Manchester City Council is set to develop a new structure for its ICT and digital governance – including an ‘innovation factory’ and design authority – as part of its new strategy for digital operations.
Its executive committee has approved the strategy, which complements an existing digital strategy for the whole local authority area and involves three ICT strategic enablers.
ICT digital governance is one of the enablers, and includes the plan for an innovation factory, in which people involved with the council can rethink systems and promote new ways of working. This will provide a forum for developing ideas, feasibility testing, business case analysis and the transfer of promising ideas to other groups or lines of business.
It will be accompanied by the development of an innovation portal.
Other governance measures include the setting up of a digital design authority board to agree or veto the use of new systems, led by the ICT team and the lead member for the issues. It will sit under Manchester’s council-wide transformation board.
The strategy document says this is aimed at minimising the duplication of technical and digital capabilities and better meeting the demands of the council.
Another enabler is to provide a well managed service through a series of measures, including, including high standards in the use of data, a rationalisation of systems, harnessing of emerging technologies, carbon neutrality in the council’s data centres, reducing energy consumption across the estate and adopting community engagement tools and platforms.
Third is to build security and privacy through steps such as providing solutions that are secure by design, and working with the Local Government Association and other agencies on building the relevant capabilities inside the council.
Other key measures have been highlighted in the report to the committee, including the implementation of a new customer relationship management system and website through the Resident and Business Digital Experience Programme, along with a move away from current data centres to a hybrid cloud approach.
It also points to embedding systems and processes from the old Northwards Housing organisation into the council’s housing operations.
The council’s public announcement emphasised the increasing use of smart devices by citizens and said the this requires a new customer experience.
It also said an element of the strategy – a recycling of ICT kit to HM Prison Forest Bank – has been saving over 63 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for finance and resources, said: “It is incredibly important that our digital offering keeps pace with the changing world. In Manchester we want to be a forward facing city and make it easy and accessible for people to engage digitally with us and access our services.
“It is also important that as we continue through an incredibly difficult economic period, the council adapts its services to be more efficient and to get more from ultimately fewer resources.”
Cllr Greg Stanton, lead member for ICT and digital, added: “We will also be focused on digital inclusivity and ensuring no one is left behind - this is about making technology and council services more accessible.
“Our progressive ambitions will not only allow us to be better and more secure as a council, but by moving towards smarter technologies such as cloud based systems we will also meet our ambitions to become a zero carbon city.”