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The Number 10 dashboard
Alice Newton talks about developing projects for Number 10 and beyond in the Technology in Business Fast Stream
Alice Newton represents the future of the civil service: she’s grown up with the internet and already understands the digital landscape. As part of the civil service Technology in Business Fast Stream, she’s been working first with Government Digital Service, and now with Ministry of Justice, on innovative digital projects that make government work better. Her enthusiasm for her work is obvious.
It’s great to be in an organisation where sticky notes are thrown up on the walls, everyone feels very relaxed, and you’re allowed to have ideas. In fact you’re encouraged to have ideas, and you’re working on some really important projects for this country.
One of her recent projects was the Number 10 dashboard, which was designed to give the Prime Minister, other Ministers and senior Whitehall officials an at-a-glance overview of everything that’s happening in government and elsewhere.
The dashboard is an internet application which the Prime Minister views on his iPad. With a few taps or swipes of his fingers, he can see very quickly what important new information has come to light, how certain government services are performing and a selection of relevant and important news reports.
As with so many digital products, this one began by asking what the user needed. In this case, that user was the Prime Minister. So Alice worked with him, giving him early versions of the app and getting direct feedback.
He in particular liked the statistical side, where we could give him quotable facts about what was going on. He found it useful to have a hard evidence base.
He liked it so much, he was looking forward to showing it to President Obama at the G8 summit.
The dashboard uses the latest technology to pull data in from a huge variety of sources.
For example, the dashboard might show how banks are lending to small businesses, or the latest economic growth figures. All of it “visualised in a very simple, easy-to-digest way.”
Alice believes that people like her in the Technology in Business Fast Stream can bring new capabilities to the civil service.
Ours is the first generation of digital natives coming through to work in government. When empowered and given the chance to put forward opinions, there’s a lot of latent digital expertise already there, waiting to be tapped into.
Alice Newton is a Civil Service Technology in Business Fast Streamer.