Earlier this week, the IISaM project team continued their mission to spread word of what the project has achieved by holding a dissemination event in Birmingham. The aim of the day was to bring together some of the people who have been key to the project’s success with others who are interested to explore the impact of information sharing on their work, and to consider how we move forward from here. Attendees heard from a range of those involved in the project’s development, but the project team then asked them to get involved themselves, during two workshop sessions.
First up was Mark Fisher, who chaired the project’s Board during the first twelve months. Mark provided an introduction to the project, outlining the way in which information sharing has grown in importance to government, and giving an insight into the impact it has on the social justice team that he leads at the Department for Work and Pensions. Stephen Curtis, member of the IISaM working group and Strategy and Policy manager at Leicestershire County Council followed, giving delegates a sense of what IISaM has learnt over the course of the project, and how that has influenced the tools that are now available to support others addressing similar issues. Liz Clark, Assistant Director for Information and Technology, followed on with a more detailed look at the Multi Agency Information Sharing Hub designed and developed in Leicestershire. Afternoon speakers included David Evans (ICO), who gave a view on the role of legislation in shaping and facilitating appropriate sharing; and Charlotte Piper (DCLG), who shared the lessons learnt during the Whole Place Community Budgets pilot, as well as reiterating her department’s commitment to seeing the work of IISaM continue and evolve.
During the workshop sessions, attendees were challenged to consider the role of their own organisation, and to suggest how each organisation could support the ongoing work to resolve information sharing issues. Delegates then considered what success in improving information sharing would look like, thinking about the perspectives of central and local government, those involved in delivering public services, and the service user themselves.
We are in the process of gathering together the conclusions reached during the workshop debates, but some early thoughts include:
- An aspiration is that programmes of work such as IISaM are no longer needed; information sharing is part of business as usual;
- This would be aided by all those involved in gathering, analysing and using information having an understanding of the importance of better information in improving services;
- That progress in highlighting the importance of information sharing is made when those at the top of an organisation are convinced – IISaM could have a role in reaching out to those individuals;
- And that there are a few ways in which a case can be made – both by better understanding the benefits of information sharing (perhaps reduced cost, or better service delivery), and by sharing stories of where it works in practice.
Many of the comments on the day pointed out that, although progress has been made, it will take a concerted effort over a longer period of time to start the process of cultural change that will be needed. Everyone in the room has a role to play, particularly when it comes to sharing the stories of how information sharing can be done; if you have a story that you think could make a good case study for the IISaM website, please get in touch! We can help you turn your experiences into something that’s of benefit to others.