https://insidehmcts.blog.gov.uk/2018/08/21/digital-architecture-at-the-core-of-reform/

Digital Architecture at the core of Reform


[English] - [Cymraeg]

Hello I’m Balaji Anbil and about a year ago, I joined HM Courts and Tribunals Service to establish and lead the Digital Architecture and Cyber Security team. I'm keen to tell you more about what we do and share our work with the wider community.

Technology in Court Reform

Technology is changing the way we think, feel, and how we serve our court users. It's also changing the way we work and can enable us to work better and smarter. To deliver the Reform programme, we’ll be leveraging modern technology and associated skills and capabilities to build a modern system for administering justice. It will benefit everyone who uses it, for generations to come.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has set the bar high for digital transformation in government, and we plan to rise to the challenge by not only transforming our way of delivering services to citizens now, but also by building online services which will be fit for the future. Architecture, a borrowed term from the civil engineering discipline, applies equally well to technology systems engineering.

We see digital architecture as one of the core pillars of the Reform programme. The reform is a far-reaching initiative across the country and is supported by the complete thinking of how to plan and build for the virtual world. We will drive planning for the creation of the technology building blocks to develop this new virtual world, underpinned by the Internet, as the information highway.

How are we helping the Reform programme?

The Digital Architecture team will bring a common framework to support the Reform programme in developing citizen-centric, sustainable, and resilient digital services to meet the needs of courts users.

After joining HMCTS last year, my team started working in an organised way by:

  • Reviewing the baseline of how our function operates
  • Resetting the ways of working within digital architecture, and revising our digital reference architecture (akin to a town-planning map) that joins up with business plans
  • Improving cross-programme technical governance, in line with the GDS principles and assessment process
  • Clarifying our functional remit, our internal and external users, the types of services we offer and sourcing some fresh talent to lead those services across the change portfolio.

All these changes have been welcomed by our HMCTS colleagues for the increased clarity of direction and cross-team co-operation they will bring.

Data and security

I believe access to data in a timely manner is the main rationale to influence technology. The ‘Digital Age’ is sometimes referred as the Information Age and I strongly prefer the latter term - digital is only the means, the harnessing of data is the actual benefit. It helps that our CEO, Susan Acland-Hood, is a strong advocate of open and accessible data, and our team has already started building its data as a domain capability and helping the Reform programme to shape data constructs. It's also our role to set the strong standards that will support this work, whilst ensuring that personal data is kept securely, and we have some of the best security architects supporting our teams to do this.

In traditional transformation programmes, security used to be an after-thought, a bolt-on to technology and that worked well enough for a while; however, as the digital systems start to operate in the cloud, security requires a different perspective and has to be part of the design. We strongly subscribe to this principle of security by design and prefer not to publicise our security building blocks for obvious reasons. Cyber security is a key element within our work.

Our ambition

Our team has just initiated an overall architecture strategy review across data, applications, integration, cyber security and technology/platforms. We are also revisiting our vision and objectives, to re-affirm the direction and benefits of our work. This exercise aims to provide a stronger foundation and sharper focus to subsequent rounds of systems engineering and implementation at HMCTS.

We want our role to define a consistent and agile approach to building technology. To enable the delivery of user-centred digital services for our legal system, both in the virtual and physical world, we will focus on how applications are designed, how they integrate and interact with other services and how data is shared securely. We will focus and execute the method in line with GDS principles that will enable the Reform programme to deliver a customer-centric modern justice platform for citizens and other court users. We are building a modern digital platform for an effective administration of Justice — that is not only for us, but for our forthcoming generations too.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this work and encourage you to leave your comments and questions at the bottom of this page.


[English] - [Cymraeg]

Mae Saernïaeth Ddigidol yn ganolog i’r Broses Ddiwygio

Helo, fy enw i yw Balaji Anbil ac ymunais a Gwasanaeth Llysoedd a Thribiwnlysoedd EM tua blwyddyn yn ôl i sefydlu ac arwain y tîm Saernïaeth Ddigidol a Seiber Ddiogelwch. Rwy’n awyddus i ddweud mwy am yr hyn rydym yn ei wneud a rhannu ein gwaith gyda'r gymuned ehangach.

