The association of IT and digital professionals in local government has announced its plans for 2017 research and policy projects.
In a forward look briefing paper, Socitm said that its priorities for the year will be to encourage greater diversity in IT positions, service redesign, health and social care integration and secure, open and shared systems.
In addition to these over-arching priorities, the body has set out four main research projects for 2017.
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One of the research projects will be on modern IT and digital leadership, and how public bodies can develop the skills and capacity needed to manage a staff in an increasingly digital workplace, which Socitm said would also cover the importance of embracing diversity.
In addition, the leadership work will look at cyber security and how to manage digital transformation, and follows work done by the group in 2016 that emphasised the need for senior level buy-in for the innovative redesign of services and a shift from managers to leaders.
A further research project will look at smart places – the term Socitm uses to indicate an expansion of the smart cities principles to wider urban and non-urban areas.
The body said the new project would extend research done in 2016 to include environment, education, skills and jobs, social and community aspects, resilience and wellbeing, digital local infrastructure and technology.
Another project will focus on infrastructure – from public bodies’ dependence on national connectivity to encouraging them to share services and systems. This will also include an assessment of how the new Health and Social Care Network will be established and how it will relate to the Public Services Network.
Socitm will also launch a project on information assurance and management, which will add extra material to last year’s cyber guide that covers cover cyber resilience, the security information ecosystem and data analytics and business intelligence.
The focus on cyber security follows a push from local government to make sure it has a bigger stake in the National Cyber Security Centre, which was officially launched last year. Councils argued that they must not end up being the “weak link” in efforts to increase national cyber security, with proponents arguing that an increase in attacks on local public bodies emphasises the importance of this.
However, Socitm added that it would “work with care” to avoid duplicating work being carried out by innovation agency Nesta in the general area of the security information ecosystem.
The briefing said that more information would be made available as the projects are more tightly defined, as well as calling for people to participate in calls for case study suggestions.