The Public Service Innovation Network aims to support the development of a culture of innovation across the Public Service. The membership is wide-ranging and our focus is on communicating key innovation messages and building enthusiasm for innovation across the Public Service. The Network will also form a mechanism to build skills in innovation and to provide the tools and resources to members. Successful innovation relies on connections between people and the sharing of ideas and experiences and we aim to enable these connections with the Network.
The Network will facilitate ongoing connections between people, teams and organisations where ideas and outputs are continually shared. The Network will evolve in line with the needs and goals of its members and we aim to deliver value to members. Although the membership will be diverse from all sectors of the Public Service we share a common purpose – to add value to society and to serve the public.
2021 Network Updates
Skills for Successful Innovation – 1st September
We were joined by Fergal Brophy, Entrepreneurial and Innovation Specialist, Grace Cunningham, Deloitte, and Marie-Therese Power, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Julianne Coughlan, Cork County Council. Our panel offered insights into the skills required of public servants to lead and embed innovation into their organisations. The session ended on a panel discussion.
Click below to view.
the Innovation Network hosted an event for members, with all speakers sharing the common theme of change: preparing for change, implementing change, and delivering change.
e-denderry, Offaly County Council
Caitriona Hilliard, Broadband and Digital Officer from Offaly County Council kicked off our session, partnered with Paul Delaney from Cellnex. Caitriona and Paul described the e-denderry project which focused on deploying an Internet of Things network to Edenderry. But what exactly is the Internet of Things? Paul succinctly described it as the ability to connect things through the internet to create efficiencies and reduce costs, and ultimately make the world a better place.
They outlined the four test cases across Edenderry which included using sensors to monitor air quality, utilizing sensors in bins to help the waste management team assess how full a bin was and how often it needed to be emptied, applying sensors to buildings across the county to assess the temperature, humidity, sound, and people count, and finally adding sensors to parking bays. They shared a very good example of how the sensors could be used to create better citizen outcomes and collaborate with charities : sensors were installed to ascertain the presence of a vehicle, and through collaboration with the Irish Wheelchair Society, they are working on a validation process to assess whether appropriate vehicles are using designated parking spaces. Edenderry is currently the only town in Ireland with this technology, and are looking forward to working with other Local Authorities and public bodies to see how the Internet of Things can be applied across Ireland.
For more information on e-denderry and to read more about the test cases, click here
Our Innovation Journey, Courts Service
Pauline Redmond and Maria Hughes provided an overview of the innovation journey that the Courts Service has experienced over the last number of years. The Courts Service was originally a pilot organisation that worked on the development of the Innovation Strategy, and later launched their own specific Innovation Strategy for the Courts Service. Pauline spoke about how the Courts Service want to harness innovation to improve the way they work and deliver services for users and citizens.
As part of their modernisation programme, work has begun on Civil Law reform and Family Law Reform, with a user-focus on shaping how services and processes are designed to improve accessibility. Pauline explained how the Courts Service responded rapidly during COVID-19 to provide innovative and transformative solutions such as remote courts, and using video link, which introduced a significant change to the organisation. The Courts Service identified pathways to empower staff to develop their skillset and mindset to support innovation and change, and also got the L&D team on board with innovation now being included in the Courts Service training programme!
Maria shared the Innovation Pathway that was prepared to support staff to deliver the Innovation Strategy. The pathway is a clearly accessible set of guidelines that provide a step-by-step approach to the innovation journey a staff member will take. A key feature of the pathway is the introduction of an Innovation Advocate, who are a network of staff members across the organisation who co-ordinate ideas and provide additional support to the person with the idea. The Pathway can be summarised in five simple steps:
1. A staff member has an innovative idea, that is reviewed by an Innovation Advocate and then submitted,
2. This idea is flagged with the Innovation Team,
3. The staff member and Innovation Advocate work together to complete the Challenge Brief, and present the idea to the Innovation Team,
4. Following the presentation, the idea either proceeds to a pilot, or further developed into a proposal, which is again reviewed by the Innovation Team,
5. If successful, the idea is implemented!
The Innovation Pathway is an excellent resource that shows the journey an innovative idea takes, and demonstrates how public bodies can implement new ideas and ways of working through innovation.
(You can view a more detailed and colourful Innovation Pathway journey prepared by the Courts Service here).
