Public Technology

Group representing all councils in the capital launches the London Office of Technology and Innovation.

London Councils, a group representing all 33 local authorities across the capital has claimed the newly launched London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) will kick-start a “new era of digital transformation” for the city.

LOTI – the creation of which was first detailed in the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s smart-city strategy published in October 2018 – has now been formally launched. It has been established with “a mission of fostering radical and effective ideas for the benefit of citizens, communities and businesses”. 

It will begin by focusing on a handful of projects, including taking a digital apprenticeship scheme developed by Hackney Council and implementing it in other parts of the city. 

LOTI will also look to make it easier for innovative tech suppliers to engage with government by establishing a “a single online source for all council projects”.

The organisation – whose agenda will, for the time being, be set by the “15 founding boroughs who form the core LOTI group” – will also seek to create and implement a framework to better enable local authorities to share data in a secure and ethical way. 

Public Technology

Other initiatives unveiled in hotly anticipated strategy include pledge to send more civil servants on private-sector secondment.

The long-awaited Government Technology Innovation Strategy includes a pledge to develop a government-wide understanding of Whitehall’s legacy technology estate and “put in place plans to tackle it”.

The strategy was first announced in August, when it was revealed that a dedicated team within the Government Digital Service had been established to deliver the strategy and spearhead government information more widely. The document, which originally scheduled to publish by the end of March, has now been released.

Its proposals are split into three categories: people; process; and data and technology.

The last of these centres on the plan to “develop a detailed cross-government view of the scale of the challenge of legacy technology, put in place plans to tackle it, and make sure there is continuous improvement in our technology estate”.

The strategy added: “Legacy technology and infrastructure will always exist and new will always become old. We need to proactively manage legacy systems so that they do not become urgent issues. We can do this through continuous improvement by learning while systems are being used, and by continuous maintenance, staying ahead of threats and actively managing risks. We must understand more about what our legacy looks like and where it is, so we can build a roadmap for the future.”

New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

Public Sector Executive

The Government has launched a new marketplace for innovation, providing a smarter way for public sector customers to access the very latest technologies.

Spark: The Technology Innovation Marketplace has been designed by Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to support cutting edge products and markets that aren’t catered for in traditional commercial agreements.

Spark will enable customers to use new but proven technologies which can drive public service innovation and cost-savings across the public sector.

Seven suppliers have already signed up to offer their goods and services, which could include innovative solutions in AI, the Internet of Things and wearable technology. The DPS remains open for applications and suppliers with suitable technologies are encouraged to apply.

Thousands of hospital visits avoided because of NHS ‘Skype Doctors”

Healthtech Digital

Ambulance call-outs and hospital visits have been drastically reduced with the help of NHS doctors and nurses who are using Skype to help nursing home staff, wardens and carers to treat and help elderly people in their homes.

8000 Skype calls are received by the on-call Skype NHS team annually, and NHS Skype consultations have already prevented 3000 unnecessary A&E visits, as well as 2000 GP visits in the last 2 years alone. Ambulance call-outs have been drastically reduced, not only avoiding the distress of an emergency trip to the hospital, but also freeing up resources for other emergency situations.

£1.3m and hundreds of hours have been freed up by using this technology as part of the NHS Long Term Plan in Tameside, in the Greater Manchester. The NHS also plan to implement the programme of integrated services across the UK. The technology is helping to improve the work load of NHS staff, and is also providing quicker and more efficient help to patients with urgent needs.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to using the scheme to provide improved, more convenient care to residents at home and providing quality support to health and social services using the digital technology.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England Medical Director, said: “Putting every person’s individual care needs at the centre of joined-up services, supported by smart technology, is the heart of our Long Term Plan for the NHS.

Industry View: GP IT Contract and Internet First

The Health Newspaper

At the recent King’s Fund Conference, Matt Hancock announced a new update to the GP IT contract and a move from private networks to an internet first approach.

We asked the industry for their views on these announcements and what it would mean to them.

Contributors include: X-on, Sectra, Siilo, Echo, Spirit Health, Refero and Innopsis.

Jane Rendall, President, Sectra UK (Imaging App provider)

Matt Hancock’s announcement that the NHS will move away from N3 and HSCN networks to run services over the internet could have significant implications for NHS diagnostic departments across the country. 

Joost Bruggeman, Co-Founder of Siilo (Messaging App provider)

Moving away from private networks such as N3 and HSCN in favour of an internet-first policy is an important first step towards a more collaborative NHS – an NHS looking to adopt and share digital health solutions and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.