Technoleg yng nghyd-destun Diwygio'r Llysoedd

Mae technoleg yn newid y ffordd rydym yn meddwl, yn teimlo, a'r ffordd rydym yn gwasanaethu ein defnyddwyr llys. Mae hefyd yn newid y ffordd rydym yn gweithio a gall ein galluogi i weithio’n well ac mewn ffordd clyfrach. I ddarparu’r Rhaglen Ddiwygio, byddwn yn defnyddio technoleg fodern a sgiliau a galluoedd cysylltiedig i ddylanwadu ar y broses o adeiladu system fodern i weinyddu cyfiawnder. Bydd yn fuddiol i bawb sy’n ei defnyddio, am genedlaethau i ddod.

Mae Gwasanaeth Digidol y Llywodraeth (GDS) wedi gosod safonau uchel ar gyfer trawsnewid digidol yn y llywodraeth, ac rydym yn bwriadu cyrraedd y nod nid yn unig trwy drawsnewid ein ffordd o ddarparu gwasanaethau i ddinasyddion nawr, ond hefyd trwy greu gwasanaethau ar-lein a fydd yn addas ar gyfer y dyfodol. Mae saernïaeth, term sydd wedi’i fenthyg o’r maes peirianneg sifil, yr un mor berthnasol i beirianneg systemau technoleg.

Rydym yn ystyried saernïaeth ddigidol fel un o elfennau canolog y Rhaglen Ddiwygio. Mae’r broses ddiwygio yn fenter bellgyrhaeddol sy’n ymestyn ledled y wlad ac mae wedi'i gefnogi gan broses meddwl sy'n ystyried sut i gynllunio ac adeiladu ar gyfer y byd rhith. Byddwn yn llywio’r broses ar gyfer creu’r elfennau technolegol sydd eu hangen i ddatblygu’r byd rhith newydd hwn, sydd wedi’i danseilio gan y Rhyngrwyd, fel y briffordd wybodaeth.

Sut ydym ni’n helpu gyda’r Rhaglen Ddiwygio?

Bydd y tîm Saernïaeth Ddigidol yn darparu fframwaith cyffredin i gefnogi'r Rhaglen Ddiwygio i ddatblygu gwasanaethau digidol cynaliadwy a chadarn sy'n canolbwyntio ar ddinasyddion er mwyn diwallu anghenion defnyddwyr y llysoedd.

Ar ôl ymuno a GLlTEM y llynedd, dechreuodd fy nhîm weithio mewn ffordd drefnus trwy:

  • Adolygu’r waelodlin o sut mae ein swyddogaeth yn gweithredu
  • Ailosod y ffyrdd o weithio o fewn y saernïaeth ddigidol ac adolygu ein saernïaeth cyfeirio ddigidol (fel map cynlluniau tref) sy’n cyd-fynd â chynlluniau busnes
  • Gwella’r drefn dechnegol ar draws rhaglenni, yn unol ag egwyddorion a phroses asesu GDS
  • Gwneud ein cylch gwaith swyddogaethol, ein defnyddwyr mewnol ac allanol a'r math o wasanaethau rydym yn eu cynnig yn gliriach a chwilio am dalent newydd i arwain y gwasanaethau hynny ar draws y portffolio newid.

Mae ein cydweithwyr yn GLlTEM wedi croesawu'r holl newidiadau hyn a fydd yn rhoi rhagor o eglurder o ran y cyfeiriad ac annog cydweithio ar draws y timau.

Data a diogelwch

Rwy’n credu mai cael mynediad at ddata yn amserol yw'r brif sail resymegol i ddylanwadu ar dechnoleg. Weithiau cyfeirir at yr 'Oes Ddigidol' fel 'Yr Oes Wybodaeth’, ac mae’n well gennyf yr ail derm - digidol yw'r dull, ond defnyddio'r data yw’r budd mewn gwirionedd. Mae’n helpu bod ein Prif Swyddog Gweithredol, Susan Acland-Hood, yn gefnogwr brwdfrydig o ddata agored a hygyrch, ac mae ein tîm eisoes wedi cychwyn ar adeiladu ei ddata fel galluedd parth sy’n helpu'r Rhaglen Ddiwygio i siapio lluniadau data. Mae yna gyfrifoldeb arnom hefyd i osod y safonau cadarn a fydd yn cefnogi'r gwaith hwn, gan sicrhau bod data personol yn cael ei chadw'n ddiogel, ac mae gennym rhai o'r penseiri diogelwch gorau yn cefnogi ein timau i wneud hyn.

