Before I started my Socitm secondment I sounded-out various Newham colleagues on their interest in a meeting to consider the Council's engagement with the Community through ICT.
There was general agreement that this was desirable, so a meeting was arranged, then postponed and rearranged for today. I went along because it's something I believe the whole public sector must get to grips with.
Newham has often led the field in community engagement through ICT, and for a long time had an "ICT in the Community Strategy Group" led by Social Regeneration. All the same, we struggled to mainstream developments – such as Digital TV, Smart Cards, Kiosk solutions and Newham.Net.
The Council is very active still in TeleHealth/ TeleCare, mobile computing and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) for Social Care, and Choice-Based Lettings for Housing, with a host of new developments such as the Newham Directory and Collaboration portals for Health, Children Services etc.
With the impending development of Newham network infrastructure through the £9m Newham Telecommunications Convergence programme, which will provide an infrastructure that facilitates cross-sector working for the benefit as a whole, it seems still more important to co-ordinate community involvement and support through ICT.
The meeting attendance was disappointing, but there was a useful discussion. It was decided that, as part of the NTC project, to develop a proposal for a co-ordination role to be based in Community and Customer Services.
A few stories caught my eye today. I'm ignoring the one about ICT being an obstacle to flexible working because I think it's rubbish! However, I agree it's key to energy savings…
…and speaking of Community engagement through ICT, the Whole Systems Demonstrator project, featuring Newham, Kent and Cornwall, and launched, last week, in Newham, was in the news…
I was also interested in the Gartner report on "Cloud Computing". I'm not entirely clear what this is! It's clearly more than just Software-as-a-Service, and the term obviously derives from the way networks in the ether (outside the corporate network) are always illustrated as clouds, but I am convinced it's the way our infrastructure will develop.