A different start to the week as I started the week in Syon Lane in my attempt to get out and about and meet local tech businesses. The introduction was through Bill Boler, who is the Partnership Director of the Creative Enterprise Zone in Hounslow. He is trying to make some magic happen out there and encourage and develop local businesses in the Borough. In a rather unimposing building next to Gillette Corner I met Andrew Martin the MD of Ajar Technology — We went through the history of the company, a real local family business that has grown into a global business, right on our doorstep. Their reach into Heathrow for their Operations Centre, construction for smart home technology and globally for all sorts of things was nothing less than impressive. Andrew spoke with passion on what they have done and how they have done it, including the use of local apprenticeships. Lots of similarities with some of our aspirations and am sure we can help each other to raise the profile of technology sector in Hounslow.
We have spent some time together as a wider digital management team this week. Some of that time with Ameo as part of the One Hounslow programme. They delivered some training on the programme setup aims and structure, which was really good and helped everyone have the same message to understand where digital fits in. We also spent some time thinking about all the things that we need to achieve over the next 6, 12 and 36 months… Too many post-it notes! But good to get it on the table with everything else needed across the council so we can start to properly resource and prioritise it.
We have also spent some time, too much probably, on a name for the management team and meetings. Currently we have a traditional SLT and DLT for IT. Senior Leadership Team and Department Leadership Team. For me implies two groups and reinforces silos and so on… I was thinking something like Mission Control… Any ideas on a digital postcard please…
Tuesday and Wednesday this week we set up camp in Hounslow House as part of the consultation and engagement for the Digital Strategy. Spending time talking to our Residents, Staff and Partners is a really important part of the way of working in the new Digital. We had some fantastic discussions with residents who had some amazing stories, some positive and some not so. The overriding feeling was that they would be up for using digital more to access council services but the theme of support came up several times. If you showed me once I’d get the hang of it…
What was also interesting and impressive for me was how my team stepped up. All managers in Digital signed up to host the stall for at least an hour. A couple of them thanked me for allowing them to host rather getting others to do it as it allowed them connect with real people.
Tuesday evening was the budget council and the first meeting that we have streamed live from Hounslow House. Pleased to say it went well and there were a number of online comments from residents that really liked it and wanted more. Was also good to see Digital mentioned as part of the programme to review and improve services.
Been a good couple of weeks for some of the core technology work as well. We have successfully upgraded Active Directory (that holds the staff log on details)… Important part of protecting the network but also improving the end user experience of being able to login using bio-metrics etc.
We also finalised the new CCTV control centre. This involved a large and complex network change to move multiple sites into a single centre. Lots of work behind the scenes to make the magic happen. I’m hoping to visit in a couple of weeks.
Also good to welcome the Systems Operation Team from Children’s and Adults, who are joining the digital and IT family from Monday. As part of some internal changes, it will be good to have them on-board and looking forward to working with them more.
Finally, It’s always good to have staff with a wide range of skills. But can be difficult to ensure that all these skills are used effectively. A few weeks ago I had an email from the Leader having had his laptop sorted by a member of the team wanted to borrow her in a few weeks as there was a visit from our twinned town, and they were fluent in French. Thursday she spent the day with the Leader and a group from Issy on a tour of the Borough. Some really interesting things came up including some of their Smart Place work that they have been doing — so I am looking forward to hearing more about that.
Friday is a day of training around Strategic Emergency and Crisis Management. Was a really good session to go over the role that Local Authorities have in response to a wide range of issues and events!
Tune of the week… Freya Ridings — Castles (Official Video)