Au revoir, Ojeu

In a few hours’ time, those of us who watch UK public sector will say au revoir to one of our most generous providers of stories. From 1 January 2021, UK public sector procurement notices – announcements that an organisation is thinking about or offering to buy something, has bought it or has cancelled its plans – will no longer appear on Tenders Electronic Daily, aka TED, aka the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union, aka Ojeu. Continue reading “Au revoir, Ojeu”

EU Settlement Scheme needs to level-up locally

It would be nice if all data was easily comparable and highly accurate, but it’s not. Office for National Statistics numbers on nationality of people in local authority areas are rounded to the nearest thousand to reflect the fact they are survey-based estimates. The ONS recently pointed out a range of problems involved in comparing this dataset to Home Office data on applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

I still made these comparisons for PublicTechnology, because the differences between areas are huge. Excluding Irish citizens (who generally don’t need to apply to stay in the UK post-Brexit), the number of applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is equivalent to about three-quarters of 3.6 million European citizens in the UK. But for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire and Sevenoaks in Kent, it is around one-quarter.

Map of EU Settlement Scheme applications and non-Irish European populations Continue reading “EU Settlement Scheme needs to level-up locally”

How to build democracy with technology away from elections

There is a lot to be said for a British general election. It is brutally fast in delivering the people’s verdict. It uses technology that everyone can understand and is impossible to hack remotely. And in returning to Rick Wakeman’s prog-rock classic, the BBC has given it back its theme music.

But elections alone are a pretty thin form of democracy. Those who shifted from Labour to vote Conservative did so because of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the party’s far-left manifesto, because of Brexit, because they like Boris Johnson or a mix of these and others. The reasons will come out in surveys and interviews, but aren’t a formal part of the results and the government can ignore them. Continue reading “How to build democracy with technology away from elections”

For organisations, Brexit means deal with it

Britain is a world-leader in genomics. When I heard George Freeman MP, the chair of the prime minister’s policy board, tell a conference that despite having voted Remain he thought Brexit could lead to a better regulatory framework for genomics, it sounded like a story. Computer Weekly published the resulting article last week.

UK organisations concerned with genomics didn’t seem to want to discuss it, however. Apart from a short statement from the Department of Health and Mr Freeman’s comments, I interviewed a specialist lawyer and Kari Stefansson, the founder of Icelandic genomics firm deCode Genetics, who suggested that public healthcare should only be available if patients participate in genomic research.

Organisations should be considering and talking about the opportunities Brexit brings, as well as working to mitigate its dangers. In public sector IT, some suppliers already serve the UK and other Anglophone countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, given similar legal and political structures; new trade deals could help expand this. And if Brexit allows regulatory changes that boost genomic research, they are surely worth considering. Continue reading “For organisations, Brexit means deal with it”

It’s Facebook wot wins votes

The Facebook fake news fuss is a distraction compared with the company’s bigger impact on politics: its ability to micro-target advertising based on its detailed knowledge of its users. As I wrote earlier this month for The Register, Facebook has helped the Conservatives to win the 2015 general election, pro-Brexit campaigners to win the referendum and Donald Trump the US presidency.

Facebook uses the Tory victory in its marketing to other political campaigners. As far as I can see it isn’t yet boasting about its role in Brexit, which included Leave.EU using Facebook to target racists until it got caught out by the Remain campaign. Continue reading “It’s Facebook wot wins votes”