UK election manifesto tech takeaways, a personal reflection on transforming digital services, and more

By on 18/06/2024 | Updated on 05/07/2024
Image: Element5 Digital on Unsplash

In this month’s Digital and Data Monitor, we look at the key technology-related policies pledged by the UK’s parties in the upcoming general election, as well as sharing the latest edition of Global Government Forum’s Government Transformed podcast. We also reveal the first speakers that have been announced for our upcoming digital-focused events in the UK and Canada.

In this edition:

Digital and data policies in the UK election manifestos

Image: Pixabay

With the UK election now in full swing, the three main UK political parties have set out their manifestos. Global Government Forum has taken a look at the pledges each has made on digital and data use in government.

The Conservatives: As one of their major pledges, the Conservatives, who are currently in government, are pledging to double digital and AI expertise in the civil service “to take advantage of the latest technologies to transform public services”, and say they will require departments to deliver plans for 2% annual productivity growth at the next Spending Review. The party also pledges to “continue to invest in the digital, transport and energy infrastructure needed for businesses to grow”.

The party says it will roll out new digital health checks to 250,000 more people every year, helping to prevent hundreds of strokes and heart attacks, as well as investing to make the NHS App the single front door for NHS services. 

Labour: Currently the manifesto only has limited mentions of digital, and no specific mentions of digital government. However, there are pledges to improve data sharing across public services to better support children and families, using a single unique identifier. The party also pledges to create a National Data Library to bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services, and to improve datasharing across services, with a single unique identifier planned specifically to support children and families.

Labour has promised to digitise the Red Book record of children’s health – a pledge also made by the Conservatives.  

The Liberal Democrats: Traditonally the UK’s third party, the Lib Dems promise to help tackle the UK’s productivity crisis by encouraging businesses to invest in training, take up digital technologies and become more energy efficient, including through its industrial strategy and reform of business rates. The party also pledges to use digital and data to drive better public services. This includes ring-fencing budgets to enable the NHS to adopt innovative digital tools that improve patient care and experience and enable old, slow computers to be replaced to free up clinicians’ time to care for patients. The party says it would require all IT systems used by the NHS to work with each other, and ensure every care setting has electronic records that can feed into a patient’s health record, with consent. 

Upcoming webinar: Join GGF’s webinar on 25 June to find out more about the UK manifestos. Register here.

How a family bereavement transformed one public servant’s view of digital government services

Jonathan Finch

In the latest episode of Global Government Forum’s Government Transformed podcast, we hear from Jonathan Finch, acting director of digital experience in the US government’s Office of Management and Budget, about his journey into government.

Joining government to help: Finch is still relatively new to government, having moved into his role after a six-year career at Deloitte. His motivations for making the transition, however, run deep. His motivations for making the transition, however, run deep. When Finch lost a loved one, he was forced to navigate complex government procedures which – although Finch and his brother were digitally savvy enough to navigate – left him wondering about the impact such bureaucratic hurdles have across society.

Helping build a digital-first experience: As Finch tells to Siobhan Benita in this latest edition of the Government Transformed podcast, he had already been considering the switch to government, but this experience provided the final nudge that led him to take up his role to focus on improving government services. 

Creating seamless services: In this podcast, Finch discuss why a seamless digital-first government experience for citizens matters now more than ever. Their conversation also drives home the importance of collaboration between departments to achieving digital transformation, as well as how to ensure such transformation doesn’t leave people behind. Finch says that by establishing cross-functional teams, strong analytic capabilities, smart branding and above all, empathy with end users, governments can take everyone with them on the journey to fit-for-purpose digital public services.

Winners of government-backed innovation challenge held on the Isle of Man revealed

Digital Isle of Man’s Lyle Wraxall speaking during the event

The Isle of Man Innovation Challenge, held last week, took pitches from 13 finalists for innovation solutions across three categories – cleantech, data and AI, and fintech. The aim was to exhibit and promote the pro-innovation jurisdiction of the Isle of Man, which is a self-governing British Crown Dependency located in the Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. It also set out to stoke collaboration between the public and private sectors. 

