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Re-configuring Public Services in a post-Covid world. Mark Thompson reflects on keynoting ‘LocalGovCamp Lockdown’ – a virtual event for public sector

By Mark Thompson21 May 20202 min read

LocalGovCamp – an ‘unconference’ for the local service community with an emphasis on digital enablement – has been going for over a decade, and offers an informal and mutually supporting environment for a variety of stakeholders in the sector to come together, showcase and discuss ideas, and drink beer!

Having keynoted LocalGovCamp in Birmingham in 2019 around the theme of ‘Council 4.0’, I was asked to do a short keynote for this year’s online event, LocalGovCamp Lockdown!

During my keynote, I made several observations about some of the considerable challenges facing councils and their partners as they respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic and also start to plan for different ways of working as lockdown begins to ease.  I stressed that if, as everyone acknowledges, reversion to the old ways of doing things was not on the cards, then the most sensible principles upon which to reconfigure public services for the future would be around data; architecting to be as open and accessible as possible, and making best use of burgeoning Cloud utilities and services.

But most of all, in this short set of comments, I wanted to say something about belonging.  I think LocalGovUK is important precisely because it doesn’t cater to ‘the usual’ ‘IT Crowd’.  You know: the IT community that likes to brag about that recent desktop refresh, or that still thinks the Cloud is just some data storage contract.  Instead, the people attracted to this particular ‘unconference’ have a strong vision to make best use of new technology to modernise the very idea of local government itself; and try, tirelessly, to do so in endlessly innovative ways – often in the face of implacable resistance from the ‘old guard’.

I feel humbled by how they are innovating using the latest digital tools and infrastructure to mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19 on local communities, and very proud to have been asked to say a few words by way of keynote: thank you.