Camden wins top ‘UK Digital City’ Award

Camden Council has been recognised for leading the way in digital innovation, having been awarded with the prestigious ‘UK Digital City’ prize at the annual Municipal Journal Awards last week.

The local government award recognises outstanding achievements in the field of digital development.

Camden was nominated and took out the category for outstanding work in the digital including the implementation of the agile working system for all office based staff.

This win recognises councils that are leaders in the application of technology to deliver better outcomes drive economic growth and enable transformation.

A few examples of innovation which won the award include:

  • Wifi - Camden led a pan London consortia of 16 London local authorities to procure a wireless concession contract that is forecast to generate over £3m of investment back into Camden over the next decade. There are now over 100 Wi-Fi hotspots across the borough in areas as a result of the project.
  • Camden has one of the largest offers of IT in the community with over 200 public computers in our libraries and community facilities, we recycle council computers that are no longer used into the community.
  • We partnered with the Post Office and linked up our respective IT systems so our residents and businesses could continue to pay for council services in local post offices. Not only did this improve the local offer, with around 30,000 transactions a month, it has saved the council £1.13m per annum.
  • We partnered with Vital Energy, Hildebrand and a range of university partners to install SMART energy meters across Camden homes to tackle inefficient energy usage by enabling residents to monitor their own usage we were able to reduce energy consumption and ultimately save our residents money.
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet member for Finance and Technology Policy
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been recognised with this award, particularly given the tough competition we were up against.

“Since implementing the agile working system we’ve saved money and removed over 22km of paper from our buildings.

“We’re also focussed on improving our services to the community, through our digital strategy we’ve delivered a Camden resident account to provide a single point of access to key services and made it much simpler and more efficient to do business online. We now have over 50,000 registered users.

“Part of our digital strategy includes ensuring our most vulnerable residents are not left behind. With over 200 public access terminals the Camden library service is well placed to offer digital services to our communities.

“Camden offers the fourth highest number of terminals to the public in inner London.  In addition most of our libraries offer staff led IT drop-in sessions and also run regular e-days where customers are encouraged to bring their own device and can learn how to access our excellent digital library including e-books and e-audio books.”
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet member for Finance and Technology Policy

More examples of how Camden is leading the way in digital innovation include:

  • Code Clubs in schools. Working in partnership with Google and UCL, around 75% of schools are either with an active club or seeking volunteer partners. All our secondary schools have afterschool computing opportunities and we are building a ‘Maker Community’ on Saturdays at the City Learning Centre to provide a space to put their learning into practice.
  • Camden was one of the first authorities in the country to integrate the NHS number into council social care systems and sharing data with the CCG , making it easier to work with the NHS.
  • The award-winning Camden Residents Index (CRI) links up over 1 million records across different council systems to providing the big picture of how our people use of services. Starting off as an anti-fraud measure it’s now used by children’s safeguarding to protect vulnerable children.
  • Camden has pioneered the development of an open systems digital platform that has enabled us to integrate and deliver council services through the Camden Account. We have codesigned with residents the way services operate on line including Council Tax, Housing Benefit, Housing Repairs, Leaseholder services, tenant information, and parking permits. Within 6 months the number of active users has risen from a few thousand to over 50,000 and will deliver over £4m of savings.
  • We are exploring how to bridge the financial divide between Camden’s thriving economy, and some of Camden’s poorest communities through the SpaceHive crowdfunding platform.
  • Our analytical technology is being deployed to over 70 services spanning front line services as safeguarding, housing and regulatory services. Our use of analytics technology is enabling Camden to automate the collection of management information, provide insights for improved service, and increasing accountability and transparency.
  • We have a pioneering collaboration with the digital platforms Streetbank and Project Dirt to increase sustainability.
  • The introduction of parking permits means customers now are able to purchase a permit in 2-3 minutes instead of the 10-day process that was in place previously.
  • We have removed a 22km paper mountain from council buildings, and enabled flexible working by staff using laptops.
  • We are participating in an EU funded project which is exploring the development of next generation cloud services for government.
  • We’ve worked with Crown Commercial Services to develop a new national procurement strategy for IT in local government that is helping to save money as well as fostering open standards and interoperability.
  • Camden are co-sponsors of the Digital Partnership Programme with DCLG which is about sharing good practice and encouraging collaboration across local government.
  • Camden recently worked with Founders and Coders, a coding academy, to develop an open source application integrated with the Camden website called “where is my nearest.”