Leeds is one of nine councils awarded funding as part of the Local Government Association (LGA) Digital Pathfinders Programme, designed to support councils seeking to innovate and develop pioneering initiatives to advance digital inclusion, digital connectivity, and cyber security. 100% Digital Leeds has been funded to develop a Community-based Model to Increase Digital Inclusion. Interested parties can follow our progress on the project Miro board. The completed model will be published and launched in December this year.
Workshop four: Measuring and demonstrating success
This final workshop in the series built upon the content of the previous workshops. In those sessions we looked at: exploring the digital inclusion barriers faced by a particular community and potential solutions to overcome them, and turning those identified solutions into an action plan.
We were joined by representatives from Coventry and East Riding of Yorkshire. These partners, alongside Plymouth, West Berkshire, and London Borough of Bexley, are working with us to sense-check the model. They are helping us to ensure the content is useful for local authorities with a different geographical or demographic make-up to Leeds, and councils at different points in their digital inclusion journey.
Stage four content
Unlike previous stages which have followed a clearer ‘step-by-step’ format, stage four of the model – measuring and demonstrating success – raises the following issues to consider when thinking about evaluation across the approach as a whole:
- Why we evaluate and what we do with the results
- Common issues faced by those looking to understand the impact of digital inclusion interventions
- Thinking about outcomes at different levels
- What we measure and report at 100% Digital Leeds
- How we gather the information
- How we share our outcomes to further our work
Thoughts and feedback
The workshops are an opportunity for local authorities with different geography, demographics, and challenges to sense-check the model and assess how applicable it is to their situation.
One challenge common to all of the authorities present is the need to demonstrate the value of digital inclusion interventions. It was reflected that the requested focus is often on KPIs that adopt a binary definition of digital inclusion/exclusion, which are incompatible with the complex and multifaceted challenges faced by those working to increase digital inclusion. Similarly, established return on investment models are based around channel shift, an issue which is affected by factors other than digital inclusion.
“Tying the business case for digital inclusion to numbers can cause problems when it comes to evaluating and being requested to provide specific figures.”Workshop attendee
The model addresses this by moving away from trying to measure levels of digital inclusion, or the idea of people ’being digitally included’ as an outcome in itself, instead framing digital inclusion as an enabler to other behaviours that lead to positive outcomes.
Attendees fed back that refocusing in this way also allows the issue to be discussed through different lenses to resonate with different audiences, helping them to more easily engage partners with the digital inclusion agenda.
Similarly, partnering authorities report that using a model that is proven and established helps with engagement and leads to them having more successful conversations, especially when working with a community that is new to them.
“It’s been really impactful. Having the model to follow gives partners more faith in us.”Workshop attendee
Having begun to implement parts of the model, the overwhelming feedback from partnering authorities who are earlier in their digital inclusion development journey is: having an established model to follow, written by a team that is recognised and respected for the efficacy of their programme, has helped them to work more efficiently and see positive outcomes more quickly.
“The model is very useful when you’re starting out and other authorities will really benefit. Having the model has cut huge chunks of time out of the process for us”.Workshop attendee
Now that the content sense-check is complete the 100% Digital Leeds team will write the final draft of the model and this will be shared with partners for review. A final summative evaluation workshop will take place in November prior to the launch of the final finished model in December.