Hi – no, I am not a hacker – I’m Sara and I do Communications, ICT and Customer Services with my team here at the Council. Richard’s taking a few days off and he has asked me to do a guest blog. I hope he is having better weather than we are! However, the rain can’t dampen the Manchester spirit and this summer we have so much to celebrate.
Last weekend hundreds of street parties took place in the city and thousands of you got together with friends and neighbours to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
My events team are currently finalising the preparations for Manchester day - http://themanchesterdayparade.co.uk/video to get a sneak preview of the Parade being created and please blog and let me know if you enjoy the event.
The party doesn't stop this weekend - there's the Torch Relay in Manchester on 23 and 24 June, as well as the Olympic celebrations later in the summer (lots of luck to all those Mancunian competitors and those we have adopted because they trained in Manchester). The Stone Roses concert in Heaton Park is among the many musical highlights this summer, and then there are the Pride celebrations and local events and carnivals such as the Wythenshawe Games, Caribbean Carnival and the Mega Mela. Don't miss any events by signing up to our e-bulletins, which will keep you up to date with all that's going on across the city.
Moving from helping Manchester celebrate, to helping Manchester get digital, which is another area I work on.
Sadly, 25% of Manchester homes can't go online and read blogs, and we are working with the Government to resolve this by providing fibre in the ground and wireless networks that help us connect. As you are reading this blog, I don't need to preach to you about the importance of digital, but the explosion of digital media (including the importance of digital in our regeneration strategies and education and skills agenda) is a priority for us to help this city continue to grow and maintain its competitive position in the world. I am sure Richard will keep you posted on this as the strategy is ambitious, and in Richard's words 'this is a game-changer for Manchester'.
Here are some facts that keep me focused on why we need to improve Manchester's digital position - hopefully, some of these may stimulate some debate or blogs...
Why is digital important to Manchester?
The internet contributed more than £120billion to the overall UK economy in 2010 - more than 8% of GDP.
Only 14% of SMEs sell products and services online and approximately half a million SMEs feel the lack of digital skills is slowing the growth of their business. (Lloyds Banking Group/BDRC, April 2012)
Small businesses that go online grow twice as fast as their competitors. (McKinsey, 2011)
You are £365 per year better off if you shop and transact online - so if around 80% of the 67,778 people in Manchester who are currently offline go online, the total annual benefit would be £19.8million.
Thanks for reading and sorry for going on a little too long, but I am in communications! Hope it was a useful guest blog - normal service will resume next week!