Health Services Change Guide, HSE
Elaine Birkett, from the Organisational Development Office, concluded our session with a presentation on the Health Services Change Guide, published by the HSE. Elaine provided an overview of the guide and explained its role as a change framework that enables a whole system approach to delivering change across the health service. While the guide is developed with the health services in mind, it can be used by any public bodies who are working on change initiatives. Elaine provided three key takeaways from the guide, which are applicable to all:
· Creating the readiness for change cannot be underestimated. It is important to spend time developing the climate for change before designing and delivering the change.
· Change is personal, and each person will experience change in different ways. Understanding this and approaching change carefully will support people to manage and engage with the change, and help them transition to new ways of working or doing things.
· Understand the system you work in, and reflect on how your team interacts with the service provided, and how does the service influence and impact other services.
The Change Guide is an excellent resource for public bodies to review if they are engaging in change programmes, or want to begin to create the conditions for change in their organisation. You can access the Change Guide here.
2020 Network Updates
A local response to a global pandemic! Four local authorities share their experiences in the third ‘Inspiring Ideas’ Innovation Network webinar
11th September 2020: Our third Inspiring Ideas webinar on 11th September had a local authorities theme. We had speakers from Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Wexford who detailed their journeys and innovative responses to COVID-19. All presenters outlined the flexibility and agility of their respective organisations through a variety of different measures. Below is a brief synopsis of the event as a whole.
Dr Lucy Fallon Byrne opened the webinar and acknowledged the great innovation and collaboration right across all Local Authorities. Our first speaker was Aoife Madden, Head of Service Innovation in Limerick City/County Council. Innovation is strongly supported in Limerick with their vision being to provide ambitious leadership that strives to deliver innovation.
Aoife gave a great account of the Council Connect App and its use in reaching all staff in Limerick. Like many organisations, Limerick has a number of non-desk based staff and this cohort of personnel need to be informed of updates. Different staff see different screens depending on their job title and push notifications were used to notify staff. This was a great initiative that was turned around in rapid time. They also plan to tweak and iterate as they receive feedback from users.
Our next speaker was Bran Geaney, Assistant Chief Executive of Cork City Council, and he outlined their initial pandemic response. He described the ‘Reimagining the City‘ Strategy which centred around the creation of 14 new “people friendly” pedestrianised streets in Cork City centre together with a multi-million Euro enhancement of pedestrian and cycling options and improvements to city amenity.
Princes Street, above, was an excellent example of how quick Cork were to react to get business stimulated in the heart of the city. ‘Parklets’ were former car parking spaces that were repurposed as pedestrian areas. These were never envisaged for Cork City but out of the pandemic came very novel ideas.
Kieran Kehoe, Director of Corporate Services in Waterford City/County Council, was appointed chair of a business continuity planning group who assessed (and continues to assess) the service level provision at each stage of lockdown. This involved preparing guidance to the sector to ensure a consistence response across the local authority sector to Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with the level of restrictions imposed by Government.
Kieran also spoke about the a recent project that received funding from the Public Service Innovation Fund in which they use data to better inform their decision making processes. He was able to expertly show the power of data and when used properly can provide vital information for decision-making.
Our final speakers were Dympna Shanahan and Frank Burke who gave an in depth account of a fantastic initiative developed by Wexford County Council. The Community Support Helpline operated 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm beginning in March. Frank gave a technical brief of how automation was used to streamline a very complicated but routine process. The use of automation and Eircodes really gave their system an edge. Dympna gave an operational brief on how they ran the helpline and the challenges they faced.
After all presentations, questions were posed to the panel from the audience which led to an informative and engaging chat. The phrase “speed trumps perfection” was used many times to emphasise how quick reactions and decisions were needed in order to tackle impacts of the crisis. We discussed the structures in place to aid these rapid responses and how the organisations plan to sustain these innovations into the future.
As Innovation Week takes place from 19-23rd October, we plan to hold the next Inspiring Ideas webinar in November. A programme of online events is being developed so please keep an eye out ops2020.gov.ie for programme details in due course.
A link to all slides can be found here.
Defence Forces and Public Appointments Service outline innovative Covid responses in our second ‘Inspiring Ideas’ Innovation Network webinar
7th August 2020: At our second Inspiring Ideas webinar speakers from the Defence Forces and the Public Appointments Service detailed their rapid and effective responses to Covid-19.
