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GM is first in UK to trial new technology aimed at giving children the best start in life

  • New technology will help to give children in Greater Manchester the best start in life
  • UK first ‘Early Years’ app launched as city-region’s Digital Blueprint is revealed
  • Creator of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee is collaborating with GMCA on digital platform

PARENTS and health professionals in Greater Manchester will be the first in the UK to use innovative technology that has been developed to help give children the best start in life.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has worked with a range of partners to develop an ‘Early Years’ app that digitises the paper-based assessments currently used to review a child’s development up to the age of 2.5 years.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham along with Leader of Stockport Council and GMCA digital portfolio lead Councillor Elise Wilson will launch the app today (Thursday 6 February) at an event showcasing the city-region’s 2020 Digital Blueprint.

Speaking about the app, Andy said: “Early Years digitisation will see streamlined systems connect hundreds of Greater Manchester professionals such as health visitors and school health services, enabling them to work together to better support families. It is the first part of our wider digital platform that aims to ensure that digital access to public services is integrated and user-friendly.

“The Early Years digitisation project is a huge step forward for our city-region and will hugely boost our aim of giving children in Greater Manchester the best possible start in life.”

Bury will be the first area to pilot the ‘Early Years’ app from early Spring 2020 before it’s rolled out to other areas with the aim of being live across Greater Manchester by 2021.

This will soon be followed by pilots of better connected healthcare for people with dementia and the severely frail led by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – a Global Digital Exemplar NHS organisation – on behalf of the city-region based on the same platform.

Speaking in a pre-recorded video about the digital platform and the collaboration with his company, Inrupt, creator of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee said: “Greater Manchester was one of the first areas to recognise how our technology, Solid, can be used to improve services and empower individuals. We’re really excited about pioneering the future of healthcare with you. Let’s change the status quo again – for good.”

This new technology is just one part of the Digital Blueprint – a three-year plan that builds on our 2018 Digital Strategy by placing people at the heart of the city-region’s digital ambitions. 

The blueprint aims to empower and enable people and businesses through innovation, integration, infrastructure, industry and inclusion – to ensure that no-one is left behind.

Councillor Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council and GMCA digital portfolio lead, said: “Our Digital Blueprint is a new era for digital in Greater Manchester that will help us become a top five European city-region recognised globally for our digital innovation.

“We want to make life easier, faster, more connected, more efficient, safer and more sustainable for everyone who lives, works and visits here – and digital is central to that. That’s why we are doing digital differently, delivering for the people of Greater Manchester and realising the city region’s potential through our infrastructure, skills and culture.”

Speaking about the economic impact of our digital work, Lou Cordwell, Chief Executive of magneticNorth and Co-Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Greater Manchester has a £5 billion digital economy comprised of public sector, private sector and academia. We really understand the factors and component parts that are needed to make a strong digital ‘ecosystem’ and for individuals and organisations to come and thrive here.

“We see partnership as incredibly important to our future success and increasingly this is international with organisations that want to come here and be part of the next chapter of Greater Manchester’s digital story.”

Greater Manchester recently topped the Tech Towns Index as the best place for IT professionals to live and work.

Recognising the opportunities for residents, GMCA is investing in addressing diversity in the tech sector and supporting people to gain the digital skills needed for employment in the tech sector, most recently funding five new programmes through the Fast Track Digital Skills Fund with more to follow in a second round of activity currently underway.

Lizzie, a participant in the Go Digital programme which aims to engage year 7 and 8 students across 50 schools in Greater Manchester, said: “I’m just really proud to be part of Greater Manchester because they are being really thoughtful about how to give me a better career. When I’m older I will be able to make those new things and make technology different to help the world.”

Cllr Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA work and skills portfolio lead, said: “We are investing in digital skills and our talent pipeline in Greater Manchester and want people of all ages to access the opportunities this offer. We have our first-ever GM digital skills day tomorrow (Friday 7 February) which is being launched by GMCA as part of a drive to get people of all ages excited about digital skills and highlight opportunities to grow and showcase their talents. You can read more on this on the GMCA website and follow what’s happening on Twitter via #DoSomethingDigital.”

Article Published: 06/02/2020 16:13 PM