As Director of Openness, Digital and Data at the government's Food Standards Agency, Julie Pierce has one of the longest job titles in the CIO world, but her organisation's goal can be encapsulated in a commendably few, clear words: food we can trust. That's what the regulator's mission declares, the FSA aims to ensure the nation's food producers and processors deliver food that is safe to eat.
As a result, blockchain is a big issue for Pierce. She is running proofs of concept for the technology through the food supply chain while also exploring the use of sensors in manufacturing plants. Her team is applying analytics and machine learning in food surveillance, using data-driven techniques to look for signals that could indicate food safety or crime issues across the world. The aim is to put the onus of ensuring food is safe and what it says it is onto food businesses. She has also overhauled the content on the beta.food.gov.uk site, slashing 33,000 pages of critical guidance for food businesses to under 1,500.
Internally too, it's been a busy year for Pierce. Her team migrated over 100 servers to a new Azure environment, rolled out Office 365, progressively replaced legacy siloed systems with simpler and cheaper integrated data services, and deployed an automated data publishing platform that controls the food standards and release process. The moves have made users happier and cut costs, and have been achieved with no service outages.
Under Pierce, the workplace has become digital. A user-led internal service sitting on the O365 toolset allows staff to easily find colleagues wherever they are in the agency, access static information and policies through highly searchable wiki-style pages, find all staff and team news in one place, and comment and ask questions through Yammer.