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Digital exploration – the journey so far

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Rose Cameron
Rose Cameron

Since the beginning of the year, the Parliamentary Digital Service has played host to a series of seminars entitled Exploring Digital.

The idea is to bring together in Parliament, thought leaders in the digital space with parliamentary staff and Members.

This provides all with the opportunity to share ideas on everything from agile project delivery to the Internet of Things (IoT) and to debate the impact technology has on our politics.

Last week, Rose Cameron came to Portcullis House to talk about the “New state of flow - Addressing the needs of the millennial”. Rose is currently Director of Innovation at Outreach and Education in Penn State University, and has previously worked with a whole host of big brands from Microsoft to McDonalds.

Rose's talk focused on the three generations that now find themselves in the workplace and how the expectations of millennials (those born between 1982 and 2004) are very different from the so-called Boomers (1940 - 1960) and Generation X (1961 - 1981). The session was incredibly interactive and the discussion gave rise to some thought provoking questions about how we work and the environments we work in. Rose suggested that while young people tend to share by default and see value in that, the older generation see knowledge as power and this can tend to cause a clash of cultures.

The speakers so far

Rose’s presentation was the latest in a long line of great speakers we have had this year.

In April, the focus was on the impact of digital on the General Election. Sym Roe came along to talk about the work of Democracy Club and how they were working to provide essential information to the electorate about candidates and polling stations amongst other things. Sym was joined by Tiffany St James from weTransmute who gave some valuable insight on the way each of the parties were using social media.

In July, Scot Liewehr from the Digital Clarity Group highlighted the importance of the customer experience in a dynamic talk entitled ‘Raising the Bar on Customer Experience. He was followed by William Kilbride from the Digital Preservation Coalition in early September who looked at the need for a clear approach to digital preservation.

Bebo White
Bebo White

One of the highlights of the year was the talk by Bebo White on the Internet of Things (IoT). Bebo, who is a Departmental Associate (Emeritus) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, first became involved with the technology of the World Wide Web back in 1989 when he was part of the team that established the first American website. He gave a staggering insight into just how much the IoT will grow over the next 5 years and the important questions it raises about data capture and data privacy. Bebo’s talk attracted a really diverse audience from across Parliament and prompted some lively debate.

All in all, our speakers this year have covered a diverse range of topics. All experts in their field, they have attracted a wide audience from across Parliament and all of the sessions have been incredibly well attended.

Building capability

So what’s the benefit of running these seminars? Well, the most obvious win is that parliamentary staff and members get to hear from some real thought leaders in the world of digital without having to leave Westminster. But they also have a chance to discuss with each other what some of the big questions are that new technology raises. I’ve been struck by the level of interest and by the number of people from different teams and departments who have taken the time to come along and join in. It demonstrates that colleagues not only want to learn but have knowledge and expertise to share in different areas.

The seminar series is aimed at building knowledge and awareness in digital but it’s also proving to be a great space to debate and network with colleagues. Building this kind of digital capability across Parliament must and will be a key part of our strategy in the Digital Service.

Future speakers

We’re keen to continue the seminar series into next year so if you'd like to suggest topics and speakers then please let me know. In the meantime we have two excellent talks coming up which promise to be engaging. At the end of September, Tom Standage, the Deputy Editor of The Economist will be talking about the Digital Future of News. Then at the end of November, Andy Kirk who is a UK based visualisation expert will be focussing on  Visualising Data.

If you’d like to come along to these or any future events then please get in touch with me, Tracy Green

Here’s a full list of all the talks so far this year:

  • Wednesday 18 February, Naked Innovation, Paul Jervis-Heath, Modern Human
  • Thursday 22 January, How to ensure success with Agile, James Cannings (MMT Digital) and Karoliina Luoto (Codento)

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