We spoke to Paul Armstrong, Head of Digital Innovation at North Tyneside Council, to discuss the upcoming Local Authority Forum and why an open discourse is so vital to digital success

In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, digitalisation took place at an incredible pace, making connectivity more central to all our lives than ever before. Now, almost two years later, many of us still coming to terms with what a more digital ‘normal’ looks like, whether that means long-term remote working or increased access to telehealth.

But for other parts of society, this digitalisation has been far more challenging. The pandemic has highlighted the extent of the digital divide in the UK, not only in terms of access to digital equipment but also digital skills. As more and more services transition to a more online focus, many people around the UK are at risk of being cut off.

This is the unenviable position that local authorities have found themselves in over the past 18 months, not only needing to rapidly digitalise their own operations but also to help those within their communities to do likewise. 

In the new digital age, simply continuing as before was not going to work.

“Fundamentally, the way we do things needs to change,” said Paul Armstrong, Head of Digital Innovation at North Tyneside Council.

This is, at least in part, the inspiration for Connected Britain’s Local Authority Forum. Hosted by VXFiber, this is an even exclusively designed to bring together local authority representatives from across the UK to discuss their approaches to community digitalisation.

“Forums like this are really important for us to share knowledge about how we’ve done things differently, the things that have gone well, and the things that have gone badly,” explained Paul. “We only know what we know. If we haven’t had a chance to meet someone, then we might not be aware of other important things going on. Forums like this, where a much greater attendance and broader audience, a really good for expanding our knowledge.”

Taking place in-person on Monday 20th September, 11:00 – 17:00 BST, at the Business Design Centre in the heart of London, this Forum features representative speakers from across the country, each set to share their unique experience in overcoming ongoing digitalisation hurdles. 

But perhaps most fundamental to this Forum is that it presents an unmissable opportunity for open discussion with peers about how to better help your local community.

“On the day specifically it’s very much about making connections,” said Paul. “People have done huge amounts of work to make sure conferences still go ahead [virtually], but those smaller, in-person interactions outside of the conferences are something that we’ve all missed.”

This is an event about bringing people together, sharing successes and challenges to ultimately help build a more connected Britain. 

“It’s really about harvesting the good ideas that are happening elsewhere around the country,” Paul concluded.


Check out our full interview with Paul Armstrong from the link above. 

To learn more about Connected Britain and the Local Authority Forum, please click here

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