Posted on June 30, 2014.
I think that most people know by now that this is my last day as Head of the MDDA and working for Manchester City Council after nearly 27 years. It has been a fantastic time, especially over the last 10 years since we set up the MDDA. I’m taking voluntary early retirement (VER) because it’s a good time to do that, to hand over to the rest of the team to carry on the good work (although there are limits to what an anarcho-syndicalist commune can achieve these days!!) and to move on to new things. I’m not going far, in that I’m taking up the opportunity to do some research on smart cities and digital inclusion (amongst other things) with the Centre for Urban Policy Studies (CUPS) at the University of Manchester – you can check out the website at www.manchester.ac.uk/cups. My new contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll also be involved in a number of community initiatives and launching a new blog in September so please keep in touch and I’ll let you know more about that over the summer. In the meantime I’m having a leaving do spread over two days, 4-7pm on Thursday July 10th (in the room above the Ape and Apple http://www.joseph-holt.com/pubs/view/ape-and-apple) which is the main event with some words being spoken about 6pm, and then 4pm-7pm on Friday July 11th at Cornerhouse (no words, just chat, networking and a bit of ‘plotting’ …… ). Please feel free to join us at either or both. I’ve already been contacted by people asking if I’d get involved in a number of new projects and I’m very happy to have a chat about that but no promises and I’m certainly not going to be doing very much until September but let’s see what happens after that.
Thanks again to everyone for making the last 27 years a lot of fun, intrigue and surprises (and lots of other things too) and I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks and keeping in touch and continuing to work together in new ways in the future.
In the meantime I’m collecting a digital scrapbook of anything connected with MDDA so let me have your thoughts, photos or anything else you think might be of interest.
Peace, love and solidarity. Dave xx.
Posted on January 8, 2014.
Thanks to everyone who sent greetings and best of luck messages about our move. We are now well settled in Level 7 in the Town Hall Extension, just one floor below where we were for our first 10 years, as part of the Economic Initiatives Group (EIG) from 1992 to 2002. We’re also continuing our work with a wide range of partners, including MadLab, Manchester Digital, FutureEverything and MMU, to plan collaborative events, meetings and shared working space. Many people will know that we rounded off the series of special ‘Smart Cities’ workshops on Thurs. Dec. 12th with our last official event in the old Portland Street offices, which we first moved into in 2004.
This event showcased some of the key outcomes from our current range of Living Lab projects, focusing on “Tools for Smart Cities”. It was the last of the current series of events that enabled a wide range of partners to share with us, in this particular way, the joys and memories of the MDDA’s work while we’ve been at 117-119 Portland Street and ten great years of innovation, open networks, smart ideas and working with some of the most interesting and innovative people and organisations locally, nationally and across Europe.
We’re now working on the report about these projects, which, together with a new website, will help us to plan out the next stage of the development of the Manchester Living Lab. We’ll be publishing that at the end of January together with plans for activities for the rest of 2014.
Posted on April 22, 2013.
After another excellent Future Everything event back in March we’ve been discussing with our local and international partners what’s on the horizon (literally) as Europe gears up for the most significant shift in its innovation and R&D programmes for 20 years with its new “Horizon 2020″ programme, to be launched ealy next year. As well as partners in the Eurocities network we have been building up our collaboration with the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) and will be hosting the annual Living Labs Summer School here in Manchester at the end of August. In the meantime we are hosting the first ever UK Network of Living Labs meeting (tomorrow) plus joining all of the other Future Internet Smart Cities project partners in Dublin for Future Internet Week. At a local level support continues to flow in for the Go ON Manchester digital inclusion campaign and we have just gone through our April target figure of recruiting 600 digital champions.
Posted on February 14, 2013.
As ever I can’t believe that December and January went without a comment, although going off for a week to Toronto (on leave) when it was -20 probably didn’t help, but I did get a chance to speak at the launch of Smart Cities Canada while I was there which was an excellent event, plus meeting up with colleagues from Waterfront Toronto was really good too! No State Aid issues there, they’ve just gone and built the most extensive open access fibre network anywhere in Canada. Anyway, back to Manchester and it’s a busy few months ahead (and that’s not talking about football!). Next week we have the Digital Skills Summit, in March it’s Future Everything and then we look forward to hosting the European Living Labs Summer School at MMU in August. In the meantime we are still working away on the Corridor Network, some hopeful signs on the State Aid front (but “I couldn’t possibly comment” further at this stage). MadLab‘s projects are going from strength to strength, everything to Coding in Schools to ideas for Digital High Streets. So my New Year’s resolution, at least to coincide with the Chinese New Year if not Jan. 1st 2013, is to keep telling everyone much more about what we’re doing and what we know is going on out-there (more on that story later……..).
Posted on November 14, 2012.
