O2 launches Future Fund ICT initiative

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Operator sets up scheme aimed at local authorities that can see applicants receive grant funding packages up to the value to £125,000

O2 has launched Future Fund, an initiative to support ICT teams within local authorities wishing to drive innovation within their organisation and the ways in which their employees work.

Successful local authorities applying for the scheme will be awarded access to a combination of O2 consultancy time, services and technology to help them turn project ideas into a reality.

Applications for the Future Fund have now opened and is comprised of three grant funding packages worth £125,000, £75,000 and £50,000.

The launch, with over 60 councils attending, is focused on local councils developing ideas and services against three themes: reducing cost and improving efficiencies; finding new ways of engaging with citizens; and empowering the community to do more for itself.

O2 will be showcasing 17 part of its business to support the launch, from technologies such as Wi-Fi and M2M,to people skills, social media expertise, mobile advertising and location based services – through to business engagement and application development.

Councils can then pick which selection of services to use to build their idea and work into their bid.

Applications will be judged by a panel of experts from O2 and independent parties, with councils given eight weeks to develop and deliver their ideas before selection takes place later this year.

O2 business director Ben Dowd (pictured) said: “O2 believes that the right application of technology has the potential to drive real change and our findings through our work with local government ICT departments support this belief.

“What is different is that the Future Fund will give a glimpse of what is possible with a bit of imagination and we will support the winning bids by providing investment in their IT infrastructure coupled with resource and expertise.

“So it is up to the councils to determine how it can be applied to their own council, citizens or community, ultimately giving local government the ability to really shape their own destiny in a project they are passionate about.”

The Future Fund was developed as a result of O2’s Local Government Futures Forum. The operator said this aims to understand what the role of ICT should be in modernising councils in challenging times.

O2 head of local government Neil Prior said: “Throughout our consultation we discovered a real passion to embrace technology and what is could deliver.  This extended from chief executives to council members.

“ICT really does have the ability to transform local government. At O2 we want to ensure that in difficult times we step up and help to provide some of the expertise and technology that can help to drive that change and act as an example for others.”

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