2021 was another challenging year, but our teams rose to the challenge once again, keeping on top of changing requirements and expectations resulting from the pandemic whilst continuing our transformation work and maintaining our regular digital business. And we have demonstrated that we can achieve all this with most of our teams working remotely.
Highlights from the year include: the launch of the Big Stockport Picture, a collaborative data portal for the borough, completion of the challenging Local Full Fibre Network rollout ahead of schedule, passing our accessibility audit and holding our most extensive ever Get Online Week at the One Stockport Hub. We also completed a successful pilot for our DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities) sponsored project, Family Context, that brings together data from multiple organisations to support the social work assessment process and improve outcomes for vulnerable children.
So, much to be proud of, and as 2022 begins, more ambitious plans are in store.
Stockport Digital Strategy
First and foremost, we’ve been very busy drafting our Digital Strategy and we will be sharing it soon. We would welcome feedback from all – colleagues, peers, community partners, residents and service users – which we will incorporate into the final strategy.
Our ambition is to offer the best customer experience to residents and service users, ensuring all those who need support can access it, and our digital strategy should help us achieve this. We’ve divided our strategy into three broad areas, and we look forward to updating you on our progress in each of these areas over the forthcoming year.
The pandemic has highlighted just how much more difficult life is for those without the capability to access the internet. As we aim for 100% digital inclusion (DI), we plan to increase the number of individuals supported to get online or improve their digital confidence and skills, thereby improving their opportunities. To do this, we will recruit and train more digital champions and provide volunteering opportunities for individuals and groups, widening the range of organisations and groups involved in our DigiKnow alliance.
We know that residents, businesses and community groups want clear information, advice and guidance that empowers them to make informed choices, self-serve and access support services when required. The transformation of our website and digital services based on improving the customer journey will continue, providing the information people need, in the right place, at the right time and in a format accessible to all.
Innovative technology has a huge role in enabling people to enjoy a happy and healthy life at home, staying safe, independent, and connected to friends, family and the wider community. We will expand the use of technology in supporting people to age well in Stockport with our Technology Aided Living programme and the launch of the Universal Telecare Offer. We will be using technology to aid residents to manage their health through real-time monitoring of chronic conditions and improving access to health and social care professionals through virtual technology.
As we recover from the pandemic, we want to use digital opportunities to support the local economy with more digital businesses generating well paid and productive employment in the borough. This will include creating space for digital startups, collaboration and innovation, such as the planned Merseyway development.
We also need to focus on digital skills, with a workforce ready to succeed in future digital roles that improve career prospects and pay.
Additionally, we want to continue with our Smart City aspirations, working closely with partners across the region to embed scalable digital infrastructure and systems to gather data and deliver new, innovative services that improve the lives of citizens.
We will continue to evolve our award-winning digital offer, using agile working practices and digital tools to improve our processes and the citizen experience. This will include supporting our colleagues to make the most of digital and build confidence, enabling services to deliver efficient, citizen focused support whilst also making the most of hybrid working.
We have, over the last few years, developed scalable methods for managing our data assets and more effectively generating insights, but we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities our data can bring. Our focus for 2022 includes joining up more of our disparate data helping to provide a richer picture of Stockport as a place, citizen needs and outcomes, whilst also opening up automation and process improvement opportunities. This will require us to develop further our thinking on how we manage our data assets and help build data literacy, making it easier to find and use the available insight. It will also allow us to further develop our Family Context tool, with new datasets that will open up further possibilities to make better use of our data. Finally, we want to share more data in the open, making the most of our new data portal: Big Stockport Picture.
Alongside this, we plan to develop our Robotic Process Automation capabilities. This will allow us to create robots that will remove manual data processing activities, working alongside colleagues to help us work smarter. As we face ever-increasing threats to our IT security, we plan to launch a new backup and disaster recovery service, making the most of cloud and anti-ransomware technologies. We will also continue to lead, with Greater Manchester colleagues, digital initiatives across the region, including Local Full Fibre Network rollout, connecting public sites, and One Network plans to enable digital services across the region.
So, plenty to look forwards to this year. And as always, we will need to remain agile and responsive as we never know what’s round the corner!
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2022!