We were in Nantes last week for the Eurocities AGM which provided a great opportunity to showcase innovation, some digital and some not, from dozens of cities across Europe. Together with the City of Ghent, with whom we’ve been working closely for many years, Manchester will be leading future work on the Digital Agenda through the Eurocities Knowledge Society Forum. Ghent is the new Chair of the Forum and Manchester the new Vice Chair, with the political lead coming from Cllr. Nigel Murphy, Lead Member for Environment (which includes the Manchester Digital Strategy – more info here). In October 2013 Manchester will host the Autumn conference of the Forum where we’ll be looking back at 20 years of work in this area, since we hosted the founding conference of Telecities (which became the Forum) in October 1993 (it seems a long, long time ago), as well as forward to the next 20 years. Also in August (27th-30th) we’ll be hosting the European Network of Living Labs Summer School. So more about that in the New Year and more about the latest open data initiatives and the Hackathon taking place this weekend on the MDDA home page. And the giant elephant? Well Nantes is also home to the amazing team who brought us the giant machines in Liverpool and London and on the Iles des Machines is their base, check out their website and the fantastic photos and the video on Youtube. Truly ‘formidable!’
Posted on November 2, 2012.
Great meeting yesterday here at MDDA where more than 30 representatives of local, national, European and global networks got together to discuss “Mutual and Co-operative Models in the Digital Economy”. This was held alonside the Global Coop Expo being held in Manchester this week to celebrate 2012 being the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives. To coincide with the global festival of events and exhibitions in Manchester we worked with INCA, the UK’s Independent Networks Cooperative Association, to organise a workshop to explore the role that mutual and co-operative models play in the digital economy. Colleagues involved in developing independent and mutual digital networks in Sweden and the USA joined us to discuss the potential for the sector to grow in the future. It was a very lively debate and we agreed that we should be doing more to carry on these discussions locally, so watch this space for follow up events which Manchester Digital are aiming to organise with MDDA’s support.
Posted on October 30, 2012.
After a great launch event on October 4th the ‘Go ON Manchester’ campaign continues to build up support and commitment from local people and businesses to become ‘Digital Champions’. The new website is live and over the next few weeks we’ll be organising a whole series of follow up events and activities. So, if you haven’t joined us yet, ‘Go ON’ and become a Digital Champion. Just visit the website and sign up. We’ve also got Mary Moss, who many people will remember from the Wythenshawe ICT project in 2002 (and subsequently from NIACE and the WEA), now working with us to coordinate the campaign so, if you want to know more or would like to help, please contact her at email@example.com
Posted on August 15, 2012.
‘Go On’ is a national campaign to promote digital inclusion www.go-on-uk.org
“Go ON UK aims to bring the benefits of the internet to every individual and every organisation in every community across the UK. This is an urgent priority because:
- Only 14 per cent of SMEs sell products and services online (Lloyds Banking Group/ BDRC April 2012)
- ICT is the biggest skills-gap in the charity sector (NCVO)
- 7.82 million adults have still NEVER used the internet (ONS Labour Force Survey)”
One of the main aims is to develop new ways of supporting this at a local level with the maximum flexibility for local partnerships to get organised and plan local action. In this spirit Manchester City Council is getting together with Union Learn to kick off a new local partnership that will bring together everyone and everything with an interest in all things digital under the heading of ‘Go On Manchester’. MDDA will be one of the participants and this will be a major part of work over the next year, linked to our work on developing the Manchester Living Lab, open data and co-production with MadLab, Manchester Digital, Data GM, Future Everything and others. A key part of this work will be to get people, i.e. YOU and your organisation, to volunteer to be ‘Digital Champions’ and members of the Manchester Living Lab to support the campaign. Watch this space and the MDDA website for more info.
So please get the date in your diary – Thursday October 4th in Manchester Town Hall.
Posted on August 6, 2012.
Good to see Sunday’s Observer picking up big time on the current debates around broadband, vested interests and the plucky band of DIY pioneers trying to do things differently and for themselves. Two major articles plus the main Comment piece, one about what’s happening (or not) in the UK, see this link, and one showcasing what Google is doing with low cost, accessible 1Gbps symmetric networks in the States, see that link here, plus a good mention of one of our many collaborators, the Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) network led by the indomitable Barry Forde, check out their excellent website. It’s “good to see resistence growing” and all that.
Posted on August 1, 2012.
More fun and games with trying to decide what broadband is all about, some people think we’re doing fine, a bit more speed at home and everything will carry on working, while others are challenging powers that be (public and private sector) to think a bit more imaginatively or even ‘out the (digi) box’. The Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) held an excellent event in London last week to discuss what the UK really wants, how that compares with other parts of Europe and what the regulatory challenges may be for more innovative new approaches, including State Aid. Even though it was the start of the holiday season more than 50 organisations packed into Frontline’s meeting room in London to debate the issues. The European Commission sent along two senior officials, OfCom was there, just about all UK telcos (including BT and Virgin), investors, local authorities and community networks. Birmingham City Council gave an excellent presentation about their success in getting State Aid approval for their open access fibre network which creates an interesting precedent for other UK projects, including ours here in Manchester. Have a look at the INCA website for more info.