Category Archives: Transforming Health

Joan Miller, Director of UK Parliamentary ICT, on the digital divide, online voting, BYOD and hackathons

joan-millerA recent interview with Computer Weekly magazine saw Joan Miller, Director of UK Parliamentary ICT, share her thoughts on how Parliament should be using technology today, as well as the challenges of digital in an evolving world. The interview is below.

Joan Miller will be participating in an Industry Leaders Panel Discussion at Public Sector Enterprise Insights on 13th March (free passes for public sector executives), which can be summarised thus:

Leadership, Innovation and Driving Business Goals Forward

  • Successfully supporting a more agile organisation
  • Progress on Urban vs. Rural Landscape – A realistic map for the future
  • The future – Exploring opportunities mobility and engagement
  • Public Sector Networks
  • M2M and the future requirements on IT capabilities
  • Skills needed for the future

The other speakers on the panel are: Bill McCluggage, Irish Government CIO, Department of Public Expenditure & Reform; Michael Eaton, Deputy Director, ICT Business Strategy & Planning, Welsh Government; Chris Price, Chief Information Officer, West Midlands Police Authority; Stephan Conaway, Chief Information Officer, London Borough of Brent.

Here are Joan’s thoughts:

Miller says she is excited about the prospect of a [digital democracy] commission: “Technology has become so much a part of how people work these days, not just an IT issue, it’s a business issue.”

She says the commission will allow MPs to think through the impact of current technology practices and future trends.

“I think the commission is an opportunity to look at the challenges,” she says. “The challenges are in an evolving world – are we ready for that evolving world?”

She believes there are many issues for Parliament to debate, including the use of technology and how that will change the way Parliamentarians works.

Her job role is to manage the internal technology in Parliament, providing all the applications, systems and devices used by the House of Commons and House of Lords.

She says we are living in a world overloaded with information from modern technology. Parliamentarians need to consider big data, how they select the information they need, which is useful, and how they will engage this information with the public.

“I think the mechanisms for accessing information has become easier, but the information has become more dense,” she says.

The digital divide

One concern the commission is determined to address is that of the digital divide. Society is divided by those who are connected to the internet and use it regularly, and those who do not use the internet and social networks. The government is aware of the problem, and is working through the commission and the Government Digital Service to solve it.

“Many MPs are using social networks and connecting directly with many members of the public,” says Miller. “That also has the opportunity to exclude people who are not involved with technology as much. What do we do with about the population who do or can’t have access to it?”

But Miller – who is hoping to provide evidence to the speaker’s commission – says the digital divide is not a new problem and has always been a challenge.

In the 1990s, Miller worked in local government at a time when there was talk about changing services in line with the development of the internet. “I was working in social services and providing services for older people,” she says. “It was quite difficult to see where the internet could help older people who didn’t have a computer.”

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Tablets and apps might be doctor’s orders of the future

Here’s a really interesting article on healthcare technology – – by Jane Wakefield, BBC Technology Reporter.

Ovum’s Smart Strategies for Healthcare Technology will cover many of these issues, so join us in London in March, to discover and discuss how technology is changing healthcare.

‘If you have ever sat in a doctor’s waiting room, next to someone with a hacking cough and with only a pile of out-of-date Reader’s Digests for company, then you may have asked whether the system was fit for 21st Century living.

The NHS seems under increasing pressure, from GP surgeries to accident and emergency rooms. It feels as if the healthcare system is in desperate need of CPR – the question is will technology be the thing that brings it back to life?

Daniel Kraft is a trained doctor who heads up the medicine school at the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley-based organisation that runs graduate and business courses on how technology is going to disrupt the status quo in a variety of industries.

When I interview him he is carrying a device that looks suspiciously like a Tricorder, the scanners that were standard issue in Star Trek.

“This is a mock-up of a medical tricorder that can scan you and get information. I can hold it to my forehead and it will pick up my heart rate, my oxygen saturation, my temperature, my blood pressure and communicate it to my smartphone,” he explains.

In future, Dr Kraft predicts, such devices will be linked to artificial intelligence agents on smartphones, which in turn will be connected to super-computers such as IBM’s Watson, to give people instant and accurate diagnoses.

“It may say, ‘Daniel, this is looking bad – you need to go to the emergency room’, or it might say this is probably just the flu because there is a lot in the neighbourhood and your symptoms are consistent with that.”

No such device is yet on the market but in the US there is currently a $10m (£6m) prize on offer to design one that is suitable for use in the home; 300 teams are competing.

Wearable devices such as Nike’s FuelBand or Jawbone’s Up are making people ever more aware of their health.

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How can councils be effective online, and Public Sector Enterprise Insights

The Ovum events team will shortly be tuning into a live chat on the Guardian website, entitled How can councils be effective online, inspired by the Government’s Digital by Default Strategy. This ties in nicely with (a) a massive research initiative that Ovum has undertaken, and (b) an event that we’ve got coming up in March 2014, Public Sector Enterprise Insights.

The UK public sector spends c£45bn on goods and services annually, of which c£26bn is spent on IT. The UK is the most open public sector market in the world and the UK government is determined to broaden its supplier base and include SMEs.

The UK Cabinet Office has declared that it wants to bring spending on IT down to c£16bn so is looking for smarter value propositions from vendors and smarter purchasing from enterprises. Ovum has invested $1 million+ and 2,500 analyst hours in what we believe is the largest ever primary research program of 6,500 enterprise IT executives, in order to inform these smarter ways of working. With coverage of c.60 geographies, 17 industries and c.70 sub-industries its value is not just in its scale alone.

Asking the right questions is always the key and bringing together the creative input of over 20 of Ovum’s finest analysts as well as client input, we covered the crucial topics that those in Public Sector IT need to know. To give a feeling for the scope, the main areas covered include IT budget trends, technology investment priorities, decision-making criteria, vendor perception and industry-specific priorities.

The results of this research will be shared in London in March, co-located with our Transforming Health agenda. Public Sector and Enterprise IT professionals can claim a complimentary pass for the event.

Right, back to the Guardian live chat!