Skills and Education for a Digital World

Skills and Education for a Digital World

Our 2017 Thought Leadership Programme got off to a dynamic and invigorating start with our partner Rand Europe in the unique environment of St George’s House, Windsor Castle where participants and partners came together to discuss digital technology’s role in enabling skills development for a connected world.

Representatives from Academia, Business, Government and Non-Government organisations from the UK, Europe and internationally, focussed on detailed questions of how digital can best support individuals to develop the skills needed for the digital society, which will in turn lead to the first of this year’s Thought Leadership Reports.

Held under the Chatham House rule, to enable open, honest and challenging discussion, the following issues and questions were explored:

  • How does technology challenge the educator’s role?
  • What are the core skills needed to be a citizen in a digital society?
  • Are we preparing today’s young people for the jobs of tomorrow with yesterday’s tools?
  • How can digital technology aid life-long learning for the benefit of citizens, to embed greater inclusion within Digital Society?
  • How can digital delivery channels help ensure equality of access and inclusivity to skills and education?
  • In what ways can we support an ageing population to acquire the digital skills necessary to transact in an increasingly digital world?
  • How do we build capacity within the education system to maximise the impact of digital technology?

Conference proceedings, which summarise the key findings and ideas from our discussions, will be published in due course and available from our website. In the interim, closing remarks on behalf of the participants included:

  • Digital technology offers an amazing opportunity to extend learning opportunities and citizens should give themselves the permission to fully participate in such opportunities in support of both social mobility and life-long learning;
  • Delivering education and learning through digital channels cannot deliver benefits on its own. We need to have a more compelling narrative for education and learning in general and how digital technology can support the learner more effectively, to encourage greater participation;
  • Delivering education and learning through digital technology faces a number of challenges, including resistance from more traditional institutions but also in terms of inclusion. The use of new technologies can extend audience reach and tackle issues of inclusion, but it also has the potential to extend the gap between those who participate in learning and those who are at risk of being excluded;
  • The use of digital technology to deliver education and learning is disrupting what we see as the traditional role of the educator.  There is a need to discuss more openly how this role should evolve if we are to maximise the benefits of digital technology in learning environments;
  • Businesses as employers, who are looking to develop their workforce should take a lead in terms of developing platforms and tools, using technology to enable digital learning for the benefit of everyone;
  • Automation and the use of artificial intelligence has great potential in the area of education and learning, especially in terms of assessment and accreditation, as well as in areas such as continuous professional development and compliance assurance.  The technology and its use in learning environments is not however well understood.

These are just some of the headline conclusions from our discussions on Education and the potential role which digital technology might play in delivering the skills needed for a more connected world.

Our 2017 Thought Leadership Programme continues with the next event in April focusing on the opportunities and challenges that digital technology is creating for Open Science.  Other themes we have planned for this year include Currency in a digital world and Civic Engagement.

To follow comments from the events on Twitter as they happen please search for the hashtag #digitalsociety, or if you’d like any more information, please email:

Wiltshire College partners with Corsham TV

IMG_6776 Corsham TV.jpg

Wiltshire College’s TV and Film Students have been out on location in Corsham creating video stories for Corsham TV.

Corsham TV, part of the Digital Corsham initiative from Corsham Institute, is a community-inspired digital tv channel covering the people and stories of Corsham, Box, Neston, Colerne and Lacock.

The project with Wiltshire College started before Christmas when Corsham TV set the College the challenge of producing a series of 3-4 minute factual programmes for the Channel and is one of a number of collaborations to help train the next generation of film-makers and increase the amount of content available for the Channel.

Students chose to focus on a broad range of themes from the history of Corsham Station, to the role of apprenticeships in the local economy, whether the voting age should be lowered, the challenge that local pubs face and how the Corsham Knitting Group helps refugees.

Corsham TV’s Channel Director, Martin Head, who leads the Digital Corsham initiative, commented; “the range of stories that the students came up with was very impressive and it was great to increase Corsham Institute’s links with Wiltshire College. We look forward to more projects in the future”.

Course tutor Nicola Dew said: “this was very much a real-world exercise which certainly stretched our students. It’s even inspired some of them to think about a career in factual programme-making. We’re looking forward to exploring future opportunities with Corsham TV".

