Q&A: William Neil

We hear from principal analyst programmer at Dumfries and Galloway Council about his current and future challenges.

Job Title/Organisation: Principal Analyst Programmer, Dumfries and Galloway Council

What does your role involve?

Creating, developing and implementing solutions for complex business problems using IT as an enablement tool. This involves helping the customer understand the benefits (and limitations) of IT. At present I am involved in the rollout of integrating back office systems and a number of mobile working projects.

Other work includes facilitating the introduction of agile development – scrum – within our development team and setting up our council’s business intelligence function. I am also a subject matter expert for our emergency planning team, corporate address gazetteer and elections postal vote technical manager. 

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

Doing more with less. All public sector organisations are facing financial constraints so Dumfries and Galloway is engaged in making our work force more agile – making work something we do not somewhere we go. This is being delivered through rationalisation of buildings, the development of agile working areas and, of course, mobile working.

Recent improvements in broadband and Wi-Fi in Dumfries and Galloway region though the SWAN programme now make this a viable option in a region that is the third largest by geographical area in Scotland.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you’ve undertaken?

Definitely being the developer of The Persons at Risk Database. This involved partnership working with Dumfries and Galloway Emergency Planning Team, Dumfries and Galloway NHS and Police Scotland to deliver a system that would allow the most vulnerable people in Dumfries and Galloway to be easily identified geographically in the event of an emergency.

We were one of the first councils in Scotland to include a NHS data set into our Persons at Risk Database, which led to us being nominated for and winning the national ‘Emergency Planning Initiative of the Year Award’ from The Emergency Planning Society. 

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

Investment and training in two key areas: schools and the provision of basic digital skills for adults.

Which new technology excites you the most?

Smartphones and tablets (is that two?) have now allowed the office to become truly mobile, allowing workers to access information held in back office systems on the go.

What’s your favourite app and why?

Angry Birds – it forces creative problem-solving and it’s fun.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

Embracing cloud solutions to share information across public sector and third sector partners and of course making that information accessible on the go when it is needed on smart phones and tablets.

Colin Marrs

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