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Beyond gov uk


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The future trajectory of society and digital technology is not only changing the way we interact with government – it is forcing us to reconsider what government is actually for and what role it should play in our daily lives.

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Beyond gov uk

  1. 1. The future of online government
  2. 2. About me Ian Huckvale Head of User Engagement B.Eng Computing (Imperial College, London) Interests: Digital strategy, user experience, information architecture, usability, accessibility, mobile, social media Outside work: cooking, rowing, fencing Email: Twitter @IanHux Web: Blog:
  3. 3. Caveat: Neither I, nor Reading Room, work directly with GDS. I do not claim to have any special knowledge of their forward plans for Gov.UK – this is my own opinions and mental wanderings about the future.
  4. 4. “Information technology is changing our lives: the way we work, the way we do business, the way we communicate with each other, how we spend our time. New technology offers opportunities and choice. It can give us access to services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will make our lives easier.” Anyone hazard a guess at when this statement was made?
  5. 5. “We must modernise the business of government itself - achieving joined up working between different parts of government and providing new, efficient and convenient ways for citizens and businesses to communicate with government and to receive services. We propose that 50% of dealings should be capable of electronic delivery by 2005 and 100% by 2008.” The Modernising Government White Paper, 1999 It’s from the original Modernising Government White Paper of 1999. The vision they set out for why government should invest in digital is equally valid today.
  6. 6. So you want online government, do you?
  7. 7. Right lads… you heard the man, everyone get online! 2500 government websites were online by 2005 There are only 24 government departments (plus agencies) That’s more than 100 websites per department
  8. 8. Then this happened…
  9. 9. Then he got elected…
  10. 10. Then she got involved… The combination of the financial crisis, election of the coalition and government cuts led to a rethink on the way government does things online. Martha Lane Fox was brought in to review the strategy – she proposed a very different and ambitious vision…
  11. 11. 1 Government website
  12. 12. At first Gov.UK had many sceptics, both inside government and in the web-development industry. But a few years down the line its something of a success.
  13. 13. And everyone liked it
  14. 14. So, what does the future of online government look like?
  15. 15. Let’s look again at the original vision. It showed up a serious issues for the public sector – they like to plan in decades – digital changes constantly “We know that we cannot picture now exactly what information age government will look like in 2008. The pace of technological change is fast and exhilarating. Business will be transformed by e-commerce. Before 2008, there will be further technological breakthroughs which cannot be foreseen now. (In 1978, some commentators might not even have predicted the personal computer, let alone the Internet.)” The Modernising Government White Paper, 1999
  16. 16. Boring!!! Trying to predict the future is what tonight is all about Let’s give it a try…
  17. 17. The near future… Some things that have already started and I think will catch on
  18. 18. GOOD: COULD BE BETTER: Quick reference guide to government information and policy Self-service online transactions Strategic communications tool Supporting behavioural change in key audiences Interactive applications that help people do stuff Building communities First lets recognise what Gov.UK is already doing well, and where there is room for improvement (IMHO)
  19. 19. A different model of communications Government strategic communication strategy is shifting from publisher to trusted content provider Engage with people in the places they are already congregating Public and private sector intermediaries will provide the audience, amplify the message and provide “value add” public services “Government approved” becomes a trust mark
  20. 20. Times Educational Supplement is an example of a potential intermediary in the schools sector. 1 in 3 teachers and school leaders use their forums on a regular basis. If you want to talk to a community of teachers – Times Educational Supplement already has that community – don’t try to compete with them, you won’t win.
  21. 21. Future USP for government agencies: trusted data interpreter Government sites need to help people to make sense of ever growing amounts of information and data – what is relevant / important? An over-reliance on PDF publications is holding many back In the early days of open-data – corporate sector developers were seen as being the answer, but they will only act if there is a commercial advantage
  22. 22. The European Environment Agency is an example of a government agency that recognises that data is its most important asset, and access to and interpretation of data is a core service.
  23. 23. From Smart-tech to Smart-citizens Open-data from government is powering a revolution – open-data from citizens is the next wave Geolocated data submission from citizens using smart-phones, tablets, wearable tech, and embedded tech ....neighbourhood watch on steroids
  24. 24. SeeClickFix is a system for reporting low-level crime, civic repair requests and neighbourhood issues. In the UK – FixMyStreet provides a similar reporting interface, but the innovation with SeeClickFix is that anyone can setup an area that they are watching – and then be notified of any reports in their zone.
  25. 25. We’re all sick of seeing people’s posts about “Ian just ran 5km and felt great!” What if we paired social updates with citizen reporting and gamified it using reward points?
  26. 26. And if citizens start using tech to report back personal data – what planning and management tools would this enable? Is Government ready for the live citizen data revolution?
  27. 27. The mid-term future
  28. 28. For most people in most circumstances their ideal government is invisible
  29. 29. 2023 I buy a flight to America, the booking system automatically checks if my passport is still valid and if I have a valid visa. Finding I don’t have a visa, it completes the application for me and the visa is automatically added to my online passport file. It only contacts me if there was a problem. Is that so crazy?
  30. 30. 2023 Online government services could become better by being less visible. Only bothering citizens if they have to – if they need more input, or if there is a problem. As UX guru Alan Cooper once put it: “People’s ideal interface is one where their goals are achieved almost by magic …. No matter how wonderful your interface is, less of it would always be better.”
  31. 31. Digital technology threatens and tests the boundaries of the nation state
  32. 32. 2023 Big corporations pay no tax. Global government efforts to close loopholes resulted in the corporations sending their servers into near earth orbit where they cannot be touched. In a continued attempt to censor the web – China imprisons 3 men who developed VPN software that allows people to bypass the Great Fire-Wall. The source code is now in the wild and has been downloaded by thousands of developers. 14% of the health service budget now comes from sales of licensed narcotics and hang-over free alcohol through “Govdrop”, a third generation take on the Silk Road site that grabbed headlines ten years ago. Which of these is the craziest approach?
  33. 33. 2023 From the MI5 raid on the Guardian where they smashed physical hard-drives to the attempts to prevent file-sharing online through sites like Napster – what we have seen is that old-world thinking often struggles to control digital problems. Conversely where digital change has been embraced it has often had more success. Napster was quickly replaced, but Spotify has done more to reduce illegal file-sharing than any of the high profile enforcement cases. Maybe a future government-sanctioned ‘Silk Road’ isn’t that crazy after all.
  34. 34. Beyond the visible horizon…
  35. 35. The community hive-mind Researchers are working on thought controlled devices TODAY. What if government had live data on how the populous feels?
  36. 36. The politics of the crowd can produce dangerous results Sometimes government needs to listen to its citizens. But sometimes it needs to help society to move on. Would we have made the leaps forward in gender, race or sexual equality that we have if the majority opinion won every time?
  37. 37. In conclusion The future trajectory of society and digital technology is not only changing the way we interact with government – it is forcing us to reconsider what government is actually for and what role it should play in our daily lives. There are few certainties for where we are collectively heading. We cannot get off the wave – instead government organisations must learn to work in a constantly changing landscape enabled by digital transformation and an increasingly networked world.
  38. 38. Contact me: Follow me: Further writing from me