To produce the videos the students worked alongside Corsham TV’s team of Creative and Digital Media Apprentices and the students had to identify potential interviewees before recording and editing the footage needed for their videos.

The videos can be viewed at and for more information please email:

GDPR – transforming the use of personal data

“You need to have sleepless nights about this”, was one of the wake-up calls delivered by John Godwin, Director of Compliance and IA at UKCloud, during his recent Corsham Institute (Ci) ‘Insight’ Talk about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In May 2018 this new and far-reaching framework will be implemented to give citizens more control of their personal data and to unify data regulations for any business either based in, or doing business in, the EU.

The European Commission has produced this somewhat ‘revealing’ video to warn of the dangers of not taking control of your personal data.

The Regulation at over 200 pages is complex and not withstanding Brexit, will affect every business, organisation, charity and person within the UK. Even after the UK has left the EU, GDPR will transform the handling, storing and use of personal data especially for any non-EU organisation providing goods or services to the EU.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has a website for the posting of information about the reform of data protection legislation and they have also produced a 12-step checklist to help organisations prepare for GDPR, including information on reviewing what data you hold, privacy notices, consent, safeguarding children, your suppliers’ procedures and the need for Data Protection Officers. The link to download the checklist is at the end of this post.

GDPR will transform the use of personal data and as John Godwin outlined in his talk at Ci, the costs of getting it wrong will escalate sharply, from a maximum current penalty of £500,000, up to the larger amount of either 4% of an organisation’s world-wide turnover or a fine of up to €20million, with a 72 hour mandatory time period for the reporting of any data breaches.

At Ci we recently launched our Thought Leadership Consultation Report on Trust and Ethics, which called for the creation of a more enlightened and ethical digital society, identifying the need for a public-led framework to help citizens understand the rights and responsibilities of different parties when using their personal data.

With the planning for the implementation of GDPR and the mandatory changes in the use of data it will bring for Government departments, large corporations, SMEs, the self-employed, schools, charities, clubs and societies, perhaps it is also the opportunity to kick-start a debate over a digital charter and social contracts to which everyone can sign up, to ensure a common ethical purpose across all society for the use of data, to both protect and enable the digital citizen.

To find out more about our Thought Leadership Consultation Report and our Thought Leadership Programme, please visit the Programme’s page on our website.

John Godwin’s Twitter feed regularly features commentary and updates on GDPR matters. The account to follow is: @johngodwin1

To download the ICO 12-step checklist to prepare for GDPR, please click here.

Ci launches Thought Leadership Reports at House of Lords

On October 13th 2016, Ci was proud to launch our Thought Leadership Reports for 2016 at a packed House of Lords reception with over 150 guests representing academia, industry, Government and non-government organisations.

Lord Crisp, in welcoming people said that, “this launch shines a light on the benefits and challenges of our connected society” and he recognised the need “for a concerted effort around data privacy and digital inclusion to ensure solutions best serve the public good”.

Our Thought Leadership Reports for 2016 cover Digital Health, Cyber & Resilience, Digital Living and Trust & Ethics and were written after our Thought Leadership Consultations at St George’s House at Windsor Castle.

Jeffrey Thomas, the Founding Chairman of the Corsham Institute, thanked all the participants for engaging in such challenging & insightful debates that had, “created the impetus to address vital issues that the growth of digital accelerates”.

“We need a new framework”, he said, “which we are calling a ‘Digital Charter’, which will outline in clear, accessible language the role and responsibilities that we all have, as citizens and organisations, both in the public and private sector, to support an inclusive, safe and trusted digital world.”

Part of the work to develop a Digital Charter is a call for businesses, Government, organisations, as well as individuals, to find stronger and shared models of ethical behaviour, providing clear guidance on how to behave appropriately in the digital age.

At the Launch, Hans Pung, the President of Ci’s Thought Leadership Programme partner Rand Europe, said that, “the Programme has examined a number of crucial dimensions of our connected society”, and that “digital challenges are not just technical, they affect our social norms, ways of governance and ethical frameworks”.

All of the reports, together with a Key Findings Report summarising the 2016 Programme, are available to download from the Thought Leadership page of our website, together with details of our Programme for 2017.

170 million years of history!

