The UK has fallen off its perch at the top of the UN’s biennial e-government ranking, dropping three places.
The survey, which compares trends in digital government across countries, rated Denmark as the most developed – a big jump from its previous ninth place.
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The Scandinavian nation was this year followed by Australia and South Korea, with the UK coming in fourth.
Last time the survey was carried out, in 2016, the UK was at the top of the table, followed by Australia, South Korea and Singapore.
The report put the ousting of the UK from the top spot down to a “relative decrease in the ranking of its human capital and online service indices”.
It did, though, note that the government was aiming to provide more integrated online services through GOV.UK, and pointed to the Government Transformation Strategy as evidence that there was a plan for further e-government development.
However, when the strategy was published in February 2017, there were criticisms that it seemed to lack senior political buy-in, and since its publication, the Government Digital Service has been further sidelined.
That includes seeing data policy and delivery handed to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and admissions that there would need to be changes to flagship identity scheme Verify if it is to meet its target user numbers.
Nevertheless, the UK government prides itself on leading the way in digital government – former GDS boss Mike Bracken has spoken about exporting the ethos of his former division to other nations – and the demotion will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Elsewhere in the report, the UK fails to make it into the top 10 countries most committed to cyber security – this list is topped out by Singapore, the USA, Malaysia, Oman and Estonia.
Although the report noted that the UK’s latest cyber security strategy has doubled its investment, it seemed to indicate that the chaos caused by the WannaCry incident damaged the UK’s position.
“Cyberattacks vary, but their effects can be devastating,” it said, giving the example of WannaCry’s widespread reach.
“This included the United Kingdom, where the National Health Service (NHS) systems were targeted. At least 81 of the 236 NHS organizations known as “trusts” were affected, destroying key medical equipment and risking patient safety. The economic impact of that cyberattack was estimated to be more than $100 million.”
The 2018 study also looked at local e-government, ranking Moscow as the leader, followed by Cape Town and Tallinn. London and Paris came joint fourth. ®