Council skills in technology and IT praised

Northumberland County Council was highly commended in two categories in this year's Dynamites Awards, which recognise skill in the IT and technology sector.

Wednesday, 1st November 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st November 2017, 12:03 pm
#VerifyLocal team and George Willcox were highly commended at this years BT Dynamites Awards, from left to right: Steve Smith, George Willcox, Nathan Fuller.

The awards, which are sponsored by BT, shine a spotlight on successful North East organisations and recognise the amazing talent the region has to offer.

The council’s #VerifyLocal team, from the information services department, was shortlisted in the Collaborator of the Year category for its work with Government Digital Services (GDS) and 24 other local councils across the UK, on two pilot projects; Concessionary Travel and Residential Parking Permits.

The pilot projects, the first of their kind in the UK, have seen GDS, Northumberland County Council, Newcastle City Council and Sunderland City Council, along with 22 other local authorities, work together to share best practice and make decisions on what solutions will look like, creating common service patterns for the benefit of all.

Northumberland County Council provides a wide range of services across the county to approximately 316,000 residents and more than 11,000 businesses, with many of these located in remote rural areas. Delivering such a wide range of services over a large area can prove challenging, especially for those services which require verification of an individual’s identity, which can cause a barrier to residents who live in remote areas.

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Coun Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services, said: “I am very proud that Northumberland has two shortlisted entries in this year’s Dynamites Awards. Although we narrowly missed out winning, the judges highly commended the county council in both awards.”

The verify projects will reduce the requirement for face to face contact in order to access services, allowing the council to make efficiency savings and focus its resources more effectively.

Northumberland schoolboy, George Willcox, was also shortlisted in the Rising Star category for his contributions to the North East digital and tech sector through his education and volunteering roles.

As part of Northumberland County Council’s digital inclusion and skills work, the information services department facilitates a series of volunteer-led Code Clubs at primary schools across the county.

A sixth form student at Ashington High School, George sacrifices his spare time to run one of the 27 Code Clubs alongside his mother, Sam Willcox. Together they deliver basic coding skills to pupils aged 9-11 at Pegswood Primary School, which due to their hard work, has become one of the most successful Code Clubs in Northumberland.

Clare Nicholson, membership and events Coordinator at Dynamo North East, said “Congratulations to Northumberland County Council on receiving high commendations for Collaborator of the Year, and to George Willcox for Rising Star at the BT Dynamites.

“The council should be incredibly proud of the fantastic work they do as it plays a big part in showcasing the tech talent we have in our region.”

The award ceremony was held on October 19 at Newcastle Civic Centre and saw sponsorship from BT, Capgemini, Sage, NRG, Accenture, Gateshead College, Harvey Nash, Orchard Information Systems, North EAst Futures UTC, Baltic Training and