Stephen Bourke, Co-Founder, Echo (Prescription App provider)

This is a positive step for the HealthTech start-up community. For too long data silos have held back innovation, frustrating interoperability and the NHS from delivering the type of services that patients expect in 2019.

Paul Bensley, Managing Director, X-on (Cloud Voice provider)

It is welcome that the new GP IT Futures framework will help to ensure that GPs benefit from the best technology, which quite rightly should adapt to meet their needs.

Chris Barker, CEO Spirit Health Group (Clinical App provider)

The move to cloud computing, including HSCN and a new GP IT contract, will enable greater collaboration between GP Practices, while the essential investment into Cyber Security will ensure data is securely stored. 

Dr Ian Jackson, Medical Director and Clinical Safety Officer, Refero (Patient App provider) 

I was interested to read about Matt Hancock talking about the new tender process (GP IT Futures) designed to replace the old GP Systems of Choice framework. This is a brave new approach promoting the move to cloud-based systems and is valued at close to £0.5 billion.  The hope is that this will encourage competition and new players in the market.

Mike Thomas, Managing Director, Innopsis 

Across the Public Sector, the proposal to migrate services to the Internet is accepted. HSCN, in many respects, is technology agnostic with additional controls and service assurance that supports NHS drive to digital, therefore we see use of the Internet as complementary and not a radical change in direction.

Big call for Britain’s cable giant Virgin Media as telecoms merger mania is dialled up again


Virgin Media’s parent faces questions beyond those over its generous executive policies and clever tax structures.

With the weekend looming, Tom Mockridge had a hairy problem. The Virgin Media boss was due to join his wife and young children in Italy, but there was nobody in London to look after his dog, Mildred.

Fortunately, Mockridge had a sympathetic boss, sensitive to the challenges of maintaining work-life balance. Mike Fries, chief executive of Virgin Media parent Liberty Global, offered him use of the corporate jet. Mildred would be spared the misery of kennels and join the family fun.


Three to launch ‘UK’s fastest’ 5G network in August – but there’s a catch


Three claims its 5G network will be faster than EE’s and Vodafone’s, because it has more spectrum.

Three will launch its 5G network in August, claiming it will be the fastest in the UK – but there’s one major catch.

At launch, the service will only be available in London as a home broadband service.

Three said its 5G home broadband customers will be able to plug a hub into the wall to immediately become connected, without lengthy engineer wait times or a long-term contract.

This “plug and play” 5G service is set to offer comparable speeds to fibre broadband, according to Three.

The company then plans to roll out both mobile and home broadband offerings in 25 towns and cities across the UK “before the end of the year”.

Openreach UK Trial G.INP Tweak to Raise FTTC Broadband Stability


Openreach has announced plans to trial higher levels of ReTransmission (ReTx / G.INP) technology on their Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) based “superfast broadband” capable ISP lines, which they believe could slightly improve service speed and help stability.

G.INP (ITU G.998.4) is an error correction solution that is designed to help resolve spikes of Electromagnetic Interference(impulse noise), which can impact the stability and performance of hybrid fibre VDSL2 / FTTC lines. The introduction of this technology can, on some lines, even produce a small increase in service speed.

Openreach has in fact been using G.INP (ITU G.998.4) technology within their hybrid fibre network for awhile, although historically it’s tended to work much better on their Huawei based estate than those of their ECI cabinets.

Launch date for Broadband USO set as 20th March 2020 – updated

Think Broadband

The long awaited Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) moves a step closer as the 20th March 2020 has been announced as the date when it will take effect.

The broadband USO is designed to give everyone the legal right to a 10 Mbps download sync speed and 1 Mbps upload sync speed connection.

The technologies identified as able to deliver the USO are FTTP, most VDSL2 (but not all due to distance issues), fixed wireless and mobile broadband (4G and 5G).  It appears that ADSL2+ is excluded from being supplied as a USO solution, though for the small number of ADSL2+ lines that do have a greater than 1 Mbps upload sync we suspect you may fail the eligibility checks – the Ofcom paperwork does not give any guidance on this.

The two designated USO providers are BT Group and KCOM and they have 30 days from when you contact them to determine if you are eligible with the conditions including:

    • Check that no access to a current USO capable service is available.
    • Not covered by a public scheme that will deliver something that exceeds the USO parameters in the next 12 months
    • Not cost the company more than £3,400 to deliver, if it does then you will have the option to pay the difference or opt for something such as a satellite broadband service or continue as you are today
    • If a USO speed or better service is available but costs more than £45/m then the USO provider can deliver a service to you