Crowdfunding for Public Services Network (PSN)’s local Solutions Advisory Group (SAG)
Here’s something new in the land of Digital. And something not so new, with new innovation.
The not so new bit is that the local public services economy is fragmented into thousands of legal entities. That’s its strength (local arrangements for local people) and it weakness (national governance and funding is not straightforward).
The new bit
For one shared business opportunity, across local public services, we are seeking to provide national capacity that with an innovative “crowdsourcing” approach.
For those new to it, the word “crowdsourcing” was coined in 2006 and can apply to a wide range of activities. I like Wikipedia’s definitions; “Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
“Crowdfunding” is the process of funding your projects by a multitude of people contributing a small amount in order to attain a certain monetary goal. The process is often used to subdivide tedious work”
In other words, you ask lots of people or organisations to contribute a little.
Right now, we have an opportunity to improve multi agency local service delivery across police, health, local authorities, third sector, passenger transport and beyond.
Very many reports complain of public service silo’s, so it’s a great idea to have a public service infrastructure to help us work together better. We are building a computer network that joins these organisations together securely. This computer network is already well developed and is known as the Public Services Network, or “PSN”.
We have found that getting the “secure” bit right is much more difficult than anyone had anticipated. This has resulted in many organisations voicing their aspirations and concerns, most recently at an excellent workshop co-ordinated by the Local Government Association (LGA). It was an impressive alliance of influential parties, with Local Government chief executives, senior officers from the Cabinet Office, the PSN team, the government computer security group CESG, the DCLG, the LGA, IT leaders from the Local CIO Council and Socitm, and other influential representatives.
We are all working as a team to ensure PSN offers the transformational efficiencies it has the potential for.
Great progress, but as ever there is more to be done. At an individual organisation level there are complex options to consider to ensure the business benefit of PSN is realised, without compromising security against cyber threats. A pragmatic risk balance is agreed to be desired, but this is different in each organisation. So, what we need is some more people who can understand what a local public service organisation’s needs are, what the technical issues are and what the security requirements are. And then help local organisations to deliver the pragmatic and proportionate security measures that make sense locally.
But each organisation doesn’t need a full-time specialist. We need a small pool of people able to help each of the regions in the UK. We need a Solutions Advisory Group (SAG) and need to fund some staff to populate it.
Seeking central funding through measures such as “New Burdens” or ordinary central budgeting are difficult, not guaranteed and time-consuming. And we have an immediate requirement.
So I thought, how about if each of 500 local organisations contributed £1,000? That would raise enough to recruit some useful people for each of the regions. I was delighted when the organisations I suggested the idea to said “Yes, let’s try that”. The IT and digital leaders society (Socitm) and then the Local Chief Information Officer Council (LCIOC) both gave it their support and many individual organisations have indicated they would contribute. So, we have just launched a local public service Crowdfunding initiative, hosted by Socitm.
That’s the new bit. Crowdfunding for a shared local public services resource. There’s some more information on the Socitm web site here: http://www.socitm.net/psn-solutions-advisory-group-funding-portal
I hope it works, because delivering joined up public services is critical to the future of efficient, effective delivery that citizens like.