MHCLG digital chief: ‘I want us to be proud plumbers’

Written by Sam Trendall on 24 May 2018 in News
News

Paul Maltby claims councils must first renew ageing infrastructure before realising the benefits of machine learning and automation 

To realise the benefits of artificial intelligence and automation, councils must ensure craking legacy infrastructure is brought up to scratch, according to the chief digital officer of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Speaking today at an event hosted in London by innovation charity Nesta, Paul Maltby told an audience largely made up of local-government digital leaders that “you cannot build AI on legacy”. He invoked the spirit of the engineers who constructed a sewer network for London in the 19th century – transforming the city into a safer and cleaner place.

“We have to fix some of the underlying systems – I want us to be proud plumbers,” Maltby said.

Once the groundwork has been laid, the MHCLG digital leader sees a massive opportunity for councils to use data and AI to improve services.

“I think the potential in local government for this type of work is huge, and I do not think there is a lot going on already,” he added.


Related content


Maltby and his team of digital professionals at the department have identified two key overarching goals. The first of these is growing local government digital skills through an approach that brings in not just senior managers and digital professionals, but the wider workforce as well.

“The first [goal] is around local government digital capability,” he said. “We are part of a network of people that have worked for years in this space – not just with top-down membership organisations, but with bottom-up organisations too.”

Maltby added: “We are all passionate about this, but we have to realise that, within our organisations, this is still a too-rarely understood issue.”

Part of this ambition will also involve central government helping its local counterparts improve design processes.

“I am particularly interested in what we will be doing centrally to work out digital service patterns so we can [enable] repeat uses,” Maltby said.

The MHCLG’s second major goal is centred on what the local government CDO terms “digital land”. In this area, the department wants to help councils get the most out of geospatial data to improve decision-making and service-delivery, while also boosting the economy.

He said: “We are working to improve the accessibility of that data – in the housing sector that data is blooming hard to find and then use to build services on. It is really hard to find things, even when they are on data.gov.”

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

‘GDS’s future mission needs clarifying’
18 October 2018

A House of Commons inquiry into the work of GDS to data and the state of digital government has begun publishing its findings. PublicTechnology looks at what a range of experts have had...

We all need to utter the F word sometimes
17 October 2018

PublicTechnology editor Sam Trendall looks at the public sector’s vexed relationship with failure

A vision for a Digital Scotland
19 September 2018

Neil McEvoy of Digital Scotland explains how the country could learn from the low-cost and replicable systems implemented by Estonia, and why GovTech is huge opportunity for the Scottish...

Chatbots, free WiFi, and paperless councillors – Waltham Forest’s digital transformation
13 September 2018

Executive and political leadership at the east London council talk to PublicTechnology about their work to lead transformation in a way that benefits the entire borough 

Related Sponsored Articles

GDPR already isn’t working
15 October 2018

The policies may be in place, but is it happening in practice? BT's Bas de Graaf looks at the reality of GDPR today

Simplicity in a complex world
8 October 2018

Cisco's Dominic Elliott shows how global organisations can embrace the benefits of SD-WAN without adding complexity

Make more of your digital transformation with Intelligent Connectivity
25 September 2018

When it comes to digital transformation, you want your organisation to lead from the front

Government begins to "rightsize"​ its estate
17 September 2018

BT's Simon Godfrey on how government is fundamentally rethinking its strategy for both people and places