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Technology developments in the public sector

The ways in which governing bodies and local authorities interact with citizens is rapidly changing. Technology and digital developments are continuing to revolutionise service delivery, welfare provision and more, so it is crucial that public-sector professionals continue to understand the growing importance and impact of digitisation. Below we explore four examples of how technology is revolutionising today’s public sector.

Post-Brexit data and digital platforms

The UK’s break away from the European Union (EU) is bringing with it a ripple effect of changes to public-sector digital platforms. Work is underway to update HM Revenue and Customs’ digital system and maintain the EU citizen settlement scheme, which includes an app from the Home Office¹. 

Online databases and public-sector service portals will require reprogramming on a national scale to reflect post-Brexit legislation, which itself could be subject to uncertainty and numerous revisions. Local councils will also need to update their digital systems too, particularly those with higher percentages of EU nationals living and working in their constituencies. 

“The UK’s departure from the EU […] will require, to a short deadline, the complete reformation of certain services including rural payments and border control²,” (Desmond & Kotecha, 2017). 

Increased accountability for personal data

Like every other aspect of digital activity, public-sector storage and handling of personal data is now governed by relatively-recent changes to the law; most notably the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There is growing public awareness and caution in relation to how personal data is used and handled. This EU-wide directive ensures citizens more autonomy over the way their personal data is used by public and private sector organisations, and will continue to apply in the UK after Brexit.

Research shows that public-sector bodies, such as the NHS and the police, are more widely trusted to process personal data than commercial organisations³ but if anything, this emphasises the importance of maintaining public confidence in their ability to safeguard this personal information. 

Recommended read: Safeguarding personal information: the role of data protection in the public-sector

Diversification of the Government Digital Service (GDS)

In charge of the online government information portal, GOV.UK, the Government Digital Service (GDS) is responsible for the “digital transformation of government⁴.”

Having already brought together websites of 25 ministerial departments and 385 other agencies and public bodies⁵ on one online platform, the GDS has started looking to the private-sector in order to stay at the forefront of digital government.

The further development of the Verify identity assurance service – which enables users to prove who they are online when applying for benefits or filing self-assessment, for example – is one facility being handed over to its commercial partners, including Barclays and Experian⁶.

As digital services expand, public-sector professionals can expect to see increasing examples of cross-sector data management.

Enriching public-sector knowledge with technological awareness

Staying on top of the continuous digital reforms happening in the field is essential. Studying an Online Masters of Public Administration can ensure that you will continue to develop your digital understanding, not only in the context of the public-sector, but also your own role and responsibilities within it.

“This course has given me the scope to view local government through wider lenses and a future towards e-governments, greater public involvement and co-production of services and delivery,” says Ana Soochit, student on the Online Masters of Public Administration.

To find out more, please download our brochure.

References:

1TRENDALL, S. (2018) The Three Public Sector Technology Trends That Will Define 2019 [online] Available at: <https://publictechnology.net/articles/opinion/three-public-sector-technology-trends-will-define-2019/> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

2DESMOND, J. & KOTECHA, B. (2017) State of the UK Govtech Market [online] Available at: <http://www.public.io/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Public_GovTech_market.pdf> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

3TRENDALL, S. (2018) NHS and Government Have Highest Levels of Public Trust on Use of Personal Data, ICO Finds [online] Available at: </https://www.publictechnology.net/articles/news/nhs-and-government-have-highest-levels-public-trust-use-personal-data-ico-finds> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

4GOVERNMENT DIGITAL SERVICE. (2019) About the Government Digital Service [online] Available at: <https://gds.blog.gov.uk/about/> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

5GOV.UK. (2019) Welcome to GOV.UK [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

6TRENDALL, S. (2018) Government to Hand GOV.UK Verify Over to Private Sector and Cease Funding [online] Available at: <https://www.publictechnology.net/articles/news/government-hand-govuk-verify-over-private-sector-and-cease-funding> [Accessed 16.05.2019]

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