Thursday, 10 July 2014

Digital: Better for Users, Simpler for Staff, Cheaper for Government

With a shared ambition to become ‘digital be default’, maximise service delivery, increase efficiency and lower costs, central and local government along with the wider public sector must explore innovative methods, solutions and tools to achieve their digital ambitions. With this in mind the Digital Government conference took place on Tuesday 8th July at the QEII Conference Centre, London.
‘2014: The Year of Digital Delivery’

Over the course of the day influential speakers focussed on how the public sector can deliver services to the citizen digitally, enhance the UK’s digital skill base, deliver high quality digital channels, harness the power of social media and adapt to a future of more open data and greater transparency within government.

The day was kicked off with an inspiring keynote address on the government’s digital revolution from StephenKelly, COO, HM Government. He highlighted the need to view ‘Government as a platform’ and for all digital services to be ‘user-centric’. Stephen highlighted three goals for the digital government:
- Improve public services
- Drive growth and innovation
- Save money and protect frontline services
The future should be ‘not centralised, not localised, but networked’.

Stephen highlighted several central government departments that were meeting their digital exemplar goals and providing a foundation for innovation, these included Defra, HMRC, Ministry of Justice and DVLA. Another department with excellent digital exemplar track record is the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Tim Knighton the Chief Digital Officer offered the second presentation of the day.

Tim’s presentation highlighted several key factors that should be considered during digital transitions:
- User needs should drive design and digital engagement
- Expect culture change when building digital services
- Don’t take paper forms and put them on screen: Design from the ground up

The challenges highlighted by BIS can be seen below:
The next morning speaker was Joe Dignan, Innovation Service Manager, Bristol City Council was shared with the audience the potential for smart cities in the UK. 50% of the world now live in a city and this expected to increase to 60% by 2030 and the UK is leading the global push for smart cities. According to Joe the foundation for a smart city is open data and connectivity. Steve Walters, CTO, HMRC quickly followed Joe and discussed the departments push towards digital services.

The afternoon keynote address for the Digital Government conference was presented by
Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Digital Leader, DVLA who kicked off the session with the following DVLA by numbers slide:
Stephen Kelly earlier highlighted feedback that claimed DVLA's digital services were on a par with eBay and Amazon. Alongside the digital agenda comes security concerns and these were addressed in the next presentation by Dr Pete Armstrong, Technical Director, Identitiy, CESG. This presentation focused on tackling the increasing threat of cyber crime in the digital space.

The digital agenda is not only being pushed by central government, local government are also leading digital revolution. John Jackson, CIO, Camden Council provided the audience with insights in to how local authorities can redesign services in digital formats to increase efficiency and meet user needs. The conference was closed by Penny Fox, Head of News, DECC - Penny is a social media expert who highlighted the growing trends and use of social media amongst central and local government. Particularly interesting was the use of social media by Defra in their campaigns and awareness raising programmes.

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