Smart Regions & Connected Communities – Webinar Series

Public Sector organisations across the UK are collaborating more than ever before with a view of delivering improved services while continuing to drive efficiencies

This collaboration is increasingly at a city and regional level and involves different types of agencies coming together with the ultimate ambition of building an infrastructure that will enrich and empower the lives of its citizens.

Following on from our successful ‘Smart Regions in the Age of Digital Disruption’ event, our webinar series will look at the key technological challenges and opportunities facing UK Public Sector organisations both locally, as they look to transform their own businesses, and regionally as they look to collaborate and drive positive outcomes.

Analytics & Big Data

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Collecting and connecting data is just the start. In tough financial times organisations must be sure that they are getting the best out of their assets with the insights derived from a sustained analysis of the data they collect. Such analysis provides the evidence base for short-term changes to raise performance as well as long-term strategic planning. Many organisations are already harnessing and visualising their data via advanced tools, obtaining interactive data visualisations for a fast yet in-depth perspective that enables them to focus on the key features of their operations.

The potential is increasing with the development of skills around big data – the vast expanse of data, much of it in unstructured format, from sources such as the IoT and social media. This creates a more complex challenge, but also provides a holistic view and an understanding of the dynamics between different services, economic and social trends to help you transform your data into actionable insight.

The Cloud

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As connected places develop many will be based on a hybrid model – with applications and data storage running in both the cloud and on-premise. The former is set to become more important over the next few years – due to the well-known benefits around cost, agility, flexibility and security. But there are also two major features that make cloud appropriate for connected places.

The first is interoperability. National and local organisations need to ensure that their systems and innovations will work. Trusted cloud platforms are built on the common and open standards that will make this possible. They will enable users to interact with the solutions through any operating system, via any device; for organisations to handle data from any platform, location and source; and they support the building of heterogeneous technology environments to support smart places.

Second is the sense of modularity. Connected places will be developed ad hoc, with organisations prioritising action to deal with the issues they see as most pressing. They will want to build one or two solutions at a time, encouraging a sense of progress through ‘quick wins’, obtaining an early return on investments and making a real difference to the lives of their communities.

Cloud enables this, making it possible to create test environments without huge capital investments, pilot new ideas in specific locations or small communities, learn from the test deployments and, if necessary, fail quickly. Indeed, it provides the bedrock for building a culture of innovation. Organisations can build on their achievements as they go, designing solutions, discovering what works (and what doesn’t) and, supported by the systems’ interoperability, gradually construct an extensive, coherent network of solutions to deal with society’s big challenges. This is further underpinned by the evolution of productivity tools into cloud applications.

Digital Identity

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With many services directed at end users, staff, students and citizens, the concept of a digital identity is becoming increasingly important. Its prime purpose is in providing the trust to support people’s interactions with organisations. But it will also have to give users the flexibility to identify themselves in a way that is convenient and appropriate to the service – without having to set up an array of accounts and sign-ins for different activities.

Many organisations are already using solutions that offer scale, reliability and availability for citizen-facing applications. Some of these even take in social media and commercial identities, using them as identifiers and providing a mechanism for authentication with which many people feel comfortable using. Using these in their digital dealings is a significant step towards building trust.

Organisations worldwide are using such solutions to serve their applications to their users, citizens and customers with fully customisable experiences, while protecting their identities at the same time.

Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already making ground with the growing use of bots, software applications that automate simple tasks over the internet much faster than a human can handle. They are developing a strong cognitive element and have evolved to the point where chatbots – programs that simulate human conversation in text or through voice simulation – have become a viable resource. They run to a script but have the potential to learn as they go along. Meanwhile, Machine Learning enables computers to learn from data and experiences and to act without being explicitly programmed. Organisations can build AI applications that intelligently sense, process and act on information – augmenting human capabilities, increasing speed and efficiency and helping to achieve more.

All these capabilities will grow in importance as people begin to take the bot services from the private sector for granted, coming to expect that they can interact with the public sector through voice or visual instructions as well. AI will provide another link between the individual and digital infrastructure on which smart places will function.

Another of today’s biggest challenges is the rapidly increasing volume of data, brought together from existing services and the emerging multitude of connected devices, within the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether you are looking to deploy remote or environmental monitoring, predictive maintenance, connected field service or connected vehicles and smart buildings, IoT offers a myriad of possibilities.

Standards-based platforms enable you to create the Internet of Your Things. This can be used to integrate your existing devices and systems with IoT solutions that you can tailor to your specific needs – helping to uncover data and insights that can transform your organisation and service delivery.

Cyber Security & Trust


It is an obvious point but one worth restating: security has to run right through the organisation’s technology foundations, protecting systems from the ever-growing number of threats in our cyber world. Organisations must ensure that they have the appropriate technology in place, along with the protocols, practices and mindset among their staff that makes cyber hygiene a central element of their organisation’s culture.

This is important for two big reasons. One is preventing the breakdown of digital systems that leads to serious disruptions in service provision and can bring the functioning of a connected community to a near halt. The other is to protect any confidential data held on users, students, citizens and businesses, protecting them from malign forces in the cyber world. Any breakdown in cyber defences is likely to lead not only to disrupted service delivery but also to a serious loss of trust that will undermine the long-term efforts to build smart places and connections with our communities.

We’re 100% Focused on You

The concept of a region being ‘smart’ doesn’t mean lots of sensors and AI, it’s the natural evolution of the Public Sector. It’s data driving outcomes, it’s a modern agile workplace that delivers productivity and empowers citizens, its regions having the infrastructure to secure investment and retain talent.

We hope you can join us on this journey, so please register for whichever dates work for you.

If you can’t make any of the above dates, please register anyway and we will share the recording with you after the webinar.

Alternatively, if you would like to have an informal chat please, call us today on 01904 562200 or email

Although every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above article, Phoenix Software Ltd cannot be held responsible for any opinions or information provided therein and as such is not liable for any damages caused by a customer’s reliance upon this information.