2017 in review – part two

We run through the biggest stories from July to December

2The first half of 2017 brought a snap general election and a global cyberattack that threatened to cripple the NHS.

And the second half of the year was hardly less eventful, as this, the second part of our annual round-up reveals.

The second half of the year began with a digital-focused rebrand in Whitehall, as DCMS became the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Early July also brought news that, in its work with Google DeepMind, the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust had breached the data-protection act. 

The publication of two major reports brought mixed news for public sector digital transformation advocates: the Infrastructure and Projects Authority revealed that just one in four major government IT projects are on course for success; while an NHS Digital report revealed that the organisation’s progress is being stymied by ageing technology and culture clashes.

These were the month’s five most read stories on PublicTechnology:

In August the impact of the increasingly imminent GDPR legislation became ever-more apparent, as the DCMS published a statement of intent for the Data Protection Bill – UK legislation that will effectively adopt all the measures of GDPR, plus some additional regulations to boot. Among the biggest of the new responsibilities facing public-sector organisations is the requirement to appoint a data-protection officer.

GOV.UK’s Notify messaging platform began to roll out across local government in August, while the Scottish Government found itself facing a “brute-force cyberattack”. Also in August, Camden councillor Theo Blackwell became London’s first-ever chief digital officer.

These were the articles that attracted the most clicks during the month:


Some blue material left a local authority red-faced this month, as Telford & Wrekin Council investigated how it came to be that a local public information sign displayed, shall we say, adult content.

The government flagged up Leeds’ status as “England’s major digital city”, as NHS Digital and HMRC announced plans to house a cumulative total of 6,000 workers there.

Elsewhere health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that an NHS app would, by the end of next year, allow everyone in England to view their medical records and book GP appointments, while parliament’s Science and Technology Committee faced a backlash after the first eight appointments it made were all men.

But these were the hottest stories of the month:


Early in October home secretary Amber Rudd caused controversy – and did little to endear herself to the tech community – when she proclaimed that “I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping criminals”.

The National Cyber Security Centre marked its 12 months in existence by publishing a report that revealed that, during the year, the UK had been hit by upwards of 30 cyberattacks that required a cross-government response.

The NHS launched a bid to find suppliers to help with the £45m rollout of online GP consultations, while the DWP made the headlines twice: first, with the decision to scrap call charges for the Universal Credit hotline; and second, with the news that government’s pensions dashboard project would go ahead, with DWP helming the scheme.

Early in this month UK digital minister Matt Hancock reiterated his commitment to delivering a “full-fibre future” for the country’s broadband. Meanwhile two local authorities, Worcester and Bexley, issued tenders seeking commercial suppliers to install free public WiFi – at their own expense.

Prime minister Theresa May unveiled a clutch of ideas designed to boost the technology sector in the UK, including an extra 1,000 visas, and a £20m fund for investing in govtech.HMRC’s fight to deliver a customs system fit for post-Brexit Britain was given a boost when the department’s chief executive Jon Thompson pledged that the project would be delivered “whether we get the funding or not”.

These were the articles that got the most views during the month:

The final month of the year began with news that the in-development Crown Marketplace will, ultimately, supersede the Digital Marketplace, according to the technology chief of Crown Commercial Service.

In policy news, meanwhile, the government put forward a number of proposed changes to the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’, and opened the proposals up for public consultation. 

On the other side of the house Labour’s shadow digital minister Liam Byrne launched a project to crowdsource the party’s digital policy, and suggested that Labour policymakers will also revisit the issue of online voting at some point next year.

These were the five articles that most piqued our readers’ curiosity:



Part one of our 2017 recap can be read here.

Sam Trendall

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