One of the Digital Engagement team’s responsibilities is the ‘Connecting People’ program. This looks to improve internal engagement within the Civil Service by providing a series of digital tools to all users of the Government Secure Intranet. The CivilMedia Suite comprises the Civil Pages, Civil Talk, Civil Blogs and Civil Wiki tools. These are the first knowledge sharing tools accessible across the whole of government and have already proved useful in sharing best practise and information between organisations.
The development and introduction of the products was innovative in so far as it was not about creating a large IT programme and has used existing expertise and resources alongside open source software in the ongoing development of the suite. To date the cost has been £500k in total to develop – a fraction of the resources given to similar solutions in the private sector. Cross departmental groups are building communities and embracing the shared work space provided by both Civil Pages and Civil Talk. A diverse range of departments are involved including the UK Location Council and Bank of England whilst some departments are now looking to use Civil Pages and the other Connecting People applications (such as the Cabinet Office) as an integral part of their departmental communications infrastructure. Currently there are over 21,000 users of the CivilMedia suite.
Through facilitating knowledge sharing and collaborating working there are cost and efficiency savings compared to present working practices. It provides a cross-departmental directory service enabling people to find other’s contact details as well as enabling links to be made between Civil Servants with similar professional interests or working on overlapping project areas in different Departments. And by providing a collaborative working space it has enabled people from different regions to work jointly on projects creating a wide range of cost savings across government.
Collectively these have proved a useful prototype for a single collaboration platform. We are currently working on creating a single sign-on and improving integration with cross Government programmes. Encouraging Civil Servants to work more collaboratively holds out the promise of efficiency savings and enhanced transparency as understanding of each others agendas are made clear.