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 are currently planning events. At this time, all our events and meetings are designed with an online/remote attendance capability.

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

Recent event

A Summer of Accessibility

Eight weeks, eight webinars and hundreds of people signing up and joining Kent Connects and Smarter Digital Services (opens in new tab) to learn about Digital Accessibility.

We started with Back to Basics, a perennial favourite as changing staff and different roles mean there are always people new to the subject.

‘I've only just started working in LA and this was a perfect intro for me’.

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

Over the years we have been presenting on Digital Accessibility, we have seen more tools appear and become part of the day-to-day technology, so our second session brought in Abilitynet to talk about the tools available.

‘Appreciated that Google products were included rather than solely relying on Microsoft products’.

Week 3 and we broached the topic of auditing, helping delegates to understand what the auditor does, where to go for help and what to put in an accessibility statement.

‘It prompted me to update accessibility statements and plan an audit of my organisation's website’.

Procurement and Accessibility was a more specialist webinar, discussing ways to get suppliers on board with digital accessibility. As the feedback shows there is a lot to discuss in this area.

‘I think lots of the procurement staff or contract managers don't know too well what they need to ask for in the day-to-day practice in terms of this’.

For week 5, we focused on Accessible Online Documents, one of the fundamentals of Digital Accessibility training, offering an introduction or a refresher to this subject.

‘I revisited tips/hints etc. that I knew about prior to the session but also learnt new ones which I hadn't picked up elsewhere which was very useful’.

Creating an Accessibility Strategy and Culture was a reminder that the whole organisation is involved and gave suggestions on getting engagement to embed Digital Accessibility.

‘Really engaging and gave me a positive feeling for moving forward a strategy for our organisation’.

As we approached the end of the series, we wanted to make it interactive, so the Myth Busting session set some challenges to the audience to decide what was true or false, before going into a little more detail in the answer.

‘I enjoyed how interactive the session was. It really makes you think about things when you're having to choose an answer on the poll’.

Our final session was an unveiling of the Digital Accessibility course on the e-learning system which is now available to all the Kent Connects and Smarter Digital Services partners.

‘I'm looking forward to the training that was launched today and being able to put this into practice’.

Three years on from our first Digital Accessibility conference and we have gone from planning for compliance deadlines to making digital accessibility part of how we work.

These webinars have now taken place. If you would like access to the recordings, please contact us.

Past events

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

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