Digital devolution: A guide for mayors

External publication, published by techUK

Atos Poland Consulting Manager

City regions are faced with a range of challenges, from demographic change, traffic congestion and housing, to improving employment opportunities and local economic wealth. Set against a backdrop of rising citizen expectations and budget cuts, this poses a significant public policy challenge for Mayors. These challenges can no longer be faced alone, and digital devolution presents the opportunity to do things differently.

Elected Mayors can put digital at the heart of their plans and put in place the leadership required to deliver real change and better outcomes. Digital is instinctively designed to assist collaboration and, by putting digital at the forefront of city region plans, Mayors can re-shape and integrate services, creating better places to live and drive regional growth.

Key recommendations to the new Mayors include:

Putting in place the right digital leadership

  • A Chief Digital and Innovation Champion (CDIC) to be appointed, reporting directly to the Mayor and senior officer of the Combined Authority.
  • An Innovation Unit is set-up to work with the CDIC across the city region to foster new partnerships and offer practical support to test new ideas and embed digital across
    the place.

Becoming a data enriched city region

  • A clear commitment from the Mayor to open up data and make decisions based on city wide data.
  • An audit of local data assets and city-wide data with the aim of creating a city region datastore.

Innovative and inclusive

A citizen centric approach should be adopted to ensure policies put users at the heart. The Mayor and their team should work closely with the community to tackle digital exclusion.

A destination for talent

A Digital Skills Task Force to be convened within the first 100 days to agree a skills pipeline and put in place the necessary provisions to meet the needs and demand of the community and employers.

Georgina Maratheftis,

Programme Manager for Local Government at techUK said:

Digital devolution presents one of the biggest opportunities to do things differently, break down the traditional barriers to service delivery to drive improved outcomes for all. The Mayors, with their direct and convening powers, must use their new and unique position to accelerate the pace of transformation, working closely with public sector, the community and industry to deliver better outcomes for all citizens by creating truly joined-up services and places where citizens want to live and thrive. We are looking forward to working with the Mayors to redefine what a 21st century city region can be.

Aimee Betts-Charalambous,

Programme Manager for IoT & SmarterUK at techUK said:

With a trend towards Publicization cities of the future are going to have to work in a very different way to how they work today. Leaders will need to rethink not just essential services but also determine a strategy for economic growth and improved quality of life. All within the context of budget cuts, resource scarcity and rising expectations. This is one of the most consequential periods for city governance and will define the success of our regions in the future. In adopting a digital mind set the new mayors will have an opportunity to enhance local productivity unlocking their share of £208bn in gains over the next decade.


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