Jason Kitkat was a keynote presenter at the GeoPlace 2015 annual conference and contributor to the GeoPlace report Everything happens somewhere; address and street data a common standard for digital transformation'
Jason believes that not enough chief executives and leaders are aware of the value of address and street information in aiding transformation and that "without you and the work you do it's not going to happen."
Following is a message from Jason to the local authority address and streets community.
"In my experience of working with local government and GeoPlace, all too often senior officers and politicians have little or no awareness of what Custodians do. This needs to change.
Not only are your national standards and databases of address and street data remarkable achievements, they are also vital keys to unlocking public service transformation.
I'm a passionate believer that we live in the age of collaboration. This means that leading doesn't need to be an heroic endeavour. It just means stepping forward to explain something, to champion an idea, to change people's perspectives.
I like to think of leadership as teaching, in other words collaborating with others as equals on a learning experience. Most definitely not preaching! Considering leadership in terms of teaching takes it into the realms of the everyday, as it should be, something which we can all do.
So how to get out into your organisation and share the wonders of being a Custodian? An easy way to get started is by offering a lunch-time seminar to colleagues "a quick intro to saving the world through address data" might be a good title to launch with. Perhaps it's a departmental seminar, or something you could arrange through the organisational development team, who usually sit with HR.
In councils you can also schedule a workshop up for councillors, Democratic Services officers are usually delighted to help arrange such things. Then take your councillors through what you do in simple terms and share some of the brilliant examples from GeoPlace's new transformation report. Set out how at the moment too many systems duplicate and confuse location data. Then thankfully welcome the magical collaboration which has delivered the answer for the nation (GeoPlace). Finally note how we just need to make more use of it.
Perhaps also ask to attend a management team meeting for your local IT department to give them a quick briefing on what you are doing and how it fits into the national context. Best of all suggest ways how it could make their work easier.
Find out who leads on transformation/change/digital programmes in your organisation and offer to help them. Suggest that each project should have a checkpoint to see if they should and could connect with UPRN or USRN before being allowed to proceed for approval. If that doesn't work find a way to have a chat with the CEO, either by seeking a meeting or catching them at an event for a quick word.
A little bit of leading by teaching will pay dividends: In no time you will have allies across your organisation, who will start asking colleagues are we using standards for that address data'? It will be a virtuous cycle. The more you lead by teaching, the more others will do it for you. The time to start is now!"
Jason Kitcat is an independent advisor to local and national government on digital transformation. He is the former Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council and winner of the 2015 LGiU Judges Special Award for Contributions to Local Government. Follow him @jasonkitcat