CIO Masters Series: David Wilde, CIO of England's Essex County Council

A look at the work and vision of David Wilde, CIO of England's Essex County Council, who is a leader in public-sector IT innovation.

By Matthew Griffin
Oct. 25, 2016

For the council, the ability to keep elderly people in their homes for an additional nine years is the real win, but with a 120% reduction in costs and a guaranteed 10% return on their investment (which will reduce their borrowing needs), it's fair to say it's a win-win. In these austere times, that is a rare thing.

As for the future, Wilde wants to see closer integration between housing, social care, healthcare and technology to provide greater "community resilience." As is all too often the case during austere times, there comes a point where councils have to have frank conversations with members of the public about the need to ween them off of government-funded support and move them onto a privately run replacement service.

In a world full of Chinese walls and intellectual property contracts, Essex is sharing the insights from the initiative and extending the service to the county's local authorities, charities and community representatives so they can tailor them for their own devices.

Smart places

Essex is 73% rural and 27% urban. And while the majority of people are concentrated within its urban centers, it's still the council's responsibility to provide the same continuity and quality of services to the rest of the county. Again technology is enabling new, faster ways to deliver and streamline services. An example of this is Essex's "Connected Journey" initiative where Wilde and his team are working with Visteon, a Ford spinoff, to design more intelligent multimodal journey planners that draw on a number of information sources, from Twitter through to official Highways Agency feeds, to help commuters optimize their journeys, avoid delays and arrive on time.

If you think that this is simply a sensible, innovative initiative though, you're evidently still underestimating Wilde's love for emerging technology and his focus on long-term outcomes. With both eyes on the road and his hands firmly on the wheel, he already has his eye on how he and his team could improve the model to deliver even better travel experiences and game-changing reductions in traffic and infrastructure costs when driverless cars, trucks and buses begin hitting the roads.

On suppliers

When we turn to the topic of suppliers, much of what I hear is what I hear all too often: There's the good and the bad, and then there's business as usual.

By far and away, it appears that Dell is Wilde's preferred supplier. The company provides the majority of the council's IT infrastructure. Unlike Microsoft, which often seems schizophrenic in its approach, Dell listens. The company's representatives interpret Wilde's needs and work with him and his team and put his objectives before their own.

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