By Steven McGinty
At the Idox Information Service, we like to keep up to date with the latest developments in public sector technology. Whether it’s what new digital services are on the market or which direction the government is heading in, we like to monitor everything that could potentially have an impact on our customers, as well as, of course, ourselves.
With the pace of change though, sometimes it’s a good idea to stand still and reflect. Therefore, we’ve decided to sit down, analyse the trends of the day, and produce our very own list of top 5 public sector tech trends.
Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Government as a platform
The recent election win by the Conservatives provides a certain level of continuity for the Government Digital Service (GDS). Over recent years they have been heavily involved in the implementation of ‘government as a platform’. They describe it as:
“a common core infrastructure of shared digital systems, technology and processes on which it’s easy to build brilliant, user-centric government services”.
The most high profile example of the government as a platform approach is the GOV.UK website. In 15 months the government has shifted from having over 300 government agency and arm’s length body websites to having information delivered through just one single website.
The GDS has also introduced GOV.UK Verify, a platform that allows citizens to prove who they are when using government services. At the moment, several government departments have signed up, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).
It is likely that government as a platform will continue, with new government departments and agencies moving onto GOV.UK and GOV.UK Verify. The Chancellor, George Osborne, also announced a greater role for the GDS in working with local government. The result could be a greater use of government as a platform principles in local government.
The issue of tackling the budget deficit was a major theme of the last election. It’s widely accepted that savings will have to be made if the government is to reach its goal of running a surplus by the end of the parliament. The Local Government Association highlight that local authorities may be particularly affected, estimating cuts of approximately 9% next year. Although it will be interesting to see if a recent warning against further cuts, which has come from Conservative Councillors, will make a difference.
Either way, this will have an impact for technology. It could mean that councils will be looking to find technical solutions to create efficiency savings. We have also seen local authorities working more closely together and sharing services in order to drive down costs.
Data driven decisions (analytics)
The public sector has been using data collected from a variety of channels to provide more efficient and effective public services. Government services are being moved online and users are being encouraged to make this their first port of call.
For instance, Essex County Council has been using analytical and diagnostic methods from the commercial sector to map the ‘customer journey’. They applied this approach to the booking of Adult Learning courses, which requires customers to interact with a number of systems.
In January, the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission published a report on how technology can be used to improve democracy in the UK. Some of the main proposals include:
- Ensuring that Parliament is fully interactive and digital by 2020;
- Introducing secure online voting for citizens by 2020;
- Making sure that published information is freely available in formats suitable for re-use;
- Using new technologies and social media to help explain the role of the Houses of Commons and increase public engagement.
Health and social care
Health and social care is a key area for technology. The policy of health and social care integration means that technical solutions are required to manage and share information. Although this has been an issue for decades, the demand for greater savings has meant that this has become a real issue. It will also be necessary to meet new legislative requirements, such as the reporting requirements introduced through the Care Act.
- Government as a Platform: the next phase of digital transformation (Government Digital Service, 2015)
- Inside GOV.UK (Government Digital Service, 2015)
- Budget 2015: GDS remit to extend to local government (Public Technology, 2015)
- 10 public sector tech predictions for 2015 (UKAuthority, 2015)
- Digital Trends in the Public Sector (Matter, 2014)
- Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy (Digital Democracy Commission, 2015)
- ICT challenge of health and social care integration “not given priority” (UKAuthority, 2015)
We regularly write about public sector technology, and how technology based solutions can help drive improvements in public sector service delivery. Other recent blogs include: