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Council ICT managers must deliver on lower budgets, says Socitm IT Trends 2013-14

Economic pressures, societal changes and technological advances are combining to put huge pressure on local public service ICT managers to reconfigure services at lower cost, according to the latest annual report on council IT trends from public sector IT management body Socitm. The main driver for change is the consumerisation of ICT, the report says, with widespread take-up of smartphones and tablets increasing users' familiarity with using powerful technology. Against this background, service managers need modernised services that will run at much lower cost. The ICT function will have a smaller estate to run, but one that calls on cloud services to meet cyclical peaks and troughs of demand. To do this effectively, ICT managers and their services will need to call on a broader range of skills than in the past. "Service managers, who can now download apps in a few seconds that cost next to nothing from a cloud store, and are productive with them immediately, question why a new application to streamline their business will take months, and require employees to attend a training session before using it", says IT Trends author Chris Head. "Despite this, the survey shows ICT managers to be more focused on making savings within their department than on opportunities for information technologies to make savings elsewhere in the business." Organisations also appear weak on ICT staff skill and career development, leaving this to employees, the report says. Consequently, they may be vulnerable to skills gaps as the economy recovers. Web content management, geographic information systems (GIS) and data analytics top the list of emerging technologies to exploit. With regard to GIS however, the report finds it 'somewhat surprising' that some 11% of respondents either have no plans, or are still planning, to use GIS technology, despite the fact that more than 90% of public sector data has a geographic component.
Pictured: Smartphone reflected, by Paul Clarke

IT Trends 2013/14:

Glasgow strikes pioneering map data deal with Ordnance Survey

A new trial, regarded as a UK first, has been agreed between Glasgow and Ordnance Survey which could lead the way to other data initiatives with local authorities, the city council has said. Future City / Glasgow, the city's technology innovation programme, has been working in partnership with the national mapping authority to release information which has been produced using Ordnance Survey data and mapping. Councils across the country can already share Ordnance Survey licensed and derived data with other licensed organisations, public bodies and citizens under a single agreement known as the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA). Under the new Glasgow agreement, data produced using Ordnance Survey's detailed maps will now be made available, under special developer terms, through the city's new open data portal. It could include anything from the location of cycle racks to gritting bins and recycling services. It is expected that the information will be of particular interest to businesses and IT developers keen to design commercial applications used by the public and other businesses. "This trial has the potential to open the door for other local authorities and creates a new market which has not existed in the UK before", said Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson. "The data will be available in an easily accessible and useable format. We hope it will inspire creative and innovative uses such as the creation of new services and products which can improve life in the city and further afield." The licence will run to 31 October 2014 in line with the Future City / Glasgow programme.
Glasgow Open Data:
Future City /

New £500,000 fund to train teachers in software coding opens Year of Code

The government has announced a new £500,000 fund to train teachers in software coding, aimed at helping schools to inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. The fund will match investment from industry and business, helping equip schools to teach the new computing curriculum introduced this September and designed with input from the Royal Society of Engineering and industry leaders such as Google and Microsoft. The announcement came as ministers launched the Year of Code, a campaign which will run throughout 2014 to get young people excited about the power and potential of computer science. The campaign will see a series of events take place over the next 12 months to promote computing. It will include a week-long programme in March encouraging all schools to teach every pupil at least one hour of coding in that week. The government is also implementing new systems to ensure teachers at primary and secondary level are equipped with the skills they need to teach the new curriculum. These include a Computing at School programme to help train primary teachers through online resources and in school workshops; and increasing bursaries for those wanting to become computing teachers. Scholarships of £25,000 - backed by Microsoft, Google, IBM and Facebook - are being offered to computer science teachers.
Year of Code:

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