Weekly briefing: Digital Top 100; closing the pay gap; cybersecurity camp

Our rundown of what's working in global policy

Welcome to Apolitical’s briefing for the week of 6 August. Sign up here for a weekly email on how the world’s most pressing problems are being tackled. 

Top Stories

The Digital Government Top 100: The most influential people in global policy. Drawing on nominations from experts, Apolitical celebrates those reforming and reimagining the public service — from leaders in the field to the unsung heroes quietly changing the machinery of government.

Leading NGOs say evidence-based policy and rapid scaling are stifling innovation. Violence prevention practitioners have banded together to push back against aid donors’ rush to replicate. Scaling without first understanding cultural context can cause harm, they argue.

Eight years of UK immigration policy could be based on inaccurate data. Overall net migration may be overestimated by tens of thousands of people, due to flawed surveying and ambiguity around the definition of a migrant. Here’s how Canada and Australia are collecting better data.

The workplace has failed to adapt to mothers’ needs, and it’s taking a toll. Regardless of whether they choose to work or stay at home, many women feel a debilitating guilt. Employer reforms — from offering in-office care to taking steps to end discrimination — could help.

Politicians and civil servants don’t trust each other — here’s how the UK plans to fix it. A new parliamentary report lifts the lid on the often-dysfunctional relationship, a topic that is rarely discussed publicly. Better communication through regular check-ins and coaching is the first step.

Top Writing By Our Members

I said I work in public sector innovation. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” he replied. Civil servants are doing great things, but few people know about them. To curb cynicism about government work, we have to start recognising — and celebrating — the people breaking the mould to create better value for citizens.
(Sam Hannah-Rankin, Director of Public Service Innovation, Victoria, Australia)


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Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

The island of Samoa will soon run on 100% renewable energy, thanks to a public-private partnership. American automaker Tesla worked with the local utility to install battery storage and an automated system that controls the grid. The switch will take seven years.

Egypt will plant a million fruit trees in public spaces. The government hopes the lemon, orange and tangerine trees will help feed the food-insecure and fight climate change. Urban trees reduce emissions and moderate high temperatures.
(Cairo Scene)

The Netherlands has built a high-tech, self-sufficient eco-village. The car-free neighbourhood grows its own food, collects water and energy and processes waste. It will use artificial intelligence to manage utilities and blockchain to take payments.
(Fast Company)

Education and Changing Jobs

The US hopes to fill cybersecurity jobs with a kids’ camp. Sponsored by the National Security Agency, it teaches 13- to 19-year-olds STEM skills. Every year, 200,000 cybersecurity roles in the US go unfulfilled.


“If we don’t promote and share the good work that we’re doing, then we’re actively doing a disservice to the public value we can and do create” — Sam Hannah-Rankin, Director of Public Sector Innovation at the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria, Australia

Gender Equality

The UK published six recommendations for closing the gender pay gap. It suggests using skills tests in recruitment, encouraging salary negotiation and appointing diversity task forces. The recommendations are backed by research from the UK Behavioural Insights Team.

Evolving Cities

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is the second city to adopt Alibaba’s smart city platform. The e-commerce conglomerate’s ‘City Brain’ pulls in data from roads, video feeds and social media, and uses AI to help governments better manage traffic. In Hangzhou, China it reduced congestion by 15%.

And finally

Alaskan public servants are working on typewriters after a cyberattack. They’re using them — as well as old-fashioned pen-and-paper — to write up reports and receipts after a ransomware infection crippled networks. The FBI is working on recovering the lost files.

(Picture credit: Pexels)


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