We love a challenge at Ci and so over the Summer we asked our Creative and Digital Media Apprentices to work on telling the story of Corsham’s history, only covering we suggested, the last 170 million years or so!

The resulting multimedia exhibition; Tablet to Tablet, Corsham’s Journey from the Jurassic to the Digital Age, which our Apprentices have researched, written, designed and curated, is open to the public for a week from October 17th 2016.

Featuring over 100 images in 9 different spaces around the Ci Courtyard campus the exhibition also features artefacts from Corsham’s stone mining heritage and the oldest object that exists in Corsham, an 80,000-year-old bison bone.

Corsham’s history in communications and stone mining made possible its digital infrastructure today and the exhibition tells the story of the ground-breaking Box Tunnel, which in 1841 when it opened was the longest tunnel in the UK, to the growth of the Bath Stone mining industry. From some of the mines, during the first and second World Wars, being used as stores for thousands of tons of munitions, to the development during the Cold War of the highly secret alternative seat of Government under Corsham, with capacity for 4,000 civil servants and the communications infrastructure to resurrect the country after a nuclear attack.

Local artists, art groups and history societies have been involved and many local, personal archives been accessed and filming has been done underground in Corsham’s only working stone mine to bring the story up to date.

‘Tablet to Tablet’, provides a unique glimpse of the heritage that has enabled Corsham to develop into one of the most connected communities in the UK that has laid the foundations for the work of the Corsham Institute.

Our Creative and Digital Media Apprenticeships are a part of Ci’s commitment to Digital Communities. They are a rolling 18-month programme of full time work and training under the auspices of Cirencester College and they work to deliver content for our digital media channels. Future Apprentices will work on extending the scope of this exhibition, as well as digitising it, so it can be made available to the people of Corsham as a community asset.

Ci plays its part for a better and safer Internet!

This year's Safer Internet Day has the theme of ‘Play your part for a better internet’ and Corsham Institute (Ci) has been playing its part as well!

Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre the celebration sees hundreds of organisations get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. (

Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe.

Safer Internet Day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

Ci’s Digital Corsham initiative has been working with pupils and staff at a local primary school to develop a video about the safer use of the Internet that is being made available to local schools across our Digital Community programme.

Called ‘Cassie’s Online Story’, it features a primary school age character filmed in stop frame animation, who sets up an online social media account without their parent’s permission and is then subject to cyber-bullying. The video is packed with practical tips and advice from school pupils to stay safe online.

The video is backed by a second video aimed at parents outlining how important the subject of a Safer Internet is. The videos will be premiered today in front of pupils and parents, and can be watched below.

The videos were developed, filmed and edited by Ci’s Creative Digital and Media Apprentices.

Cassie’s Online Story

This e-Safety video is a joint project between the Corsham Regis Primary Academy, the Corsham Institute, Digital Corsham and Corsham TV. It was inspired and produced with the School’s Year 6 Pupil Leadership Team for Safer Internet Day.

Watch the video here:

E-Safety Guide for Parents

This video is a guide to parents about e-Safety and is the companion video to the pupil-focused video ‘Cassie’s Online Story’. It was produced for Corsham Regis Primary Academy for Safer Internet Day by the Corsham Institute, Digital Corsham and Corsham TV.

Watch the video here:

To find out more about Ci’s Digital Communities Programme please email or tweet us @digital_corsham.

To view our community digital television channel Corsham TV please visit and follow @CorshamTV.

Digital Solutions: a citizen centric approach

Last Friday (22/1/16) saw an exciting announcement for the Corsham Institute (Ci) at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The public unveiling of a new collaborative Test Bed that is a great example of the citizen centric work that Ci is doing in the Research and Innovation arena.

The Davos announcement saw NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, confirming details of the first wave of the NHS Test Bed programme.

In doing so he said:

“Over the next decade major health gains won’t just come from a few ‘miracle cures’, but also from combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications, and AI computing.

Our new NHS Test Beds programme aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.”

In partnership with Ci and other organisations in the West of England, the Diabetes Digital Coach Programme is a Test Bed led by the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN). It means that people with diabetes will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care.

Following the announcement, Ci director, Jeffrey Thomas said:

“The potential of digital technologies to transform the provision of healthcare, in particular, patient led care for chronic illness is significant. The Corsham Institute is delighted to be part of a talented consortium in testing and developing the Diabetes Digital Coach programme.

