Highlights: The video comes this week from our monthly all staff meeting at the Royal College of Surgeons, which is everyone’s chance to keep up to date with the work GDS is doing in 25 locations around the country. Our guest speakers this month came from the DVLA and the Open Data Institute. This week we also refreshed GOV.UK, we continue to do that based on user need and this update made substantial changes to the design and search function. Also this week GOV.UK won two D&AD awards for our content design and the Assisted Digital team had their first market engagement event with suppliers.
(Full transcript below)
Interviewer: Mike, we’re not at GDS for this video this week. Would you like to talk a bit more about where we are?
Mike: Yes, we’re in the Royal College of Surgeons; we’ve just completed the monthly all-staff meeting with a few hundred people, more actually, who are in here today, talking about what we’ve been up to in the last 30 days. We’ve achieved 100 things in the last 30 days and we’ve rattled through them really quickly. We’ve had some great presentations from colleagues from other parts of Government and, indeed, some external speakers as well. It’s the best way to get people to understand all the different things that are happening in 25 different locations around the country.
Interviewer: We’ve been celebrating some of our successes.
Mike: Yes, we had a design award last night at the D&AD Awards, where we won both the Yellow Pencil and the Black Pencil award. I’m delighted for that, because we won it for content design, and one of the most impressive things about GOV.UK has been its use of content, the way we’ve designed and used content to bring users in. To be recognised in that field is outstanding.
Interviewer: The visitors you mentioned, they’re from DVLA and the Open Data Institute.
Interviewer: Would you like to talk a bit more about what they showed us?
Mike: Sure. Firstly, inside the system the DVLA down in Swansea runs all manner of motoring services for the Department of Transport. We have a team working with them down there. What they came to show was today was early examples, alphas, of services that allow you to do things like check how many points you may have on your licence, check if your licence details are up-to-date, look at things like whether insurance providers can check people’s data, and so on and so forth.
These are things that may sound trivial, they may sound important for the individual, they may sound trivial for the Government, but actually there are millions of transactions behind them and, more importantly, millions of pieces of paper travelling around the country. If we can get these services live and get them working, and link them up, it’s really impressive for all our Government services that we can link up the data, which leads me to our next speaker.
That was Jeni Tennison. Jeni is the Technology Director of the ODI, the Open Data Institute, which is a new organisation; it’s even newer than us, GDS. She came in to talk to us about open data, what they’re doing. Actually, you realise when you see these two presentations that GDS is the bridge between Government services and that world of open data. We’ve got to work with them to get that data out in a meaningful way.
Interviewer: We’ve also been doing things inside GDS as well over the last week, a couple of big releases.
Mike: Yes, the first thing is we made some changes to GOV.UK. We refreshed GOV.UK; we continue to do that based on user need. Some of the great work we did six months ago, we’ve thrown that away and made some quite substantial changes in parts of our design. I’d like to say, “Well done,” to Guy, and [Frances], and Tom and the team, who’ve done a really good job in making those changes and seeing them through. We’ll continue to work in this way, because we are led by what our users want.
A critical update was Search, obviously making the changes to Search is fundamental; we did that last week. Mark Hurrell, David Heath, Tara Stockford – there’s been a team of people working on Search. You never get Search right first time I’ve found in my career; it always, always polarises opinion. We’ve made some tremendous achievements, and I’m hoping that we get the user feedback from inside the system and externally, in the days and weeks to come.
The other thing I should talk about that also happened this morning was our first meeting of suppliers in the market engagement for Assisted Digital. We had over 80 suppliers in Connaught House, and we’re getting those suppliers in to set up a system, whereby they can provide Assisted Digital to complement the mainstream services that we’re building. Assisted Digital is a fundamental part of our delivery this year. We see improvements in Search, improvements in Assisted Digital – it’s a really big week.
Interviewer: Fabulous. [I’m going to have to tilt back] and see what else is on there. We’ve also had a couple of new starters as well.
Mike: We have, we continue to grow, not as much as we have done, we’re levelling out. I’d like to welcome a couple of people specifically. Sally Meacham joins us; she’s working on business change, and Sally’s got great experience working with the Post Office.
I think she’ll bring a lot of that to bear, not only the skills and experience she’s learned there, but also she knows deeply about how many Government agencies and organisations work with the Post Office, and that transformation from a paper-based system.
It’s really important that she’s in, I’m glad she’s here; and [Sid Kalita], who’s another technology adviser in the office of the CTO. We’re really beefing up the whole technology and CTO group within GDS, because actually there’s so much of the Government technology infrastructure and legacy that needs urgent reform.
Interviewer: Fabulous, until next time.