Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Digital Britain, Building Britain's Digital Future and G-Cloud

So yesterday's announcement of a General Election to be held on May 6th in the UK was extremely well trailed and predicted by all. Even the Queen was able to 'copter back to Buck House in time to see the Prime Minister as he requested the dissolution of Parliament. Now we have just one month to survive hostilities until its done and we move on.
However in the run up to the election several things of interest to the digirati have surfaced. Firstly, the Government published its Government ICT Strategy in January and announced plans for a Government Cloud. This is a longer term strategy to enable the government with the capabilities to bring services to the web for citizens, of whom an estimated 71% are now online. The key issues are accessibility and scalability and the Cloud computing model works well to support both objectives with suitably designed applications and infrastructures. I myself managed to obtain Road Tax and a new Driving Licence on line this month. The latter being made possible by linkages to the Immigration and Passport Service. We've also seen new services offered by Ordnance Survey which take advantage of the Cloud to scale to meet demand from up to 9M users simultaneously. So there is potential.
Secondly, and probably more political was the Building Britain's Digital Future announcement on March 22nd from Number 10, the web residence of the erstwhile Prime Minister, of plans to revolutionise the delivery of all government services (ex-Health Service and Dustbins one presumes) via the Internet. This is the logical consequence of following the advice of the recent notable advisers to government Sir Tim Berners Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton. Both of whom have already exercised their enthusiasms for the Web through the initiative. Which, by the way, if it was extended more broadly as the norm throughout government could probably yield the sort of savings the political parties are looking for in avoided Freedom of Information requests. Has anyone asked the price of that as yet? This was a bold vision and exciting prospect for those of us who have laboured over the G-Cloud project vision without much political involvement. Well worth a read, and you might expect it to pitch up during the hustings!
Which leaves us with the 3rd, and perhaps key enabler for the stool of Digital Services to the Citizen. Last night in the mad panic that is the final act of a dissolving government, the Digital Economy Bill was passing through into legislation. The problem is that the strong lobby of the Creative Industries (cf copyright owners) have included measures which allow for undemocratic, if not immoral, powers to be exercised by Internet Service Providers where illegal file sharing is deemed to be taking place, without obvious recourse to law or appeal. The key remedies include removing internet access from locations deemed to have transgressed - by the copyright owner, one presumes. The unintended consequence may be that the current proliferation of wireless hot spots across the nation may be inhibited by those service operators wary of being caught in the middle of disputes. An half considered plan with far reaching consequences would be a tragic conclusion for a Government so keen to bring the UK into the 21st Century and certainly a wasted opportunity to move forwards. What price 2MB to the doorstep and a £.50 a month levy on wireline access?

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At 3:14 AM, Blogger eurofrank said...


Perhaps when the dust settles, you might let us know the impact of this mornings announcements on

Knowledge Transfer Network.

Kind regards



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