Who won the data gong? The winner of the data and AI category was Acentrik, a data-sharing product developed by Mercedes-Benz Singapore.   

All winners received ‘additional promotion and publicity both locally and internationally, as well as extended access to the Isle of Man’s marketplace of mentors, potential investors and customers across sectors, regulators, and government officers for six months. 

Centralise or decentralise? After the winners were announced, Global Government Forum caught up with Jason Bissell and Llye Wrexall from Digital Isle of Man.  
Open-source advocacy: Citing Acentrik’s achievement, Bissell stresses the importance of open formatted, decentralised data in government. Rather that moving data around, he said, governments are better off leaving data where it is and computing it at source. 

“Moving data is a risk [because] once you put it into a place, you then have to organise and structure it, and if you’re restructuring data, that [raises] the whole data warehouses versus data lake proposition.” 

More to come: Next week’s AI Monitor will have more information on the challenges, including the winner in the AI category. Register here to make sure you receive the next newsletter.  

Should governments better coordinate data policy?

Image: Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Data is critical to delivery of government services in the digital age. In a new article, researchers argue that there are global inequalities in how countries are able to use data – and it is only by addressing these that the power of data to improve services around the world can be realised.

Data today: Stephanie Diepeveen from ODI and Astha Kapoo from the  Aapti Institute say that existing global conversations on data focus on either the creation of infrastructures that produce data or the use of data through AI models. This means data isn’t being considered in its own right.

The international opportunity: The authors say that governments have struggled to therefore capture the realities of data ownership and opportunities. “We believe data needs its own place in the multilateral agenda so that the different facets of data can be addressed holistically across the majority and minority worlds,” the researchers write. “As a core input and output of digital systems and infrastructures, countries must be able to make informed decisions about the governance of data, as well as its risks and opportunities.”

Multilateral working: To enable multilateral working, Diepeveen and Kapoo call for the creation of a Data20 (D20) within the G20 to form part of a “high visibility, multi-stakeholder space” to help governments to have open discussions on how to use data to drive better government working.

Read in full: Why we need global coordination on data, not just AI

First speakers announced for major GGF conferences

Image: GGF

Global Government Forum has launched registration for two major digital and data-related conferences in the UK and Canada.

Public Service Data Live: Hosted in partnership with HM Government, the Civil Service and Cabinet Office, Public Service Data Live brings together UK civil servants to share insight and provide practical advice to improve how data is used across government – and the wider public sector.

Speakers confirmed so far: The conference will be addressed by senior UK government data officials across key topics including using data to help make world-class government services; how data and AI can boost public sector productivity; and making innovation happen in government. Speakers will include Laura Gilbert, chief analyst and director of data science, 10 Downing Street; Daljit Rehal, chief digital and information officer, HM Revenue and Customs; and Sue Bateman, chief data officer, Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture.

Registrations now open: Join us on 19 September for the conference at the Business Design Centre by registering here.

AccelerateGOV: Bringing together public service leaders from around the world to Ottawa, AccelerateGOV explores how public servants can best promote digitalisation and transformation.

The agenda: AccelerateGOV will bring together Canadian public servants to discuss key issues including how to deploy artificial intelligence; better use of data; and how to build a culture that can drive transformation.

Join to hear from top federal officials: Speakers will include Elise Legendre, chief data officer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Gabrielle Fitzgerald, chief data and chief risk officer, Canadian Food Inspection Agency; and Meagan Collins, chief, Enterprise Information Management, Corporate Services Sector, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Register now: AccelerateGOV takes place on 21 October at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. Register now to attend.

GGF training courses you can book for your teams

Global Government Forum provides a wide range of live, interactive training courses which build on our ethos of providing high-quality events and information for civil servants from around the world.

Our in-house training courses can be tailored to meet the specific L&D needs of your organisation. We can deliver your chosen training programmes either virtually or face-to-face, in your offices or in a venue of your choice, anywhere in the world.

Digital and data training courses which are available include:

For further information and pricing, please contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.

Thanks for reading this month’s Digital and Data Monitor. Please share any feedback with me on email.

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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