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CityCamp London

 CityCamp London

This October the CityCamp movement launched its first UK event in the vibrant city of London, where participants gathered in their masses to the three day unconference to discuss how technology and innovation can make the capital a better city to live in. While the whole event was split into three highly stimulating and interactive days of presentations and conversations, this blog reviews the first day, Friday 8th October, which included a mixture of diverse speakers and a sofa interview, which together produced an interesting and thought-provoking afternoon.

The event was attended by people from various sectors, including representatives from small companies such as Learning Pool and LinkedGov; big companies such as IBM, Accenture, Microsoft and Google; local government officials including Leo Boland, and designers, citizens and journalists. Together the speakers and audience discussed a broad spectrum of topics including the impact of government transparency and local governance using the web, the benefits of open/ linked data, social/participatory media, and mobile devices, and the impact of technology on urban cities.

The event opened with Leo Boland, the Chief executive of Greater London Authority, who spoke about the benefits of technology and the municipal challenges we are currently facing. He explored the concept of ‘the good city’, drawing on Ash Amin’s work, who defined technology as the “life-support system of cities, which without, our urban life would end as we know it.” He continued by asserting how the current government is committed to involving and engaging  with citizens. He ended stating that Technology helps generate ideas, changes how we look at the cities and generally makes cities better places to live in. 

He was next followed by John Tolva, Director of Citizenship & Technology of IBM, who gave us a fantastic presentation on the lessons we can learn from Unmaking Urban Mistakes by looking at system design and the networked city. Tolva’s chief argument focused on data  asserting, informed communities are stronger and more adept at asking the tough questions needed to resolve urban issues. The third key speaker, Matt Jones from Berg then talked about, ‘Vertigo: Standing on top of the 21st century in one of the world’s biggest cities’. He proposed technology allows us to see the details as well as the whole system, so we have a better understanding of what’s happening around us.

After a short break, the unconference continued with RSA’s Matthew Taylor leading a sofa Question and Answers sessions, where Councillor Steve Reed (Labour), Councillor Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at London Assembly, and Councillor Paul Osborn from Harrow Council (Conservative) were all interviewed by members of the audience on how technology has transformed the way they work and accessibility issues.

During the interview, they talked about how new quicker means of communication, such as email have affected their profession, revealing in some cases  that public officials have to to build barriers to filter the public’s emails as they find it overwhelming. This did seem slightly worrying considering they are the people we vote in to represent us and listen to our concerns regarding local issues.

The unconference closed with five Lightening talks which all centred on ‘Making change happen.’ Especially interesting was Nathalie McDermott’s presentation on ‘Inclusive Culture’ where she described her work with disengaged groups, including providing a radio station for the benefit of prison inmates and a "SavvyChavvy" website for the gypsy traveller community. Likewise, the presentation by Emer Coleman and Chris Taggart on Open Culture ended the event nicely, by once again highlighting the benefits and importance of Open data, giving the audience a lot to think about.

Overall I found CityCamp London brilliant, and what made it most inspiring and refreshing was the incredible amount of energy and desire to improve things from all parties involved, including the organisers, speakers and the audience.

On a final note, a special mention must be made to the event’s organizers, Dominic Campbell, Futuregov and all others involved who did a fantastic job and deserve a massive pat on the back for all their efforts!

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People, places and projects is what's interesting about social affairs and in 15 years of writing for national newspapers and magazines, latterly for the Guardian's Society section, writing about 'what works' is the part of my job that I really enjoy.

I launched The Social Issue to focus on individuals, communities and organisations that make a difference; The Social Issue isn't just a platform for opinions but will inform and spark discussion. Given the spending cuts, there's even more reason to share solutions in a jargon-free, accessible way.

By hosting guest posts from members of the public as well as from frontline practitioners, senior managers and experts, The Social Issue will be able to add a little something extra to the vast amount of great information already available online.

Thanks to Saba Salman.

If you have any articles you would like to write about on innovation in public services please contact us on Innovation@kent.gov.uk

- A special thank you to Saba Salman for the picture above taken from the Social Issue.com.

