A year of work in progress – day 139

Day 139 – 19 August 2014

The back of my neck and shoulders were stiff this morning. A plasterer once told me how it took several days for the muscles in his arms to get used to the work again after his holidays. That was a long time ago and it’s funny how you remember these things. Perhaps I’m suffering from the same thing, relying on muscles I haven’t used for a while?

Speaking of muscles, today I needed some others that I wasn’t used to using. This morning I started out in Morpeth, had an early afternoon meeting in Newcastle and ended up in Durham. I decided to get the train as it wasn’t raining and so had a lot of walking to do. Fortunately the timetables worked out quite well but of course by the time I left home it was drizzling.

I’d set some time aside to work on the collaboration business case. It is taking shape but has been hampered by overlapping holidays. Neil and I are going to sit down next week to go through it line by line before taking it to the board. These things can be difficult as you need to get the balance right between making assumptions and going to the far end of everything.

You never truly know someone until you live with them and that’s the same when bringing different businesses together and so a lot will be based upon best endeavours. Still, we’ve both been through this all before with the Local Government Review yet after five years there are still remnants of former district cultures lurking in dark corners. Like background cosmic radiation our collective histories are feint echoes in the fabric of our organisations.

Our meeting at Newcastle (Steve came along as well) was with Lisa from the City Council and Barry from the University to look at the Cloud Innovation work that they are doing in conjunction. I arrived a bit early and struggled to get WiFi. The city Library wasn’t up to much, Marks and Spencer was too busy and even McDonalds let me down. I ended up using O2 sitting on a bench outside their shop in Eldon Square.

Anyway, the Cloud Innovation Centre (or CIC as it will soon be known) is a research project based around social inclusion through the digital economy and is aspiring to build up a wealth of expertise in cloud computing and data analysis to enhance social wellbeing. They already have funding for fifty PhD students to study cloud computing for use by big data applications and there aim is to help organisations who need help especially in areas such as data collection, analysis and machine learning.

They’re going to have (are already may have) a decision theatre (where you can visualise and analyse data in a collaborative environment), a private cloud, access to the public cloud, and a learning lab all focussed on research and innovation.

It is very exciting and fits in well with my interests in the role of digital in the economy of the North East, greater regional collaboration, the stories that are trapped within our big data and the use of social media to spot and resolve complex issues. We even managed to talk about Dynamo and the role of women in ICT. Steve and I offered our help and we agreed to meet again towards the back end of October.

Learning points for today: There are dark forces at work; consultation can only work if you actually involve people; WiFi is a fundamental human right; cars were invented for a reason and; sentiment analysis is using social media to highlight social deprivation issues.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – a perfect day apart from the leg work. Very tired.

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