Digital Policy GDPR

UK gets ready for GDPR

The first Queen’s speech, after the election of the new Conservative government in the UK earlier this year, made clear that the government would be introducing a new data protection law. This new law essentially paves the way for the UK to adopt the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation comes into force in May 2018 and the UK is mandated to introduce it.

The announcement received some media attention – although such announcements, during the Summer media dead period, tend to be overlooked. This is evidenced by the number of views of this departmental YouTube video featuring the Minister, Matt Hancock. At time of publishing this post the video had received fewer than 1,000 views.

The GDPR will result in a major shake-up of data privacy laws and its impact will affect commercial and government bodies that handle personal data. Much has been written about GDPR. More will be written over the coming months. In the meantime, this blog from PwC provides some handy commentary and useful information.


Citizen Engagement Digital Policy Workshop Videos

Open Data. Open Cities.

There has been much discussion on this site about the opportunities that open data provides for enhanced government service. At our recent San Francisco workshop we had the chance to discuss some of the ‘next waves’ of open data policy with the advent of more sensor networks and the availability of more environmental data.

In this discussion we touch on how environmental agencies are increasingly embracing digital engagement techniques to get more citizens more savvy about their local environments. We touch on the likely impact of a Trump presidency on environmental issues and the way forward for the environmental movement in an increasingly joined-up world.

In the video Jeff Peel, Editor Citizen2020, interviews Jayant Kairam of the Environmental Defense Fund and Bruce Wolfe of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, San Francisco.


Citizen Experience Digital Policy Workshop Videos

Digital First?

There’s a lot of debate in government circles about the long term role of the contact center as ‘digital first’ strategies take hold.

In this video, Stephen Morgan of Squiz and David Moody of Verint discuss what multi-channel and digital first mean in the context of city government.

One of the conclusions is that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work. It’s more a matter of horses for courses.


Digital Government Digital Policy

Country as a Service

Taavi Kotka
Taavi Kotka

One of the more interesting presentations at the recent Nordic Digital Day was by Taavi Kotka, of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Estonia. Taavi has had a varied career in software development, as well as government. He has founded several startups and holds a Masters in Engineering from Tallinn University. Therefore his profile is not typical of most civil servants.

Taavi’s presentation at the conference focused on the idea of Country as a Service. He used Estonia as an exemplar of what’s possible. In effect Estonia is setting up its stall to provide core government services, and ancillary services, to organisations and individuals outside of Estonia.

A good example is starting up and registering a business. In many countries in the world it’s not exactly easy to create a business. Some administrations make it positively difficult. However, Estonia has established the concept of e-residency – where business owners can remain resident in the USA, UK or Philippines (or wherever) but establish a business in Estonia – an EU country – very easily. In a post-Brexit world, this could be very handy for many companies.

So, why Estonia? Well the little country has developed state-of-the-art processes that make e-residency very easy. Around this they have wrapped many other government services that make conducting business very easy. And the private sector is keen to get involved too.

If states fail to redesign and simplify the machinery of bureaucracy and make it location-independent, there will be an opportunity for countries that can offer such services across borders.

Estonia has learned that it’s incredibly important in a small state to serve primarily small and micro businesses. In order to sustain a nation on this, we must automate and digitize processes to scale. Estonia’s model, for instance, is location-independent, making it simple to scale successfully. We hope to acquire at least 10 million digital residents (e-Residents) in a way that is mutually beneficial by the nation-states where these people are tax residents.

Taavi Kotka, Chief Information Officer of Estonia

Read more…

Citizen Engagement Digital Policy Smart Cities

City as Digital Governor

There is much to be applauded in the recently published Northern Powerhouse analysis report by CITIE – the partnership between Nesta, Accenture and the Future Cities Catapult.

Download the CITIE report

Given Citizen2020’s focus on citizen engagement we especially welcome two of the main recommendations in the report:

  • Northern Powerhouse cities should “use digital channels to foster high-quality, low-friction engagement with citizens” (become ‘digital governors’).
  • Northern Powerhouse cities should  “use data to optimize services and provide the raw material for innovation” (become ‘datavores’).

