The single departmental plans are now out, so it was a good opportunity to see what digital activities are on the cards. Tackling digital inclusion seems to be ingrained as a theme across the departments, otherwise the focus is largely on improving transactional services.
As I’ve said before, our legal system is perhaps one of the most interesting focus areas for an overhaul. To quote the relevant department, “we will also unburden court users and the system from endless bundles of papers, through initiatives like the new Digital Case System in the Crown Court, which allows parties to easily and quickly access case files electronically.”
The hook at HMRC is simplification, stating that “We will transform the tax system over the Parliament by introducing simple, secure and personalised digital tax accounts, removing the need for annual tax returns”.
The promise is that, by 2020, taxpayers will be able to see their complete financial picture in their digital account, just like they do in their online banking, with most businesses, self-employed people and landlords keeping track of their tax affairs digitally and updating HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account, as well as access for their authorised agents.
The Department for Transport focus in on public transport stating a number of improvements for rail passengers. They are also digitising the reporting of the movement of goods and passengers at UK borders – which sounds a little more creepy.
The Department of Health are promising quite a lot. Their plans are are hinged around harnessing savings from the use of digital technologies. In particular, “By making smarter use of digital technology and innovative ways of working, we will provide more effective and cost efficient health and care services.”. For example, there is a promise that by 2020, all health and care records will be digital and will be updated in real time.
Other areas of interest include using digital technologies to give people easier access to services, enabling them to provide faster, more responsive feedback on their care and to take more control over their own health and well-being. It sounds like there will be a parallel open data initiative as full information about the safety record of your hospital and other NHS or independent providers are set to be published.
More excitingly, people will have access to their own electronic health and care records and, from March 2018, will be able to record their own comments and preferences in them. They will be able to book family doctor appointments and order repeat prescriptions online.
Approved health apps will be available from 2016 to 2017 on NHS.UK, which will also become a single point of access to health services and advice.
DCMS will also focus on productivity. Of particular interest, “Ensuring the UK’s data protection policy protects the interests of citizens and supports the growth of the digital economy.”
Cabinet Office actually look at reducing the cost of digital through common or shared infrastructure and how digital may be used to prevent fraud.
BIS just wants to become more digital!
I’m still busy trying to predict what will happen in 2016 so it’s hard to speculate on the perks and perils of changes so distant in the future, especially when it comes to technology and technology policy. However, I can’t really flaw government commitment to progress in this area. Perhaps we just need fewer plans and more doing.
My question is predominately, “where are the gaps?”. The answer is, mostly, which departments haven’t been mentioned?