London to debate its e-strategy

Local authorities in London will attempt to thrash out a coherent e-strategy for public sector organisations in the capital at...

Local authorities in London will attempt to thrash out a coherent e-strategy for public sector organisations in the capital at next week's London Connects Conference.

Mike Simons

Proposals include the development of a London portal and joint IT procurement initiatives.

Local authorities in London spend about £400m a year on IT, building Web sites, developing educational projects such as the National Grid for Learning, and striving to meet Tony Blair's 2005 target for the delivery of online services.

According to Dave Sullivan, mayor of Lewisham in south east London, without a strategic plan the capital risks developing a patchwork of electronic services, with huge variations between different boroughs. He warned that this could result in social exclusion and a public sector which looks amateur in comparison to commercial offerings.

"We don't want [London Connects] to be another talking shop about e-government: there is one of those every week," Sullivan told Computer Weekly. "We want to get on with it."

To emphasise the point, Sullivan pointed to Lewisham's new target of 2003 rather than 2005 for the electronic delivery of services.

The heart of the proposed e-strategy for London will be the specification of a base technology framework for local electronic services. Effectively this will reinforce the interoperability guidelines put forward by the Cabinet Office.

There will also be an emphasis on joint procurement to promote economies of scale, and on ensuring that electronic service delivery initiatives promote public access to skills and training initiatives.

The conference, called by the Society of IT Management and the Association of London Authorities, is supported by the Greater London Authority. In addition to local authorities, Sullivan said the conference was essential for health organisations, police, transport bodies, housing associations and colleges and universities.

London Connects, 1 March. www.socitm.gov.uk

mike.simons@rbi.co.uk

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