Tag Archives: innovation

OPEN CALL – NextGen Digital Challenge 2015

1 Feb

NextGenAwards2015600

 

The NextGen Digital Challenge Awards programme is back for a 5th year.

Launched today, the Open Call for nominations from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland seeks great examples of digital endeavour.

Whilst mainstream media focus on big names and even bigger numbers, the real impacts of  increasingly digitalised economies are often found at a more local level.  In 2015 the Awards categories will now include the ‘Sharing Economy’ and ‘Municipal Enterprise’ – arenas where direct impacts for people and enterprises are massively transformative.

Join us on this journey of digital discovery by nominating projects and achievements that deserve recognition. Nomination is free of charge.

Full details at http://www.nextgenevents.co.uk/awards

See also ‘And your point is?

NextGenAwards2015600

Network Technologies & City Management: innovations in parallel

25 Jan

Following a week where Judith Rodin’s book The Resilience Dividend coincided with reports from ETSI on great progress in NFV standards development, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d find ourselves musing on their similarities.

Megan Wu - silicon cityscape

For Networks: getting our acts together we found that Megan Wu’s graphic captured a blend of cityscape and silicon.  Network technologists and Community builders –  different disciplines tackling much the same processes.

 

Harrumph of the week: you cannot be serious?

26 Aug

Yesterday’s news that Amazon is intent on acquiring Twitch Interactive Inc. – a 3 year old venture with a million broadcasters and 55 million visitors per month – for around $970 million in cash, is yet another signal that your correspondent should perhaps wake up and take the games market seriously.

But having just been visited by two young grandchildren (with iPads) on their summer holidays, it is difficult to be serious.

The mind boggles.

Full story featuring the EvilLordPexagon here

The Value of ish

15 Jun

multi-culture

Prompted by debates about British Values and reports of racial intolerance, we have written a reminder of the the significance of ish.

Read the full story – ‘The Joy of ish‘ – and embrace the future whatever.

Developing the Economic Fabric of the Future

5 Jan

Thinking about the prospects and projects for 2014, several development themes seem likely to be woven into the complex economic and community development fabric.  

One of our great insights from last year came from the CIO of the City of Chattanooga in Eastern Tennessee as he explained his rationale for investment – a process that resisted the technology-driven desires and preferences of the IT industry and focused ruthlessly on the real objectives of his municipal client departments.

This, in the USA’s first ‘GigabitCity’ where connectivity and capacity is not an issue, reflected a determination to deliver real benefits to the City’s administration (and  consequently its citizens and tax-payers) without wasting the rich resources available.  And in the Mayor’s office we found two of them – the City Mayor and the Mayor for the surrounding County.  Their mutual understanding of the interdependent role of the City and its hinterland added a fresh dimension to discussions of ‘Smart Cities’ that are so often reduced to Urban versus Rural contentions.

Immediately after visiting Chattanooga we spent time in New York with the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and, once again, their perspective on the challenges faced by communities around the world provided a new way of thinking about the priorities we give to economic development.

In The Fabric of Our Futures (PDF) we summarise some of the more obvious themes that will arise in 2014 and, hopefully, will inform projects and prospects for future Study Tours, the UK’s Next Generation Digital Challenge Awards and the platforms we organise for innovators and community leaders.

The full text is also available here.

Whatever Next? Without vision the platforms perish

29 Nov

Underlying the froth of Application inventiveness lies a deeper, more fundamental, challenge for the true innovator – the creation of new enabling digital platforms to take over from tired designs that are nearing the end of their lives and can no longer be sustained by patches, fixes, makeovers and redecoration.

Full story here 

Digital Challenge Awards 2013 – record entry shows sources of economic growth

6 Aug

The UK’s Next Generation Digital Challenge is an annual awards programme that culminates in an award ceremony in October – this year at Wembley during the NextGen conference.

The entries this year are interesting for at least three reasons.  Firstly the Open Nomination phase resulted in more than three times previous entry levels.  Secondly analysis of the entries showed that there were now sufficient entries to justify support for three new categories – in Open Data, Digital Skills and Digital Innovation – in addition to the traditional categories for digital network developments.  Thirdly the entries show an increasing awareness of the value for local communities and the economy of long-term investment in digital infrastructure.

With this higher level of entries, up to six nominations in each category have now been selected  to go forward as Finalists for assessment by an independent judging panel and all of those short-listed will be invited to make brief presentations at NextGen13.

Full story including the short-listed Finalists here

Seeing the Value – will the UK Public Accounts Committee make the connections?

28 Jun

WestminsterIn matters of broadband policy many folks would not normally rate the chances of UK Parliamentarians having sufficient awareness to probe government policy to any great depth but in July their Public Accounts Committee will have the benefit of the National Audit Office report on the delivery performance of the Department of Culture Media and Sport – the current policy owner for the UK’s most critical infrastructure development.

The committee can, of course, give witnesses a fully televised hard time for the benefit of the wider public but much will depend on the members’ ability to ask incisive questions.   In their deliberations over the state of broadband policy the PAC will also have the benefit of the Information Economy industry strategy recently launched by the Department for Business (the former owner of broadband infrastructure policy) and, of course, the brilliant independent review of Public Sector Information by Stephan Shakespeare

Hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of the UK Parliament seem an unlikely platform for articulation of radical policy ideas.  The PAC may be regarded as ‘influential’ but in practice government can ignore its reports and the committee has no direct vote on policy issues.  At its best they can capture and deliver views that are of common concern – views and sensitivities that any government might be foolish to dismiss –  and this is why the combination of the NAO, IE and PSI reports is now so powerful.

