David Cameron testing app to aid government decisions

David Cameron David Cameron has been trialling the app for a couple of months, the BBC understands

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A mobile app to aid in decision-making and day-to-day government affairs is being trialled by the prime minister.

Mr Cameron has been using it to keep track of live data relating to jobs, housing and other areas.

It also monitors polls and posts on social media, giving the PM an at-a-glance view of how the country feels about him and his government.

The Cabinet Office said the app would be offered to more government figures next year.

According those working on the project, Mr Cameron is "looking forward to showing it to President Obama at the G8 summit".

The app, which had the working title of Number 10 Dashboard, was developed by the Cabinet Office's digital team - and pulls data from hundreds of data sources including Google, Twitter and Facebook.

The Cabinet Office confirmed it was "working on a data visualisation dashboard to provide ministers and civil servants with information on key public services as well as other indicators. The dashboard is in working form and is now undergoing further development".

It is a web app - meaning it can be viewed on any type of internet-enabled tablet or mobile device. It has a look and feel similar to that of the government's data website, data.gov.uk.

Start Quote

The Number 10 Dashboard, according to someone who has been involved in its development, is merely echoing what is already being done in the business world”

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A Cabinet Office source confirmed to the BBC that the app, which is still in its testing phase, is currently on the prime minister's iPad, as well as devices used by a select group of staff within the Cabinet Office.

"It's been presented to the PM in person," he said.

"He's used it, given feedback on it to help improve it - and there is now great demand for it right across government."

'Radical for government'

The source said that in 2013 the app would be "rolled out across Whitehall" and would give ministers a more immediate and honest view over what is happening in the country.

"If you want to provide ministers and officials with information about performance of government, you can look at government data - but you can also look at data from the real world," he said.

"All we're doing is bringing government into line with what leading companies, big and small, have been doing for several years. It's radical for government, but it's not radical for 2012."

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Trending topics is hardly a way to govern a country”

End Quote Dominic Campbell FutureGov

The app will provide Mr Cameron with information relating to "trending" topics from search engines and social media - keeping tabs on the levels of activity around key words such as "mortgage" or "loan".

The app, which is in the final stages of beta testing, also pulls data from Adzuna - a London-based start-up which aggregates large amounts of data from a number of job vacancy and property-listing sites.

"The benefits of using our data is that it's right up-to-the-minute, real-time data about what's happening in the market," said Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna.

It will allow the prime minister to see, in real-time, whether there are more or less vacancies day-by-day, and what the average salaries on offer are.

A traffic light system displays the current status of various government initiatives - and whether any need special attention.

Official data from the likes of the Office for National Statistics and YouGov is also incorporated.


However, questions have been raised over the reliability and usefulness of data which is "live" and unverified.

"If it's reliable, it's through some kind of miracle," Dominic Campbell, founder of FutureGov, told the BBC.

"I don't see the benefit for [David Cameron] personally. What's he going to do with it? He's a figurehead politician who's just going to use it for speeches."

Adzuna's Mr Monro defended the approach, saying: "The real reason is timeliness. In bringing all sorts of data into government decision-making, it's changing the way the government uses data."

iPad Mr Cameron's iPad was a gift from Apple, according to a gift list disclosed by the government

But Mr Campbell said he worried that following information through social networking could lead to a more "reactive" government.

"Trending topics is hardly a way to govern a country," he said.

Rumours of an app first surfaced in April this year when it was speculated that the prime minister would use it to keep an eye on the activities of ministers on various different social networks.

A freedom of information request revealed that the government was indeed working on an app - but until now no solid details of its functionality had been given.

Mr Cameron has in the past joked that he used his iPad for playing popular games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Hardly needs an app. when all he need do is ask HYS contributors (if they aren't down at the benefits office ) for their exclusive take on any situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    "The app, which had the working title of Number 10 Dashboard...- and pulls data from hundreds of data sources including Google, Twitter and Facebook..."

