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Government looks to landscape of AI, IoT and devolution



Post-2020 vision in new strategy also includes increased use of wearables, geospatial data and biometrics

Plans are being laid for an increased focus on emerging technologies that could become a major part of the strategy for public services after 2020.

The macro trends that could influence the future landscape include the rise of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and the devolution of government powers around the countries and regions of the UK, according to a brief policy paper published alongside the new Government Transformation Strategy.

While the main document focuses on the plans up to 2020, the policy paper looks beyond that period to take in trends that are likely to grow in significance.

It says the Government will investigate a number of issues, including:

  • How best to deliver joined up services as it devolves powers to regions and nations.
  • The transformative potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Public sector use of health data and wearables.
  • Appropriate use of biometrics.
  • Risks and opportunities in the internet of things.
  • The best approach to audit and assurance in the use of algorithms in delivering services, along with a legal framework for their use in process automation.
  • Opportunities to make more use of geospatial and Earth observation data.

“We will ensure the work under this strategy continues to align with the way that new technologies are disrupting other industries, for example the significant shifts in transport, such as drones, driverless cars and advances in rail technology,” the document says.

“Our ambition is to show how central government can lead innovation in the public sector.”

Alongside these the paper says that existing priorities will remain important, including a focus on user needs, more personalisation of services, public trust in government’s use of personal data, the reuse of standard components and platforms, data driven decision-making, and a close attention to security threats.

The effort will take the form of the Cabinet Office, within which the Government Digital Service sits, working with departments on collating benchmark data to understand how they work, joining up transformation programmes with single departmental plans, and mapping out future transformation work to identity dependencies between departments.

GDS will also develop a vision of what digital government could look like in the future, although the paper says it expects what is called ‘digital’ now to be mainstream by the turn of the decade.

Image by By Feeji30139 (own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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