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The global financial crisis was a shock to the system. It changed the landscape of public services for a generation. Local public services across the country are looking ahead to a period of severe financial constraint and the public sector is facing between five and ten years of severe spending restrictions.

Society is not the same thing as the state, but the state provides the building blocks for an inclusive and equal society in which everyone can flourish. The Big Society and Your Freedom should therefore not involve the dismantling of the state, but rather help recreate a public sphere in which all citizens are better able to engage with the state and with each other. Without this approach, we could end up with a very small society that ignores the people we should be striving to enable and protect.

From as early as 2009, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have began to endorse the shift from centralised to decentralised government and affirm the significance of innovation to recovery and public service. Our last government published a series of reports calling for innovation rather than just improvement in public service reform. It laid out the role for central government as one of responding to and facilitating innovation through a smaller and more strategic state, and suggested that innovation will follow from devolving power to users and localities.

Few would argue with this approach; the question is how to a) reverse the trend towards increased centralisation, and b) build the capacity to make such a shift viable. This is significant particularly in the context of predicted public sector cuts and a widespread assumption that Government is responsible and therefore accountable for local service failures.

While technology-based innovation can be introduced from the top down, social innovation involves creativity and consequently is not something you can dictate. For instance, innovative solutions that involve co-design cannot be squeezed through conventional processes. They only work when people want to work together and are motivated to get involved.

Each place is unique, whether a village, town or city and one of the most common things people share is where they live.

Citizen Power is a collaboration between the citizens of Peterborough, The RSA, Arts Council East and Peterborough Council to explore new ways of making the city a better place to live.

The Peterborough Citizen Power report highlights the growing strength amongst place-based schemes and provides evidence of how a connection to one’s local area and community can provide the motivation for a more creative approach to innovation.

The RSA’s Citizen Power work in Peterborough is essentially a scheme to develop a range of methods for making mass involvement in civic life happen. 

Right now, within the Citizen Power programme of work, Peterborough are embarking on a Civic Commons project that aims to provide an opportunity for citizens to build knowledge and confidence in a range of themes and to understand different perspectives on local and national challenges.

The Civic Health project is about developing a tool that can be used to both measure as well as develop the capacity people have to shape the communities they live in. The tool will collect information that local authorities can use to understand how much ability people have to shape their local area and how they may better focus their efforts. It will bring together knowledge about local organisations, support groups, community leaders and funding opportunities into a 'civic directory' that the community can draw upon and use in the future. But more than just using the tool to understand the 'civic health' and vibrancy of a particular neighbourhood or place, it should also be used to encourage and enable people to participate in their community.

Through a mixture of surveys and individual case-studies, the tool should be able to paint a clearer picture of the skills and qualities people need in order to get involved in their communities. This information can be used by local bodies to understand which areas or groups of people are most in need of assistance and where to better focus their efforts. But more importantly, the tool can be used by local community groups themselves and the results played back so that people can reflect on their own skills, opportunities and behaviours.

The tool will also be designed so that it can collect not just information on behaviours and skills but also information about local organisations, community leaders, people who wish to be more actively engaged, and funding opportunities into a local 'civic directory'. The directory will be easily accessible and everybody in a particular area can tap into to it. This would allow it to really bring out the hidden opportunities and assets that everyone has and then link them with other people who may want to join up, get help or collaborate with one another - connecting the dots, which I personally think is a great feature.

The first pilot of the tool will be trialled with recovering drug users involved in the Recovery Capital project. At a time when power is being handed back to the people, we can't assume that everybody has the ability to take advantage of these opportunities, especially the most vulnerable. So looking at the ability of people recovering from substance misuse and how they can be involved in the community, how they might access and shape the recovery services they use, their emotional well-being and a whole host of other areas will be key.

An immediate benefit of this scheme is that it allows Government to become more sensitive to the difference between communities, as place based innovation is different in each location, and centrally designed frameworks need to be tailored to meet those unique conditions.

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"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." Franklin D. Roosevelt, governor of New York, (1933).