By providing the NHS and our fellow partners with a trusted, secure and agnostic environment to house data and develop consent driven applications, we are delighted to be helping to create solutions and analytics that add significant value to patients, clinicians and researchers alike.”

The Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed will bring together mobile health self-management tools, such as wearable sensors and supporting software, with the Internet of Things (IoT). It will enable people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to ‘do the right thing at the right time’, to partly self-manage their condition and will encourage more timely and appropriate interventions from peers, healthcare professionals, carers and social networks.

The Test Bed is part of an integrated £40 million, three-year Central Government programme, in collaboration with Innovate UK, that seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout the public sector for the benefit of everyone who uses them.

As essential and welcome as these new Test Beds are to the Health Sector, digital innovation reaches into every corner of society and Ci is also enabling Research and Innovation programmes across many other areas including education and learning, public service transformation, smart living and communities.

Ci connects people, academia, government and the not for profit sector in ‘Digital Collaboratories’ that provide an environment where people can research, innovate and implement digital products and services in a secure, non-competitive ‘white-space’ that allows capacities to be built and essential connections made.

In whatever field Ci is working; ethics, privacy and trust are intrinsic to our Programmes and from conception through to market testing we are centered on digital citizens and the future of the digital society. We believe that the next decade is not simply about infrastructure and technology, it is about digital behaviour, engagement and creativity to help people and communities meet the digital challenges we all increasingly face.

As Ci builds further unique collaborations and test beds, of which the Diabetes Digital Coach for the NHS is the latest exciting example, we will continue to seek partners across all sectors to build digital activity, to enable people to lead healthier, better and safer lives through secure and trusted solutions.

To find out more about Research and Innovation at Ci, please get in touch with us at

George Freeman –Minister for Life Sciences - talks about NHS Test Beds on BBC Radio Five Live

Transcript of George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences, on BBC Radio Five Live with Peter Allen 22/1/16 at 11:09 @Freeman_George

“There are some very exciting technologies out there that haven’t yet really been used in Health Care – whether it’s digital apps on your phone for monitoring disease, for empowering patients to hook up with other sufferers, hospitals using wireless diagnostics and wireless telemetry to monitor babies, whether it’s tele-care.

There is some wonderful technology out there that will help us improve health care and improve the patient experience – less journeys to the GP and hospital, less queues, more time at home and it improves productivity for the Health Care system…

For example, I went recently to see a pilot we’ve got with the McLaren Formula One team and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where children who have had cardiac operations are now being monitored using McLaren’s Formula One telemetry, so that they don’t have to wear devices or wires – the toddlers can walk around and the nurses have 24/7 Formula One level data streams so that any problem with the child is immediately picked up.

We’re doing a similar pilot on the A&E at John Radcliffe Hospital to help the A&E team to work more like a Formula One pit team and be more efficient – this is about using technology to help our health service and to promote NHS leadership in technology.

We’re announcing today the Test Beds scheme in 7 areas - we said we’re prepared to allow companies and innovators, people with technology, to come into bits of our Health Service – we’re not paying for the technology – we’re helping them to come into the system and they can show us how their technology can help patients, help doctors deliver outcomes and help our health service improve efficiency – we’re getting access to this technology free of charge as part of these test beds.

If as we believe will happen, this technology helps us to improve outcomes and reduce costs, then we’ll be in a position to have a conversation about sharing some of those proceeds with the innovators.

This is a ground breaking announcement, that we’re really prepared to bring front line technology to the NHS.”

Ci partner in major new NHS Testbed for West of England

Patients in the West of England will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care, as announced today (Friday 22 January) by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The West of England Academic Health Science Network will be leading the way in NHS innovation as part of a pioneering ‘Test Bed’ with partners including the regional healthcare community, Corsham Institute, Diabetes UK, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ki Performance, LeLan and SocialDiabetes, R-Outcomes, Soupdragon Resources and HEOR.

As part of the ‘Diabetes Digital Coach’ Test Bed, people with diabetes and frontline health and care workers across the West (with a population size of 2.4 million) will pioneer and evaluate opportunities to work with the ‘Internet of Things’ through using remote monitoring and coaching technology for better self-management.

