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.
To register your interest in the Public Service Innovation Network, please contact email@example.com.
Innovation Network Meeting, Wexford, 11/03/2020
The first regional event of the Public Service Innovation Network was held in Government Offices in Wexford. The building houses five Government departments and is located at Carricklawn, beside the offices of Wexford County Council. There was a fantastic turnout and diverse public service organisations represented on the day. We had seven speakers and eighty delegates in the spacious event space overlooking the Slaney estuary.
Breda O’Brien (Innovation Projects Lead at OPS) opened the meeting by giving a brief introduction to the Innovation Team and the host of initiatives that have been launched and will be launched in the future. We were conscious that this could have been the first event for some in attendance so it was important to set the scene and give context. The network meeting had a theme of Collaboration and so followed some inspiring examples from our speakers.
Emma Reeves, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, was the first speaker to share the exciting developments in her department. The Developing Future Leaders Exchange Programme is a new collaboration between the Department and Local Authorities (Wexford County Council for this case study). The idea is to arrange a 6 month desk swap between local authority staff involved in implementing policy with those who formulate policy in the Department to help both participants gain an appreciation for their counterparts’ role. This project wasn’t without its challenges but with perseverance, empathy and collaboration they are about to embark on a worthwhile journey that could pave the way for other Departments.
Next we learned about an Office of Public Works, Wexford County Council and industry collaboration (Mott MacDonald) on the Enniscorthy Flood Defence Scheme. Larry McHale, Wexford County Council, set the scene, followed by Kevin Stephens who talked about how they used 3D modelling during the consultation phase to give people a better visual understanding of the project. Building Information Modelling (BIM) was being used on a nonstandard project and the potential for BIM in public projects was incredible to see.
The attendees were fortunate to receive an immersive workshop from Dr. Patrick Lynch from RIKON at Waterford Institute of Technology, on innovation and design thinking. Dr. Lynch used his workshop to encourage attendees to talk to each other and work together to come up with solutions to communal problems. He emphasised the bias towards taking action, we went through an idea session but this culminated in designing and developing prototypes, which is a key element of design thinking. It was also great to see what attendees developed with a scarcity of resources and it was a reminder that we should be thinking of new ways to utilise the resources we do have. One take home message was “we need to be create choices (diverge) in order to make choices (converge).”
Eilish Kehoe, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is a civil servant leading the way on green initiatives. The Department has developed Green Teams at a regional and national level in order to tackle excessive energy consumption. The aim is to reduce energy consumption by 50% at the Dept. and to lead by example. These teams are an excellent example of how collaboration can be used to tackle current and pressing issues effecting all citizens. This is a very transferable initiative that could be scaled quickly.
Brian Leonard, Waterford Courts Service, showed how reforming a process could cause transformational change to the services offered by a department. The Courts Service , through a collaboration with Revenue, redesigned their jury summonses procedures to a centralised process. We watched a very impactful video made by the Courts Service that detailed huge efficiencies that were gained through staff, user engagement and collaboration. This was a great example of how staff examined their processes, found improvements in efficiencies and went on to deliver a really impactful project.
Finally we heard from Mareli O’Brien, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, on their project that engaged with schools in the South East during the Young Scientist Exhibition. They collaborated with the Dept. Education and Skills and Coillte to showcase projects in Johnstown Castle.
A massive thanks to all our speakers for sharing their wonderful collaborations from right across the public/civil service. There was fantastic pride in all the projects and it was clear to see there is amazing work going on in the South East.
Innovation Network Update 13/03/2020
Further to the statement by An Taoiseach, Mr. Leo Varadkar, on measures to tackle Covid-19 we will be postponing the arrangement of upcoming Innovation Network meetings. We will inform the Network of a revised schedule in due course.
While we as a Network cannot meet in person for now, there is still an opportunity for us to work together. Inspired by the fantastic work of Professor Martin Curley and his team in the HSE’s Digital Academy, we thought it might be useful to share stories of innovating in a crisis, or useful innovations that might inspire colleagues across our Public Service. So, if you have an example of an innovation you can share please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collate and circulate or post it to our website. Please include contact details that we can include in the case study.
While our fantastic health service colleagues and other frontline colleagues are actively dealing with patients, we have a duty to support these colleagues and ensure continuity of services for the public in these challenging times. Now is the time to think innovatively and creatively about our public service response. For instance, is there a better way of delivering a service? Can a previously paper-based process or frontline service be provided digitally? Let’s ask ourselves these and other questions and explore what we can do to help.
You may wish to listen back to Professor Curley’s interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk from this morning to hear about the innovations being developed as a response to Covid-19.
The arrangement of upcoming Innovation Network meetings has been postponed due to Covid-19. We will inform the Network of a revised schedule in due course.
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