Croydon is digital and we’re #notmessingaround

Neil Williams / 3 December 2018

Welcome to croydon.digital – a new corner of the web where we hope to celebrate, accelerate and document Croydon’s tech sector growth and the digital transformation of our public services and places.

Although started by my team in the council, this is categorically a community blog – for and by the digital changemakers of Croydon. It’s a shared asset that we’ll evolve together from these humble beginnings into whatever we collectively want it to be, to maximise the opportunities for digital to make things better for people and businesses in our borough. Read the about page for more.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants: hoping to pick up the story where Croydon Tech City and The Croydon Citizen left off. (Sarah, Jonny, Nigel, James and everyone who contributed – thank you). And we are participating more actively ourselves – having been too quiet a voice in this conversation before – and growing a more more capable, visionary and engaged digital service in the council as part of its wider, ambitious plans.

It’s all about better outcomes for residents

The council as a whole is focused on delivering better outcomes for residents. If you haven’t already seen it, our 2018-22 corporate plan is a genuinely exciting read. It sets out a new operating model of evidence-based, preventative, user-centred, locally tailored and cross-sectoral approaches to making real change happen for the people of Croydon.

Those approaches and motivations go hand in hand with digital ways of working, and it’s in the spirit of that new model that we have created this new blog. The conditions have never been better for real, lasting digital transformation to take hold.

Introducing the Croydon Digital Service

In line with the council’s ambitions, my team is transforming to become the Croydon Digital Service.

The echo of GDS’s name in our new one is deliberate, signalling our renewed commitment (not just in my team, but as a whole council) to internet-era approaches and serving our users’ needs – to create better outcomes for the people and businesses of Croydon.

We have already signed the Local Digital Declaration – a set of GDS-influenced principles and commitments for local government that, given time to bed in, will have far-reaching consequences for the technology we choose, the way that we use it and the quality of our public services.

And we are upskilling our digital team – restructuring, making new hires, investing in culture and process change, teaching ourselves new tricks, and bringing new partners on board for the underlying technology we rely on.

We are demonstrably #notmessingaround and in the next 6 months, while we transform ourselves, we also aim to create a new digital strategy for Croydon, spanning our internal operations as a council, the services we provide to residents and cross-sector plans to make Croydon a more digital, smarter place.

This blog, among other purposes, provides a space for us to do our thinking in the open and engage the local community as our strategy and plans develop. These are your public services, and your public spaces after all.

Help us make croydon.digital be great

Working in the open is something close to my heart. I launched the first ever blog by a Cabinet Minister in this country, commissioned the blogging platform now shared by most central government departments, and as Head of GOV.UK I got the team (and now many other government teams) publishing its roadmap and incident reports.

As those in tech world know, “failing fast” and learning from it is vital. Sharing our learnings or emergent ideas for feedback, as well as celebrating our successes, can be invaluable to ourselves and others. Working in the open in this way is established practice in central government digital circles, and many of our local government digital peers also blog brilliantly already.

For many in the nascent Croydon Digital Service and the wider council, though, this will initially feel new and nerve-wracking. So let me make a plea, to those who would like to see a more transparent and engaged council, to please not to judge too harshly – especially as we are getting started. Instead, please encourage and support my team’s first forays into working more openly via this site.

And – most importantly of all, if you’re part of this Croydon digital movement – join in. We want lots of voices here, telling the story with us and promoting Croydon as a leading destination for tech businesses and source of digital innovation.

Contact us to let us know you’re interested in either writing or helping to iterate the platform, and we’ll follow up on next steps.

Neil Williams is the recently appointed Chief Digital Officer for Croydon Council. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @neillyneil.

Author: Neil Williams

Chief Digital Officer, Croydon Council. Former Head of GOV.UK, GDS. Trustee, Drinkaware.

3 thoughts on “Croydon is digital and we’re #notmessingaround”

  1. Inspiring stuff, Neil.

    Here at StreetPin, we’re looking forward to being a much more active member of the Croydon.Digital community (and hopefully setting up office, all being well).

    We’d love to send you an overview of how we intend to help communities, retailers and residents in Croydon, if that’s ok?

    thanks

    Tim

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