Across the Public Sector there have been significant developments in the technology department, with organisations left right and centre embracing the digital age. From healthcare to transport and local councils, there has been an array of developments to fit with the digital era that is seemingly evolving more and more every day.
From the implementation of the digital strategy in March, public sector organisations have really got on board and embrace technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, cyber security and mass amounts of data.
Let’s take a look back at the year in the Public Sector, uncovering the best and worst bits and how 2018 is shaping up.
Healthcare ramps up digital transformation efforts
Healthcare has always been a heavily criticised area within the public sector, but this year it has significantly developed bringing the best services to the UK population. Introducing AI and robotics into the healthcare sector was unsurprising as the vast amounts of data being created was increasingly time consuming for GPs, doctors and nurses, making it an untapped resource.
The groundwork of collating information and analysing data with technology such as Microsoft Dynamics has played a big role in reducing the time it takes clinician’s to carry out such tasks, as well as bringing more efficient data to the surface for medical experts.
“Automation has reduced the amount of effort and time the clinicians spend doing an admin role, rather than actually physio roles, by redeploying staff to work more efficiently in the hospital by using a skills mix in a better way. Dynamics 365 gives us an end to end solution so we can manage the whole day in one place,” Lucy Cassidy, Advanced physiotherapist at Brighton & Sussex University Hospital told CBR.
As well as using AI and automation to sift through data from an administration perspective, it also allows GPs to analyse patient data to formulate the best diagnosis and treatment plan going forward using technology such as IBM Watson.
IBM Watson is a cognitive system bringing together AI and analytics to answers questions from users, sifting through healthcare databases to find relevant information to aid a patient. The use of systems such as IBM has drastically developed the healthcare sector by enabling Doctors to reduce the amount of time they spend sifting through data and instead treating patients. Now Watson can do all the ‘boring’ jobs for GPs and Doctors, whilst they focus on what they do best with the data more likely to be more accurate as well.
Not only do workers benefit from the technology but patients as well as IBM Watson capabilities enable them to receive their results much quicker, with a more accurate diagnosis that could be given by doctors.
Many more Clouds in the public sector sky
Cloud is another area that has seen significant uptake across the public sector this year, with almost every organisation adopting or planning to adopt the technology. Through central government and large organisations such as the NHS or Ministry departments it was seemingly inevitable, but the area that has seen most improvement is that of local government.
Local organisations have taken on cloud computing to improve the services they provide to the residents of their areas, including council information such as bin collections and also the best way to get in contact with who residents want to speak to.
Aylesbury Vale District Council is just one of many that have adopted cloud computing and had huge success in doing so. With savings of £6m AVDC has used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to downsize its council’s infrastructure, saving money and delivering better services to residents in the area.
Chief Executive Andrew Grant said: “AWS has completely transformed the council. Had we not moved to the cloud we couldn’t rely on its ability to give you agility and a platform for growing a different business. Cloud allows us to be more digital and to innovate.”
Using cloud technology has enabled the council to put residents at the heart of all its operations, including the implementation of IoT services such as Amazon’s Alexa. As the first council implementing the technology AVDC has adopted Alexa to help reach those residents who struggle to access council services, such as the blind. With Alexa residents of Aylesbury can ask it questions from when to put their bins out, to which council member to contact.
Alistair Smith, Client Director at Contino, said: “In 2017, government departments have made strong inroads into developing their own capability and moving away from a reliance on central digital teams (namely GDS). They are developing the cloud-native skills required to meet modern standards for software delivery.
“This has underpinned successes in the arena of digital innovation more broadly. We’re seeing more widespread adoption of DevOps and DevSecOps across departments, enabling secure innovation at speed and scale. These skills, processes and technologies together represent an encouraging move towards higher quality digital services for our citizens.”
Big, Bad Brexit
For many Brexit seems to have brought nothing but bad news since it was announced and the public sector is no exception to this. Implications of the Brexit vote has brought a worry to the country, around various subjects, but within public sector across all departments the loss of talent is the worry. An area the industry already lacks is the talented workers that better our economy, with businesses at risk should measures not be put in place to solve this problem.
After the vote it was revealed that a third of businesses look outside of the UK for tech talent specifically, that’s without the talent from medics and other areas. Brexit has changed how the UK will import and export goods and services, somewhat ruining those well-built relationships across the borders.