Indeed these are the areas we’d like to explore in our upcoming Northern Powerhouse focused ‘conversations workshop’ that we plan to hold in Newcastle upon Tyne in September. More information here.


Citizen Engagement Digital Policy

UK and Estonia Forge Digital Government Links

I attended Nordic Digital Day in Estonia on Friday of last week. The event drew together hundreds of people from across government (and those interested in government) from the Nordic region and well beyond. I even spotted at least one delegate from the UK Government Digital Service.

The delegates, of course, were especially interested given Estonia’s near rockstar status in digital government. We have written extensively about this on this site.

The British Embassy in Tallinn is trying to encourage knowledge sharing between the UK and Estonia to ensure that the expertise (especially in the private sector) is shared. Many Estonian companies have contributed to the success of digital government in Estonia. Given the UK’s relative lag in, for example, eVoting and eIdentity, there could be some good sharing opportunities. For one thing, the UK could be a good market for Estonian expertise.

But there could also be opportunities for UK companies to use Estonia as a very advanced market test-bed.

Kevin Tammearu
Kevin Tammearu

I took the opportunity to interview Kevin Tammearu of the British Embassy in Tallinn. Kevin manages TechLink – “an initiative designed to create and support public and private partnerships between the UK and Estonia in the fields of technology, innovation and science. UK-Estonia TechLink is the go-to place to deliver partnerships in the technology sector.”

The audio interview is below.

Digital Government Digital Policy

Nordic Digital Day

ndd2016_logoWe have written a lot on this site about how Estonia has established itself as one of the most innovative and progressive nations in terms of eGovernment. Therefore I’m delighted to be joining over 400 others converging on Tallinn, Estonia on May 27, for Nordic Digital Day.

The event, according to the organisers (the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Estonia) will be “all about the data-driven society. The aim is to explore how different countries are deploying practices of data analytics, data-driven decision making, future prediction and innovation in the public sector.”

The program sounds fascinating, but we’re also keen to meet with delegates and speakers at the event and showcase, here on Citizen20Series, what initiatives different governments are taking to embed new digital practices in government service delivery. We’re especially keen to find out about citizen engagement and participation projects.

If you are attending Nordic Digital Day and would like to meet to tell your story for the site, please do contact us using the form below.

Fill out my online form.


Digital Government Digital Policy

UK: A Future in Digital?

I could hear some sucking through teeth when a questioner at last week’s Brands2Life UK: A Leading Digital Nation? event implied that the majority of the tech industry was opposed to Brexit. Perhaps that’s because I was sitting behind Viscount Ridley. The issue of Brexit could easily have dominated the discussion at Portcullis House. But, then, so could so many other topics.

One panellist fixated on the ‘sharing economy’ as the route to a digital nation. Another touched on broadband speeds. Another hopped over a host of digital topics: innovation, skills, regulation.

It was, of course, impossible to reach any conclusion. The room was packed at Portcullis House with people with very different digital and political perspectives. The panel, that included Matt Warman MP, did its best to cover several of the issues. The people in the room – including Viscount Ridley – were itching for their say. The report, produced to coincide with the event, includes lots of important sounding calls to action by important sounding people.

Click here for a summary of the debate

The challenge, in making the UK a leading digital nation, is that nobody really agrees how to achieve it. To an extent it will happen (or not happen) by default. It is, indeed, questionable what role government will play. And there is an argument, of course, that the government should simply keep its nose out as much as possible and let the tech sector get on with it with minimal regulation and minimal intervention. After all, it’s the private sector that gave us the concept of single-click identity management, the sharing economy, and superlative on-line customer experience (not the government).

Also, the problem with events like this (and this is not the fault of Brands2Life who are to be applauded for organising it) is that they tend to focus on the known and the incremental. We all know now about the “sharing economy”. It’s in the public domain. We’ve all had a ride on Uber. But rarely do such events challenge convention or lob in a black swan scenario to discuss.

