Tech Connect is a 12 week digital skills programme launched by Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Fast Stream and techUK.
Participants work in blended teams, that mix civil servants with people working in the private sector, to solve public sector challenges, with the aim of delivering innovative solutions that can improve public services.
Teams also participate in 5 Industry Days hosted by companies on techUK’s Public Sector Board, and one Government Day. Each day provides the teams exposure to a new organisation, as well as awareness of the innovative technologies and approaches that they can use in their project.
This year the Department for Transport (DfT) hosted the Government Day, which focused on the future of mobility.
Participants gained insights into the improvements to the DfT airport technology and the work done by the Office for Artificial Intelligence and the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency.
Tech Connect Finale
At the end of the programme, teams pitched their solutions to a panel of judges.
In third place was the “Relocation, relocation, relocation” team, who came up with a solution to allow people to notify all of Her Majesty’s Government of a change of address, rather than notifying departments individually.
In second place, the “NO2 Pollution” team explored ways of reducing individual’s nitrogen dioxide footprint, focusing on active travel planning and influencing car commuters before they set out on their journey.
The judges chose the “CSI London” team as the winners, who came up with a solution to simplify and streamline the 101 emergency call process.
The “XGOV team” received a special mention as their solution has already gained the attention from the Government Office for Science (GOS). Their solution focussed on drawing together government research into a data lake to make better informed policy decisions. The solution would also provide a Facebook-style tool to match researchers and policymakers where interests and programmes are aligned.
Feedback from organisers
Alison Pritchard, Director General, Government Digital Service (GDS), and Tech Connect sponsor, said:
I’m thrilled to see so many great minds come together to work on Government’s biggest challenges and find innovative ways to solve them.
Tech Connect is an inspiring skills exchange programme between the tech industry and the Civil Service. This is a great opportunity for DDaT Fast Streamers and early careers professionals from the private sector to learn from each other, share insights, and make a difference in the public sector.
David Dilley, Deputy Director, GDS, and Tech Connect Finale Judge, said:
All of the teams presented insightful and innovative approaches to the challenges they’d been set. There was a great use of data and user research to evidence their solutions, with clear focus on user need. And we saw some excellent prototyping, using voice-enabled content, and machine learning.
Feedback from participants
Harry Ingram, “XGOV” team member, said:
We were delighted to learn that GOS wanted to take our project forward.We created XGOV to enable machine learning-led collaboration in the government scientific community.The end result made us realise that this was all worth while.
Anna Himmelreich, member of the “CSI London” team, said:
Tech Connect was a great chance to get outside of the Civil Service bubble and work with a whole bunch of different people.It's not often you get a chance to think creatively about a problem with a diverse group, without vested interests and without hierarchy.I learnt a lot about different ways of working and approaching problems, as well as more about what I value in a team.Our team credited our success on spending more time together and really getting to know one another.
Kevin Xu, “NO2 Pollution” team member, said:
Tech Connect has been a brilliant experience that has really widened my understanding of the Digital, Data and Technology Profession.A recurring theme was the use of AI, in particular to augment and prioritise human decision making.At the DfT Government day there was discussion about DVLA using AI to more effectively evaluate garages.Over the programme, we worked in different project teams and this allowed for a diverse range of views and has broadened my network.
If departments are interested in participating, and have a challenge that they wish to put forward for the next Tech Connect cohort, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.