The Digital Revolution

We seem to be making real progress on the Smart Staffordshire work, in which the county council is working with our universities, businesses and the Staffordshire public sector.

This last week saw two events, the latest in a series in which there is a commitment and energy that I’ve not seen in this area before. The first was a digital leader’s forum to summarise progress to date and plan next steps, and the second was a meeting of the Staffordshire Hundred, held in the offices of one of our leading digital companies, Risual.

I listen to many presentations about smart cities, and how that will revolutionise the way that we live. If I’m being really honest, they are a bit “techy” talking about sensors in your bin to tell when it needs emptying, and sensors in your bike lamp to work out where you’re getting delayed on your commute.

Both, and many more using location data from your mobile phone, are absolutely possible today and will undoubtedly save time and money, but I believe that they are examples of limited ambition.  If the digital revolution is genuinely a revolution, the biggest opportunities and challenges remain in the human sphere. We need to have the appropriate skills to operate and innovate in this world, and the infrastructure which supports the development. Therefore, the question in my mind is: having got ahead of the curve on Superfast Broadband in Staffordshire, what is next? Is it 5G mobile telephony, Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), or some other technology?

If you’ve got a view, I’d love to hear it.

Better skills will improve our knowledge, which in turn will make us more confident to accept a culture that welcomes data sharing as part of life. It is interesting to note that I’m receiving about 5 emails a day at the moment offering to help me with my General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) problem, laying out the threats and dangers of not getting it right. The only problem is that it isn’t a problem. GDPR clarifies data sharing – we will have to make changes, but it is a good working knowledge of it, not fear, that will get us into the right place.

It’s the human dimension of digital that need our greatest efforts at the moment – skills, entrepreneurship and innovation.

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3 Responses to “The Digital Revolution”

  1. […] The following post is from John Henderson’s CEO blog, which can be viewed in full here. […]

  2. Tim Keeling says:

    In my experience and that of colleagues, a good 4G signal can be faster even than a fibre broadband connection. This is often because Broadband connections are still often throttled or speed limited at times of high demand. In other words it slows down when everyone wants/needs to use it.

    What is really needed is continuing investment in providing sufficient bandwidth for 4G and Fibre to the Cabinet Broadband, so throttling doesn’t slow down an other wise speedy service. When this is done then consider 5G and Fibre to the Premises.

  3. Andrew Faulkner says:

    In my opinion the major hurdling block for “The Digital Revolution” is not technology, it’s trust.
    We already have the structures and services in place to revolutionise the way we work through current technology. As an ex IT professional I can state that the biggest problem facing flexible working is trust. There would appear to be a prevailing perception that if your line manager / co-ordinator can’t see you or get you into the office at a moments notice you could be “bunking off.”
    My wife works for Birmingham City Council as an AMHP and she is a truly “flexible” worker. Apart from important team meetings or supervision she is rarely in her office. For the majority of her time she works from home; going on home visits and doing her assessments and write ups from home. She uses multiple “drop in” rooms across the city as required and (shock/horror) sometimes doesn’t start work until 10 or 11 am; but then she has the facility to work late into the night to compensate, which suits her working style.
    This way of working is less stressful (no daily commute), more flexible, has a lower impact on the environment and reduces council costs.
    If councils really want to revolutionise the way we live, work and have a balanced work/home life they may need to consider the human element of digital working.