Executive Summary

 

Executive Summary

This report has been produced shortly after Lord Carter’s interim report on Digital Britain.  The Taskforce’s  recommendations affect the things people do with the broadband networks that are the major focus of Digital Britain.

The report calls for action in six areas where the Taskforce believes significant improvements can be made to government’s use of digital technologies:

  • enhancing Digital Britons’ online experience by providing expert help from the public sector online where people seek it;
  • creating a capability for the UK public sector to work with both internal and external innovators;
  • improving the way government consults with the public;
  • freeing up the UK’s mapping and address data for use in new services;
  • ensuring that public sector information is made as simple as possible for people to find and use;
  • building capacity in the UK public sector to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technologies.

Millions of people in Britain regularly seek help online in public about their daily lives.  The report explains how the public sector can and should help people online in the places they go to seek help.

In the extended UK public sector, the BBC has a world leading model for innovation in its ‘backstage’ service which encourages people to innovate in remarkable ways with the BBC’s data and services. The report recommends that UK central government should create such a ‘backstage’ capability to unlock the huge innovation potential of the government’s information.

Digital communications technologies clearly offer the potential for new methods of consultation around government policy.  The report sets out a set of immediate measures that could be taken to start taking advantage of this potential.  The process of producing this report has itself followed this new schema for consultation.

Data and information are the lifeblood of the knowledge economy.  The report’s recommendations on liberalising non-personal government information would provide an information stimulus if implemented.

The report refers specifically to the need for a more liberal approach to the re-use of mapping and address data in the UK based on the evident demand for this type of information.  It makes recommendations for Ordnance Survey, the UK’s official mapping agency, to free up their licensing regime in general and to make information available for free on simple terms for innovators and the third sector.

If data is to be truly useful for a broad range of  innovators it must be easy to obtain and the terms under which it can be used have to be as open and intelligible as possible.  The report therefore recommends actions on the cataloguing of public sector information and on government licensing terms, especially in respect of the most common government licensing scheme, Crown Copyright.

Finally, the Taskforce recognises that when mainstreaming any innovation, systemic culture and behaviour change is required.  It believes firmly that now is the time for the innovative approaches that it recommends to be brought into the mainstream of UK government.  The report therefore calls for action to help the public sector to acquire the new skills and practices required to support this.