Kent Connects


Transforming Local Services

Kent Connects Partnership holds business transformation events to bring Partners together to learn about new technology and different ways of working. The face to face events offer an opportunity for networking and the online events allow us to record and share the presentations.

We welcome ideas and suggestions from our partners. If you have a topic that you would like us to explore, please contact us.

Current Events

Reconnects Day 2023

We had a Reconnects Day where we invited our partners and speakers to present on various talks such as IoT, AI and ethics, and GIS, there was an opportunity to network with different people who have attended. We also organised a Cyber Security escape room run by the Protect Specialists from Kent Police. The Cyber Security Escape room was to highlight the importance of being aware of your personal data online. The Cyber Security Escape was popular amongst our attendees, we had 6 teams and they finished the escape room with time ranging from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. We had a prize for our winning team!

On that day, not only did we have a fun escape room, but we had plenty of excellent speakers such as:

Data Ethics – the London Office of Technology and Innovation

Our first presenter was LOTI – the London Office of Technology and Innovation and gave a talk about Data Ethics in the local government, and their Partnership with South London to create a Smart IoT Sensor Map. They gave an example of how local government could use this Smart Map and showed that local government can easily collect data in private spaces such as care homes or social housing. The Smart Map can anticipate future demands for example, debt collection or children services.

From Sensors to Solutions: Big Data in Smart Cities – Vortex

Our next presenter, Vortex, talked about Big Data, and what makes a city’ ‘smart’ with recognised data patterns to enhance quality of the city life. They also talked about the Big Data challenges such as Data Storage and Retention with Intelligent-Tiering – a modern data storage optimisation method. There were case studies shown and a demonstration of LiDAR for monitoring of road surfaces, defects and assets of urban infrastructure. The LiDAR monitor is placed on a bus with an HD camera, which stimulates the map of the urban infrastructure and features.

Geographic Information Systems Project – Kent County Council

Three speakers from Kent County Council presented on recent app development projects, including a Kent Spatial Risk Assessment for Water App (SRA), a Property Asset App, and a Care Provider Allocation App. The SRA and Property App are both open public applications, encouraging a more efficient, and simpler means for the public. The Strategic Planning Infrastructure team presented the Infrastructure Mapping Platform (IMP) which will be used by KCC teams, districts and other key partners to plan for growth and resource needs. The SRA assesses Kent’s public property portfolio managed by KCC’s property team. The Care Provider App matches caregivers to customers based on location and skillsets, providing optimal routes. The presentation provided insights into KCC’s efforts to develop helpful information apps for internal use across water resource management, facilities and social services. The apps aim to leverage mapping and analytics to aid KCC staff with the information they need.

Future Councils & Cyber – Local Digital

Local Digital gave a presentation about their projects and highlighted from Local Digital Fund, such as Local Gov Drupal – which was adopted by 35 councils, enabling them to save up to 80% of costs for building new council website. They talked about Future Councils that brings together digital services and cyber security reform to multiple areas across a council and aims to make organisations more resilient. They organised trainings, such as Agile and the Executive Education Programme for Local Government that had over 250 participants across 100 councils and received positive feedback from those participants.

Cyber escape team and timer
Speaker at the Reconnects Day with Power Point Presentation
Winning team of cyber escape with medals

Past events

Summer of Digital Accessibility 2023

Kent Connects in partnership with Smarter Digital Services are pleased to present four free 45-minute sessions designed to increase awareness of digital accessibility for you, your colleagues, and your organisation.

Whether you’re new to digital accessibility or want to enhance your existing knowledge, our webinars offer a range of topics suitable for everyone.  Each session will feature a 5-minute introduction by someone who has been impacted by digital accessibility, providing valuable insights into how we can improve accessibility.

As the event has now ended, recordings of the webinars are now available on our Youtube Channel

A Summer of Accessibility
A Summer of Accessibility - Kent Connects logo, Kent County Council logo, Smarter Digital Services logo
Kent Connects Accessibility Conference stylised tree

Summer of Accessibility webinars 2022

Over the summer of 2022, we hosted a series of eight webinars in partnership with Smarter Digital Services and KCC, designed to help organisations comply with digital accessibility regulations and improve accessibility for all users.

The webinars covered a range of topics, starting with an introduction to digital accessibility and going on to cover tools available for digital accessibility, auditing, procurement and accessibility, creating accessible online documents, and creating a culture of accessibility. We received great feedback, including one participant who had just started working in a local authority and found it to be a perfect introduction.

The webinars were well-received, with hundreds of attendees from various organisations. Attendees included new staff and those unfamiliar with digital accessibility. The sessions were engaging and informative, and attendees appreciated the mix of familiar tips and new information.

Finally, we unveiled the Digital Accessibility E-learning course which is now freely available to all Kent Connects and Smarter Digital Services partners.  Attendees were enthusiastic about the training and looked forward to putting it into practice. (If you are not a partner, Smarter Digital Services can provide a quote for you and colleagues to access the e-learning platform).