The United Kingdom is changing and none of us really has any idea how digital will be our salvation or our downfall. All we can do is look at the best bits and try to adopt them to the best of our ability, hoping we’re doing the right thing.

The trouble with government IT is that it’s much too slow at adopting the best bits and using technology to make government smaller and more efficient at the same time. Government is glacially slow to change and the Government Digital Service (GDS) is not the answer. There is never a simple causal fix to an incredibly complex problem.

GDS may help. It can’t do any harm to have a nimble, tech-savvy team at the heart of government (unless it gets too big). But it’s not a solution. Similarly, the “sharing economy” is not, of itself, any panacea or delivery merchant for the UK becoming a digital nation.

But discussion is good. It encourages ideas to germinate and it helps identify new markets for technology companies to serve. Because it’s the technology companies – especially the nimble and innovative ones – that will ultimately deliver the component parts of the UK’s success as a digital nation.

Digital Policy United Kingdom

Ideas for a Digital Nation

So what’s needed to make the UK a leading digital nation? That’s the question that’s being discussed at a breakfast meeting at Portcullis House, across the street from the Palace of Westminster, on April 19. The event is being organised by the Public Affairs team at Brands2Life.

The organisers are keen to get ideas about how the UK can become a leading digital nation. And to help stimulate the discussion speakers include Matt Warman MP (Chair of the All-Party Group for Broadband and Digital Communications); Louise Haigh MP (Shadow Digital Minister); Debbie Wosskow (Chair of Sharing Economy UK); Antony Walker (Deputy CEO of techUK) and Eddie Copeland (Director of Innovation at NESTA).

We recently interviewed Matt Warman for this site.

If you would like to register for the event further details and registration can be found here.

Citizen Engagement Digital Policy

New How-to Guide for Assessing Digital Citizen Engagement

The World Bank has just released a wonderful publication titled: Evaluating Digital Citizen Engagement – A Practical Guide.

This publication – manual, I should call it – is a 172-page comprehensive “how-to” guide for assessing as well as developing digital citizen engagement (DCE) programs. The title is somewhat misleading as the guide is written in such a way that it could be used for many more applications – not just DCE. The guide was developed principally for “development professionals who already have some knowledge of the concepts of citizen engagement (CE) and evaluation and who are interested in understanding more about the contribution that a digital approach can bring to citizen engagement and how that contribution can best be evaluated.”

At its core, the guide provides a methodology for evaluating the extent to which digital tools have contributed to citizen engagement and understanding the impact that the introduction of technology has had on CE processes.

Not only does it provide tools for evaluating the impact of DCE programs, it also provides a step-by-step description of how to design, implement and assess the effectiveness of a DCE program. Chapter 4, which comprises 40% of the document, presents a detailed methodology for scoping, designing, planning & implementing, analyzing, and testing and reporting of the findings. For examples, the guide draws from actual studies done in Brazil, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya.

When evaluating a DCE program, there is a set of interconnected issues and factors that need to be considered, such as program goals, power dynamics and control, who participates, intended and achieved results and choices of technology to use. All of these issues and factors need to be considered and evaluated to ensure the DCE program addresses the right things and achieves the intended results. The guide introduces a very useful construct called a “lens” for evaluating these interrelated components of a DCE program. A lens is a way of looking at the DCE from a specific perspective. Think of it as a criteria. There guide defines five lenses:

Table 1

OBJECTIVE, CONTROL, PARTICIPATION, TECHNOLOGY and EFFECTS. Table 1 describes what each lens looks at and the action it entails. This multifaceted view afforded by “applying” the lenses will help ensure that important and subtle issues are not overlooked.

Another aspect of the guide that I really liked was that it is replete with resources: tips, examples, readings, DCE projects, software tools. If you’re considering implementing or evaluating a DCE program, this free publication is for you.