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GovTech Catalyst backs five more projects


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The GovTech Catalyst team has picked five projects to receive funding under its latest round of challenges for the public sector.

Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden announced the five at IT industry association techUK’s Building the Smarter State conference in London yesterday.

The list includes a project by the Mid and Western Wales Fire and Rescue Service to provide real time information on the location of operational personnel during incidents, especially in multi-storey buildings. It will be aimed at developing a solution to track crews in unfamiliar and hazardous environments, which Dowden said could significantly improve the safety of emergency responders.

The second comes from the Northern Ireland Audit Office and involves the use of new techniques in data analysis, along with automation and AI, to improve public sector audits. This could help auditors to target their work more effectively.

Thirdly, Border Force Detection Services and the Home Office will run a project to develop ways of automatically detecting illicit goods crossing the border without disrupting the flow of trade. This could provide the right balance between preventing illegal trade while maintaining a business-friendly environment.

In another project the Department of Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills will investigate the use of data and emerging technologies to understand where overlapping regulatory requirements are placed on business. This could help to identify where regulations could be streamlined or simplified to reduce the burden on businesses.

Dowden commented that this could be a significant step in the development of regulatory technology, otherwise known as regtech, which has so far been applied mainly to financial services regulation.

Protecting prescriptions

Finally, the Northern Ireland Prison Service and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust will look at how technology can access records to ensure that prescriptions are not interrupted when people move between care providers.

The choices have been made from 25 applications to receive shares of a £250,000 pot for initial development in the first phase, followed by £1 million in the second phase for further work on two projects.

Dowden said: “As well as solving specific problems the GovTech Catalyst is a testing ground for new technologies. It enables public sector bodies to experiment early so they can scale the right solutions, and these are all worthy of GovTech funding and I’m excited to see how they progress.

“The technology that suppliers have chosen for the first two competitions includes computer vision, AI, geospatial mapping, active sensors, distributed ledger and radio frequency identification tags.”

The programme, which was set up by the Cabinet Office last year as part of a £20 million initiative to support the development of new technologies in public services.

Awards from earlier rounds of the challenge have supported projects focused on tackling the spread of Daesh imagery on the internet, tracking waste and addressing rural isolation.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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