GDS Academy develops emerging tech programme

Director of capability points to first 10-week courses in artificial intelligence and machine learning

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is expanding the courses in the GDS Academy to take in emerging technologies.

Its director of capability, Holly Ellis, told the Cabinet Office Sprint 18 conference that it has launched its first emerging technology development programme as part of an effort to build new skills within the Civil Service.

Abstract of digital stuff inside human headThis involves a 10-week education programme on artificial intelligence and machine learning, including tutorials with academics, deep learning courses based on levels of experience, and working projects.

People taking part will then be encouraged to share their knowledge with colleagues in order to boost the understanding of the technologies.

She invited people interested in taking part to contact her team and said the longer term plan is to make the programme available to wider cohort of people.

“Our aim is to ensure that the Civil Service is a well informed customer, consumer and user of emerging technology,” Ellis said.

The move is part of the effort by GDS to increase the understanding of technologies such as AI and machine learning in central government.

New innovation unit

Sharing the stage, Graham Walker, deputy director for innovation, said a new unit has been formed named GDS Innovation that brings together its data scientists, the new GovTech Catalyst team and an innovation and emerging technology team to be recruited.

He said it plans to work on what projects are able to achieve, which ones are working with each other, which partners are involved and what technology is being used.

“It really helps us build a big picture of where we are investing in emerging technology across the public sector, that we can also break down by public body, by technology, by partners,” he said. “It’s a high level overview going down to the detail.”

Walker also said the GovTech Challenge, the first round of which was announced last week, will also play an important part in the development of emerging technologies for public services.

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