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Two years of fixing the plumbing: celebrating ‘Digital Declaration Month’

Celebrating 2 years of the Local Digital Declaration

In July, the Local Digital Collaboration Unit celebrated the second anniversary of the Local Digital Declaration.

We hosted a month-long celebration to thank our signatories and partners for all their hard work and promoted some of the amazing digital stories that have taken place over the past 2 years.

In this blog post, we’ll touch on some of the Declaration’s biggest milestones and share an overview of what we got up to during ‘Digital Declaration Month’.

About the Local Digital Declaration

The Local Digital Declaration was launched in 2018 as a shared ambition for the future of local public services by a collective of 45 local authorities, sector bodies and government departments.

The Local Digital movement has steadily gained momentum over the course of two years, and to date 223 organisations have pledged their commitment to providing better public services for their citizens.

You can read more about what inspired the launch of the Declaration in our one year anniversary blog post. Our Cyber and Technology Lead, Ben Cheetham, also talks about why it was necessary to create the Declaration, and why it’s so relevant today, in this recent blog post.

What impact has the Declaration had?

In two years, the Local Digital Fund has run 4 funding rounds and funded 29 project phases - as well as our latest 11 new projects through the Local Digital COVID-19 Challenge. In addition, the Fund also enabled us to deliver free training to over 1000 council staff to help them deliver their digital projects and improve services, including introductions to agile ways of working and user centred design.

We asked our signatories to share their stories about the Declaration and the impact it has had on their council or organisation.

These are just a handful of the stories we received:

Isle of Wight Council

Isle of Wight Council signed the Local Digital Declaration in 2018. In this video, they explain how their commitment to being ‘digital first’ enabled their swift, effective response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stockport Council

In a recent blog post, Stockport Council reflected on how they responded to the Local Digital Declaration. This has included collaborating with their residents to co-design new services and also hosting open days to share their ways of working with other local authorities and public sector bodies. Stockport is committed to learning and improving, and putting people at the heart of what they do is embedded within their One Stockport initiative.

Some of your stories in Tweets

The Local Digital Declaration (and fund) is helping us turn a code sharing dream into a flexible componentised publishing system @LocalGovDrupal. Today’s sprint planning featured devs from 3 agencies and 2 councils! This is the future #LocalDigital2Years @LDgovUK

— Will Callaghan (@willguv) July 8, 2020

It's the #LocalDigital Declaration's 2nd anniversary, where we signed up to make better digital access for customers. During this Covid crisis it's paying big dividends, delivering services such as emergency business support grant forms – over 2,500 approved so far. @LDgovUK pic.twitter.com/YTHLkK6bCE

— Teignbridge (@Teignbridge) July 8, 2020

The local digital declaration has been a very good thing indeed. It helped me to get things moving when I first joined Croydon, to give credence to my proposals and give my team a mandate. The fund has since helped us share code with multiple councils. Happy #LocalDigital2Years https://t.co/sBbmDE0TOn

— Neil Williams (@neillyneil) July 7, 2020

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the #LocalDigital Declaration! To celebrate, listen to our podcast with @lisajjeffery of GDS, @maynleow of @LDgovUK, @TrickeyLisa of @DorsetCouncilUK and @Healthiapps of @blackburndarwen
https://t.co/NNxW6QBCPa #LocalDigital2Years #FixThePlumbing pic.twitter.com/atc0BYOtA0

— GDS (@GDSTeam) July 4, 2020

Thank you to everyone that took the time to share their story, the response was incredible. There were over 200 Tweets sent during Digital Declaration Month and 35 council and partner stories shared. We want to share them all, so we are busy working on a way to pull these together in one central place and hope to share with you soon.

Celebration event

Thank you to everyone who made it to our #LocalDigital2Years virtual celebration today, with a special thanks to our guest speakers @katsexton8 @hrae85 @mattprosserceo & @Healthiapps for inspiring us with your digital stories!

A recording of the event will be available soon. pic.twitter.com/VPMjCciiCn

— Local Digital UK Gov (@LDgovUK) July 27, 2020

On Monday 27 July, we hosted a virtual event to say a special thank you to everyone that has helped make the last 2 years possible, and to celebrate the hard work and achievements from across the Local Digital community.

During his keynote address, Simon Clarke MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, told our signatories:

The Local Digital Declaration has enabled digital to be embedded at the heart of many councils, and together, you have made great strides in pushing digital towards the centre of decision making.

During the event, we had digital showcases from a number of signatory councils, you can watch them below.

Holly Rae, Head of Strategy and Design at Stockport Council Matt Prosser, Chief Executive at Dorset Council and SOLACE lead for Digital Paul Fleming, Director of Digital and Business Change at Blackburn with Darwen Council Kat Sexton, Digital Services Architect at Cambridgeshire County Council 

Bringing the Declaration to life

During Digital Declaration Month, we unveiled a short animated video to make it easier to describe the Declaration’s purpose, and highlight some of the core principles. We hope this can be used to break down some of the common misconceptions surrounding the Declaration, and becomes a useful asset when embedding the principles at your organisations.

What next for the Declaration?

At our recent virtual celebratory event, we spoke a little about our plans for the Declaration moving forward.

We want your ideas and opinions to shape this next phase of the Declaration, to maximise its potential and recommit to the principles. I want to support you in being ambitious, innovative and bold.

Please be assured you have my full backing, and I’ll be writing to your chief execs to express my support. I want to celebrate the great successes of local government, but I also want to hear how we can best support and encourage this kind of innovation across the sector.

Simon Clarke MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government

The local government response to the pandemic has shown us what’s possible when people come together to collaborate, rapidly building services and harnessing the power of digital technology. As we shift to the next phase of recovery and renewal post COVID-19, this is our opportunity to be bold and drive the Declaration forward.

Now more than ever, the use of digital tools and collaboration is essential, and we’re keen to hear your ideas for what the next phase should look like. We want to hear what we can do to best support our signatories and the Local Digital movement, and encourage even greater innovation in the sector.

Next steps:

In the coming months, we hope to run some follow on workshops to develop the idea of advocates within each council to further champion and enhance the principles of the Local Digital mission. Council spotlight: we were blown away by the response to our #LocalDigital2Years campaign and we want to take a proactive approach to sharing these stories and case studies on a more regular basis. Every month we will be looking for councils that want to showcase their work and achievements to the Local Digital community, you can share by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re excited to be partnering with Digital Leaders Week 2020 (online). We will be encouraging our signatories and partners to take part by running their own events around digital leadership, transformation, tech for good, govtech, smart cities and AI & Data. There will be more to come on this soon!

Find out more

Any public sector and non-profit organisation in the UK can become a signatory of the Local Digital Declaration. More information on the Declaration and how to join the Local Digital movement are available on our website. Join the LocalGov Digital Slack community Watch the full recording of our virtual celebratory event Read the UK Authority report ‘Fixing the Plumbing: Principles of the Local Declaration in action’ (PDF) Listen to June's episode of the GDS Podcast, which celebrates 2 years of the Local Digital Declaration Catch the campaign highlights on Twitter #LocalDigital2Years Sign up to our newsletter for regular updates and Local Digital news
Original author: Local Digital Collaboration Unit
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