Dave's blog. Updates from Dave Carter, Head of MDDA.
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It’s a new day, it’s a new way … (as well as a new year)

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.

Future Everything and Future Internet

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.

Spring is in the air … well, nearly!

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……..).

Telecities to Smart Cities: 20 years of Urban Digital – plus a giant elephant….

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!’






Digital cooperation goes global

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.

Still Going ON, Going ON

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 mary.moss@go-on-manchester.com

Go On, Go On, Go On…….Manchester – October 4th kick-off in the Town Hall

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.

Observer picks up on broadband debate

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.

Next Generation Anticipation – NGA: just what is ‘super-fast’ and ‘ultra-fast’ broadband?

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.

Sunshine (before and) after the rain

Posted on August 1, 2012.

Recently returned from a glorious 10 days on Barra and South Uist and, while most of the UK seemed to be drowning, we had great weather and a fantastic experience, including basking sharks, The Vatersay Boys and meeting Father JP (for those in the know). Another great highlight in July was probably the best ever Big Chip Awards, demonstrating that in spite of the economic crisis going on and on, our digital sector maintains its optimism and creativity. Well done to Manchester Digital (yet again) for such a good job. Prior to my great little island interlude it was just about the busiest spring (and early ‘summer’) we’ve ever had. Smart Cities, Future Internet and Living Labs really coming into the mainstream both nationally and globally. Manchester is really engaged in both the policy making and the practicalities of all this and is getting increasingly recognised as a ‘player’, having both the profile and credibility to collaborate with some of the best in Europe, including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Helsinki. One example of this is our newly launched Connected Smart Cities Network website, only in alpha at the moment but watch this space…….

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