Our first guests, Stephen Buckley, Innovation Lead and Sinead Coleman, Head of Professional and Technical Recruitment, discussed the challenges the organisation faced as a result of the crisis. They detailed the sudden disruption that faced their business and operating model and the novel ways in which they tackled these disruptions. They had to ensure staff, candidates and board members safety, support clients and manage their expectations, and facilitate rapid recruitment and sustainable remote working. During the presentation our PAS colleagues showed how they delivered recruitment excellence, enhanced their role as a trusted partner, and developed their people and culture.
PAS successfully dialled up their innovative tools such as remote procturing and video interviewing with almost 1000 interviews over the months of the crisis. Both PAS colleagues emphasised the importance of leadership and effective communication helped keep staff motivated and this was facilitated through a number of initiatives including weekly online townhall meetings with PAS CEO Shirley Comerford and all staff.
Next we heard from Lieutenant Colonel Louis Flynn, Chief of Staff Joint Task Force in charge of ‘Operation Fortitude’, who gave an engaging talk on how the Defence Forces (DF) responed to the crisis. Lt Col Flynn outlined the 4 Ts- Testing, Tracing, Tentage and Transport. The DF set up many temporary testing centres around the country and fully managed the centre that was set up in the Aviva Stadium, while also being instrumental in the setup of the step down centre in Citywest.
The DF were one of the first Public Sector Bodies to provide personnel for contact tracing, with the cadets stepping into the breach. The cadets then acted as super-users and helped train other personnel in the public service. The DF provided large marquee style tents to hospitals and other locations to add capacity and capability. In some cases they were used as triage areas and in others they were used as temporary testing centres. The DF also provided vehicles and drivers to assist with the national effort of delivering the large cargo loads of PPE right around the country.
Lt Col Flynn shared stories of collaboration across the public service, academia and industry and said that this liaison was vital in developing effective responses. In addition, the Lieutenant Colonel spoke about their collaboration with NUI Galway spin-out company Aquila who have developed novel decontamination wipe to prevent spread of COVID-19.
After both presentations, questions were posed to the panel from the audience which led to an informative and engaging discussion. We talked about areas such as delivering rapid change, te importance of iterating and testing, measuring citizen/client satisfaction, and increasing outputs during the pandemic.
We plan to hold the next Inspiring Ideas webinar on the 11th September with a Local Authority theme which will give further perspective of the COVID-19 response from organisations at the coalface.
Over 180 public servants tuned in to the first Inspiring Ideas Innovation Network webinar
3rd July 2020: What a fantastic start to the Inspiring Ideas webinar series. The Public Service Innovation Network event was formally launched by Dr Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Head of Reform Dept. Public Expenditure and Reform, and she spoke about the plan for upcoming webinars to showcase the impressive innovations happening across all sectors and how important our innovative response is now more than ever.
Ross Cullen, Lorraine Smyth and Prof. Martin Curley (Digital Transformation Unit) with Paul Reid (CEO HSE)
Our first guests were Prof. Martin Curley, Ross Cullen and Lorraine Smyth from the HSE’s Digital Transformation Unit (HSEDT) and the webinar was moderated by Breda O’Brien, DPER Public Service Innovation Projects Lead.
Prof. Curley spoke about the 5 Pillars of Digital Transformation and the idea of “Stay Left, Shift Left” which is the mantra of the transformation unit and it deals with improving quality of care, quality of life and clinician experience. Prof. Curley believes COVID-19 has been a ‘big bang disruptor’ and a major catalyst for all their most recent projects.
We heard about the Unit’s process pre, during and post crisis and it was illustrated how quickly they were able to mobilise ideas from the assessment gate right through to broad adoption of their innovations. We were also treated to a whistle-stop tour of some of Digital Transformation Unit’s innovative solutions that have come about during the pandemic and a live demonstration of a prototype being used which further highlighted the importance of developing a prototype to socialise innovations and convince senior managers of the benefits. The power of being able to hold something, see it, and experience it, really adds to the compelling nature of the idea.
After the presentation the panellists answered questions from Lucy, Breda and the audience on topics such as risk appetite, sustaining innovations and an innovative culture, public procurement, idea selection, further education, and implementation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get around to all of the questions asked but they will be answered on our Public Service Innovation and Collaboration forum over the next while – https://forum.ops2020.gov.ie/login/
We plan to hold the next Inspiring Ideas webinars on the 7th August and 4th September and we’re sure they’ll be as interesting and engaging as this one. If you wish to present at a webinar please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to give your department or section an avenue to share your story with an engaged audience.
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