UK unveils Technology Innovation Strategy

By on 18/06/2019
Dowden: "Public sector has to pick up the pace to stay relevant." (Image courtesy: Government Digital Service).

The UK government has published its Technology Innovation Strategy, which sets out how it will implement digital technology to improve service delivery.

The Cabinet Office’s minister for implementation, Oliver Dowden, announced the national strategy last week, in a speech at the launch of London Tech Week.

“The UK has led the world in harnessing technology to transform public services, but we cannot afford to sit back,” he said. “Adoption of new technologies by the private sector is changing how people live their lives and the public sector has to pick up the pace to stay relevant.”

Three pronged attack

The document is split into three sections focusing on: recruitment and up-skilling the existing workforce; providing an environment for experimentation; and ensuring up-to-date technology and access to useful data.

Proposals include doubling the number of civil service technology apprenticeships; improving data sharing; and tackling “legacy” technology systems, many of which are decades old. The government will also “explore seconding senior Civil Service leaders into industry to allow them to witness the benefits of a culture of experimentation and empowering them to adopt these practices when they return to government,” it says.

During his speech on Monday, Dowden gave details of a new guide on how to build and use artificial intelligence (AI) for government departments, and an online marketplace allowing tech start-ups to sell to the public sector. 

AIxamples

The strategy and guide provide examples of where AI is being successfully used across government. For example, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is using the technology to make prisons safer by analysing thousands of pages of inspection reports and identifying common issues, while the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA) is using AI to check through millions of MOT tests and spot where standards are not being measured properly.

“Artificial intelligence is already being used to identify rogue garages and improve prison safety, but government can go much further,” Dowden said in his speech. “New technologies like AI can deliver better services for less and I am determined that government is at the forefront of this revolution.”

He also unveiled details of a new online marketplace for technology called Spark, which will “make it easier for start-ups and small businesses to deliver services for government so that we make the most of the UK’s thriving GovTech sector.”

Wright decisions

Digital minister Jeremy Wright said: “Artificial intelligence is already having a positive impact across society – from improving fraud detection to better and quicker diagnoses of medical conditions.

“The UK government has already been recognised as world-leading in its readiness for AI and we continue to push leaders across the public sector to recognise its impact in delivering more personalised and efficient experiences.

“Our newly appointed AI Council of industry experts will boost the growth and use of AI in the UK further by helping us to realise its full potential.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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