The Digital Revolution

The following post is from John Henderson’s CEO blog, which can be viewed in full.


We seem to be making real progress on the Smart Staffordshire work, in which the county council is working with our universities, businesses and the Staffordshire public sector.

This last week saw two events, the latest in a series in which there is a commitment and energy that I’ve not seen in this area before. The first was a digital leader’s forum to summarise progress to date and plan next steps, and the second was a meeting of the Staffordshire Hundred, held in the offices of one of our leading digital companies, Risual.

I listen to many presentations about smart cities, and how that will revolutionise the way that we live. If I’m being really honest, they are a bit “techy” talking about sensors in your bin to tell when it needs emptying, and sensors in your bike lamp to work out where you’re getting delayed on your commute.

Both, and many more using location data from your mobile phone, are absolutely possible today and will undoubtedly save time and money, but I believe that they are examples of limited ambition. If the digital revolution is genuinely a revolution, the biggest opportunities and challenges remain in the human sphere. We need to have the appropriate skills to operate and innovate in this world, and the infrastructure which supports the development. Therefore, the question in my mind is: having got ahead of the curve on Superfast Broadband in Staffordshire, what is next? Is it 5G mobile telephony, Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), or some other technology?

If you’ve got a view, I’d love to hear it.

Better skills will improve our knowledge, which in turn will make us more confident to accept a culture that welcomes data sharing as part of life. It is interesting to note that I’m receiving about 5 emails a day at the moment offering to help me with my General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) problem, laying out the threats and dangers of not getting it right. The only problem is that it isn’t a problem. GDPR clarifies data sharing – we will have to make changes, but it is a good working knowledge of it, not fear, that will get us into the right place.

It’s the human dimension of digital that need our greatest efforts at the moment – skills, entrepreneurship and innovation.


If you have a view you would like to share with us on #DigitalStaffordshire, you can submit them through our Digital Innovations page.

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