When you think of the word innovation what springs to mind? Gadgets? Science? Technology? In fact these days innovation is something which affects our every day lives. Whether it's using a social media website on your phone or taking the latest medication to cure some horrible bug, innovation will have affected your life in one form or another. 

Likewise if I asked which would you associate more with innovation; public or private sector I expect most of you would reply private. And you’d be right! In fact studies show, in the private sector, innovation accounts for a staggering 85 percent of their economic growth. 

This said, innovation is needed just as much in the public sector. In fact, since the credit crunch crisis, there has been an unprecedented amount of talk on the topic and calls for introducing more of it. Yet despite all the ‘talk’ of the need to be innovative, there has been little specific action in bringing it about. So the big question is how do you get the ball rolling? 

How do you generate innovation in the public sector?

One organisation who believes they have developed an effective system to generate ideas for innovation is the American company ‘Centre for American Progress’ whose new project ‘Capital Ideas; Doing What Works’ has been created to promote government reform to efficiently allocate scarce resources and achieve greater results. 

Their report highlights the problem area for the public sector is generating new ideas and also stresses the importance for innovation. They claim not only does it reduce costs, but it also creates better products and help increase market shares. They too refer to the great success private firms have experienced from using innovative ideas to improve their sales and products, and maintain that understanding innovation is crucial in business strategy.

In this report Capital ideas’ argue innovation is essential for tackling complex social problems and make the point that as problems become more complex we need new and better ways to tackle these issues

That requires a much stronger system of innovation - from a constant flow of great ideas through evaluating the effectiveness of different approaches and then scaling those that are most effective. The report begins with a guide line of what they believe are the steps which social innovation follows from inception to impact six simple steps.

First step, they suggest that we need to identify the priority field where innovation is needed. This seems logical as solutions derive from problems and it is near impossible to think up a solution if you don’t have a problem to start with. In their cycle they assert teams should prompt, inspire and diagnose where the biggest issues are before any suggestion of solutions come forward, as the impetus for social innovation is often social problems.

Secondly they suggest that we should open up spaces for ideas. Proposals and ideas. Once a problem or new possibility is understood social innovators set about generating ideas for solutions.

The next stage is the fixing incentives and prototyping and pilots. This is basically the testing stage where you may want to take controlled trials. This refining process will allow you to find if your innovation needs tweaking and allow you to squeeze out any mistake.

Next is working out how you are going to finance your Innovation. For this finding revenue streams, writing supportive legislation and assembling the human and technical resources would be crucial.

Scaling and diffusion. At this stage the idea should start to take off. Reaping social economies of scale through expansion, replication and diffusion. Social solution often require government intervention and public-private partnership to grow.

And finally at stage six you will be able to introduce systemic change and watch your idea change lives and save money...

So by following these six steps we have a clear idea of the social innovation cycle, the process we should be using to introduce innovation. 

But are there any other actions we should be taking to help us actually generate ideas? The Capital Ideas report finished with a number of recommendations which they think could help organisation s and particularly the public sector to generate ideas better.

Tapping in house talent

This I thought was a great idea. Unleashing the creative talents of agency staff, who have enormous potential to be creative and also frontline workers who would have a powerful insights on ways to improve the way things are done - seems like a no brainer. And yet surprisingly all too often agency leaders do not seek these insights, instead referring to own a small pool of their own similar minded workers who may not see things from the same perspective or be able to offer as diverse and varied ideas. 
I think it is always important that leaders find ways of really listening to their staff, and encourage them to generate ideas to improve the way things are done, is a vital component of innovation strategy.

Dedicated innovation team

The report's second recommendation comes from viewing how private sector firms succeed. They claim private companies often have a whole team whose chief role is dedicated to researching and developing innovative ideas. 

These teams are provided space to think creatively about ways to enhance the firm’s long-term prospects. That they invest the manpower and resources into this research highlights how important they see innovation and this seems to be the chief difference between the private sector and the public sector. Therefore a key recommendation would be for public sector organisations to take a similar approach by setting up dedicated teams with responsibility for ensuring that the organisation is able to generate potentially innovative ideas.

