Camden Council's CIO John Jackson has called for sweeping reforms to the Public Services Network (PSN).

PSN is a project to create a single ICT infrastructure for all UK public sector organisations, which last month became the responsibility of the Government Digital Service (GDS), having previously been run by the Crown Commercial Service.

Despite a growing number of successful cases of the network being used to save money and improve services, many local authorities are still unhappy with its restrictive compliance framework, with one likening the costs associated with becoming compliant to a PSN 'tax'.

Four reforms

Jackson said: "There are four areas to address regarding PSN. First, who is the decision maker? We need more clarity and transparency on decision-making and policy, and who is in charge now.

"Secondly, the compliance framework needs to be more flexible. We don't have to go to the lowest common denominator of risk. Risks will differ from authority to authority and that should be taken into account. 

"Thirdly, we need to think more about BYOD [Bring Your Own Device]. It's madness to have walled garden workarounds because that is even worse for security. People will always find a way to break out of it, for example by forwarding stuff to their personal email.

"And finally the framework focuses far too much on the techy stuff and an obsession with over-securing everything. Where is the thinking about skills, awareness, softer culture change and behaviour change? That is arguably more important than the current controls."

Despite the changes to the governance of PSN within central government, there are no immediate changes planned to PSN operations, including compliance, according to GDS's common technology services lead Andy Beale.

Reimagining public services with data

Turning to Camden Council's internal operations, Jackson announced plans to deploy business intelligence platform Qlikview across all of its major frontline services. Camden started working with the platform just over a year ago, and has now decided to vastly increase its use within the council.

He said: "This is probably one of the most ambitious public sector roll outs of this technology. Having a common view of our data will allow us to collaborate across different services."

Jackson added: "As per our digital strategy, this is all about the impact Big Data can have on delivering services differently, and reimagining public services with data.

"You can see this with parking sensors that allow you to see where spaces are and which tariffs go with them that then charge you automatically, or bins that message you when they're full. We're moving to doing things on demand according to consumption, personalising services more and delivering them from the citizen's perspective."

He said: "Qlikview is dead easy to use. You can craft it in your own way, and you start to spot things you wouldn't otherwise. For example, the police assumed that most work happened in the evening. However using Qlikview we've identified that 4pm is a busier period, as that is when children come out of school.

"Of the products I've used this is one I get very excited about. It's very disruptive…every council should be using something like this, to give them the ability to analyse their own data and change how they deliver services accordingly."