The programme, along with six others from around the country, will be unveiled by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens as part of the first wave of NHS Innovation Test Beds; collaborations between the NHS and innovators that aim to harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing our population and the health service.

Successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme will bring together mobile health self-management tools (such as wearable sensors and supporting software) with the Internet of Things (IoT). The Test Bed will enable people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to ‘do the right thing at the right time’ to self-manage their condition, and will encourage more timely and appropriate interventions from peers, healthcare professionals, carers and social networks.

This IoT Test Bed is part of an integrated £40 million, three-year Government programme in collaboration with Innovate UK that seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.

Co-developing the future with patients and leading technology providers

Director of Corsham Institute, Jeffrey Thomas said:

The potential of digital technologies to transform the provision of healthcare, in particular, patient led care for chronic illness is significant. The Corsham Institute is delighted to be part of a talented consortium in testing and developing the Diabetes Digital Coach programme. By providing the NHS and our fellow partners with a trusted, secure and agnostic environment to house data and develop consent driven applications, we are delighted to be helping to create solutions and analytics that add significant value to patients, clinicians and researchers alike.

Lars Sundstrom, Director of Enterprise at the West of England AHSN, said: “I am really delighted that we have been chosen as an Internet of Things Test Bed site to pioneer the next generation of connected self-management tools for people to better manage long-term conditions. This is a great example of how the NHS and the Department for Health with Innovate UK are leading the way in co-developing the future with patients and leading technology providers for the benefit of all.

Sandra Tweddell from Bristol has lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1961. She is coordinator of the Bristol Diabetes Support Network and has been involved in the design of the Diabetes Digital Coach programme.

Sandra says: “I am so excited by the news about Diabetes Digital Coach being announced as an NHS Test Bed. In the absence of a cure for diabetes, technology offers a way of giving immediate information about your diabetes control so you can manage it better and prevent or delay the complications that can go with the condition.

Technology can be used to enable true partnership between the GP, consultant or practice nurse and the person with diabetes. Diabetes Digital Coach is a really exciting initiative as, if successful, it will enable more people to better manage their diabetes, hopefully reducing the awful complications that go with the condition.”

Cutting through the hype

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “Over the next decade major health gains won’t just come from a few ‘miracle cures’, but also from combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications, and AI computing.

Our new NHS Test Beds programme aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.”

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme in the West of England will work with a number of SME partners, who have responded warmly to today’s Test Bed announcement:

The Diabetes Digital Coach partnership

There are a number of partners involved in the Diabetes Digital Coach Internet of Things Test Bed, with the West of England ASHN as lead organisation.

The partnership also includes two charities, 10 companies, seven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), two acute providers, and three community providers.

Corsham Institute
Diabetes UK
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
Ki Performance
LeLan / SocialDiabetes
Soupdragon Resources
All seven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Swindon, Wiltshire)
Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust
North Bristol NHS Trust
Sirona Care and Health
Bristol Community Health
NHS England Test Beds

A joint programme between NHS England, the Office for Life Science, the Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, NHS Test Beds bring together local health and social care bodies including CCGs, hospital trusts, primary and community care providers with a wide range of innovators from home and abroad.

Each Test Bed will use a different combination of innovations, from both large and small organisations, to address a locally-identified clinical challenge.  The changes made will be rigorously evaluated, with the aim to provide evidence, which will give more areas the confidence to adopt the innovations over the coming years.

Test beds are a key strand of the NHS Five Year Forward View, and will help realise the ambition of reforming the NHS so that it is fit to face the challenges of the 21st Century – particularly an ageing population and an increase in patients with long-term health conditions – while remaining financially sustainable.

The NHS has a track record of being open to new ideas and technology – they’re being implemented all the time. Where progress has been slower is in combining innovations, in a whole-system way, so that their impact is bigger than the sum of their parts – the ‘test beds’ programme will change that.

Corsham TV is 1 year old!

Launched in January 2015, Corsham’s own local digital tv channel Corsham Television is now one year old.

It has already produced over 110 timely and relevant video stories about Corsham and the surrounding area, interviewed 91 people and its videos have been streamed for viewing over 20,000 times, all via the Corsham TV website

Our local digital television channel is modelled on the mainstream TV catch-up services and is available anywhere 24/7, with videos viewed in themed playlists.