Budgeting for innovation

Of course during a time when money is tight, no ministers or councils will be thrilled by the idea of pouring large sums of money anywhere, however this report heavily stresses that it is the public sector’s approach of only allocating small amount of their budgets to innovative practices which prevents them from coming up with amazing potential to really invest in generating innovative ideas and scaling up those that are proven to be the most effective. For example, the Young Foundation’s Launch Pad, Regional Innovation.

Shifting perspectives

You could use participatory appraisal to understand community problems. Developed in the 1980s, this approach works by really trying to understand the perspectives of those who live in poor communities in developing countries. Sometimes simply walking and noticing things can be surprising powerful tool for seeing possibilities in a new way.

Seeking outside wisdom

Why does the public sector only rely on the public sector? Collaborate with outsiders to help solve problems. Capital Ideas suggests could be key methods of obtaining important information, especially as Government do not have a monopoly of wisdom. The public sector could really benefit from collaborating with the private and non-profit sectors to develop innovative solutions. This can be done either by working with successful commercial organisations that can help the government be more innovative or by harnessing the energy of those in civil society who want to help address social issues but are rarely asked for their thoughts. Example – DeepDive, Innocentive.

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Innovation is not a new topic. We know public sector leaders have been discussing innovation for numerous years. However the agenda has been given added impetus in recent months by the impact of the recession on public spending. Anyone who reads the papers will know that the public debt we are accumulating because of the economic downturn has led to deep cuts further down the line. After a decade of vast sums of money being pumped into public services, the tap has now been firmly turned off.

Yet despite these cuts, people are more demanding in what they expect from public services. Also government targets are getting tougher and tougher. The need to "achieve-more-with-less" moved from being the latest Civil Service buzz phrase to a very stark reality with the announcement of “George Osborne's first budget which indicated that over the next four years, certain departments will have their budgets slashed, by almost 40%.” So the reality is that the public sector faces higher public expectations, stronger targets, and less money.

For many, including some government officials, the only solution out of this crunch is to innovate in how we deliver our public services. This report by Sunningdale Institute for the Cabinet Office argues that there is an under-developed appreciation of what public sector innovation might mean in practice and how it can best be supported. The report also provides a useful account of what innovation means in different circumstances and describes an approach to leading and nurturing innovation in the public sector. The headline here is that we need to develop a framework which provides a repertoire of types of innovation and relevant support models which key stakeholders can use to design innovation into their own organisations and begin to fill the gaps in innovation support.

"There is danger that government departments are constrained by what they do. Sometimes you need to have a near-death experience to get innovation on course. The public sector is facing enormous cuts. That is a golden opportunity for innovation and collaboration." James Gardner

A key finding of the report is the negative approach to motivation. Most of the systems which control work carry implicit messages that innovation is not recommended. All of the people interviewed maintained that the incentives against innovation are greater than those for it.

Recommendation 1

Systems audit: develop and implement an innovation audit of systems such as HR and finance, commissioning and procurement, IT systems and estates and building management and other systemic controls, to assess where traditional practices might be adjusted to create more space for innovation.

Recommendation 2

Strategic leadership: ensure that the right kind of innovation and the right kind of support systems are in place and that leaders create the space, rewards and recognition for developing and adopting ideas. This is critical if we are to develop successful innovative approaches, which allow us to succeed in our aims.

More than just good ideas

Lots of bright ideas will not improve services or make a dent in the deficit unless they see the light of day. To make the most of the more-with-less opportunities innovation presents, we need to bin the imagery of light bulbs flashing on above people's heads, along with the one-size-fits-all approaches.

Recommendation 3

Education: to support, and develop a more subtle and sophisticated understanding of what innovation is and how it can be supported. Coming up with imaginative ideas alone is not enough. The challenge is to identify how to make innovation practical and accessible; ensuring that they are spread, and adapted and adopted by others.

Thinking differently

At its most basic, innovation requires public servants to reconsider what they do; redefining problems and approaching them from different perspectives. This report looks at how organising services around places and citizens can achieve better outcomes at less cost. Those involved state the power of engaging with citizens and understanding services from their perspective. From this starting place, the pilots are now rethinking public services in their locality.

