Verbal Update of the Chief Operating Officer.
The new Director of Information and Technology (DITS) addressed the Committee setting out his ambitions for the department; highlighted below:
a) The role of the Department of Information and Technology in making a positive impact on people’s lives, and the opportunity it presents to serve the City of London Corporation, which has both national and London-wide focus.
b) Over past few weeks, the Director had met with colleagues from across the organisation; including the Schools, the City of London Police and the Barbican Centre, and had been very pleased to note the appetite for joint working. DITS would seek to enable this via improved infrastructure, digital data and technology; making processes leaner, and reaching staff in the field, offices or working hybrid.
c) Enhancing data to support decision making and exploring machine learning and data science best practice to help address the City’s key challenges.
d) To make the best use of our existing investments, and seek a more modern approach to training, regardless of where colleagues are based.
e) To mitigate cyber risk to the lowest possible level, by strengthening the working relationship with the Cyber Team in the City of London Police, and collaborating with the National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security centre
During questions from the Committee, the following points were noted :
a) There are currently some 400 applications within the organisation, including different versions of the same one. DITS have been set a target to reduce this by half, thereby making efficiency savings and reducing cyber risk to the organisation.
b) One key deliverable, in the short term, is a target state architecture for the City. A recruitment exercise in underway and, in the future, the architecture will be based on business requirements, rather than presented in a technical format. Work was underway on a data maturity assessment.
c) The Communications Team currently manage the web site and control the content. For a while during the pandemic, the Comms Team were adding more information on the landing page. However, due to technical limitations, some items that Members considered important were lost. Members asked if this could be investigated and suggested that the teams work more collaboratively in the future. Members also asked about the various mini sites, which are not under the control of the Comms Team and would welcome greater understanding in terms of ownership. The Deputy Chairman suggested that the next time a site is procured, it should be a DITS Project, with the relevant Department as the Client. The Director advised that there is DITS oversight in terms of cyber security.
d) Web standards are about a decade out of date but, as government guidance has not been updated for some time, it remains an issue across national and local government. It was suggested that a risk based approach might drive up the standard; presenting information in a more agile and helpful way.
e) Members agree that security is very strong in the organisation and view the Digital Services Committee as an enabler, with the same weighting as the Finance Committee. However, they remain disappointed at poor Wi-Fi performance in the City Corporation , particularly issues over the past couple of weeks where connections to meeting were lost. The Director agreed that the organisation needs a strong basic programme in terms of the provision of new devices, wi-fi reliability, enablement and problem resolution and will be focussing on these areas.