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        August  2011                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Civic  Agenda  Briefing   Innovation  in  Digital  Delivery  

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________     Introduction     Putting   innovation   at   the  centre   of   strategies   for   digital   delivery   lies   at   the   heart   of   the   Government’s   policy   agenda   for   greater   efficiency,   transparency   and   accessibility   of   public   services,   detailed   in   both   the  Government’s  ICT  Strategy  and  Open  Services  White  Paper  published  this  year.     In   order   to   develop   Digital   by   Default   services   which   are   effective   for   users,   meet   aims   for   economic   savings,   and   are   up   to   date   with   technological   developments,   the   Government   intends   to   open   its   services  and  data  to  the  public  and  to  champion  user-­‐sourced  innovation  in  design  and  delivery.     In  a  recent  speech  Rt  Hon  Francis  Maude  MP,  Minister  for  the  Cabinet  Office,  explains  that:    

 

“For   too   long,   Government   has   wasted   vast   amounts   of   money   on   ineffective   and   duplicate   IT   systems.   We   need   to   ensure   that   frontline   services   have   the   tools   to   do   their   job   to   deliver   effective   public   services.   We’re   determined   to   find   more   innovative   ways   to   deliver   services,   bringing  in  competition  between  different  kinds  of  provider  to  deliver  value  and  innovation.”     Fostering  Innovation     The   Government   has   set   out   that   by   shifting   from   long-­‐term,   large-­‐scale   digital   delivery   projects   to   producing   and   promoting   private   innovation   in   smaller,   user-­‐centric   solutions,   both   it   and   the   public   can  benefit  from  more  effective,  accessible,  transparent  and  cost-­‐effective  Digital  by  Default  services.           The  Open  Public  Services  report  details  the  Government’s  new  strategy  for  achieving  this  goal:  It  plans  to   open  its  data,  services,  and  applications  to  external  providers,  including  the  private  and  not-­‐for-­‐profit   sectors,  in  order  to  crowdsource  public  innovation1.     The   report   sets   out   the   plan   for   a   “digital   marketplace”   for   innovative   and   custom   made   delivery   solutions   as   well   as   other   Government   data   and   services   through   the   Government   Digital   Service   (GDS)2,   created   by   the   merger   of   Directgov   with   the   Cabinet   Office   Digital   Delivery   and   Digital   Engagement   teams,   following   the   recommendations   of   Martha   Lane   Fox’s   Directgov   2010   and   Beyond:   Revolution  not  Evolution3.    The  GDS  aims  to  review  and  quality-­‐mark  independent  innovations  in  service   delivery   in   order   to   ensure   public   confidence   and   a   consistent   high   standard,   whilst   also   including   user   feedback  and  ratings  on  its  content  to  ensure  services  are  effective  and  relevant  for  users.     In  addition,  the  Cabinet  Office  has  launched  the  DotGovLabs  website  as  an  ‘innovation  hub’4,  providing  a   forum  for  the  public  to  submit  suggestions  for  solutions  to  particular  challenges,  including  in  the  past   ‘Reducing   digital   exclusion’,   ‘Improving   healthcare,   reducing   costs’   and   ‘Supporting   carers’5,   thereby   expanding  the  idea-­‐  and  knowledge-­‐base  available  to  Government  and  independent  service  developers.                                                                                                                                 1

 Open  Public  Services  white  paper,  July  2011,  p.  53.  http://www.openpublicservices.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/      Ibid.,  pp.  52-­‐3.   3  Martha  Lane  Fox,  Directgov  2010  and  Beyond:  Revolution  not  Evolution,  October  2010.   4  https://dotgovlabs.direct.gov.uk/Page/Home   5  https://dotgovlabs.direct.gov.uk/Page/Challenges   2


Digital  service  challenges     The  Government  has  identified  in  its  ICT  Strategy6  report  that  previous  and  existing  projects:     • “tend  to  be  too  big,  leading  to  greater  complexity”;  and     • “procurement  timescales  are  far  too  long  and  costly,  squeezing  out  all  but  the  biggest,  usually   multinational,  suppliers”.         Large  scale  procurement  and  long  term  contracts  are  impractical  in  the  digital  field,  where  the  pace  of   technological  change  is  extremely  rapid,  and  inhibit  the  ability  of  public  sector  service  to  keep  pace  with   technological  developments.             Existing   Government   online   services   can   be   lengthy   and   complicated   to   complete,   and   often   do   not   exploit  the  full  potential  of  digital  delivery.    The  example  cited  by  Martha  Lane  Fox  is  that  of  an  online   student  loan  application  on  the  DirectGov  website  requiring,  after  the  completion  of  the  online  forms,   the  printing  and  signing  of  a  30  page  document7.         Technological  opportunities     Innovative   use   of   new   technology   presents   opportunities   for   overcoming   challenges   to   Digital   by   Default,  and  for  meeting  the  Government’s  aim  of  delivering  services  “wherever  you  are”8,  both  digitally   and  physically.     For  example,  smartphones  and  tablet  PCs  can  help  improve  access  to  the  internet  because  they  rely  on   satellite   data   connections   rather   than   underground   cabling   which   is   expensive   and   uneconomical   to   lay   to   remote   rural   communities.     The   number   of   smartphone   users   has   grown   by   70%   between   January   2009   and   January   2010   to   over   11   million9,   and   IDC   predicts   that   global   annual   downloads   of   applications,   or   ‘apps’,   for   these   devices   will   increase   from   38.2   billion   in   2010   to   182.7   billion   by   201510,  indicating  an  increasing  demand  for  portable,  customisable,  digital  services.        

Case  study:  NHS  Direct  app       The  NHS  has  exploited  smartphone  technology  with  an  app  which  consolidates  38  existing  NHS   online  symptom  checkers  and  allows  users  to  check  their  symptoms  wherever  they  are  and   receive  basic  medical  information.    The  service  integrates  with  mobile  technology  and  offers  a   function  to  telephone  a  health  professional  if  symptoms  persist.         Although  NHS  Chief  Technical  Officer  Paul  Jones  has  stated  that  the  NHS  will  not  be  Digital  by   Default  and  users  will  not  be  ‘compelled’  to  use  digital  services,  innovative  forms  of  digital   service  delivery  can  supplement  and  even  improve  existing  services  without  any  additional  cost,   in  this  case  by  ensuring  professional  attention  is  focussed  on  the  most  pressing  medical  issues.               This  briefing  has  been  produced  by  Civic  Agenda  for  the  Digital  Leaders  Programme.  For  further   information  please  visit  www.civicagenda.co.uk  or  call  0207  387  0422  

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 Cabinet  Office,  Government  ICT  Strategy,  March  2011,  p.  4.      Martha  Lane  Fox,  Directgov  2010  and  Beyond:  Revolution  not  Evolution,  October  2010,  p.  3.   8  Open  Public  Services  white  paper,  July  2011,  p.  52.   9  ComScore,  March  2010.     10  IDC,  Worldwide  and  U.S.  Mobile  Applications,  Storefronts,  Developer,  and  In-­‐App  Advertising  2011–2015  Forecast:   Emergence  of  Postdownload  Business  Models,  June  2011.   7


Civic Agenda Briefing - Innovation in Digital Delivery