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”

End Quote

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.

'Miracle'

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
    +15

    Comment number 161.

    Re 156. RightWingIDBanned
    “Shame Maggie is too old for the job because we really need someone to fix 13 years of encouraging dependency on the state and money wasting.”

    Just goes to show how desperate the Rabid Right are, they want to replace this incompetent PM with the worst PM in living memory.

    God help us

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 160.

    Dave went undercover to test the mood of the nation from the man who knows: The London cabby.
    Dave: "What do you think of the PM?
    Cabby: "Bloody hapless!"
    Dave: "You are right old boy. What he needs is an app."

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 159.

    Let's face it, all Cameron wants to see is "EVERYTHING IS FINE IT WAS ALL LABOUR'S FAULT, NEVER MIND THE HUMAN COST OF YOUR POLICIES" - now how much did that cost the taxpayer to develop?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 158.

    the prime minister should be GOVERNING not pandering to the latest opinion polls! most people in this country have a very poor understanding of pertinent social issues and their opinions arn't worth considering so why is cameron considering going round in cirlcles trying to cater for people who have a poor grasp of the issues in the 1st place? He should be LEADING the country!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 157.

    He certainly needs it! A simple app has got to be better than Cameron at making good decisions.

  • rate this
    -14

    Comment number 156.

    his problem is not lack of information to make decsions. His problem is that he fights shy of making them. Shame Maggie is too old for the job because we really need someone to fix 13 years of encouraging dependency on the state and money wasting.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 155.

    What happens when the wi-fi connection goes down? Or he cannot get a cellphone signal? Does he just sit and dither???

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 154.

    At least this government has opened up to the decision making process, I am all for showing the thinking and the financial process of our government.


    But I would really like to see for the government how much thay raise from green issues and how much they spend.

  • rate this
    +44

    Comment number 153.

    How about the government instead release a free app for all eligible UK voters on which we can give our opinions so that our elected politicians can act on our behalves?

    - Should we replace Trident?
    - Should we be privatising health, education and national security?
    - Should we focus our investment on the South East or on other regions?
    - Should we reduce taxes on millionaires?
    etc.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 152.

    A decision making app (ugly word - who invented that?)? I thought that he already had one - its called a coin, or if he has lost all of those, maybe one of the dice that Gideon Osbourne uses?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 151.

    Dear oh dear, well lets hope he gets all of the so called ministers to install it you never know it may cut down on U-Turns but then no of course it wont.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 150.

    I think it's great that this kind of app is available for operational decision making. It obviously doesn't have much value for policy making which most of the comments here highlight. The critical thing is the accuracy and relevance of the data. Why don't the "digital team" publish exactly how and where they get their info from so that the pros (economists etc.) can give us their verdict ?

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 149.

    For all those lefty cynics carping away on here - it's so ironic - YOU are using social media! We are creating trends. It's good that he gets it too. I hope he gets my comments - the ones the BBC thought police allow anyway. The Nazi party was a socialist party you know. The National Socialist German Workers Party.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 148.

    I don't like Apps they can become corrupted and manipulated just like our Governments.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 147.

    Hmm a Cameron app.

    Not so much Angry Birds
    More Useless Turkey!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 146.

    Does this mean that he can run the country as if he were the 'Mayor' in Sim City.

    I'd LOL but he's ruined that for me.

  • rate this
    +30

    Comment number 145.

    What does this app do? Calculate how quick and how much profit can be made for Cameron and his chums on certain policy?

    I saw Channel 4's "Great British Property Scandel" last night and the particular focus on Hammersmith. It is totally vile and deeply immoral what the Tories are doing in that area alone. Suppose this app will keep Cameron posted on updates for morally corrupt Tory policy.VILE.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 144.

    I'm not a technophobe but this sounds like a massive (and probably very expensive) gimmick.

    I'm sure the government could use data better but they might want to start with understanding the long term unsexy quarterly data before messing around with social media.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 143.

    Where do the figures which this app will supply come from? Most figures sourced from govt seem wildly inaccurate and unreliable and are revised almost as soon as they have come out. There used to be an acronym used in the coputing world ,GIGO. It stood for garbage in, garbage out .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 142.

    I totally agree with and support @KillerBootsMan 's statement. Well said Sir.

 

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