Innovative Technologies: Public Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester

What progress the Government have made on using innovative technologies to deliver public services.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Last month I launched the Government’s technology innovation strategy, which sets out how we will approach the use of emergent technologies in future. I also launched an artificial intelligence guide which will help Departments to build on areas in which artificial intelligence is already being used effectively across Government—for example, to improve MOT inspections and prison safety.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester

Chichester Careline is the only telecare monitoring centre in West Sussex. It operates Mindme, a service that GPS-tracks vulnerable people, usually those with dementia, so that families, friends, carers and Careline staff can locate them 24/7. It has saved lives, and countless hours of worry. Will the Minister look into how innovative technology of that kind can be used across Government to support the most vulnerable in our society?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

It is very important to highlight that sort of work. It is just another example of the impact that innovative technology can have in improving people’s lives. The purpose of the GovTech Catalyst challenge is to explore the use of technologies for adult social care, and the Geospatial Commission is helping the Government and the private sector to make better use of GPS data.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

Any innovative technology is welcome if it is applied appropriately, but will the Minister ensure that when such systems are being considered, account will be taken of whether or not they make a service less personal than it is already?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Experience of innovative technology suggests that it can make services more personalised and more tailored to individual circumstances. However, it is important for us to continue to make services accessible to everyone, which is why they will always be available in a non-digital format as well.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett Conservative, Bexleyheath and Crayford

Does my right hon. Friend agree that while our country has always been at the forefront of innovation, to allow businesses to thrive and flourish we need a sound and successful economy, which would then result in innovative public services?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

As ever, my right hon. Friend is absolutely correct. It is only because we have a strong economy that we are able to invest in innovative technologies, which is why we have such a great track record.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

Will the Secretary of State oversee the innovative technology in radiotherapy that will be needed to meet the NHS long-term plan to diagnose more patients earlier?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I regret to say that I am not a Secretary of State; I am but a junior Minister. However, I will be looking into the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised. I am working closely with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health examining precisely those issues, and the Government have set up NHSX, which oversees the use of innovative technology for that very purpose.