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The next steps for digital, data and technology in government

The next steps for digital, data and technology in government

Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, blogged about our appointments to the senior leadership of the DDaT (Digital, Data and Technology) profession in January of this year.

Since we started our respective roles in February, we have done a lot of listening to our teams, other government departments, and other important stakeholders. What we’ve identified is that we all have considerable ambitions for digital products, platforms and services, and for the government DDaT function.

The lessons we learned from coronavirus (COVID-19) have shown us that now, more than ever, digital must be front and centre of government’s priorities to meet user needs and this is the perfect time for us to accelerate the digital transformation of public services across the whole of government.

What we’ve been less clear about previously though is that there are 2 quite distinct challenges and opportunities that we need to support:

leading the cross-government community of DDaT professionals and putting the strategy, standards and assurance mechanisms in place to deliver transformation at scale
building, supporting and iterating digital products, platforms and services that can be built once and used across government
From today, the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) will lead the DDaT function. This is the next step for DDaT in government, allowing us to go further and faster by strengthening our collective leadership.

London Internet Exchange Sees Record UK Traffic of 6.05Tbps

London Internet Exchange Sees Record UK Traffic of 6.05Tbps

The London Internet Exchange (LINX), which through its switches handles a key chunk of UK and global data traffic from 965 members (broadband ISPs, mobile operators etc.), has today reported that they hit a new total traffic peak last week of 6.05Tbps (Terabits per second).

The new 6.05Tbps peak, which was officially recorded on Tuesday 6th April 2021 at 8:35pm, excludes traffic passed between LINX members using the Private Interconnect service. According to LINX, this service is traditionally popular with larger content networks and is currently used by over 100 LINX members, currently at 887 individual private peering point to point connections, many of which are 100G ports.

LINX has a number of exchanges across the UK and their biggest two are based in London, hence the name. In keeping with that a new maximum peak also occurred on LINX’s primary exchange in London, LON1, as this platform alone reached 5.17Tbps on the same day.

The Fastest 16 UK Cities for Mobile Broadband Speed in H2 2020

The Fastest 16 UK Cities for Mobile Broadband Speed in H2 2020

A new report from mobile benchmarking firm RootMetrics has used the data they gathered for their previous H2 2020 study (here) to rank 16 of the United Kingdom’s largest and fastest cities by their average (median) download speed on 4G and 5G networks. Liverpool came top with an aggregate speed of 43.6Mbps.

The company typically uses a team of testers to walk and drive around each city while running tests via a set of regular Samsung Note 10+ 5G Smartphones. Using this method, they found that Vodafone clocked the fastest overall median download speed in Liverpool at 73.5Mbps, while EE earned honours in Birmingham on 79.5Mbps.

The 5G-only speeds in both of the top fastest cities were also excellent, with only one operator in either market posting a 5G speed below 112Mbps. But even then, Three UK’s 5G speed of 94.1Mbps in Birmingham was still nothing to sniff at. Sadly, the company doesn’t include a split of 4G vs 5G speeds by each city, instead we only get a general average below.

The impact of converging IT and telecoms services

The impact of converging IT and telecoms services

The convergence between telecoms and IT services businesses has long been discussed in the industry, however, it is the last 12 months that has caused the most significant convergence between the two.

It is therefore important to now assess and understand what has changed, and the effects this shift will have on both telecoms and IT services businesses’ growth in the future.

UK reveals its strategy for taking on the US tech giants

UK reveals its strategy for taking on the US tech giants

The UK government has created the Digital Markets Unit to tackle the growing problem of US tech giants using their size to stifle competition.

Modeled on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the DMU will focus solely on digital giants, who dominate the internet space and thus, by definition, restrict competition. While it will look at general competition and data privacy, initially at least it seems to have been instructed to look at the dynamic in which traditional media has seen its revenues hoovered up by Google and Facebook and is thus in steep decline.

