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Solace blog

6th September 2019

Tomorrow’s places need leadership today

Places are unique, but the challenges they face are not.

Local authorities and their strategic partners face myriad local, national and global challenges – from the all too familiar issue of managing rising demand for services and rising citizen expectations in the context of prolonged fiscal austerity to fostering greater economic opportunity and prosperity to responding to global megatrends like the increasingly pressing climate emergency.

 Local government has a proud history of working with local and regional partners to deliver step-change improvements in the way our places look and function. Today’s successful places work well because leaders from days gone by harnessed the new and emerging technologies of their day to create forward-facing solutions to the challenges of their time.

Just as innovations like the roll-out of gas street lights at the end of the Regency period improved public safety, in turn enabling longer working hours and heralding a new era of economic productivity, innovative applications of technology, and the business behind them, have a key role to play in solving the pressing challenges of today.

With breakthroughs in digital connectivity, sensing, data analytics and the like, there is no shortage of innovative products and services available today for place leaders to harness in delivering better services and outcomes.

However, with the pace of innovation and technological progress accelerating, finding time to stay up to speed with developments can be challenging – especially when juggling the many other demands on a place leader’s attention.

If that feels like a familiar problem, the Connected places Catapult, formed in April 2019 from the merger of the Future Cities and Transport Systems Catapults, is here to help.

That help comes in a variety of forms, from bespoke training programmes in the art of the possible and how to harness it (delivered in partnership with Solace and the Public Sector Transformation Academy), to action learning networks in which we bring together groups of places seeking to implement similar innovative solutions, thereby reducing duplication of investment and effort, allowing everyone to move further and faster (for example, we are working with a group of councils considering the roll-out of neutral host infrastructure for 5G). We also facilitate the placement of talented individuals into local authorities to complement in-house capabilities – for example, embedding data scientists or experts in ‘PlanTech’. And if you want a more intensive programme of support, we can do that too, working with your team and local partners to develop a roadmap to the future you want to realise, and helping you engage the market with confidence to bring that vision into being.

To find out more, visit, visit the Connected Places Catapult stand at the Solace Summit (be sure to check out our immersive 360o virtual reality igloo), and join me for an interactive session in which we will hear from the leading edge of innovation to explore the state of the art in connected places tech and its implications for towns and cities today and into the future.

Nicola Yates OBE, CEO of Connected Places Catapult