Altogether now

Joanna Huxton, National Liaison ManagerJoanna Huxton
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

Much like everyone else last week, I watched in awe as the European Space Agency landed (then bounced, then landed again) its robot, Philae on a rubber duck-shaped comet over 500 million kilometres away from our planet. No mean feat! Over a period of ten years, it had travelled a cumulative distance of over 6.4 billion kilometres to help further our understanding of the origin and evolution of the solar system.

One thought struck me as I watched the coverage of the landing unfold – this staggering achievement was the result of collaboration. A consortium of scientific experts from across Europe and the USA came together with a shared purpose.

The thought resonated with me last week when I sat around a table with colleagues from the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing and the Information Governance Alliance (IGA). We had come together to get to know one another and gain a solid understanding of each organisation’s aims and objectives, so that we can develop ways of working between our teams.

Both the Centre and the IGA launched just recently, and although what we both do isn’t exactly rocket science, we do share commonalities in our missions, despite approaching them from different directions. That is, to help uncover and understand what is limiting good information sharing between agencies and local places, and to make sure information sharing is being done well, to improve outcomes for users of public services.

As we see it, there are three pillars to information sharing – technology, information governance and culture – and the third pillar, culture, is at the heart of our work at the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing. Our role is to capture good practice and tease out issues that get to the crux of information sharing barriers. We recognise that you can have the best policies and databases in place, but without the right culture and mind-set, these will only take you so far.

We cannot work in isolation though and, just as good information sharing lies at the heart of successful partnerships and collaborations across government, it will also be key to the Centre’s success. We will be working closely with partners, like the IGA which has the expertise in the other two pillars – technology and information governance, to find joined-up solutions and support our objective in bringing cultural change to transform the delivery of services for the better.

Throughout November, service users and the pillar of culture have been at the heart of our ‘What’s your Information Sharing Story?’ campaign. From policy makers to front-line staff, everybody has a personal anecdote or a story to recount about a real experience where collaborative working and information sharing has, or could have, made a difference to the delivery of a public service or an outcome for a service user.

Part of our mission to bring these stories to life is to hear yours! So please, read the storybook so far here and send us your own story.