Thursday, 18 December 2014

Matt Ridley and the GDS PR blitz


"It is not just me who is starstruck
by what Mr Maude and Mr Bracken are doing"

Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, DL, FRSL, FMedSci (born 7 February 1958), known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British journalist who has written several popular science books. He is also a businessman and a Conservative member of the House of Lords ... Ridley was chairman of the UK bank Northern Rock from 2004 to 2007, during which period Northern Rock experienced the first run on a British bank in 150 years ...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Whitehall Effect

Not a single solitary soul on the whole editorial board of DMossEsq had heard of John Seddon before he published The Whitehall Effect on 5 November 2014. They all have now:
Agile is an example of the IT industry re-inventing itself ... if the way work is done is central to the problem (as is the thesis of this book), Agile can only amount to doing the wrong thing faster. (pp.48-9)
IT innovation is truly faddish: plausible but fuzzy ideas pushed by large marketing budgets on unwary lemmings who follow the herd ... Take, for example, the 'cloud' ... (p.152)
In any event, 'digital-by-default' is guaranteed to fail (see later). (p.153)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies

"EVIDENCE HEARING Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies, Wednesday 26 November 2014, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster" – that's what the email says.

What's this all about?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Changing the organising principle of Whitehall

"Hello. I'm Mike Bracken. I'm from the Internet."
Public Servant of the Year ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken CBE CDO, executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS), has made another one of his astonishing speeches.

En passant, please note that "CDO" doesn't mean that he's become a collateralised debt obligation. He's a chief digital officer.

The last speech of his that caught our eye was delivered a year ago on 16 October 2013 to the Code for America Summit 2013.

Friday, 3 October 2014

HMRC digital team plights troth to wrong Liege

Monday 29 September 2014, the week was launched with these rousing words:
I’m Mark Dearnley, HMRC’s Chief Digital and Information Officer. Today we have published HMRC’s Digital Strategy.
 Be still my beating heart, the strategy is no less than to ..
... give all of our customers – individuals, business and agents – their own online tax account ...
Christmas has come early. Not only are we all to get our own on-line tax account but our most Estonian dreams have at last come true – HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) want Martha-now-Lady Lane Fox's digital-by-default to be realised here on earth. They want ...
... the vast majority to deal with us through modern digital services that we’ll offer.
-----  o  O  o  -----

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

RIP IDA – notes to editors

... the unveiling
does not coincide
with the availability of the service ...

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but, just in case it isn't obvious to all, IDA is dead.

IDA is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme. And it's dead.

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1. All the rest of you editors have been scooped by Bryan Glick, the esteemed editor of Computer Weekly, who published GDS unveils 'Gov.UK Verify' public services identity assurance scheme yesterday:
The Verify brand will be unveiled tomorrow (Wednesday 17 September 2014) as the public-facing name for the Identity Assurance Programme (IDAP), which the Government Digital Service (GDS) has been working on for the past three years.
You didn't know it was happening today (17.9.14), did you. And you didn't know that IDA had become Verify.

Friday, 29 August 2014

The magic of open data #1

"Sharing information across government databases
will dramatically increase governmental powers –
otherwise the UK government wouldn't have proposed it."


Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, "is a particularly scenic waterway, renowned for its beautiful setting. The area is popular for angling and watersports, with waterskiing, Rowing and wakeboarding being amongst the most popular; the stretch of water alongside the Broadmeadow, Enniskillen, has hosted stages of the World Waterski Championships annually since 2005, and in 2007, a pro-wakeboard competition, 'Wakejam' was hosted by the Erne Wakeboard Club (EWC) after successful national wakeboard competitions in the previous years. Canoeing is also a popular recreational sport on the Erne".

That's what it says in Wikipedia and that's where, on 18 June 2013, after a hard day's fishing and wakeboarding, the G8 canoed back to shore and issued their famous Declaration (para.7):
We, the G8, agree that open data are an untapped resource with huge potential to encourage the building of stronger, more interconnected societies that better meet the needs of our citizens and allow innovation and prosperity to flourish.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

midata – still waving, still drowning

The following article was published in Digital by Default News (DbyDN) on 21 August 2014:
Initiative to explore how citizens can be empowered with their own data

Five organisations have come together to run a three-month feasibility study to explore how to empower citizens with their own data. The miData Studio initiative is a collaboration between Ctrl-Shift and Milton Keynes Council, the Cabinet Office, Open University and Connected Digital Economy Catapult.

The project aims to create an open, collaborative environment where citizens, the council and developers explore how empowering citizens with their own information can enable better services, better quality of life and efficiency in the delivery of public services.

The project will develop exemplar use cases that deliver benefit to the council and citizens and the local economy more generally.

The project will look for new ways for citizens to gain control of their information, exploring how they can give controlled access to trusted service providers for the services they want or need. It will also act as a pilot for the Cabinet Office’s identity assurance scheme in a local authority context.

This overarching project aim is to empower citizens with their own data in a way they can trust. The project will create a space for learning about working with citizens’ data, building a safe environment to try things out and study what works and what doesn’t work. Crucially the project aims to understand how to do this in such a way that individuals are in control of their data.
It was 3 November 2011 when Ed Davey first announced midata:
Today’s announcement marks the first time globally there has been such a Government-backed initiative to empower individuals with so much control over the use of their own data.
Little did we expect then that it would be the best part of three years before anyone started to "explore" how midata might work. But only now, if DbyDN are to be believed, is a "feasibility study" being launched.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

RIP IDA – gander rejects goose's sauce

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but, just in case it isn't obvious to all, IDA is dead.

IDA is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme. And it's dead.

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There are 23 problems with UK government IT, Chris Chant told us, and they could all be solved by the adoption of cloud computing, he said.

You may or may not agree but the Government Digital Service (GDS) certainly do. They're all for cloud computing. Like all go-ahead people.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Cloud computing goes up in smoke

Cloud computing, we have been told for years, is a no-brainer. It's cheaper than operating your own IT facilities in-house. It's more flexible – you can scale up and down as required. It's more secure. And it's greener.

Some organisations have expressed reservations but they have been ignored. Politicians, civil servants, the media and, of course, the suppliers of cloud computing services have succeeded in presenting cloud as a set of technologies which it is responsible to adopt.

Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft, among others, have thrived as a result. Businesses all over the world have been outsourcing their IT to these cloud computing suppliers, destroying their in-house competence and happily making themselves dependent on/beholden to outsiders.

Not just businesses, but governments, too.

In the UK, central government has contracted with third party suppliers to store a lot of their data (our data) and to operate many of their applications. They plan to put more data and applications into the cloud as soon as possible. They have created the G-Cloud team (government cloud) and CloudStore, a virtual supermarket where government departments can buy cloud services. And they have lured local government into doing the same, mocking local authorities who fail to follow the fashion.

The government initiative was championed by the charismatic Chris Chant.

Now it appears that the sales pitch was all wrong.

Who says?