Corsham TV is part of the Digital Corsham initiative, set up and funded by the not-for-profit research charity, Corsham Institute.

Corsham TV supports community groups and events, local businesses and local people who have a story to tell, as well as conducting regular interviews with local MPs and both Wiltshire and Town Councillors.

Its first success was its local coverage of the General Election in May 2015 where it covered local hustings, streamed the results live and had the first video interview with the new MP, Michelle Donelan.

Later this year with its local community radio station partner, KIK RADIO, it will begin to stream live Wiltshire Council’s Corsham Area Board and the Corsham Town Council meetings to open them up to a wider digital online audience.

In the run up to Christmas the series of videos ’12 Days of a Corsham Christmas’ attracted record audiences and featured many community groups and local businesses, including the children of Corsham Primary School singing festive songs, with excerpts from their Nativity Plays.

The Chair of Corsham Town Council, Ruth Hopkinson, reflecting on the first year of Corsham TV told us;

“Corsham TV;

- has given the residents of Corsham the opportunity to find out what is actually going on in the town,

- has shown Corsham off to its best advantage,

- is a great showpiece for all that is good in the town;

- has given the opportunity for local people to have their say;

- makes people feel good about the town they live in. It turned negative publicity into positive.”

Corsham TV engages with the community on social media and through regular public events in the town and surrounding areas.

It can be viewed at, on Twitter @CorshamTV and on Facebook/CorshamTelevision.

A truly ‘Digital Society’?

The phrase ‘Digital Society’ is of course now in common usage by hundreds of organisations, charities, businesses, innovators and our local and national governments, but how often do they, or we, step back and consider what it really means and the implications that surround it?

Is its development increasingly to be led by corporations with new platforms and apps, driven by data mining and profit? Is it to be a top down model where vital public sector services are corralled online, whilst a large percentage of people are excluded by poor connectivity or a lack of skills and their access to the services they need restricted?

Will new digital health apps, platforms and revolutionary personalised medical tools become available to all, especially the patients who need them most, or be there only for those who can afford them?

With data breaches day after day hitting the headlines of the national press, will people trust platforms enough to continue to submit their truly personal information online into the future?  How can platforms that are secure and trustworthy be developed and then sustained against smarter and more sophisticated hacks and attacks, or is there a better model going forward?

Corsham Institute, as an agnostic, not for profit, educational and research centre is focussed on a wide range of work that addresses these fundamental questions for the 21st Century.

At a societal level, Ci is working practically to find real-life and real-time models for trusted platforms and open, accessible, digital communities. These are not theoretical or top down models to be imposed, but active, developed, community-led solutions for the future, that can then be rolled out in our villages, towns and cities.

In Corsham, a market town in Wiltshire, 7 miles from Bath, Ci’s Digital Communities programme leads the initiative with Digital Corsham engaging local businesses, local charities, schools and community groups in new ways and through multiple platforms.

Our Digital Societal vision is an inclusive one and is not an end in itself, but one where the physical society itself is made more cohesive, where silos and barriers are softened and merged, where people begin to understand different groups of citizens around them more.

Our three level model is one that starts with the basic human right of connectivity. The right to be able to connect to the Internet is so important that it was recognised by the United Nations in 2011 as a fundamental human right, the need for which has grown exponentially ever since.

Connectivity has to become universal and ubiquitous, developed as a basic utility, equivalent to the electricity we depend on every day or the clean water we expect to come from our taps. This right to connect becomes ever more vital as more public services are delivered online and the IoT connects more and more of the objects around us. There is a huge amount of work to be done on the ethics of data and the right future model for the delivery of connectivity based on trust.

The second tier in our Digital Community model is engagement, designed to give people reasons to want to connect through rich content about their community. Developed with over 30 years of experience in the media, our local digital television platform is already delivering significant local content and engaging more and more groups in our communities.

Engagement is also led across multiple platforms from community led content on a partner, internet-delivered, community radio station, through weekly podcasts of people talking about their community, interaction through a range of social media platforms, a business incubation programme of support to digital businesses and innovators, the development and encouragement of clusters of existing and growing digital and cyber businesses and the physical widespread engagement with all sectors, decision makers, digital champions and influencers in the community.

