We were pretty skeptical when newspaper reports circulated last December that the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, had commissioned his very own iPad app to stay on top of government business — and it wasn’t even silly season. Well, as it turns out, we were only partly right. The app does exist and is currently running as a Beta inside select government circles. However, it’s not actually a native iPad app, but built to run in a browser (as per UK government guidelines on a standards-based approach to its IT), and isn’t designed solely to be used by the PM.
In fact, sources with direct knowledge of its development, which has been carried out by the Cabinet Office’s digital team during the last year, are keen to stress that the app — dubbed “The Number 10 Dashboard” — has been built for the Prime Minister AND other senior members within government.
While we’ve been unable thus far to get a hold of screen shots of the dashboard, sources who have seen the app in action tell us that it has a similar design to the new Data.gov website template and consists of a home screen containing key news, polling data, Twitter feeds, analyst comment and the Number 10 diary for the day. In addition, there are a further three tabs for Jobs, Housing and Government.
Overall, it’s a fairly data-driven remit, with the dashboard being powered by “over 100+ data points,” we’re told, from a mixture of sources, both from within government and provided by private companies. These may actually include data from a number of UK startups — we can confirm that Adzuna is being used to power some of the app’s housing and employment trends. Specifically, real-time stats on job vacancy numbers, salary trends and regional housing supply.
Other data sources include economic indicators from the ONS, relevant Twitter feeds, a daily YouGov poll, and search insights from “a large search engine.” Can we say Google?
In addition to those external data sources, the app also tracks the progress of “key government initiatives,” along with things like government spending and departmental budgets.
However, contrary to some of those earlier newspaper reports, there is no synopsis of last night’s Eastenders (a popular UK soap opera), whilst the Nuclear launch codes are definitely not in there. Well, as far as we know anyway.
The beta version of “The Number 10 Dashboard” is currently being tested by a small group of people within Number 10 and a few other departments within government. Depending on this beta testing, we’re told that a decision will be made on whether or not to roll this out across government.
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