Last week I attend The Public Sector Show in London, an event designed specifically to address the challenges and issues of the public sector.

With 6 simultaneous seminars they covered a wide range of topics and there was a floor full of stands of suppliers.

The highlights of the event:

1- A “therapy session” with Ellis Pitt from the Design Council. I found him standing on a corner by a wall filled with post its. I had to wait for him to be free like an hour; two ladies seemed to be really engaged in the discussion. When it was my time, I sat down by the table and I started telling him what we do in Citymart.com and what is my research about and so on. He was was listening carefully and taking notes, drawing circles and connecting the dotes. At the end he was able to have a clear picture of our complex work and it was useful for me to spot new insights, new drivers for tackling our issues. I value his approach: stop for a moment, think, visualize, reflect…what do you see now?

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2- The Escher Group and some  partners were announced to shared their insights into community engagement, digital inclusion, and how a collaborative community approach is the future for communicating with local citizens. I was fist on the line.

As far as I understood the Escher group has developed devices that can collect data from citizens. They share a case study in which some interactive screens were placed around the city (e.g. post office) with questionnaires. I really don’t see much collaboration as the title was promising but I recognize that the “touch” technology brings new opportunities to reach the mass.

It was shocking to know that “16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still don’t have Basic Online Skills – yet 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills by 2015” This statement was given by a representative of  GO-ON UK, an organization with the aim of making the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world.

3-  A super enthusiastic Open Data fan and Director for Transparency and Open Data. Paul Maltby talked about new opportunities to improve public services through governmental data. Check out the Open Data Institute (ODI); it’s a “first-of-its-kind” incubator environment for individuals and organisations to research and exploit the potential of ‘open data’

4- The building: the Business Design Center dates from 1861; it used to be the Agricultural Hall.