The 13 Total Place pilots have been a catalyst for public servants from across agencies to come together to do just this. The Croydon pilot, for example, engaged with frontline workers and managers, utilised video ethnography and collaborative techniques, mapped customer journeys, and took advantage of brokering organisations to challenge their thinking. Building on this insight, the partners have developed a new vision for early years support in Croydon, with a focus on working with families, building resilience and social networks, early intervention, targeted interventions and joined-up support, which they estimate will achieve "significantly improved outcomes at reduced cost". The ability of public servants to take a step back, redefine the issue they face and revaluate their approach will be vital over the coming years. 

Recommendation 4

Creating the right environment: making opportunities for platform innovations from which other innovations may spring. This means being continually open to new ideas from both inside and outside the organisation, and making the most of networks, scouts, intermediaries and brokers to nurture and spread innovation.

The level of discretion held by frontline workers will affect the type of innovation needed – continuous improvement (e.g. lean) may work for those with limited discretion (e.g. benefit delivery staff), but won't work for doctors and teachers.

Recommendation 5

Engagement: where possible, innovations should be co-produced with frontline workers and citizens.

Overall the key point from this article that the public sector dictum of the time must be: different and better for less. But this will not happen by itself, it will require top officials to take on the strategic leadership responsibility for making it happen, leading and nurturing innovation throughout the public sector.

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The Show Must Go On

Well, my role as Research Support Officer is coming to an end but the work that the Technology Transformation Team are carrying out on innovation I’m sure will continue to inspire many more individuals and teams within and outside of KCC, hopefully well into the future.

In this blog post I’m just going to share with you some of my highlights working with the team over the past year, so here they are!

1) Business Plan Research Project

I had the privilege of writing my own research report on the 2010/11 directorate and unit business plans for KCC. One hefty read it was but out of it emerged the main themes for 2010/11, along with planned innovative projects and concepts which in the end helped to shape the work that the team are doing today, a piece of work that I am extremely proud of.

2) Innovate To Save

Well I certainly got to test out my event organising skills here! This involved continuously encouraging (begging/pestering) KCC staff to attend some fabulous sessions with amazing speakers, stressing out about the contact list, running around Maidstone trying to find suitable Christmas decorations, making posters and musn’t forget gluing together folders to make cardboard boxes…to create a monstrosity of a display! An overall success was granted after months of hard work, thankfully!

3) Transformed By You

I never dreamed that in my role I would find myself having several ‘Blue Peter Days’ as people in the office liked to refer to them as, cutting, sticking, gluing and of course using the infamous sticky back plastic! Again, I found myself using these skills for our two Transformed By You Events, one with the lovely innovative folk at Medway and another with the University of Kent Digital Arts students. A fun and interesting day was had by all, with some fabulous prototypes emerging, from iphone apps to electronic fridge magnets that kept you updated with recycling information to qr codes in the community.

4) Working on the Virtual Presenter & Gaming Projects

It was really nice to get heavily involved in projects and watch them flourish over time. It was wonderful to see the finished product on the gaming project, but not so wonderful being given the task of helping to wrap up the final report! I hope the Virtual Presenter project is just as successful and I will wait in anticipation to see it up and running, and of course test out its ability to provide answers to small talk such as ‘Will you marry me?’!

5) iNews

How could I leave out iNews? As editor I have been very proud to locate, edit and publish articles, as well as writing my own on topics of interest. I hope I have produced some interesting reads for you all and I have really enjoyed watching the Google Analytics rise over time (and receiving cupcakes as a reward for this result!), I hope that this continues at a steady rate!

As well as these I will never forget getting stuck in the blizzard with Carol and it taking us 5 hours to get home, attending conferences with Noel, working on projects with Greenhouse, co-designing a workshop with Sidekick Studios, being involved on the CLG Bid and so on.

Well there you have it, my last blog post (maybe, maybe not!), so there is nothing left to see but thank you to the Technology Transformation for giving me a wonderful first step on the career ladder as well as providing me with some friends for life. Good luck to the team with your future work and to all our readers, watch this space for some more interesting articles! Over and out.

