The public sector came away with a clutch of prizes in the Digital Britain 2000 awards earlier this month, writes Mike Simons. The awards, whose sponsors include BT, Cap Gemini, KPMG, SAP, Unisys and Baan, were backed by e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt. "The Digital Britain Awards are important because they celebrate and reward real British successes on the Internet, from business solutions through to technology and the public sector." Hewitt said.
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"It is only by achieving world-class results in all these areas that the UK can ensure its leading role in global e-commerce." The minister added, "I commend all those who participated in the Digital Britain Awards and hope that their example will encourage others."
Barnsley's National Grid for Learning won the Best Collaboration Solution in the Knowledge Management category. The judges were impressed with the way Barnsley Council had taken standard, readily-available technologies and used them in a creative way to offer all 33,000 school children in the borough the opportunity to share and learn online.
The council beat private sector giants including BT and BP Amoco to win the prize.
Companies House Direct won the Best Content and Document Management/Workflow Solution award. The judges praised the site's focus on customer requirements and its ability to meet the challenge of a customer base of millions of users.
Surrey Police won a special award for the best knowledge management solution on a Microsoft platform. The Surrey Police Information and Knowledge Environment (Spike) allows officers to communicate and exchange information both within the force and with other criminal justice agencies, such as the Crown Prosecution Service and Prison Service. This has saved police time in prosecuting cases and allowed the police to make significant cost savings.
Thameside Borough Council's Customer First project won the award for the best use of IT by the public sector. This has supported existing communications with the public while also creating new services, such as call centres, Internet access and public kiosks.
The judges were impressed that a local authority had implemented a leading edge e-commerce solution that allows the public to pay for services online using the latest encryption technologies. They said the site "matches the innovation in e-commerce currently spreading through the private sector".
For John Serle of Socitm, the public sector IT directors' organisation, the results were a welcome boost. "They show that public sector IT can hold its own with the best that the private sector has to offer," he said.