The process is already opening up local democracy, with plans in place to begin streaming local Area Boards and Town Council meetings, to make them available to digital community audiences.

With a reason to connect, our third tier of interaction can increasingly be reached and further developed as new networks are built and people’s behaviour and engagement with their own physical space and community is transformed and enhanced. In turn, this develops a positive virtuous circle of digital engagement enabling further interaction.

As this model develops and its roll-out is increasingly realised, it has to grow through organic development and become led and owned by the community itself.  We have established a Ci Digital Communities Practitioner Group of different sectors of the community to ensure that the direction and the implementation of the Programme works across all levels and the developments we introduce are not hidden or imposed, but open to discussion and comment and most importantly change.

Corsham Institute’s Digital Communities programme will be expanding and engaging with additional communities during 2016, so further lessons can be learnt.

The results will be invaluable as many communities, organisations, companies and government come to grips with a positive and deliverable vision of a truly ‘Digital Society’.

The Internet of Trust

Building trust is the responsibility of every digital stakeholder in the UK, is the clear message of a new report, ‘Trust in Personal Data’ published by the Digital Catapult, which concludes that,“building that trust will be one of the key dependencies in creating better citizen services and improving the way we all live”.

In a far reaching survey of over 4,000 consumers in Q1 of 2015, it assesses the UK’s journey to becoming a data-driven nation and in Dame Wendy Hall’s foreword she rightly states that the public not only need to “trust the organisations holding and using their data, but also to fully understand why the data is needed….and without this digital literacy we are at risk of losing out in the race towards a digital-first society”.

That data is only as useful as the insight it creates, was one of the key themes from the recent Digital 2015 conference and there was a sense in a number of the presentations that too many organisations are racing to create ever more online platforms to produce an exponential level of data without necessarily bringing a public understanding of why, what, when and how their data will be used.

Data, its use and the policies, aims and ambitions that lie behind its collection, are at the core of the work that the Corsham Institute is developing around trust and how citizens and communities can benefit from all of the data that is collected from them. The Digital Catapult survey shows that the majority of people would be happy to share their information if it was to be used to benefit society as a whole, such as in healthcare and education.

All of our interaction with the digital world today and increasingly over the coming years as the Internet of Things make ever more objects around us connected, raises both policy questions as well as many practical issues about how people can trust the way that their data is used.

Cisco for instance, discussing the Internet of Everything at Digital 2015, estimated that 50 billion ‘things’ will be connected by 2020 and by the end of next year internet traffic will reach a Zettabyte. To save you getting the calculator out, 1ZB is equal to a trillion Gigabytes or a billion Terabytes of data.

The majority of us probably click our acceptance of various company’s data privacy policies, or acknowledge regularly updated ones, without too much pause for thought in our online haste to acquire a product or service and then experience targeted advertising that uses our own data turned back on ourselves. Nearly 80% of those surveyed for the Digital Catapult report believe their data is being used solely for an organisation’s economic gain.

At the Digital 2015 conference, it was noted that in regard to online services or email providers, that if you’re not paying for the service, then in reality, you are not actually the customer of it, but you and your information become the product itself, as your data will be used for a myriad of purposes outside of your control.

As the internet develops even further, the use of data will become an ever greater issue as people become more aware of its use and begin to query more what rights and information they are clicking away by the, all too simple, acceptance box.

With one of the aims for digital services defined in the UK Government’s White Paper on Digital Society in 21st Century Britain, that people develop into‘digital citizens’, who use IT to “engage in politics, society, discourse, government and the economy”, and as more and more national and local services are delivered online through the transformation of public services, the debate around trust will need to become the focus of much more research to ensure people are still willing to engage online with everything that is available to them.

94% of those questioned for the Digital Catapult report would like to be more in control of the data they share, how they share it and what they get for it, so there is great potential for products and services to be created to meet the need for the management of personal data.

Through the highly connected ‘living laboratory’ that Digital Corsham will provide, the Corsham Institute will offer the ideal platform for academics and industry to conduct research programmes in this area and we will connect wide-ranging capabilities to test a broad palette of digital initiatives, app development and new technologies that could become future, essential models for our digital society, with initiatives and platforms that can be trusted and used by all citizens with real confidence that their privacy and data are protected.