- Kirsty Russell

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Race for Digital Inclusion

• Do you want to be a part of creating life enhancing opportunities for the 4 million individuals who have never been online?
• Are you working on an innovative, inspirational or educational Digital Inclusion projects?

If you answered yes to those questions than this automatically entitles you to become a partner of Race Online 2012 and access the online Race Online 2012 partner toolkits which include a Race Online 2012 certificate, online media and communication materials to help you promote your initiatives and spread the word, plus access to the Race Online 2012 web news feed offering 24/7 digital inclusion news updates.

There is both a moral and economic imperative for the wider community to take the issue of digital inclusion much for seriously. It's also essential to business that the UK is near 100% online as this will create efficiency savings, attract investment, open opportunities and improve work force skills. 

Race Online 2012 wants any organisation of any size to get involved and help tackle the issue. From encouraging business partners to sign up, to teaching friends and family to get online, or by donating old IT equipment locally - there are opportunities for all businesses to make a difference. It's simple to sign up and it only takes five minutes to register.

Please click on this link http://raceonline2012.org/get-involved to become an official Race Online 2012 partner, where you can explain what your organisation is doing or can do to help make the UK one of the first countries in the world to establish a fully online, internet enabled society.

Picture: A man and a woman sitting at a computer with a yellow poster covering the entire wall behind them which reads 'Inclusion Digital' with thanks to CampusParty for publishing on Flickr under a Creative Commons license some rights reserved.

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A fridge magnet using GPS to get real time information on recycling

An idea developed at Transformed by You on Campus

What is the problem?

There is currently a lack of understanding and easy access to real time information on bins and recycling. Therefore the group came up with a solution in the form of a ‘fridge magnet’ device. It can be available as an application for iPhone

Who is this for?

People who have little time

How would the idea work?

With a light at the top of the screen, this will flash red when there are new updates and green when it is collection day. It would provide updates – News on bin services, latest news in the community as well as a calendar which will be colour coded with when collection days are and what time.

For special collections, there would be a special box where you can type in a query about a special collection, for example if you need furniture removing, which will be sent straight to the specific recycling department.

It would use Google Maps for GPS tracking of where the bin vans are to avoid traffic, as well as a function where you can order new bins liners and bins. ‘Other information’ option will allow the user to find out about which products and materials can be recycled and which bin they go in, an FAQ section, allow them to report vandalism and where their nearest recycling centres are.

In terms of changing behaviours, the magnet would link to an online dashboard and send SMS/email alerts whoing a progress chart where individuals can track how much they have recycled compared to their neighbours.

The team believed that this could one day be essential kit for the household and could be rolled out to different services, for example Kent Highway Services.

This could cut down phone calls to the Contact Centre regarding collection dates.

What is needed to make this idea successful?

- A special thank you to a picture of an idea from http://transformedbyyou.uservoice.com and a picture of a fridge magnet from Gadget Reviews.

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What is the problem?

Kent County Council is required to publicise and promote information on positive leisure time activities and related facilities in the county and to keep it up to date. KCC does this currently using a database driven directory website (www.togogo.info).

But what else could we be doing with digital technologies to give young people quicker and more convenient access to information and things to do and places they can go? The overall goal is to encourage more young people to participate in “positive activities”.

What would they find cool, naff, useful, easy, valuable…? What’s important to them?

How can digital technologies be used to promote positive things to do to teenagers in Kent?

Who is this for?

Young people

How would the idea work?

It would be a website driven by quarterly live music festivals promoting positive activities to teenagers.

Using Bluetooth ‘chip’ wristband and a ‘DigiMe’ account would enable people to update their events and receive further promotions, as well as volunteer in exchange for free gig tickets.

What is needed to make this idea successful?

- A special thank you to a picture of an idea from http://transformedbyyou.uservoice.com.

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Connecting job seekers and employers to provide support for unemployed graduates 

An idea developed at Transformed by You on Campus

What is the problem?

Every year over 11,000 students graduate from universities in Kent, and many more return to the county after finishing degrees elsewhere in the UK. Currently, only 30% of local graduates go on to find employment in the county, which means a huge loss of talent for local businesses in Kent. It is vital that Kent retains more skilled graduates if our local economy is to grow over the future years. But how best do we encourage them to stay?

