Bringing innovation to the public sector

Simon Hill, MD and founder of idea management firm Wazoku explains how central and local government departments can use internal and external communities to unlock ideas to help address challenges in the public sector
Anyone that works in the public sector understands the pressure to improve efficiencies and services with ever-decreasing resources. It’s a traditional challenge for the sector that has been brought into much sharper focus by the cuts over the past few years.
So any ideas, innovations or improvements that help with this process are particularly welcome, which is why Wazoku’s recently IL-2 G-Cloud certified Government Spotlight product is being used by public sector organisations across the UK.

Government Spotlight is a Software-as-a-Service that allows central or local government departments to create internal or external communities for ideas, innovation, feedback and insight. These communities are then engaged to help address the challenges faced by the public sector, such as service provision, efficiency gains and policy development.

For example, Hackney Borough Council is the first local authority to deploy Government Spotlight, using it on its Young Hackney initiative, which aims to bring together Youth Services, Youth Support and Youth Offending Teams to holistically support young people.

All Young Hackney employees are involved in idea generation, crowd sourcing and problem sharing, submitting their ideas to improve Young Hackney to Government Spotlight. Other potential uses for a local authority include a portal for engaging the entire community for ideas, not only employees.

This use of the wider community to crowd source and canvass ideas is a powerful one. The Department of Education uses Government Spotlight to gain public feedback on proposals to open technical academies whilst Wazoku also recently supported The Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing.

The brief was to review the work of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) with regard to people who have died or been seriously injured following police contact or in police custody and to make recommendations to inform MPS conduct, response and actions where mental health is, or is perceived to be, a key issue.

The Commission sought to gather a range of views to help make this a relevant and grounded report, strengthened by the understanding of the direct experience and views of the public. Members of the public, organisations and anyone else who had views about mental health and policing were able to submit ideas to Government Spotlight, securely and anonymously.

Hundreds of people contributed and the feedback gathered played a significant role in the final report, which launched 10 May and made 28 different recommendations for change.

Government Spotlight comes with a broad range of features to help public sector organsiations get the most from their innovation communities. These include: a dashboard which shows the most popular, ‘trending’ ideas; analytic tools to organise ideas; report building software; a quick and easy process for consultations; a configurable homepage; third party integrations and complete transparency, with users able to see where and who ideas came from. 

Wazoku can also help with the delivery of those ideas, whether they were generated from an internal or external innovation community. Its partner The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) works in professional services and strategic delivery support, and has successfully delivered a variety of projects for central and local government. This combination with Wazoku demonstrates how online and offline innovation gathering can have a real impact on a project.

The advent of G-Cloud in February 2012 has made it much easier for public sector organisations to purchase technology from smaller firms such as Wazoku. As a Software-as-a-Service, Wazoku is easy to implement and organisations can be up and running within days. So as the requirement grows for innovation, good ideas and new ways of approaching the planning and delivery of public services, so the tools have improved for capturing those ideas.

Wazoku is a registered provider of G-Cloud Services to the public sector in the UK and already works with a variety of organisations in helping to capture ideas and innovations, both internally and externally.
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