Centre-right policy across the entire economy is firmly grounded in a view of competitive market efficiency that is so often a misinterpretation of its roots in the USA.    It is true that radical approaches to infrastructure provision in the USA have been routinely opposed in the courts with intensive lobbying from established industry interests.  That however has not prevented 135 municipal FTTP access networks from being deployed and is not deterring many others now in the throes of feasibility studies.  Indeed their regulator, the FCC, is actively encouraging the growth of new entrants to deliver local ‘future-proofed’ Gigabit networks – often in conjunction with local municipal Energy companies.

The reason for this municipal non-conformist economic behaviour is quite simple.  These cities and communities need jobs and economic growth – and someone has rumbled that the global market for the expertise that is engendered is not just huge; it is vastly greater than the growth prospects of an industry dedicated to limiting its own long-term growth in the interests of short-term market gains and value extraction from an outdated analogue infrastructure.

On the other side of the Atlantic the policy view of connectivity is analogous to their recently reframed position on Climate Change.  After years of resistance, after listening attentively to oil and gas lobbyists, realisation has finally dawned that the global market for sustainable energy is real, that climate change is real, and there’s an urgent need to gain qualifying experience if the opportunities are not to be missed.

Which is exactly the point made in the UK’s Information Economy industry strategy.  ‘UK Trade & Industry’ now understands that the global market for smart city management systems is worth around £400bn by 2020 and, if UK firms are to stand any chance of gaining a modest 10% market share, there’s an urgent need to have some sort of credible  qualifying experience.  So far only one UK city has made any real attempt to deploy an ultra-fast city network and, in a classically defensive and litigious response, BT and Virgin Media have opposed that initiative

The PAC may perhaps wonder why the Connected Cities programme is so lacking aspiration and urgency that the public funding is almost entirely ending up with established interests who are not keen to see citizens and enterprise provided with future-proofed fibre access networks.  They might argue the point from the view of Health, Energy, Transport, Environment, Education, Social Services or any departmental position that is now critically dependent on a fully connected digital economy.

They might even question the oddly antique view that the Information Economy is some small but growing sub-sector of UK industry – some clever clogs that do strange digital things – rather than the primary focus for revitalisation and rebalancing across the entire economy.

And, while they are rightly focused on public expenditure they might wonder about value for money for expensive public sector networks paid for by the public purse but not, it seems, allowed to be used for the benefit of citizens.

The digital penny may perhaps have dropped in a corner of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills but it is surely the Treasury that needs to understand the risks and true cost to an economy that cannot afford to prop up relics of the past.

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Related Links.

Searching for the Centre of the Digital Universe

Economic Revitalisation

Innovation and job creation: Intelligent Community Forum annual Global Summit

6 Jun

(David Brunnen and Marit Hendriks reporting from New York)

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is holding its annual Summit this week in New York City. This 3-day event is an international gathering of mayors, chief administrative officers, CIOs and economic development officers from cities, states and regions around the world that are designated Intelligent Communities by the ICF. The theme this year is “Innovation and Jobs”.

In partnership with the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, the event brings the world’s most dynamic communities together to discuss how to use information and communications technology innovation to create jobs and sustainable communities.

The high point of the event will be on Friday when ICF announces the name of the world’s 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year.

Amongst the speakers gathered from around the world will be Mike Lazaridis, founder of Blackberry, Uzo Udemba, developer of Lagos as an intelligent city and Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus Ohio.

From the UK, Marit and I will today be addressing a conference plenary on the impacts of Open Data innovation and giving several examples of community development as well as the trends towards greater transparency in the commercial sector and environmental sustainability.

Developing this theme has been excellent preparation for the upcoming Intelligent Cities event in Leeds on June 19th.

Working with the ICF has hugely informed NextGen Events – particularly in helping to identify the key UK challenges faced by cities and communities as the investment priorities for digital infrastructure begin to be realised.   A brief summary of the 2013 themes can be found in our paper ‘Economic Revitalisation’.

The Silver Lining Behind the High Street’s Cloud

17 Jan

Yesterday’s demise of the UK’s Blockbuster video store, coming so soon after the reins of HMV were handed to ‘the administrator’ and Jessop’s cameras followed Comet’s white goods and countless card shops into the wilderness, has kept headline and leader writers busy and caused ‘a nation of shopkeepers’  to pause for thought.

It was, said one columnist (overstating for effect), as if the High Street had finally run out of people who were not on the Internet.  We might even see the end of that most unlikely quack health treatment – retail therapy.  The outpouring of late love for lost brands stands in contrast to the reluctance of shoppers to visit the places before they died – and a good part of that must reflect the lack of money to splurge on optional extras when they can be found more conveniently and cheaper elsewhere.  Economists may describe this as ‘market pruning’ but hopes for a resurgence of growth in the Spring seem unlikely.

No amount of yearning for the real or imagined lost paradise of the High Street will slow the world sufficiently for those who want to get off but there is value to be found in this massive penny-dropping moment – the realisation that the digital economy is real.  Personal and collective moments of revelation such as this tell us how much we have been kidding ourselves as we cling to the ‘established order’.

In the UK the retail sector employs 4 million people and whilst feeling for those whose lives careers and incomes have been disrupted, our editorial ‘Pennies, Drops and Impacts‘ looks at the urgent need to get all our heads around the new realities and deliver a digitally inclusive and more-equitable society.