Only then will the Internet of Trust become a reality.

To read the full Digital Catapult report ‘Trust in Personal Data: A UK Review’, follow this link: and to find out more about Digital 2015 the link is

The UK’s digital skills gap

In February 2015, the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills issued their report ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future’, as a call to the incoming Government to seize the opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader.

The Chair of the Committee, Baroness Morgan, added; “This report is a wake-up call to whoever forms the next Government in May. Digital is everywhere, with digital skills now seen as vital life skills. It’s obvious, however, that we’re not learning the right skills to meet our future needs.”

At the end of April, Martha Lane Fox put up online a short video, alongside a stream of her whole Richard Dimbleby Lecture,, thanking the over 10,200 people who have now supported DOT EVERYONE with the aim of making Britain brilliant at the internet and us the most digital nation on the planet.

Her call that; ‘we’ve been going too slow, being too incremental – in skills, in infrastructure, in public services. We need to be bolder,’ echoes her drive for women to be at the heart of the technology sector.

The digital skills gap is often talked about. ‘A study carried out on behalf of O2 towards the end of 2013 found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017’, said Matt Cynnamon of General Assembly UK in The Guardian in August 2014, ‘and if we can’t support that growth, it could result in costing the UK as much as £2bn each year’. a-million-digitally-skilled-workers-needed-to-power-uk- economy-by-2017

As Julie Ollerton, Managing Director of Creative Resources, wrote recently in Digital Marketing Magazine; ‘When you consider that the growth and success of every industry and sector in the UK is intrinsically linked to companies embracing digital as a vital part of their operation, the skills gap between the number of roles available (and the roles that will come online in the next five years) and the amount of trained, capable and ready people should be occupying the minds of everyone, from small agency owners to Whitehall policy makers’.

In 2013 a Capgemini Consulting report on the Digital Talent gap, cited that, ‘77% of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their Digital Transformation, yet despite the skills shortage, only 46% of companies are investing in developing digital skills and only 4% of companies they interviewed were aligning their training efforts with their digital strategy’.

Local Skills Gap

Swindon and Wiltshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership City Deal bid, focussing on the transition of MOD service leavers, noted that; “Jobs growth forecasts to 2020 are 5.1% for the UK; 7.2% for the South West region; and even higher at 8.9% for Swindon and Wiltshire. This equates to the creation of 30,000 new jobs requiring Level 4 plus skills in the SWLEP area, and with the replacement of staff, 83,800 jobs requiring Level 4 plus skills. The driver of growth will be a move towards larger numbers of individuals employed in more skilled and higher value-added roles in the following growth sectors – digital technologies, life sciences, advanced engineering and finance and professional services.”

To that list can be added other areas where digital will change the word, in Digital Health, Smart Living and in Public Service Transformation as well as in Digital Communities.

The bringing together of Industry, Academia, Non Government Organisations as well as Government on national and local scales to find the right ways to proactively fill this evident skills gap is an urgent and pressing need.

The Corsham Institute was formed as a not for profit making organisation to bring these partners together, to become the UK Centre for Digital Society and is already on the journey to contribute to both the debate and the delivery of digital skills. We have started to rollout our own Apprenticeship programme with our first entrants, who will work on a rolling programme supporting our digital local television channels, notably Corsham TV and develop into Creative and Digital Media specialists.

What struck us interviewing the candidates was the fantastic range of skills, positive attitudes and raw talent of those who had applied. It gave us even more positive belief in the next generation of the digital work force and added impetus to our partnership work in finding the right delivery structures to fill the overall UK digital skills gap.

Corsham TV & the General Election 2015

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With Corsham TV filming overnight at the General Election count for the Chippenham constituency, streaming the result live via the Periscope app and then editing video packages that were ready to view online on Corsham TV by breakfast time, in addition to the Channel’s coverage of the Corsham Hustings and candidate videos, our digital online audience has now increased to over 10 times the number of people who engaged physically at the General Election Hustings themselves.

We’ve now been approached by a University to begin feasibility work on a research programme, so that before the next elections, local or national, we begin to study the relationship between digital engagement and voter turnout, to assess in greater depth the impact within digital communities.

Corsham TV is an initiative delivered by Digital Corsham, part of the Digital Communities  Programme from the Corsham Institute.