Mewn rhaglenni trawsnewid traddodiadol, roedd diogelwch wastad yn cael ei anghofio tan y munud olaf - nodwedd ychwanegol i'r dechnoleg a oedd yn gweithio'n iawn am gyfnod, fodd bynnag, wrth i systemau digidol ddechrau gweithredu yn y cwmwl (the cloud), mae angen safbwynt gwahanol tuag at ddiogelwch, a rhaid iddo fod yn rhan o'r dyluniad. Rydym yn cefnogi'n gryf yr egwyddor hon o ddiogelwch trwy ddylunio ac mae'n well gennym beidio â chyhoeddi ein helfennau diogelwch sylfaenol am resymau amlwg. Mae seiber ddiogelwch yn elfen allweddol o fewn ein gwaith.

Ein huchelgais

Mae ein tîm newydd roi strategaeth saernïaeth gyffredinol ar waith ar draws data, rhaglenni, integreiddio, seiber ddiogelwch a thechnoleg/platfformau. Rydym hefyd yn ailedrych ar ein gweledigaeth a’n hamcanion i ailddatgan cyfeiriad a buddion ein gwaith. Mae’r ymarfer hwn yn anelu at ddarparu sylfaen gryfach a chanolbwynt manylach ar gyfer rhoi systemau peirianneg ar waith yn GLlTEM yn y dyfodol.

Rydym eisiau i’n rôl ddiffinio dull adeiladu technoleg sy'n gyson ac yn ystwyth. Er mwyn darparu gwasanaethau digidol sy'n canolbwyntio ar ddefnyddwyr yn ein system gyfiawnder, yn y byd rhith a'r byd ffisegol, byddwn yn canolbwyntio ar sut mae rhaglenni'n cael eu dylunio, sut maent yn integreiddio ac yn rhyngweithio â gwasanaethau eraill a sut mae data’n cael eu rhannu’n ddiogel. Byddwn yn canolbwyntio ac yn rhoi'r dull ar waith yn unol ag egwyddorion GDS a fydd yn galluogi'r Rhaglen Ddiwygio i ddarparu platfform cyfiawnder modern sy'n canolbwyntio ar y cwsmer ar gyfer dinasyddion a defnyddwyr llys eraill. Rydym yn adeiladu platfform digidol modern i weinyddu cyfiawnder yn effeithiol – nid yn unig ar gyfer ni, ond ar gyfer y cenedlaethau i ddod hefyd.

Byddaf yn awyddus i glywed eich barn am y gwaith hwn ac fe'ch anogaf i adael eich sylwadau a'ch cwestiynau ar waelod y dudalen hon.

4 comments

  1. Comment by James posted on

    Some points arise from your article:

    1) What happens if the ‘town planning’ that you refer to is too ambitious or doesn’t make sense?

    2) What safeguards have been put in place to make sure that you can actually deliver a competent and workable product?

    • Replies to James>

      Comment by Balaji Anbil posted on

      James

      Thanks for asking these, I'm very happy to expand a bit further on those points. So to address your two questions:

      1. The ambition for HMCTS is defined by our Reform programme board, and the Digital Reference Architecture (town plan) allows us to map out what that ambition means in terms of architecture scope. This is a simple but powerful means of ensuring decisions about priorities, risks and inter-dependencies can be made from a well-informed position that makes sense.
      2. The Reform scope is very large with many different aspects, delivering products of various types serving the criminal courts right across to family courts and other legal processes. It’s not practical to explain the various safeguards in place for each of these areas, but in summary each goes through appropriate control gates including reviews, approvals and testing to ensure the solution does what was intended.

  2. Comment by Ivan Salcedo posted on

    I'd be interested - as you've come into the public sector from outside - in the specific challenges (or perhaps enablers) of working within such defined 'open / transparent' principles as laid out by GDS and the Government Digital Service Standard (assuming you're also held to the latter). How do you maintain the balance between aspiration and pragmatism (eg the tension between 'open' and 'secure' in various areas)?

    • Replies to Ivan Salcedo>

      Comment by Balaji Anbil posted on

      Ivan
      The future for all of us is increasingly Digital, and so I was very pleased to find that our UK government has recognised this macro-level trend and is moving towards open-source based Digital solutions. By itself this is a great example of being both pragmatic and aspirational in how change is done. Recently HMCTS has deployed some basic online services (pragmatic) to switch us from a paper based service to a more digital one, with significant and immediate improvements to the quality of data we receive. At the same time, our trial of video based hearings is an example of being more aspirational with technology to discover whether the potential benefits outweigh any real-world drawbacks. Such changes are possible when the leaders of an organisation set a clear vison and empower their teams to make the vision a reality, and I am thankful that the leaders of HMCTS are very supportive of these changes