Digitalisation or Californication? ‘Get more skin in the game’ says DfT’s digital boss

 

The head of digital transformation at the Department for Transport (DfT), Sir Nic Cary, has called on the public sector to embrace new ways of working or risk being ‘controlled from California by a series of software businesses’.

Sir Nic admitted this was ‘a rather bleak warning’ but offered examples from both Highways England and HS2 Ltd as to how the public sector is embracing change and how digital transformation is about enjoying yourself.

”Local

In a keynote speech at the Yotta Conference this week, Sir Nic laid out a philosophy behind new digital working practices centred on ‘business transformation’ based around user needs, collaboration and in fact, having fun: ‘It's not all about websites and IT, it's a business practice.’

He told delegates that new agile working practices and digital research had become core business skills, and ones that would drive partnership and collaboration, instead of working over 'the terrible wall of a contract’.

He added that under the new model, work is more about self-empowered individuals, with working practices that are no longer dominated by managers but rather with managers working to enable the potential of workers to innovate.  

Asked by Transport Network about the need for the public sector to transform its management of key transport modes in light of the digital paradigm and Mobility as a Service – which Sir Nic described as 'a season ticket on drugs’ - he suggested it would have to change or risk having change done to it.

‘[Digital] is a grassroots movement. It’s a recognition that we have to take some ownership or it is going to be done to us. I have issued a rather bleak warning that if we don’t do this we are going to be controlled from California by a series of software businesses.

‘They are great and they do a great job. [But] The open route, with open source, open data is a lot less expensive and gives us something that we can then use to free the user and encourage innovation. The change will happen, we just have to recognise it is happening. It is something that needs to seep into our consciousness so we gradually understand the need to do this.’

Taking the philosophy of digital transformation from practices such as hackathons, Sir Nic gave examples of how the public sector is already taking an involved and collaborative stance.

”Local Image from Arup: A vision of the digital future

‘Get more skin in the game’

Sir Nic: 'We need to get more skin in the game. Highways England Area 7 was one of the first times they put some boots on the ground and I think we need to do that across our industry.

‘Get more involved, get out there. Get into partnership and collaboration; see what is happening on the ground. Be available to our suppliers, and be available if we are a supplier to work with our customer and highways authority, to actually solve the problems there and then. That way you can build more capability together.

HS2 agile working

Sir Nic also gave an example from an area of HS2 Ltd’s consultancy contracting, which has developed ‘an entirely agile process’.

HS2 would previously write a tender specification, award an OJEU contract and then send the consultants off to do their first iteration of the consultancy document, Sir Nic said.

This might result in consultancies returning in a few months with something that no longer fitted HS2’s needs. The consultancy would argue that it had followed the specification, but HS2 would say that the situation had developed since then.

‘Now HS2 contracts under an agile process and they donate people into their supplier organisation and together they work on the solution. It's much more fun, enjoyable and successful in delivering the right outcome,' Sir Nic said.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Head of Economic Development & Regeneration

North Worcestershire
£65k (more may be available depending on skills & experience)
Our vision for North Worcestershire is that it will be a destination of choice for employers Worcestershire
Recuriter: North Worcestershire

TRANSPORT FOR WALES APPOINTMENT OF NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIR

Transport for Wales
£425.00 per day
Transport for Wales (TfW) is a not for profit company, wholly-owned by the Welsh Government and established in 2015. Wales
Recuriter: Transport for Wales

Fire Safety Contract Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£40,028 to £46,431
We are currently seeking an experienced Fire Safety Contract Manager to lead and co-ordinate activities and to ensure that the service is managed Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Pest Control Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£27,093 to £29,188
As a Pest Control Officer within Environmental Health, Business and Consumer Services your focus will be to deliver pest control treatments Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Operations Manager – Waste and Recycling

Bath & North East Somerset Council
£38,052- £40,858.
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced waste management professional Bath, Somerset
Recuriter: Bath & North East Somerset Council

HGV Driver/Loader

Torridge District Council
£18,070 - £20,138
DRIVER/LOADER (HGV) Driving and loading a refuse/recycling collection vehicle up to 26 tonne gross weight, you will collect recycling or household ... Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Engineer – Traffic and Road Safety

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Active and Sustainable Travel

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Highway Maintenance/Asset Management

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for highway asset management, reactive and planned highway maintenance, highway safety and structural surveys and inspections. Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Flood Management/Civil Engineering

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To provide expert advice on highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Development Control

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for assisting and supporting the operational delivery of the Council’s highways development control function and to assist the lead Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer (Bridges)

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will have experience in the development, planning, design and implementation of transport infrastructure and related projects Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Pest Control Officer

Brent Council
£25,746 - £27,342 p.a. inc.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Streetworks Officer

Westminster City Council
£32,592 - £41,601
As Streetworks Officer you will be a member of the permitting and streetworks team City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council

Vehicle Mechanic

Rugby Borough Council
£23,866 - £28,221 (£28,703 - £33,941 pro rata for 44.5 hours per week)
The post holder will ideally be qualified to undertake taxi compliance testing, preparation for MOT testing from Class 4 and 7. Rugby, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Rugby Borough Council