    And we all know how reliable accurate the info from these sites is...Another demonstration that the Govt doesn't know it's a*** from its elbow.

    Thanks BBC, this one really made me chuckle...

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    If David Cameron doesn't know how the public feel about him and his Government by now he has a thicker skin than I thought. One has to wonder if this app has been designed for him because he is so far out of touch with reality or just to make him look cool. By the time he learns how to trawl through the data everything of importance will have passed him by. To quote the PM - LOL.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    You don't need an app for that;

    1) Reduce our wasted money on the EU
    2) Tighten border controls and kick out all illegals
    3) Improve the economy - lend to businesses not banks
    4) Get tough on crime - really (not just words)
    5) Objectively investigate the paedophile complaints

    There, easy, no app required

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Is this another move by our beleaguered PM to appear trendy (like being photographed siiting next to David Beckham whenever possible)? Typical 'cappaccino' politician - lots of froth and very little of genuine significance.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Short termism drives a lot of bad decisions in governement and business - so let's give the PM an app to ......... make even shorter term decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The trouble with this is that it produces tons of almost arbitrary data - far more than is needed. You end up drowning in data that is not properly analysed and out of context.

    IT idiots persuade companies into this sort of rubbish idea all the time - it just makes for bad judgements and chokes the entire system up.

    We did better with paper where you only produced what you could actually use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    BBC: "A mobile app to aid in decision-making and day-to-day government affairs is being trialled by the prime minister."

    So we are now going to be fed a load of gumf that nobody is interested in and be subjected to carefully selected soundbites to try and reinforce public opinion? Who is Cameron trying to kid, the electorate or himself?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I expect this kind of behaviour, but why oh why has Ed Miliband not done something similar for us, he is clearly far to concerned about his weak public image to think outside the box like this.
    Ed Miliband please step down and give us a chance at winning the next election your leadership, gravitas, charisma and ability to keep ahead of the game are clearly well lacking.
    Your bro is the man!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    And they say "1984" never happened, just re-read the book and see the parallels between Orwell's writting and the latest innovations of Facebook, twitter etc. with governments constantly putting out propaganda just like "1984". "Ignorance is strength".

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I hear they are also making an app called "Angry Punters".

    It's a game where you play as the director a of a major bank, previously bailed out by the public, who uses a giant slingshot to launch ordinary members of the public into a giant chasm of debt.

    There is a bonus game included where David Cameron dismantles a tower of wooden Jenga blocks representing the NHS and hands them to his pals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Oh good now he'll be able to keep in touch with HYS whilst on his travels and he'll be in touch with public opinion which will make a change.

    Is this news - NO!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Management Information Systems have been around for years, why has it taken so long to utilise this tech. I can see this being used to guide policy, in a bad way, predicting popularity and basing policies on the results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    You wouldn't think the economy was tanking the way this buffoon carries on wildly spinning.

    I just want the government to get on with sorting the mess out, I will rely on the media (there's plenty of it already) to let me know the latest botch or u-turn his clowns have committed without him or his cronies telling me directly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Hopefully the app can be tweaked with the aid of the countries top stand up comediens, they know how to react to an audience. Still, at least we can crowd source quicker U-Turns now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    he doesn't need an App too see we are all in the crap!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    apply to number 10 for your government issued smartphone just like your servants in parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Why not carry on flipping the coin? Lot cheaper and nothing to go wrong or require consultants to upgrade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Considering how little concern he takes for the public's wishes of concerns, especially about the EU and the contnued drain on our finances that it makes, I do not see how this app will improve things.

    We still want a referendum on the EU David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Fine having quick access to key economic figures, but I don't see that he should be making decision based on what people think of him. Making the best decision for the country is paramount. If this turns out to be unpopular, that is the only reason we have politicians - to use their political skills to explain decision that might initially be unpopular.
    I've had enough of populist politicians.


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