An open letter to suppliers

Today, Hackney are supporting the Local Digital Declaration (http://www.localdigital.gov.uk/declaration), which reinforces our commitment across the sector to using technology, data and design led approaches to deliver digital public services that meet our residents’ expectations. You can see the Mayor of Hackney’s statement in support of the principles in the Declaration here: https://youtu.be/Y-wZRQZOWCk.

This declaration affirms our collective ambition for local public services in the internet age, and our commitments to realising it. It commits us to work alongside other councils on a new scale to:

  • Design services that best meet the needs of citizens.
  • Challenge the technology market to offer the flexible tools and services we need.
  • Protect citizens’ privacy and security.
  • Deliver better value for money.

Our ambition requires both a culture shift and a technology shift. As part of that we want to work with our suppliers to:

  1. Redesign our services around the needs of the people using them. This means continuing to prioritise citizen and user needs above professional, organisational and technological silos – we need technology that will help us put people first.
  2. ‘Fix our plumbing’ and break away from dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively. This means insisting on modular building blocks for the IT we rely on, based on open standards that can give a common structure to the data we create and share. We need technology that is designed for interoperability, not modules of locked down ecosystems.

These ideas aren’t new and since summer 2016 we have committed at Hackney to assessing all our technology choices against the Local Government Digital Service Standard and the Technology Code of Practice. However, our experience of the marketplace continues to be highly variable. While we have been fortunate to work with suppliers large and small whose focus on user needs and service design is helping us to provide better services for our citizens, we also continue to find that too many offerings lack the flexibility we need, are based on out of date technology, do not commit to open standards and modern, open APIs, and are often based on assumptions of single vendor ecosystems that are not fit for our digital future.

As part of committing to the declaration we want to be open in how we, along with colleagues across the sector, engage with technology vendors who want to continue working with local authorities and help us deliver the digital services that our residents deserve.

Once you’ve had an opportunity to consider the declaration, I would be delighted to hear from you about your plans to develop your services in line with the principles that it sets out.

Thank you for your ongoing hard work, and we look forward to hearing your plans.

Kind regards,

Rob Miller

Director of ICT