What Local Gov bought on G-Cloud 10
Last year, Jos Creese wrote an article for us on emerging tech trends and why local gov should procure them via G-Cloud 10. Was he right and what does this mean for G-Cloud 11?
In this article we have reviewed Jos’ original predictions and scoured the internet to see whether this tech was utilised and how it was procured…
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Jos: ‘AI will develop much further over the coming years to include support for a range of professional areas both internally (risk management, procurement, finance, HR) and externally (customer advice, service linkages, specialist service areas such as environmental health and care services).’
On G-Cloud 10, over 500 machine learning and AI-related listings appear, including systems that provide medical diagnoses, CCTV analysis and financial auditing. However, are local government buying into AI and machine learning technology?
In December 2018, it was announced that 57 local authorities are to be awarded up to £100,000 each to investigate how AI and chatbots may improve services. Also, earlier last year the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council were funded by NHS Digital to explore and implement the use of AI in the self-service social care setting.
So, local authorities are warming to the idea of AI and machine learning in improving their services, and central gov support this initiative. Yet, the question of whether local gov will start utilising G-Cloud to procure these technologies remains to be answered.
Information intelligence tools
Jos: ‘The demands and advantages of GDPR, citizen insight and performance intelligence all require a more mature approach to data and information governance, and the overheads of ‘dark data’ (data we don’t know anything about) are growing.’
When it comes to data and information governance, there are a number of G-Cloud 10 listings that specifically target local gov.
Also, last year a study showed that 7 out of 10 local authorities use data analytics to improve their services; for example, using intelligence software ‘to improve waste collection’. Not only is this promising, but half of the authorities included in this study were looking to invest further in this kind of tech over the coming year.
When considering the rising demand for such technology from local authorities, and the availability of information intelligence tools on G-Cloud 10, it seems as though Jos’ prediction could come true.
Jos: ‘Unified communications is the next step in freeing employees to be truly mobile, while keeping in touch with colleagues, teams, data and systems.’
Little needs saying about this one – there are several unified comms opportunities on Contracts Finder from local authorities, showing the growing need for improved services. However, G-Cloud may not be the most popular route through which to procure them, for now.
Citizen account and ID
Jos: There is a need ‘to join up the many existing citizen identifiers (NHS number, driving licence, National Insurance, passport).’
This one is closely related to another of Jos’ predication’s, Biometric Authentication: ‘the need for stronger authentication as services move to the cloud and are accessed with personal devices is clear enough.’
When myself and Danny attended Think Digital Identity for Government last year, there was a lot of talk about establishing an interoperable, trusted digital identity system for citizens, and the use of biometrics in doing so. We heard from director of WorldReach UK who recently won a contract with the Home Office to ‘provide digital enrolment with facial recognition and liveness detection through user smartphones’.
So, there is certainly progress when it comes to establishing a unified digital citizen identifier with the potential of using biometric authentication. However, it is difficult for local authorities to join up and enhance existing digital identity systems, without the provision of a wider Digital ID infrastructure by Government. As noted by Jos, more traditional methods of identity verification are likely to endure in local government for a while.
Jos: ‘Its scope for local government is significant in terms of designing services, buildings use, roads, city centre use and specific support for vulnerable people.’
In recent years, the use of virtual reality by local authorities has begun to grow. For example, Coventry City Council have utilised virtual reality to inform adoptive parents about experiences of childhood trauma. More recently, Horsham District Council and Mole Valley District Council have launched virtual reality therapy services for individuals with long-term medical conditions.
There are still limited VR listings on G-Cloud 10, but the spark in interest from some local authorities is promising.
Robotic Process Automation
Jos: ‘Where councils have repeatable and predictable transactions, RPA offers the opportunity for intelligent automation which can add service value and spot outliers.’
Unfortunately, a recent report showed that ‘local authorities remain well behind the rest of the public sector on the adoption of RPA’. Whether this is due to a lack of funding, concerns about replacing human employees, or just a fear of the unknown, it seems as though this G-Cloud 10 predication is yet to come true.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of Robotic Process Automation listings on G-Cloud 10 targeted at local government, so with time perhaps investment in this service will grow.
Jos: ‘Sophisticated newsfeeds, linked to social media, could fundamentally change how services are accessed and viewed in turn enhancing democratic processes.’
On G-Cloud 10 there are a couple of companies that offer analyses across various social media platforms and websites, to create insights relevant to a specific organisation.
But, we are yet to see much interest from local authorities into this area of tech. A few councils have sought to procure some form of social media analysis solution, but when it comes to sophisticated newsfeeds, as predicted by Jos, this area certainly is some way off for local gov.
Jos: ‘Blockchain offers significant value in the future beyond this for councils. But only in the future.’
Although the future of blockchain does look promising in the UK, it may still be a while before we see local gov procuring relevant services through G-Cloud. A few Central Gov authorities are in the process of scoping out this tech, though.
So, although Jos suggests that local gov should be buying blockchain tech on G-Cloud, he is right in his thinking that for now, this prospect remains in the future.
Jos: ‘Using wearable technologies in the workplace can offer value not yet seen, from staff well-being, support for disabilities to lone-working monitoring.’
There are a number of wearable technologies available on G-Cloud 10; some aimed towards lone-worker monitoring, others tracking health, sleep and nutrition. But it seems that the procurement of such tech by local gov is yet to be seen on this framework.
However, recently it was announced that 12 councils will receive £20,000 to initially investigate how tech can address specific social care challenges, before being awarded further funding to implement their solutions. As wearables are included in such potential solutions, this is extremely promising for suppliers of such tech, who may help local authorities to ‘improve the lives and experiences of people needing social care’.
So, we may well see the growing use wearable tech by local gov over the coming year.
Overall, although local government remain a little reluctant in the G-Cloud uptake, it seems as though a there has been gradual shift in interest. The need for technologies available on G-Cloud is certainly rising within local authorities. So in line with Jos’ predictions, we may well see growth in the procurement of such tech through the next iteration of the framework, G-Cloud 11. Watch this space!