However, on the contrary of the UK’s concern Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a bigger focus on overseas talent with more visas expected to be granted to keep the UK in the race of digital change and continue to grow. Promising the double the amount of tech-visas that are granted in post-Brexit, May hopes to bound the talent to the UK shores instead of sending it back overseas.
Even down to the way we share data, Brexit has brought an ambush of worry and fury across the public sector as organisations struggle to come to a happy medium that will ensure the transfer of data and skills will still be accessible post-Brexit. In order to successfully transform data there must be a data sharing agreement in place that both parties agree on.
Without the free flow of data between the two borders it will become difficult to carry out any sort of business between the UK and EU and if an agreement is not reached, the current framework will automatically be extinct and businesses could suffer as a result.
Are you GDPR ready? Not many are.
A huge blow to every organisation out there and among those in the public sector particularly hard hit as the basis of most public sector departments rely on data. Now with the General Data Protection Regulation consumers can choose to have their data removed from systems, implicating organisations in future developments.
Leaving the Government in a catch 22 the new legislation left mixed views, with cyber security experts all for the regulation to protect people’s data efficiently but will leave companies’ with all but no power over the data that they currently hold.
Furthermore with much confusion around the regulations of GDPR it brings concern to organisations because of the implications for not being compliant consisting of fines up to £17m potentially being issued to organisations. Almost a quarter of organisations are not GDPR reading according to a survey from Alfresco and AIIM, despite the due date just five months away.
On the bright side it could somewhat banish the bad blood of Brexit as it brings the UK the ability to share data with other EU members despite the country leaving, potentially brining trusting relationships back together.
2017 has been a good year for the transport sector, from improvements across Oyster access around London to the HS2 developments being put in place to better the UK’s rail systems.
Across the City of London Oyster was a huge breakthrough for commuters to seamlessly travel through the city, but of course, this has developed significantly over the years as commuters can now use contactless to tap their way through the tube. However this year Oyster has expanded its region from just tap and go on the tube, to across all public transport options throughout London. Whether it is taking the bus, tram or tube users can just tap and go wherever they are across 9,000 bus readers.
A promised land for commuters across all transport is the implementation of 4G access everywhere we travel. Of course, it was a big step having Wi-Fi on the underground, but the Government has the vision to develop this across the rest of the tube system and of course across over ground routes up and down the country. Though the country still has a way to go underground Wi-Fi has been boosted with the introduction of 4G and transformed the way we travel.
Other areas of development within transport include the long-awaited High-Speed Rail – 2. With the success of the HS1 running across London, the HS2 has brought a lot of competition among London Transport Fleets as well as overseas including the likes of Hitachi Rail and Thameslink.
In addition to public transport, the use of driverless cars has also heavily increased in the last 12 months with the Government granting self-parking apps as well as transforming the traditional black cabs to electric vehicles. A vast growing industry that we could be set to see take off next year, without having a cabbie driving you anywhere, instead just an automated machine that is somewhat untrustworthy – or so the experts like Elon Musk said.
Hammond makes big promises in the Budget
As the year draws to a close, the time came for Chancellor Philip Hammond to reveal the Government’s Autumn Budget for the year going forward. Amid the worry around Brexit, tech talent and robots taking over the Budget outlined the UK’s commitment to ensuring services across the Public and Private Sectors would flourish in the year to come.
Making a significant commitment to the roll out of 5G technology and emerging technology such as AI, Hammond pledged a £500m budget to ensure the UK becomes a world leader in the digital technology world putting investment into booming areas to boost the UK’s position even more.
Other areas of significant investment lay in digital skills. Following the worry Brexit carried around digital skills loss Hammond has put forward a £30m budget to reskilling current workers in organisations, as well as new programmes across the education sector to ensure students of today have the ability to become tech leaders of tomorrow.
Furthermore, Hammond committed to transforming the transport sector within his budget with electric cars receiving an astounding £400m investment in a push for the UK to be at the forefront of digital technology.
Through a whirlwind of positive and negative developments over the year, it is quite astonishing to think what could happen in the next 12 months, after GDPR is implemented and then worry about Brexit. However the prospect of building on the technology developments that have already been brought to the public sector brings great excitement for another year ahead, to see what more could be done.