Dylan Roberts, the Chief Digital and Information Officer for Leeds City Council, has a huge job. His IT responsibilities don't just cover a major city council, over 100 doctors' practices and hospitals, and all the city's schools. They also extend to a holistic strategy that looks to bring citizens, professionals and digital companies together to create a new breed of ethical entrepreneur with solutions for local (and further afield) health and well-being problems. Applications already delivered include a view of local care provision and a 'transport clock'.
Yet Roberts also recognises that not all innovations tread the path of triumph. With some of the products of the strategy struggling to establish market traction, he is moving away from being the orchestrator of an ecosystem of digital entrepreneurs creating new products, and towards finding ways to encourage industry to work with the creation of innovation test beds.
Roberts is working closely with 2017 CIO 100 leader Richard Corbridge, CIO at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on the Leeds care record. And as chair of the local CIO Council, Roberts leads public sector CIOs in the region in open platform-focused approaches that seek to positively disrupt the current government IT systems market. An example is their campaign to develop a new open digital platform for health and care, which is calling on NHS England to invest £40m in a diverse range of open projects and applications for personalised health and care. The aim is to harness future innovation, enable SMEs to enter the health and care IT market, force incumbents to innovate, and reduce many of the regulatory, technical and financial barriers to market entry. The economic potential here is also apparent.
Roberts has also been instrumental in driving a 100% digital inclusion programme. The 90,000 or so adults in Leeds without basic digital skills – and so more likely to be disabled, unemployed, on a low income or have low literacy and numeracy levels – are the programme's target group. His ambitious aim is to increase the digital literacy acquisition figure from 850 individuals a year to 10,000. The potential is vast: digital inclusion increases self-sufficiency for individuals, giving them more confidence about using online tools to manage their health and careers.