Kent Connects Student Placements Update
Kent Connects likes to offer industrial placements to various students from the University of Kent, Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church universities every year. It is understood that with modern technology changing and with the younger generation having a stronger grip on the digital agenda, the students have a great deal to offer the partnership office and various other councils with their progression in IT.
In addition, Kent Connects can offer a lot of opportunities to its students such as technical and administrative assistance in the development and establishment of shared services, facilitating collaborative and remote working, developing common infrastructures and standards and improving customer access and engagement. The placements offer students opportunities to work on a wide range of projects both within a team and independently, gives the students access to several initiatives and to regularly work with IT colleagues and others including Chief Executives and Directors of IT.
This year Kent Connects has four students at Kent County Council in Maidstone (Kent Connects base), Gravesham, Medway and Tonbridge and Malling. Below are the accounts of what they have been working on so far!
Myles Macaulay: Kent Connects Partnership Officer
At Kent Connects I support IT, Projects and Technical boards throughout the county making communication and decision making between partners fluent. I lead on two projects in digital.together and my own personal project ‘digital training for business support’.
digital.together is a two year-long Kent Connects programme of events that showcase technological transformation and collaboration across the county; actively progressing the digital agenda by improving online services, developing new ways to engage with people and encouraging digital transformation.
Part of this requires me to manage the website and social media campaigns for kentconnects.gov.uk, digitaltogether.net as well as the ‘Partners Portal’, which is a large database – like system that all members of public sector organisations in Kent are part of. In addition, I am managing our event database by continuously editing and updating it ensuring it constantly contains all information for any given event by Kent Connects.
I also lead on the ‘Digital Envoy programme’. The Kent Connects Digital Envoys are a group of committed, enthusiastic and skilled individuals who live, work, or are associated with the county. They are passionate about promoting local digital activities, projects, organisations and networks. In my role of leading on this, I am required to visit and support all envoys on all that they are working on. This ranges from organising events, supporting events and promoting them on our websites.
James Bridges: Digital Support Officer
During my time so far in the Digital Team at Gravesham Borough Council I have been involved in many different projects, ranging from the launch of our new website to the redesign of our garden waste online services.
The majority of my work is done using our forms package – Firmstep. Throughout the year I have been leading on a project to convert paper to electronic forms. This has been a great experience as you do not realise the extent of things that need to be done to get a project approved and over the line. There are some big savings to be made by moving all forms online; it’s great to be involved in something so important to the organisation, especially with dwindling budgets.
As well as this, I have been working with the team to replace and renew other ageing online forms. Some of the services that we have been working on improving require a complete re-work from the ground up, so it’s a unique position where you learn a lot about the way each service functions. Improving our online offering is mainly focused on design and customer experience, so is a great addition and contrast to the technical knowledge picked up in my degree. Although, the development process has also included a large amount of work with SQL and database integrations and also some work with API’s and web services.
Lauren Gibbons: Digital Developer
My main project that I have been working on is creating Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council a new Intranet, this went live at the beginning of the month. It allows all members of staff to download the most up-to-date version of a form or document and keep up to date with the latest council news and events for staff as well. I have been receiving feedback from my colleagues and all has been positive. I have also been given the opportunity to present our new Intranet to the other local councils at a meeting as they are interested in updating their intranets too.
I am using a variety of skills and learning news ones each day while working for Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. The other week I had the opportunity to attend the Smart County Conference run by Kent Connects where I learnt all about open data and got to hear from Andy Spurway at Microsoft where he told us an interesting fact that “90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2-year!”. We also had presentations from Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Nesta and more!
I am excited to for the next few months and my new projects I’ll be working on.
Jade Majaba: Digital Transformation Service Designer
Just before the New Year I started working on the Cashless project. This project aims to remove the costs associated with the collection of cash and cheques whilst also improving the customer experience. The objective is to move existing online services from current aged payment system to the new service provider, SagePay. The next step of this project is the build stage, where I would be working alongside developers and content designers to deliver customer friendly electronic forms in excellent quality.
I’ve also had the opportunity to attend Agile Scrum training, Smart County Conference and an Oracle workshop focusing on the customer experience journey mapping process. I look forward to new projects that I will be getting soon and seeing some services of the Cashless project going live.
This year, Kent Connects will have five new placement students with one at the partnership office, two in medway, one in Maidstone and one in Tonbridge and Malling. We are very excited to see how they will develop and what they will bring to Kent Connects as a whole.