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Guy Giles (Looking Local) and Hilary Simpson (Sleuth Co-op) reflect on the challenges of sharing and collaboration as MHCLG sifts 389 EoIs for its £7.5m Local Digital Fund
MHCLG’s Paul Maltby on appeared in CLGdotTV at the end of September to explain the new £7.5m Local Digital Fund and its hoped for outcomes.
Expressions of interest will be evaluated by the Local Digital team and be ‘clustered’ with similar applications around common issues. Successful EoIs will apply for funding between 15 October and 18 November, and decisions will be announced on 3 December.
Guy Giles, a veteran of the e-government programme of the early noughties says the Local Digital Fund stimulus is ‘long overdue’. Based on his experience with innovation agency Looking Local (part owned by Kirklees Council), he has learned the ‘rule of 20’ for new product development in the sector – that a minimum of 20 users/collaborators are needed to launch a sustainable new product for local councils. This is because, notwithstanding that council user and provider needs are very similar, products need to be supported for a vast array of different systems used by councils and this cost needs to be spread across a significant number of users.
Hilary Simpson, who worked on tech innovation within front-line services at Camden Council, describes some of the challenges even a well-digitally-resourced council can have in supporting the sharing of a new developments with another authority. Will options emerge for less well-resourced councils, she asks, and will the Fund be able to support other models of sharing and amplification involving, for example, SME providers?
We will be able to ask these questions when we catch up with the LD Fund again on 31 October at Digitech18 in Leeds, where we will be recording a series of programmes from the event.
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