24 May 2023
by Natalie Duffield

Reflections on the Local Public Services Committee: collaboration and innovation

Guest blog by Natalie Duffield, CEO of WiFi Business at WeLink and Co-Chair, techUK's Local Public Services Committee #LPSInnovation

While the pandemic introduced a great deal of challenge and uncertainty, it also acted as a catalyst for digital change as people adapted to a ‘new normal’ and the digital demands of the public followed suit. The Local Public Services Committee, which brought together a diverse range of tech industry leaders to champion the sector and drive an ambitious programme of activity between techUK and local government, was in a prime position to help drive this digital transformation.

As Vice-chair and co-chair of the committee since 2019, it has been hugely rewarding to see representatives from across a range of companies, large and small, work together against a common objective. A key output from this collaboration has been the focus on innovation in local government. During my time on the committee, there have been two achievements in this area that I’d like to highlight.

Local Public Services Innovation: Creating a catalyst for change report

In May 2022, the Local Public Services Committee released a report highlighting the need for increased digital innovation in local public services. The report emphasised the importance of collaboration between the public sector and technology suppliers to bring about positive change in citizens' lives.

Titled "Local Public Services Innovation: Creating a catalyst for change”, the report provided a roadmap for local public services to embrace innovation and leverage the benefits of digital technologies and their suppliers.

One of the key themes of the report was how we address the digital divide – the inequality between those who have access to digital services and those who do not. This is an issue very close to my heart and at WeLink, it’s as much about what our technology represents – what it can do for people – as it is about the technology itself. This philosophy aligns with the views of the LPSC – that collaboration is key and the combination of the right technology and the right people to implement it are key to achieving great outcomes for local government and the communities they serve.

The Innovators Network

As a result of the report, techUK launched the Innovators Network, aimed at bringing together stakeholders to foster innovation in local public services.

Acting as a forum to enable and empower councils, the Innovators Network connected councils with innovators to access the latest technologies in a neutral forum to help solve some of the most pressing challenges they face. Some of the benefits of joining this network include peer support and best practice from across local government and the tech supplier base, identifying the problem to inform technology, having a safe space to test and de-risk innovation at a collective level.

As someone who's always looking for innovative solutions to the challenges we face, I was excited about the Innovators Network as I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and discuss how the latest technologies could be applied to solve problems.

Whilst the LPSC may be drawing to a close, the legacy it leaves behind is considerable. The spirit of collaboration and innovation feed into many different areas and topics that techUK and its members continue to progress. We all have a responsibility to our sector and to the communities that our technology can help support and on a personal level, I remain committed to supporting similar initiatives, both as a techUK member and as the CEO of a cutting-edge wireless broadband provider at the forefront of the digital connectivity challenge.

techUK's Local Public Services Innovation Week 2023

A curation of guest blogs looking at how we create the conditions for innovation to thrive in local government and create the council of the future.

Click here to read more insights

Local Public Services Innovation Summit

Attend techUK’s inaugural Local Public Services Innovation Summit where we will convene local authorities with tech industry on what more needs to be done to harness innovation and create a catalyst for change for the sector. It will also be an opportunity to showcase good practise and facilitate greater collaboration between councils and industry.

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Local Public Services Programme

techUK's Local Public Services Programme provides the forum for local public services to engage with industry to better understand the innovations out there, horizon-scan how the technologies of today and tomorrow can re-imagine local public services and solve some of the most pressing challenges our communities and places face. It also helps connect suppliers with each other, identify new business partnerships to help grow an ever thriving local government ecosystem.

Learn more

Social Care Working Group

The Working Group acts a neutral forum for knowledge exchange across the supplier base and for public sector stakeholders to engage with the market. While identifying common challenges and solutions and offering the opportunity to leverage synergies to partner as often an ecosystem approach is needed to solve a problem.

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Natalie Duffield

Natalie Duffield

CEO, WeLink Communications