We have been presenting on digital accessibility for three years, and we have gone from preparing for compliance deadlines to making digital accessibility part of how we work. These webinars and e-learning courses are a valuable resource for organisations looking to improve their digital accessibility and comply with regulations.

We are now planning our Summer of Accessibility 2023 webinar series, please let us know if you would like to be informed of the dates for these.

Reconnects Day

This partnership event was held in July 2022 to give partners an opportunity to gather face-to-face for the first time in nearly two years.

The event was supported by some excellent speakers and companies who brought along their ideas and tech for everyone to experience.

Hello Lamp Post worked with us before the event to arrange an ‘on the day’ demo of their innovative tool that encourages engagement by inviting people to interact with objects they see every day and that make up their environment. They showed how communities can be engaged by sharing information, asking for opinions or feedback and the benefits of using those stories to improve services.

A VR Studio was available, and much visited, courtesy of RiVR who showed how taking a more active approach to learning makes it more engaging and therefore memorable. They delivered a variety of scenarios to show the breadth of possible uses for this technology.

Thingitude gave a myriad of answers to the question ‘how are councils using IoT in 2022’. The different types of sensors on show, the experience and enthusiasm with which questions were answered instigated many discussions.

Wealden District Council provided a thought-provoking talk about Digital Detox that got everyone in the room nodding and noting down the tips provided by the presentation and, in true interactive style, by those in the room sharing their methods.

Colleagues from Microsoft, SDS and KPSN all made themselves available during the day to share their knowledge and ‘talk tech’. New contacts were made, and many connections remade across the partnership.

Wealden District Council provided a thought-provoking talk about Digital Detox that got everyone in the room nodding and noting down the tips provided by the presentation and, in true interactive style, by those in the room sharing their methods.

Female wearing a mask with covid symbols stylised over the graphic

One Step Beyond Covid

This event, held in September 2020, began by celebrating a few of the innovations introduced since the start of the pandemic and acknowledging the speed, ingenuity and agility shown by our partners in support of their residents. Attendees found these real-life examples inspirational and took away ideas for their own organisations.

We then moved on to the role that data has to play with a talk from Dr Amen Ra Mashariki. The presentation took everyone on a journey through different layers of urban intelligence, from the high-level view of dynamics and interactions through the middle layer of physical and natural objects that interact down to the data collection that will aim to capture different aspects of those relationships. Included was the use of modelling and analytical questions to find indicators and datasets to solve problems.

The final presentation stepped us into the future with Will Humphrey from Sugar Creative, an award-winning multi-skilled innovation studio based in the UK that specialise in delivering projects for global clients that focus on emerging, advanced and immersive technologies. Will gave an exciting overview of the technologies and examples of how they can be used today and ideas for the future.

We finished the day with pitches for new projects that Kent Connects might support.

Kent Connects Accessibility Conference stylised tree

Digital Accessibility

Kent Connects and the University of Kent set up a group to share and promote information about digital accessibility as part of work to meet Digital Accessibility Regulations. We wanted to share good practice and help people understand what is meant by Digital Accessibility, so we set up the annual Digital Accessibility Conference.

Our first conference was held on the Canterbury campus in 2018 and welcomed several hundred people to the event. In 2020 we moved to an online event running for three days. This gave us time to explore personal experiences of digital accessibility, discussions on legal requirements and suppliers demonstrating ways to meet guidelines and produce accessible websites and digital content. For 2021, the event format evolved again to reduce online event fatigue. Short, punchy presentations with clear takeaways were provided with a supplier showcase at the end of the day.

The Lexdis website holds links to recordings and useful information from all events, plus a wide range of other helpful articles.

We look forward to delivering more accessibility events in the future. Watch our events page for more news on this.

Two people working hard on laptops

Data Drill

Following a presentation from ESRI (a key supplier for Geographic Information Systems or GIS) we organised a Data Drill to test our ability to share data across the partnership. A data drill is a simulation of a real problem, where participants attempt to bring together data to support decision makers and front-line services to solve the issue. We focussed on Brexit as a challenge for public sector organisations in Kent. We ran scenarios of possible problems and explored how we could work together more closely. We learnt that the real issues were not around technology, but about having the right processes in place within and between organisations.

We continue to work on projects around data sharing and this is a key theme for several of our projects.

Hacking and cybersecurity representation

Cyber Security

Our Cyber Security event was aimed at senior managers not technical staff. We heard from a range of experts during the morning, but the highlight of this event was the presentation from a chief executive of another council. Her honest and open account of the problems of recovering from a serious Cyber attack took us from risk to reality. We heard how even then, they still had a lot of work to do. It was a shocking reminder that Cyber Security is not just a concern for the IT department, but something for the whole organisation to be aware of.

Smart Cities

Kent is rural and none of our towns are particularly big, so this seemed a misnomer, but we wanted to focus on the good practice and how we could use it locally. We put together a wide range of speakers, presenting on Health, Highways, mapping, green energy, garden cities and innovation in general. We wanted to get discussions going on between our different partners and we succeeded.

After the event a new working group was set up to focus on Smart Kent and Medway outcomes.

Our partners