Digital in Dorset

People on laptops working on Digital Transformation Strategies

Written by Penny Mell, Head of Business Improvement at Dorset Councils Partnership

Over the last few months, we have been busy in Digital Dorset releasing our new Dorset for You website and continuing to develop our digital ideas. In this blog, Sharon Attwater (Purbeck District Council), Penny Sydall & Lisa Tricky (Dorset County Council), Laura Hall (Dorset for You Partnership) and Ann-Marie Barlow (Dorset Councils Partnership) describe their continuing work in digital starting with their first Digital Networking event.

Working Together

In 2017, a group of five colleagues, from different organisations in Dorset, started to meet regularly to share knowledge and experience and identify ways to collaborate on shared initiatives relating to Digital. It soon became clear how helpful it was to work together and so we thought… let’s widen this network and see if others find it as helpful as we do.

We felt others could benefit from sharing and learning with each other so decided to run a digital networking event, inviting anyone from the public sector in Dorset.  We weren’t sure what the level of interest would be so decided to aim for 40 people, places went like hot cakes, maybe it was the free cake that did it! 

The event

During the event we learnt how our library service has developed their offer to respond to the changing digital landscape, they field and help to co-ordinate requests for digital support, offer e-books and support digital skills within the community by running code clubs and loaning digital gadgets to help practice these skills at home too.

Then we had a quiz based upon the Government Digital Service Standard, which helped us to open up a conversation about how we approach service delivery both within our individual organisations and across organisations too.

We heard from the Routes to Inclusion Project about the 21% of people who lack basic digital skills, and the fantastic work they are doing developing a network of community digital champions and supporting online service initiatives to promote digital inclusion.

The networking event was a great success and we have already started to plan the next one. We learnt to step outside of our comfort zones, be brave, and try something new.

One of our Networking Event participants said, “The experience has been really worthwhile, I have met lots of really helpful people, my digital skills and exposure to new things like Yammer and Trello Boards has been liberating and fun. This first event was really successful and for me the new network I am part of has been really beneficial in my working day.”

Digital in Dorset

Here are some of the other things we have been working on in Dorset to help support digital:

  • We have worked with Google Digital Garage to help support SME’s to boost their digital skills and confidence through a training event, we reached over 80 businesses that we hadn’t previously had contact with
  • We have developed a digital maturity curve and self-assessment tool to measure and benchmark our progress which will help us when we enter a new unitary organisation in 2019
  • We used learning at work week at the County Council to launch taster sessions for the types of digital skills we will need in the future.  We ran sessions on learning to code, 3D printing and writing for different types of social media.  The biggest hit was our mobile innovation space where we had students from the Prince of Wales First school demonstrating augmented reality and robotics to members of staff who found it inspirational

These are just some examples of digital work taking place in Dorset, but through this work five of us from the worlds of customer service, business change, ICT, web development and communications, meet regularly to share ideas and resources – demonstrating the benefit of collaborating across these disciplines to ensure we create good customer focused digital services going forward.


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