Camden embracing digital opportunities in Tech Week
London Tech Week is here - and Camden is at the heart of driving what has been dubbed the 'fourth industrial revolution'.
Lewis Cubitt Square in King's Cross is currently hosting CogX 2019 (10-12 June), a convention taking a look at the challenges ahead and demonstrating the tremendous opportunity that artifical intelligence and emerging tech provides for supporting a better world.
Camden Council welcomes the opportunities for economic growth and live changing solutions the tech expansion is bringing to Camden. However, it is also clear that the benefits of this growth have to be experienced by all our communities and that our residents must have the opportunity to develop their skills and talents in the industries that develop on their doorstep.
Camden’s Knowledge Quarter in King's Cross and Euston is now the leading innovation district in the UK. It connects cutting edge bio-medical science, tech and creative industries and is London’s gateway to Europe, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. By 2020 it is set to add greater economic value to the UK economy than the Square Mile.
In Camden we are determined that our communities are leading this change. We have a great history of civic radicalism and we believe that if we can connect the energy, diversity and creativity of our communities with the innovation on their doorstep, we can find transformative solutions to the challenges we face - from climate change to youth safety. From a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) hub connecting local schools and employers to a programme building over 1,000 new council homes we will make sure wealth, power and opportunity in Camden is shared.
Technology can be a great force for good but we have seen that it can also deepen inequalities and fragment us. As civic leaders we need to mobilise our communities to be at the vanguard of this technological change, shaping our future society.
Camden Council have opened the council up to local and international tech leaders to challenge ourselves on what more we can do to draw on the power of technology and develop a new charter of citizens' rights in a digital age.
Camden Council's external digital challenge involves working with representatives from organisations including The Guardian, the Government Digital Service and the City of Paris, who are reviewing how we can further use digital to tackle challenges like reducing homelessness and supporting those furthest from the labour market into work.
Throughout London Tech Week (10-14 June) our external challenge participants will spend time speaking to residents and Camden staff to understand how our frontline digital services work. We will report back on how some of these visits have gone later in the week.
Technology leaders explore Camden’s frontline services (14/06/19):
We kicked off the week with a visit to Contact Camden and our Adult Social Care service. Rowanne Flack, Human Technology Interaction Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, explored how technology could help to streamline the process of referring residents to the right places when they first contact us. Rowanne then went on to speak to our Adult Social Care team about how we use assistive technology to help people to live more independently and how we’re planning to develop this in the future.
On Tuesday Rowanne was joined by Zach Brand (Chief Digital Officer at The Guardian) and Roz Davies (former Director of Good Things Foundation). The group spent the day speaking to young people about what it’s like to live in Camden and how digital can open up opportunities for them. We visited a group of 16-24 year olds at The Hive who talked about how it has been a safe space for them to talk about their mental health, socialise and learn new skills.
Zach Brand, Chief Digital Officer at the Guardian, said:
"It’s really inspiring to hear some of the young people in Camden talking about how the services [at The Hive] have helped them grow their confidence. Of course there’s a huge value in face to face interactions so we’re looking at where the juxtaposition can be on how tech can offer support as well."
Later that day the participants went to New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre for young people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk. They heard about the difficulties the people there have faced, as well as their ambitions and hopes for the future.
Roz Davies, former Director of Good Things Foundation, said:
"I think the thing that really stood out to me is that there are young people [in Camden] who have had really difficult lives but they have an incredible abundance of energy, drive, entrepreneurship and ideas for improving their own lives and also the lives of other people."
The group finished the day at Local Globe, a tech investment company in Somers Town, to talk about how they can expand on the work they’re already doing to support young people in Camden.
On Wednesday participants from the Government Digital Service and FutureGov spent time with our domestic violence and data teams. The group considered how technology can enhance the work we’re doing to improve how residents access our housing service. We mapped out a case study of a resident affected by domestic violence to explore how data can be a powerful tool in helping to support residents who are vulnerable or at risk.
Today (Friday 14 June) the focus is on transport and travel. John Worsfold, Technology and Implementation Manager at RNIB, is looking at how we design transport routes and manage infrastructure works. John will consider how technology could make Camden even more accessible, particularly for people with additional needs.
We will be sharing more information about our next steps following this week’s visits and the external challenge process in July.