Camping (and #camping) again

Two years ago I wrote a post called On camping… and #camping contrasting the familiarity of holidays under canvas with the novelty of my first gov/tech unconference experience at UKGovCamp15.  Sitting in a tent near the Wye valley in Herefordshire (in a camp site that has a “quiet field” and a “very quiet field”) it feels like time for an update.

We didn’t get the tent out last Summer as much of our time was taken up “getting our house rental-ready”, which turned out to be harder and more time consuming than I’d imagined when I wrote that phrase in Leaving, Moving, Staying. However, I can recommend an intensive period of DIY and decorating as a means to rapid weight loss (about a stone in six weeks!)

Thanks to a two-week lag between letting our house and the flat we were to rent in Limehouse being available we did end up ‘camping out’ in a friend’s vicarage in Suffolk for a fortnight. That turned out to be quite an enjoyable mini-break, if tinged with a distinct feeling of being in limbo.

I have managed over the last two years to keep up with a good range of unconferences, some of which have featured on the blog (Post #Camp Blogging about UKGovCamp16 and Open Data Camp Hat-Trick (Day 1) / (Day 2) about ODCamp3). There are many more which I’m ashamed to say I haven’t written up: ODCamp2, Newscamp15, Healthcamp15, LocalGovCamp16, BarCampNFP16, ukgcX (aka UKGovCamp16) and ODCamp4. That list is a blog post backlog to address at some point.

I’ve also missed a couple of events I really wished I’d been at, most notably the 2017 #OneTeamGov game-changer that @kitterati organised. I wanted to attend, but at the time I felt I would have been awkwardly cast: no longer looking to expand my freelancing, but not yet confirmed in the new permanent job.

OneTeamGov is interesting as it seems to me to have made an impact on a very broad front. I’ve since sat listening to colleagues talking about it as if unconferences were an alien concept from Mars that landed just this year. One civil servant with a charities background commented: “I’m surprised that unconferences have made it to the central government arena.” Well I was honoured this year to both sponsor and help organise the tenth annual UK GovCamp – so I did wonder what @jeremygould and his fellow innovators from UKGovCamp08 would have made of that remark. To celebrate the anniversary @jaCattell put together memories of 10 years of UKGovCamp.

I’ve moved out of limbo now, getting stuck into the new job and anticipating engaging with a wide variety of folk as I do so.  I’m also looking forward to more #camping with tickets in the bag for LocalGovCamp17, Healthcamp17 and sponsorship of UKGovCamp18 on the horizon as well. I’m hoping they’ll be great opportunities to swap ideas and help build my network of folk who (with a tip of the hat to @xcaplin & @jukesie) are #OfTheGovernment and #LoyalToTheNetwork.

But now it’s time to take the tent down and stow it away for winter.

Helping Civil Servants help Citizens

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for the Digital Economy, is leading the call for suggestions from public and industry on the UK’s Digital Strategy.  He sets out 4 key ingredients for success, the second of which, under the heading Transforming Government, states:

“…government services need to be as good as the best consumer services. My colleague Matt Hancock is bringing renewed energy to this agenda, driving a transformation to create what he calls a ‘smartphone state’. Renewing your passport should be as easy as buying a book online, so what more can we do to make sure interacting with government is as simple and seamless as possible?”

I support the aspiration to make interacting with government as simple and seamless as possible, but as a Civil Servant I also believe there is a strong case for making interaction within government equally slick. Read More »

Leaving, Moving, Staying

Just over 7 years ago I hung up my Royal Navy uniform and became a civil servant working for Dstl (the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory).  It’s been a challenging and hugely rewarding time.  I started in the geospatial intelligence team, working on a variety of research projects as technical lead or project manager (occasionally both).  Working with some great colleagues I was able to play the lead role in establishing MOD’s spatial data infrastructure – a technical coherence framework that formed the basis for a major investment in the Defence Geospatial Services programme.

An internal secondment led to a new job in the CIO’s team Read More »