The problem seems to be two-fold:

It is not always easy for graduates to find information about local graduate jobs, particularly for those who have not studied locally.

It is not always easy for businesses to access information about local graduates and match graduate skills to their business needs.

Is there a way of using technology to match up local graduates with local businesses, and encourage more employers to recruit graduates?

How can digital technologies be used to increase graduate retention in Kent?

Who is this for?

Graduates looking for work and employers in need of graduates.

How would the idea work?

It would be a website that connects graduates seeking employment and potential employers in one place.



An online tool offering a points based rewards system for volunteering

An idea developed at Transformed by You on Campus

What is the problem?

Voluntary groups need volunteers with a range of professional or specialist skills to help run certain aspects of their organisations. KCC is running a Volunteer Your Skills campaign. The campaign aims to help attract people to volunteer their specialist skills and expertise and match these skills with the needs of voluntary groups and organisations. www.kent.gov.uk/volunteeryourskills

Things to consider:
  • The campaign covers all age groups and people from all sorts of backgrounds.
  • The main skills identified by voluntary groups were: finance and funding, marketing, IT and computing and trustees.
  • The main things we need to do are:
  • Make it easy and convenient for people with skills to register their availability
  • Be able to match up vacancies with available skills
  • The solution needs to consider the needs of the volunteers, the needs of the voluntary organisation looking for the skills and the role of intermediary or broker agencies such as a Volunteers Centre

How can digital technologies be used to help voluntary organisations reach volunteers with professional and specialist skills?

Who is this for?

People with specialist skills who have time and organisations who are in demand of these skills

How would the idea work?

The purpose is to develop a volunteering program in Kent, supported by local businesses which will hopefully help build community spirit through offering a points based rewards system.

Primarily a web service but a reliable phone services will be offered in libraries, job centres and through SMS messages for those without access to the internet.

The website will allow users to set up a profile, look for volunteers and volunteering opportunities, invite a friend and claim rewards from sponsors. Volunteers will enter various details such as name, skills and availability. Opportunists will enter basic details and any opportunities available.

CRB checks will also be put in place through the Kent Volunteer Bureau. New members will get complimentary points. Points are also calculated by multiplying the volunteer’s star rating by the time spent on the opportunity. Points are then exchanged for rewards.

The rewards – various sponsors will offer a variety of products and services for a set amount of points, for example cinema tickets. The sponsors in return will receive free publicity and advertising to the whole community.

The rating experience will be two-way. Joint rating based on a five star system would be encouraged.

What can be done to make the idea successful?

A special thank you to a picture of an idea from http://transformedbyyou.uservoice.com.

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An idea developed at Transformed by You on Campus

What is the problem?
Community safety means cutting crime and the fear of crime as well as reducing the effects of nuisance, antisocial behaviour, drug misuse, fires and road accidents - all the things that harm people or affect their quality of life.

Kent is generally a safe place to live and work.  A safe community is one that is free from crime and the fear of crime and from antisocial behaviour. It is a community where people feel safe in their homes and safe on the street; where they are protected from dangers like fire and where their children can go to school without being bullied. 

The things that affect our quality of life are linked to a huge range of different social and economic factors. Education, health, housing, poverty, family life, truancy, policing, social exclusion and employment all play a part in creating the sort of environment that either feels safe or unsafe. It is because the root causes are so varied that we tackle these issues by working with many other organisations that play a part in our communities, as well as with voluntary agencies and local neighbourhoods. 

How can digital technologies be used to support community safety and help make people feel safer where they live?

Who is this for?

People who need to report problems in their neighbourhood.

How would the idea work?

It would allows users to report graffiti, anti-social behaviour, etc in their community. Linked in with Google maps to allow users to exactly pinpoint the area of interest. Users of the application will also be able to identify problem ‘hot spots’ and areas where pro-social behaviour is being carried out.

What can be done to make the idea successful?

A special thank you to pictures of smart phones showing the application: with thanks to students from the University of Kent.

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