Yesterday we were in Birmingham for the first day of SOCITM 2012. There were plenty of sessions to visit and new ideas, great case studies and practical examples on show. Here are some of the highlights from the day one's talks:

It’s not a myth

Jos Creese, CIO of Hampshire County Council and Chair of Local CIO Council, was the first to speak on day one, in his session ‘Getting ICT: A Fundamental Re-Think’.

In his talk he made the point that we often put down new technology and innovations as a ‘myth’. Case in point was social media and the cloud, which are now major necessities and big business.

Find your nearest cop

Chris Price, CIO of West Midlands Police, explained how his force co-aligned the 7 authorities in their beat, in his talk ‘Business Change: A Police Force CIO Perspective’.

It was not a task to be taken lightly, being the second largest force in the country, but in doing so they managed to save over £40million. Business change affects the way people interact with the force too, with an app people can use to find where their nearest police officer is, so you can always feel safe!

Tri-boroughs reduce costs with Microsoft products

There were plenty of talks yesterday where tri-boroughs were required to find a single system to deliver essential public services such as citizen contact and channel shift from face-to-face to online service delivery. All of these examples used Microsoft products (including Exchange, Sharepoint, BizTalk and Lync) to solve the problem and reduce costs by joining up and sharing solutions. The talks included Jackie Hudson’s, from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Shane Mills’, from the London Borough of Newham, Stuart Beech’s, from 2e2 and Geoff Connell’s, also from the London Borough of Newham.

Open data clarified

Steve Halliday, Head of ICT at Solihull MBC and SOCITM Vice-President, gave a master class on ‘Democracy, Transparency and Open Data’.

Steve clarified open data, explaining 3 elements required; 1) structured and freely available for re-use online 2) have a 5 star ranking in the system created by Tim Berners-Lee 3) have a factual data set available electronically.

He also mentioned that if there is more transparency and data is made open, then fewer requests are made, the data improves and it can be made to work for you. His closing words ‘publish it and magic happens’.

Day one of SOCITM 2012 was packed with information and ideas to keep us going for a while. And as for day two; come back to the blog this evening for our final wrap up and follow us on Twitter for the live updates during the day.

by David Clare, Microsoft UK Public Sector