Headlines: September 10th, 2002

The English regions must start developing e-strategies now if they are to maximise returns on current investment in their regions, says a new report by the organisation for IT managers in local government (SOCITM).According to ‘Developing a regional e-strategy: joining up the e-initiatives’, this applies not just to investment which will deliver e-services, but all investment – whether concerned with community development, social democracy or economic regeneration.

It says regional e-strategies will join up the disparate e-initiatives, fill some critical gaps in regional infrastructure and deliver economies of scale, while revitalising the regions and contributing to the knowledge-based revolution.

The SOCITM report provides guidance on the essential elements of a regional e-strategy, which it says should address the following issues:

– ‘joining-up’ of services across a region

– community development and involvement in the democratic process

– opportunities for economic development through exploitation of ICT

– development of regional portals

– development of ICT skills and access

– development of the ICT infrastructure within the region.

It also warns that the process of developing and managing a regional e-strategy is not easy, since the process must involve the widest range of stakeholders and there are no definitive models for partnership working of this sort.

It recommends an initial conference or consultation to engage potential participants and for regions to share learning on what works.

Copies of the report cost 125 pounds, with discounts to Socitm members, and can be ordered from www.socitm.gov.uk