Mid-term Conference: Digital Innovation Across Europe – Empowering Communities

11 July 2018 - Published by Renske Stumpel
On the 5th of July, the “Digital Innovation Across Europe” Mid Term Conference was organized by the Like! Project and hosted by Angus County Council, Scotland. During this one-day conference in the Golf Hotel in Carnoustie, around a hundred participants joined in the debate on how digitalization will influence innovation in daily life of citizens, but also in local and regional government. A fruitful and very interesting gathering of various interesting speakers and workshops made this conference a true success!

Martyn Wallace, Chief Digital Officer at the new Scottish Local Government Digital Office opened the conference with a humorous speech. According to him, the key is to look for what the customer wants first. Start small and start with a problem you can tackle.

Martyn then introduced the first keynote speaker: Colin Birchenall. Colin is Chief Technology Officer of the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government and he presented an inspiring keynote on how technology can facilitate and enable public services to transform, and at the same time, create greater transparency, better decision-making, a place-based approach, cooperation and prevention/early-intervention. He emphasized fundamentally we have to organize our services around citizens”. Based on his experiences from Glasgow, he has shown with numerous examples how IoT, data, cloud computing and mobility can influence people’s lives and by that, answering the question what a future city is and how it can look like.

During the second part of the conference, Dr. Kristina Reinsalu of the Estonian e-Governance Academy gave an insight into her experiences she gained in local and international research and practical projects related to open governance and the use of ICT in implementing its principles. As an experienced player and pathfinder in the field of digital society, Estonia builds on efficient, secure and transparent ecosystems that save time and money. Kristina’s keynote was very inspiring due to her focus on various digital implementations in the fields of education, participation, democracy, and participatory budgeting. In correspondence to Martyn, “start small, start now” was one of her key takeaways concerning changing public engagement. Her vivid and simple examples of innovative approaches in Estonia, therefore, contributed successfully to her keynote on e-governance and citizens (e)engagement.

Besides the interesting keynote speeches, there was also possibility to put theory into practice and participate in four workshops concerning digital innovation culture, chatbots and customer services, digital citizen engagement and dashboards. Partners in the Like! Project presented their pilots and engaged with the audience. Thus, learning from each other, putting ideas together and engaging in the Digital Innovation Across Europe was truly central during the Mid Term Conference!