Whether it’s private or public sector, technology is transforming the way that organisations work. This development has led to an increasing demand for IT and digital skills. More than 1.5 million people work in digital tech jobs in the UK. However, the European Commission has predicted a shortfall of 900,000 adequately skilled programmers and other technology professionals in Europe by 2020.
FDM Group, a professional services provider with a focus on IT, specialises in recruiting, training and deploying its own permanent IT Consultants across a number of service areas including development, testing, project management, data analysis, application support, infrastructure, business analysis and compliance. The group works with more than 160 clients, including Land Registry. Here David Wooding, an FDM technical Java consultant currently on-site at Land Registry in Plymouth, describes some of the projects he’s involved with.
One of the exciting things about working in the public sector is that you’re working for the general public and you can really see this in the projects taking place at Land Registry.
Every service or tool is designed around the user’s needs and many services will benefit people nationwide. We adopt this user-centred approach to all our work, ensuring that our audience for our applications get to try out our products and give feedback, which we can use to make the product even better.
As a Government organisation, our projects are overseen by the Government Digital Service (GDS), an organisation that assesses citizen-based services on important issues such as usability and openness. The GDS assessments take place at certain points in a project lifecycle.
The projects are technically challenging and very rewarding to work on. As a Government department, we must work in a transparent way and where possible this includes using open-source products to create intuitive, simple services for everyone.
Most of the projects here are large scale, whether it’s creating a new service for the public or migrating huge datasets onto new systems. Both the projects I have worked on have involved creating a web-based service for the public to access Land Registry data.
My first project here was the Find Property Information (FPI) service. The service allows a user to search for a property and pay for a summary of the title plan for it. The title plan shows detailed information about the extent of the property and who owns it. The FPI service is intended to replace a much older Land Registry service called Find a property. It has been built around the user to provide a much more user-friendly interface and is less reliant on Land Registry’s old mainframe system.
My current project is the Local Land Charges (LLC) service. A local land charge is essentially a piece of legislation that affects a piece of land (for example a listed building or a smoke control zone). There are millions of these charges across the UK and they are currently maintained in a number of different ways by each of more than 300 local authorities. Currently, when you buy property, a check has to be made to see if any of these charges affects your property. Depending on where you live, this can take from 10 days to eight weeks. The cost of this search varies greatly as well. The LLC service has a very large scope that on one side will allow local authorities to update a central database of these charges and on the other side will let customers search this database and reveal any charges that might affect a property. This will mean that the search time should take minutes rather than days and the cost can be normalised across the country.