03 Jan 2024
by Penny Ellis

Talking 5 with Local Public Services Member NEC

This month's Talking 5 guest is Penny Ellis, Business Development Director at NEC Digital

Each month, techUK's Associate Director for Local Public Services, Georgina Maratheftis, interviews a member active in the local government space about their vision for the future of local public services and where digital can make a real difference to people and society. This month we talk to Penny Ellis, Business Development Director, NEC Digital, about the importance of people and the technology in enabling new ways of working and delivering outstanding integrated services.

Welcome Penny. Firstly, tell me more about you, your career and how you got to this position today?

I started my career as a teacher working with vulnerable children and adults and have always been passionate about education and the future this can offer to individuals and families. I then moved into an advisory role within social care and housing, supporting Local Authorities and housing providers with their digital strategy to deliver better services across both independent living and in residential settings. Working together to deliver outcomes such as reducing admissions to hospital, less evictions and homelessness and ultimately helping people to remain independent in their own homes.

My role as Business Development Director at NEC Digital is very rewarding and I get really excited about using information for data led decisions. These decisions can support amazing outcomes for the organisation but more importantly for the person, some of the benefits can literally be life changing.

My role within NEC Digital means I work across health, housing, social care and central government. In this role I have the freedom to be involved within any of these areas and I like the flexibility that not one day is the same. I love being involved in transformation, trying to solve problems with likeminded people and seeing great things happen.

What is the greatest opportunity for local government when it comes to digital?

The technology we are currently seeing emerge is innovative and impressive but it’s really the people behind all of this which is enabling different ways of working and incredible results. Great people and great technology together is so empowering and can assist with the joining up of data and services. There are so many efficiencies which can be gained by data driven decisions and transparency, focusing on the right person, at the right time, with the right support. AI is without doubt one of the most interesting, exciting and albeit a bit scary, things that I have come across in my career to date. AI will maximise the power of humans through intelligent automation, and I can’t wait to see how it will power public sector innovation bringing services, people and families together. Whilst there will be challenges, this will undoubtably provide a more holistic and personalised service to the citizen, predicting future needs and therefore future interventions.

What is your vision for the future of local public services and places?

I hope we will see great diversity and strong leadership with dynamic and inspiring people leading the way to deliver great things for all citizens across health housing, social care and central government. I would like to see more learnings from other countries and sharing of good practice across the world at an international level. Continuous improvement should be something that’s baked into our practices at all levels.

In this time of social recovery, it’s important we all work together on sustainability and how we can improve this each year for future generations. Its paramount to work in collaboration with citizens and partners to provide true insights into what is needed to create better places. We need to think seriously about co-design and User-Centred Design, I believe this is critical to the success of delivering inspiring and outstanding services which support the person-centred approach.

Ultimately, I hope that innovative technology really is a true enabler, helping to achieve wider systems thinking, supporting the best people and processes possible to deliver better joined up outstanding integrated services.

Georgina Maratheftis

Georgina Maratheftis

Associate Director, Local Public Services, techUK

Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services

Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.

Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.

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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.

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Penny Ellis

Penny Ellis

Business Development Director , NEC