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Government Digital Service (GDS), part of the UK Cabinet Office, is tasked with transforming the provision of online public services and leading the digital transformation of government generally. It collaborates with departments to help with their own transformation and works with them to help build platforms, standards, and digital services. Earlier this year Alison Pritchard was named Interim Director-General of the GDS, and in Open Access Government she describes what she believes needs to be done to take it forward: setting bold goals for digital advancement across government, a big push on data analytics, digital identity and embedding of innovation. One of the requirements is ‘capability,’ and that involves the use of AI.

The GDS and the Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI), which was set up to oversee the implementation of the ‘AI and Data Grand Challenge,’ (AI and Data were named as one of the four ‘Grand Challenges’ in the Industrial Strategy White Paper), published joint guidance on how to use and build artificial intelligence in the public sector. It covers how to assess whether using AI will help you meet user needs; how the public sector can best use it and how to implement AI fairly, ethically and safely.

The report states “PwC estimates that AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The UK is in the top three countries globally in the development of AI technologies and this strength puts us in a prime position to unlock this projected global growth.”

“The UK government recognises the importance of this technology’s development to both business and the public sector,” says the report’s Forward, and “When government and citizens benefit, so does the economy. This year, the UK government ranked second globally in terms of AI readiness, and as the country most prepared within Western Europe to realise the benefits of AI in delivering public services. Putting this readiness into practice and procuring innovative solutions from the UK’s thriving tech sector will, in turn, benefit our economy and grow new and innovative markets across sectors.”

So it would seem we can expect huge opportunities for suppliers and developers of AI technology in the next decade and beyond. The report goes on to outline examples of artificial intelligence use in the public sector, including: The Department for International Development’s use of satellite images to estimate populations; The Department for Transport’s use of AI to improve MOT testing; The GDS’ use of machine learning to make GOV.UK more accessible; Natural Language Processing for Land Registry documentation; AI for document comparisons; data from electricity to predict consumption, the list goes on.

The Government has also issued guidelines for public departments procuring AI-systems, because “Due to uncertainty of the technology, the market being fast-moving and immature, and the lack of standards, it can be difficult to choose from existing procurement routes. Access to markets and suppliers as well as draft detailed contracts, that encourage innovation and mitigate risks are also difficult to find.” But its top 10 rules are to ‘Explore procurement processes that focus on the challenge rather than a specific solution,’ and ‘Define the public benefit of using AI while assessing risks,’ through to ‘Create a level and fair playing field for suppliers.’ Read the rest here.

Clearly for buyers much time will be invested in the market research necessary to find the right suppliers that tick all the boxes. GovShop is steadily growing a database of intelligence on suppliers across many fields, including AI, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, cybersecurity, and more. It aims to give better and more comprehensive supplier data to create “open government markets” so that governments and suppliers can effectively work and innovate together. Read more on GovShop here.

UK-based suppliers in this field are in GovShop, such as:

IRIS Intelligence (Bath) – expertise in Communication; Cloud-Related IT Professional Services; Application Software; IT and Telecom-Integrated Hardware/Software/Services Solutions, Custom Computer Programming, Data Processing, Hosting – and more.

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence (Guildford) – expertise in Miscellaneous Communication Equipment; Computer Systems Design Services and other Computer-Related Services

ARTHREX (Sheffield) – expertise in Medical and Surgical Instruments, Equipment, and Supplies; Medical- Orthopedic; Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing

Rolls Royce (London) – expertise in Civil Aerospace, Airlines, Intelligent Engine, Business Aviation, Future Products, Defense, Combat Jets, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Naval, Gas Turbines, Diesel Engines and more.

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