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The cutting edge of innovation in every day lives: Local by Social

Happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Tolstoy

Lives are messy. Lives are full of complex relationships and difficult circumstances. All families are chaotic. I mean, I guess they are. Mine is.

Certainly some of the most intractable problems that we face in the public sector are caused by we frail humans and our silly, sometimes tragic ways. If we were all alike in our unhappiness, then problems might be much simpler to solve. And these problems are compounded by dis-organisation, lack of information, a failure to communicate and layers of people who need to know or act, but don’t.

Social media doesn’t solve this. But social media and digital technologies do enable connections to be made more easily and information to be shared quickly and easily. Information that can range from a feeling to a picture to case information to reminders of how to access services.

The next Local by Social is going to be delivered through the lens of child poverty. Initially, we were reluctant to say this – maybe child poverty sounds stigmatising or patronising? A bit of a downer? But really this is about life chances, opportunity and making a difference. This is about starting with the problem and not just championing a solution that you hope will fit. This is the most exciting and innovative edge of how social tech can be used to transform not just services but people’s lives. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast, but this is what public service is about. This is a chance to be a part of one of the most exciting, purposeful events you’ll ever attend.

On the first day, 4 March – we have an absolutely amazing line up. We’ll hear from innovators, Sunderland’s political leadership will share how they’ve been leading on digital and from Carla Ross from NESTA’s ReBoot Britain programme where a series of programmes are trying to tackle some really complex issues in people’s lives. (See here for full agenda). We’ll hear from people at the leading edge of digital innovation in gaming and touch screens and then we’ll work together to see how some of these lessons can be applied to a particular neighbourhood in Sunderland. And the people who live there will be working with us as citizen innovators. This is a huge opportunity to see in a very practical way how digital tech can reach into the heart of public service and to be a part of spreading these lessons more widely.

On Day 2 we’ll be working with developers, citizens and public sector practitioner to design and build things which can be used not just in that neighbourhood in the North East, but maybe in a neighbourhood near you. Neighbourhoods are both happy and unhappy in their own unique ways, but we’ll be sharing lessons about ways of thinking about addressing these issues which are the same everywhere.

You can attend either or both days, and of course, the tickets are free. Sign up here.


Friday 4th March, Southwick Community Primary School, Sunderland

9.30 – 10.00: Registration and coffee

1000 – 10.10: Sunderland’s Vision for Digital Inclusion – Cllr Florence Anderson, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Child Poverty Champion

10.10 – 10.20: Sunderland’s approach to Digital Inclusion – Tom Baker, Head of Communications and Corporate Information and Communication Technology, Sunderland City Council (TBC)

10.20 – 10.30: Hopes for the day – Trish Stoker, Head Teacher of Southwick Community Primary School (TBC)

1030 – 10.45: Introduction to Local by Social and LG Groups’ Knowledge Hub -Ingrid Koehler, Improvement Strategist, Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID)

10.45 – 10.55: Gov 2.0 – Carrie Bishop, FutureGov

Questions and comments

11.05 – 11.20: Coffee break

11.20 – 11.35: Reboot Britain – Carla Ross, Innovation Programmes Manager, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA)

Questions and comments

11.45 – 12.15: Generating and filtering ideas for afternoon workshops

12.15 – 1.00: Lunch

1.00 – 2.15: Afternoon speakers

  • Herb Kim, Chief Executive of Codeworks, which facilitates connection and collaboration between digital innovators within North East England and throughout the world.
  • Jeremiah Alexander, Ideas Architect/Director of Ideonic, an ideas-driven serious games studio based in Newcastle.
  • Mahmoud Elsaid, Managing Director of LamasaTech, which develops multi-touch technologies such as interactive walls.

2.15 – 2.30: Introduction to afternoon workshop sessions

2.30 – 3.30: Afternoon workshops

3.30 – 4.15: Workshop feedback

4.15 – 4.25: Review of workshop presentations

4.25 – 4.30: Closing Remarks


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