UKGovCamp – Looking Forward not Back

Hurray! It’s nearly time for UKGovCamp – the awesome unconference where people from across UK public services give up a day of their own time to share, challenge, innovate, network, and socialise.


This year’s event is on Saturday 25th January, at City Hall, in Southbank, London. It’s organised by: Jane O’Loughlin, Alex Blandford, Sarah Baskerville, Nick Halliday, James Cattell & Lizzy Bell. There’s a huge buzz around #UKGC14, and – like all the best gigs – tickets have been snapped up within minutes of being released.

To prepare for UKGC14, I’ve been looking back at some of last year’s output and thinking about what I’d like to pitch / take-away this time.

Looking back

I won’t say much about last year’s event, as I’ve already blogged about it here, and linked to lots of posts written by others.

I enjoyed watching last year’s session pitches again, but couldn’t help feeling that – nearly one year on – many of the issues remain.

There’s a worry-nerve nagging away at the back of my head that we’ll still be banging the same old drums in five or ten years.

Go on, snap out of it

Then, of course, I remind myself that – however well-motivated the participants – GovCamps are ‘only’ events. The challenges facing public services are huge, complex, persistent, and growing. There’s only so much you can do in a single day, and just one spark of an idea can result in a wildfire when the wind’s in the right direction. We just need effective ways of generating the sparks, and fanning the flames.

Looking Forward

My initial concern about same-old-drum-banging made me wonder what public services might look like in, say 2020, or 2030. Perhaps we can peer into an idealised future, create a picture, and then try to work out how to get there. If not that, then perhaps we should at least be reading the tea leaves and preparing accordingly. I submitted it as an idea for a session pitch on the UKGovCamp discussion board, and I’m including a version of it here as well:

What will public services look like in 2020, or 2030?

Some conversation-starters:

  • Digital by default…of course (that should probably say ‘by design’)
  • Will there still be a place for ‘place’ in future public service design (will there be physical places set aside for the public to access services ?)
  • Open by default? Data? (How about policy-making?)
  • Will the press release have finally died?
  • Common standards across all public services? (If you haven’t seen it, the Local Government e-Standards Body (LeGSB) is doing some brilliant work on this for localgov. And of course GDS has done a fabulous job for central government.)
  • Super-fast network everywhere. Really? (Absolutely everywhere?)
  • Who will be delivering services locally?
  • What will the future workplace look like?
  • Will extreme weather events have become ‘normal’?
  • Will the term localgov still be in use? If so, what will it look like?
  • How will ‘we’ be communicating with each other? (‘we’ being public, service-providers, journos, staff, councillors, partners etc)
  • Will there ever be a Local equivalent of GDS? (As discussed in 2012 and 2014)

That’s me done for this post – if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Comments and suggestions most welcome.

Photo credits

  1. David J Pearson on Flickr
  2. Alex Jackson on Flickr
  3. Featured image – UKGovCamp


By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism

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