The only way is digital – Essex County Council to set up mini-GDS

Written by Sam Trendall on 21 September 2017 in News
News

Plans to build 16-strong centralised team to head digital strategy

 

The council has established a five-pronged digital services scheme dubbed Smart Essex  Credit: Ashley Dace

Essex County Council is looking to establish a centralised digital function to help drive strategy and service delivery across the county.

The council’s digital director, David Wilde, told PublicTechnology that the unit would be akin to smaller-scale version of Whitehall’s Government Digital Service. The design stage of setting up the team has been completed, and the project is currently going through the necessary HR processes, and consulting with various departments about the possibility of certain of their functions being moved into the central digital team.

After that has concluded, recruitment – both internal and external – will begin in earnest, with the ultimate aim of building a team of about 16 people. A handful of delivery managers and service designers are already on board.

“I will shortly be going out to recruit an enterprise architect – I am not looking for just a technical design architect,” Wilde said.


Related content


The goal is to have the team “up and running by around the end of February or early March”, he added. 

“We are looking to create a digital function that can help the rest of the organisation,” Wilde said. “What we are not looking to do is create a digital empire, with 400 people running everything for everyone else.”

The council has developed a keen focus on digital this year, including the launch of the Smart Essex programme in February. The scheme aims to create smart-technology and digital-service projects in five different areas: transport; adult social care; the economy; physical infrastructure; and public services. In April Wilde was appointed as digital director.

“We took a conscious decision to invest in digital,” he said. “About a year before that we were talking to some of our partners in the public sector about devolution. Whilst Essex never went forward with devolution, we did have a series of valuable conversations around the shape of public services, and how they have to change.”

Wilde added: “What kept coming to the fore was the impact of technology changes – in particular in [areas like] the retail industry. People no longer want to deal with different bits of an organisation to get things done. The public sector has an opportunity to embrace digital.”

Look out on PublicTechnology in the coming days for a full write-up of Essex’s ambitious plans to become a world leader in digital government.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Add new comment

Related Articles

Treasury Committee to examine digital-currency regulation
22 February 2018

‘It is time Whitehall and Westminster understood cryptocurrency better’, committee member declares following period of extreme fluctuations

Bursting the bubble – the ethics of political campaigning in an algorithmic age
24 January 2018

The ICO’s investigation into the use of data and analytics in campaigning is likely to prompt the creation of a new code of conduct for political parties, according to information commissioner...

Regulator urges government to mandate NHS compliance with surveillance camera code
17 January 2018

Commissioner Tony Porter tells PublicTechnology about continued efforts to get the Home Office to recognise the need for a surveillance camera code of practice that applies to NHS and...