“Today is a major milestone in the path to creating the world’s most competitive online markets, with consumers, entrepreneurs and content publishers at their heart,” said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden “The Digital Markets Unit has launched and I’ve asked it to begin by looking at the relationships between platforms and content providers, and platforms and digital advertisers.

“This will pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”

Covid results emails may breach GDPR

Covid results emails may breach GDPR

Free, rapid lateral flow tests for coronavirus are now available in England, but the government notifications confirming the results appear to contravene several articles of the GDPR.

All results from the new tests, even if negative, should be reported; but Dr Kuan Hon, director at Fieldfisher, writes that confirmatory emails from the Gov.UK Notify service contain personally identifiable information (PII), and are likely to have issues with GDPR compliance.

As well as general coronavirus advice like the importance of social distancing, each Notify email contains the user’s name, date of birth and NHS number. As Kuan says, “Full marks for promptness, but – for security/privacy…?”

We have never given census data to anyone – not even the spy agencies, says the UK’s Office for National Statistics

We have never given census data to anyone – not even the spy agencies, says the UK’s Office for National Statistics

The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has strongly denied it hands census data over to police and law enforcement agencies – and claims it has “never” handed personal information to the security services.

In a Freedom of Information Act response published on its website, the ONS came out fighting when a member of the public asked if the stats agency handed personal data from the UK census to law enforcement bodies.

Concern has swirled for years about the security of census data, both from ne’er-do-wells and state snoopers looking to expand their little empires. With the British government’s finely honed instinct for casually repurposing data collected for good reasons into something completely different, it’s right that people want to know that data innocently handed to the government isn’t going to be turned against them later on.

Somebody asked whether this 2011 commentary on the census by Amberhawk Training was still accurate 10 years later. It highlighted how census data could be lawfully purloined by government agencies for their own purposes.

Brave new digital world

Brave new digital world

The migration of our old copper-based landline services to smart new digital ones is starting to gather steam but it seems many UK businesses remain oblivious to the changes happening around them – so what can the channel do to help them help themselves?
Just three years from now, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And over the next five years, we’ll upgrade some 15 million analogue lines – including the now ageing traditional landline telephone service – to digital All-Internet Protocol (All-IP).
But despite these relatively short timescales, a worrying number of businesses seem unprepared for the changes ahead. A recent survey by one of our wholesale customers, Zen Internet, revealed close to a quarter of UK businesses weren’t aware of plans to withdraw copper line phone services.

EE Adds 35 New UK Locations to their Ultrafast 5G Mobile Cover

EE Adds 35 New UK Locations to their Ultrafast 5G Mobile Cover

Mobile operator EE (BT) has confirmed that a further 35 towns and cities across the United Kingdom have started to go live on their new 5G ultrafast mobile broadband network, which brings the total location count to 160. Some of the biggest additions include York (Yorkshire), Dundee (Scotland) and Swansea (Wales).

Unlike other operators EE only announces places as being live if they have a minimum population of 10,000 people, within which they must also be delivering 5G coverage to “at least a third of that local population as well as the centre of the location.” By comparison, we’ve seen some rivals announce locations despite only having the tiniest of coverage available.

Knowing me, knowing EU – the UK’s post-Brexit identity

Knowing me, knowing EU – the UK’s post-Brexit identity

With the Brexit deal done, there is still a great deal of confusion around how UK citizens abroad, and EU nationals in the UK, can interact with their respective local government – a situation made worse by lockdown and the elimination of face-to-face contact between citizens and businesses. With growing calls internationally for transnational travel to be restricted to only people that have had a COVID-vaccination, a storm is brewing around how to electronically validate identity, vaccination status and other entitlements.

5 million impacted

In 2019, according to UN data, 1.3 million people born in the UK lived in EU countries. Spain hosted the largest group, at 302,000, followed by Ireland, with 293,000. France was third with 177,000, Germany was fourth with 99,000 and Italy was fifth with 66,000. In the same year, the ONS estimated that 3.6 million EU-born migrants lived in the UK in 2019, making up 5.5% of the UK population.