networks - online and offline - I favour simply picking up a pen and a piece of paper. An old fashioned, but extremely fruitful and accessible way to track your contacts and projects across your working life.

- A special thank you to Tim Milner, Knowledge Manager of the IDeA Knowledge Team.

Picture: A relationship map, similar to a spider diagram, showing how one person is connected to another on a large sheet of paper.

What next?

Subscribe to iNews
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles

Getting Young People Skilled Up
Local 2.0 - For All You Hyperlocal People
Top 5 Knowledge Management Links
Knowledge Management: The Importance of Pen and PaperSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Having trouble finding a video?

Video is the most popular media format and with all the footage available it becomes increasingly difficult to find an efficient way to search through it.

vidipedia started life as a DTI sponsored Research & Development project investigating human indexing of video archives. enigma was appointed project lead and worked with project partners; ITV, Imperial War Museum, British Film Institute, Codeworks Connect, C.C. Harvey and the Universities of Newcastle and Sunderland, to find a way to improve video content searching.
The amount of footage viewed and produced is dramatically rising; viewing figures continue to increase, more viewing platforms become available and production costs shrink. According to Nielsen, the average American now spends 5 hours watching TV/DVR footage per day, the UK is fast approaching this. If you add online video content to this, the popularity of video is undeniable. Approximately 20 hours of video footage is currently uploaded to YouTube every minute. When you take into account archive collections and out-take footage, that’s a lot of video content!

Much of this content has real value, whether it is of cultural importance, expensive to replicate or irreplaceable coverage of one-off events. Hundreds of thousands of hours of unique archive footage held on original film and tape is slowly degrading, to be lost forever if it is not digitised. The problem is that no-one can find an economic case to digitise it. We investigated whether we could unlock the value held in all of this video by making it more searchable.

Current video search systems can be quite crude. Essentially, video searching mirrors image archive search techniques; each video is associated with some human entered text data, which is then searched upon. A fundamental issue with this is that video varies in length, from short clips to entire reels, and classifying using a universal set of data doesn’t provide enough detail necessary to deem searching useful for uncovering value within lengthy or mixed content footage.

We needed to produce a system which supported indexing to a highly detailed level; down to the scene or even frame. It also needed to prove cost effective to footage owners.

We developed vidipedia as a unique suite of software which combines to deliver all the processes required to upload, annotate, manage, distribute and deliver video material in a form that is much more searchable.

Video is stored centrally; multiple archives can store footage on a centralised system. Core functionality is delivered via secure web-services and interfacing with remotely hosted web applications. Complex data can be stored about specific time segments (clips) in footage. Footage can be annotated by users to provide indexed data on; personal experience, feelings, sounds, emotions, visual – with the added bonus that in the future, this could be used to produce “living histories” for archives. Users can search on this data to find specific clips within any footage.
Keeping human annotation at the heart of the process allowed us to obtain good quality data. We implemented systems that would follow the model of Wikipedia; supporting altruistic annotation, as well as revenue sharing for commercial services; users annotate the material in return for a share of future viewing or licensing royalties.

Main Benefits:

• significantly improves quality of video search results
• data tagging /aggregation to scene and frame level
• removes up-front costs of annotating video
• provides economic case for digitising archive video
• makes video FINDABLE
• makes video VALUABLE

A wide variety of different video based applications can benefit from the improved searchability that vidipedia offers; video search engines, public access portals, asset management systems, online broadcast platforms. To effectively service all application types, vidipedia is not a single "product".

We developed a system that is a whole series of flexible software components that can be configured to support specific needs of different video based applications. It's best to think of vidipedia as an "enabler." Its power is in its flexibility, therefore the opportunities to commercialise it are great and varied.

Our plans for the future are to find an application for vidipedia that would greatly benefit from the way it makes digitised video findable and therefore unlocks its value.

The model provides an extremely adaptable and non-prescriptive solution and enables vidipedia to service any application that can benefit from its video handling capabilities. We look forward to developing it with someone to suit their needs and to unlock the potential of vidipedia.

- A special thank you to Zoe Hartill for the blog pose. For more details please e-mail her at zoeh@enigma-interactive.co.uk, or visit their website: www.enigma-interactive.co.uk and view their portfolio.

Picture: A screenshot of 'Vidipedia'. A video is being shown at the top with links to other videos below.

What next?

Subscribe to iNews
E-mail us your ideas/thoughts
More Articles

Getting Young People Skilled Up
Mixcloud: The Youtube of Radio
Lets face the music and...?
Having trouble finding a video?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend