Thoughts on Building the Smarter State 2020
One week on from techUK's Building the Smarter State event, our client delivery team give their thoughts and takeaways.
On 16th and 17th of September, techUK held their sixth Building the Smarter State conference, techUK’s flagship Public Services Conference. For the first time ever, the conference was held virtually with a fantastic agenda and panel lined up. Our Operations Assistants Grace and Morgan attended the two-day event.
In short, the conference gathers senior leaders from industry and the civil service/public services to discuss how digital tech can align with and inform a department’s policy objectives, to help improve the organisation’s end-to-end operations. This conference is all about how we can bring that about and deliver business change at pace across the public sector.
What was said?
On day one, the conference kicked off with the opening keynote speaker Julia Lopez MP, the Minister responsible for GDS and the Government DDaT Function. Lopez’s speech covered the Government’s vision for the transformation of public services. One of our main takeaways from Lopez’s speech, was the need for services to place citizens at the heart of all their decisions and planning. As Lopez stated, in the realm of the private sector, citizens can pick and choose who they buy from and who they receive information from. This is different in the public sector, citizens cannot choose another service, and therefore they must be at the core of all decisions. Concluding Lopez’s speech, CEO of techUK, Julian David, labelled it as the “speech the industry would like to hear.”
Day two kicked off with a keynote speech from the Headline Sponsor Amazon Web Services. Kris Burtwistle, Head of UK Local Government, Amazon Web Services, highlighted the trends we’re seeing in Local Authorities using technology to address challenges both COVID and non COVID related. One example cited was a local person record exchange service in Lancashire & South Cumbria. This allows clinicians and ambulance workers to have instant access to medical history for patients.Enabling citizens access to their data, without technical boundaries, with the help of cloud native adoption. To conclude, Burtwistle stated that there’s a strong need for rapid, scalable digital solutions to respond effectively.
Both of the two days were jam-packed with tantalizing insights from industry experts, so there are so many. One of the standout examples for how public sector leaders are working together to solve common challenges and improve outcomes for citizens came from Katy Bourne OBE, Police and Crime Commissioner at Sussex on the second day. Bourne cited how Police are using virtual consultations with domestic violence victims to take statements and consult with victims. To ensure the victim’s safety, once the consultation is over and the link is closed, there is no breadcrumb trail. Bourne states that this example evidences how COVID-19 has accelerated the tech sector to push the boundaries of what is possible.
The highlight of my first TechUK smarter state experience was attending ‘Lessons from 2020, meeting the unknown’ with Chuka Umunna. In this breakout room we heard from Matthew Parkins, John Regan and Yiannis Moas discuss how digital transformation has accelerated to adapt to remote working. Yiannis Maos, Founder of Birmingham Tech Week, spoke about how we can invest more to deliver digital skills to those who need it most. As Moas stated, upskilling programs and schemes are oversubscribed and are in high demand, so it is up to the public and private sector to come together to help the nation.