Integrated Digital Service Leeds City Council Leeds ICB

Leeds City Digital Strategy

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

Our focus was on designing a Digital Strategy that was ‘city’ focused, rather than one for a specific organisation. We wanted key players in the city to ‘buy into’ the strategy and recognise that we all have a role to play whether it be improving the digital skills of our collective workforces, ensuring that our customers can access our online services, or engaging our citizens, customers and patients in our work and encouraging a person-centred approach.

The aim was to deliver a digital strategy that encompassed the views of as many voices in Leeds as possible, including public sector organisations, third sector, academia, private sector, and members of the public. The objective was to ultimately deliver a digital strategy that was relatable, easy to digest, and where people could see themselves in it – either from a delivery perspective, or as a someone who benefitted from it. It was written in context with Leeds’ key overarching ‘Best City Ambition’ document and designed to support the city’s three main strategies: Inclusive Growth, Carbon Zero, and Health & Wellbeing. To spell out the clear synergies with the Best City Ambition, we also adopted their person-centred, ‘life-course’ approach to outline how digital can support people through every stage of their life: Starting Well, Living Well, Working Well, and Ageing Well.

What are the key achievements?

Extensive consultation was carried out to hear the views from as many people as possible. Thirteen workshops were delivered focusing on a variety of areas:
– Business and Economy (public facing)
– Innovation (public facing)
– Smart Cities (public facing)
– Digital and data ethics (public facing)
– Health & Wellbeing (public facing)
– Digital Primary Care (Healthcare sector focused)
– Self-care and Prevention (Health and Adult Social Care focused)
– Primary and Community Care (Primary Care focused)
– People and Communities (public facing)
– Social Care and Third Sector
– Secondary and Tertiary Care
– Business and Economy (2) (Private sector / business focused)
– Communities (Community Networks focused)

Additionally, we consulted with academia, the Information Commissioner’s Office and attended additional healthcare and third sector meetings to promote the work and gauge feedback. The strategy provides a clear outline of the main priorities and direction of travel for the city. Furthermore, it provides a steer for the Integrated Digital Service’s innovation programme that will focus on how digital can support people throughout their lives. It is important that in an era on diminishing resources, that we are innovative and focusing our efforts in the right areas – the strategy provides that steer.

How innovative is your initiative?

Most digital strategies are written from an organisational perspective often resulting in people feeling detached from it and not knowing how, or if they can contribute. We wanted to write the document from both a ‘city’ and ‘person’ perspective. We wanted it to be a document that people, organisations and communities could easily relate from the perspective of how they can contribute to it, but also on a personal level, so that they can relate to how it will positively impact their lives, and those of their families, friends and communities. Presenting the strategy from a 3rd person perspective (i.e. not from any specific organisation’s viewpoint) was therefore more challenging. Not only was this the case in respect of writing it, but also for those who were contributing to it. Contributors needed to think beyond their own organisational boundaries and concentrate more on the positive outcomes for the whole city.

What are the key learning points?

It is important to realise that in this type of document where many people have contributed, that not everyone will see absolutely everything that they wanted to see. We have aimed to pitch the document at a level where everyone can see how they can contribute to its delivery without being too detailed that it is clearly focused on a particular organisation. This has been a balancing act as some of those who were consulted had strong voices and opinions and had specific agendas they wanted including.

The strategy has been scrutinised by three councillor boards as well, sign offs by senior council and healthcare officers and reviewed and approved by key actors in the third sector. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive in both its content and presentation.
To ensure it can be accessed by as many people as possible we have created a plain text version of the document, an online version and a printable version – whilst this may appear obvious, we should’ve delivered the different versions in tandem rather than having to make amendments to a master version towards the end of delivery. We will also publish the text as an HTML version upon the completion of our new innovation website that will promote the link between the strategy and the digital innovation activity taking place across the city.

Additional Comments
Throughout the process of writing and compiling the strategy, people have been at the heart of everything we do. The strategy has been written to deliver positive outcomes for the people of Leeds. No organisation, however, can do this alone. To deliver the results outlined in the strategy, engagement, consultation, and collaboration will continue to be a key factor in what we do. We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this extensive and necessary work.