What is it?

PSN is the trusted, shared infrastructure that connects increasing numbers of organisations delivering public services to each other and to cloud based and hosted services they can use or share. Developed in 2011, after the Cabinet Office asked Industry to design an inclusive eco-system, the PSN was based on common Enterprise standards including performance and service, it’s made up of inter-connected commercial networks from many competing suppliers, so ensuring best value.

Why is it trusted?

To create the right environment for public service providers to share information and services, trust must be established between organisations. The annual PSN compliance process does this by ensuring that both suppliers and customer adhere to appropriate standards including security and technical interoperability. Using existing good practice and standard commercial services wherever possible, this approach creates ‘good and safe’ place for the PSN community to do business at least cost. This way, trust can be established  without direct contracts and previous experience.

How secure is PSN?

PSN provides an Assured Wide Area Network (WAN) suitable for using with information classified as Official (or Protect/IL2 in old terms). All services certified as PSN compliant are pre-accredited to ensure this and so cover the great majority of government requirements. Where information is classified as Official-Sensitive (similar to the old term  Restricted/IL3), then PSN can also meet this need with Protected WAN overlay services, using common agreed encryption or connectivity utilising  the Inter Provider Encryption Domain (IPED).

What’s the objective?

PSN aims to save the Public Sector money by better utilisation of conectivity and a greater choice of consumption and services and enable more efficient and joined-up public services. The initial aim was to provide a demonstrable £500m a year savings. This was achieved in 2013, according to HM Treasury.

What’s the benefit?

PSN saves money straight away by helping consolidate multiple networks, doing away with duplicate connections to other organisations, allowing the purchase of standardised, rather than bespoke services and promoting open and dynamic competition between suppliers.

Most importantly, PSN enables much larger benefits by providing the conduit for shared services, better collaboration and greater efficiency; transforming the way public services are delivered. Digital delivery to the citizen means that the public services ‘supply chain’ of processes, applications and information must be seamless and online too. PSN provides the trusted means to do this across departments, agencies and authorities.

How do I know if a service is ‘PSN’?

Before any supplier’s service can be connected to PSN it must be certified as complying with the relevant PSN standards. PSN compliant services can provide network connectivity plus a wide range of applications including voice, video, conferencing, collaboration, hosting, mail and many others. You can find a list of compliant services and those undergoing certification on the PSN website.
If in doubt, ask your supplier for the PSN compliance certificate for their service.

What about the PSN Frameworks?

Two procurement frameworks were let by the Crown Commercial Service in 2012, covering network connectivity (PSN-Connectivity) and a range of network services (PSN-Services). Although called ‘PSN’, the frameworks include both compliant and non-compliant services. To be clear, a PSN compliant service can be bought through any legitimate procurement mechanism and not solely through the PSN frameworks. Likewise, a listing on the PSN frameworks does not itself mean that a service is PSN compliant. Although extended into 2016, the PSN frameworks are due to be replaced with a new framework in 2015 called Network Services Framework which will list services that are PSN Compliant as an attribute, so removing any confusion between frameworks and compliance.

How do I connect to PSN?

Before connection to PSN as a user, you need to have PSN Compliance. This certifies that your network environment meets the basic requirements to connect to PSN, and ensure that you’re able to share and consume services across the PSN community. Find out more about becoming a customer from the PSN website. You also need to acquire a certified PSN connectivity service, whether that’s a complete WAN or just a single connection into PSN.

How do I make a service available on the PSN?

Any organisation, commercial, public or voluntary, can make services available to consume on PSN. Think of PSN as a ‘wire frame’ connecting hundreds of organisations on which shared services from communications to line of business or critical support applications can be hung. Doing this generally means gaining appropriate PSN certification as a service provider for each individual service before it can be connected to PSN.

More guidance on how to become a service provider is on the PSN website. Innopsis as the industry association for all PSN suppliers provides invaluable support from compliance workshops, networking and information to regular meetings with key stakeholders. PSN services can be sold through any legitimate procurement mechanism including the Digital Marketplace.

What’s the market for PSN services?

There’s a dynamic and open marketplace for PSN network connectivity and services, with many suppliers competing through the PSN frameworks, G-Cloud and other commercial routes. It is estimated that approaching £500m has been spent to date through the PSN frameworks and on PSN compliant services through other channels.  Innopsis is expanding with around 60 members, at least 50% of whom are SMEs entering the growing PSN market.

PSN General Documents and Technical Standards

Ever wondered what a vPoC is? Where does a PoI fit in? What exactly a DNSP is? What is PSN? What documents are in the overalll PSN Standards? The answers are here.

The core of the PSN Operating Model is the Technical Design Document (TDD). This describes the minimal technical standards of PSN Services.

To view or download the documents, please click here

Service Management Framework

In an environment where end to end service may be dependent on suppliers or other consumers who are uncontracted, there has to be a set of rules to obey, a way or working and a common vocabulary that all can understand. There needs to be an agreed ‘way of doing things’, otherwise there will be chaos. This does not have to be difficult or onerous, just following common sense practice.

The Service Management Framework decribes how PSN runs, day to day. For details of the documentation, please click here

Compliance

How does a Supplier or consumer know that any services connected or connecting meet the agreed standards? Compliance provides a short cut to experience. Services and Customer Environments that meet the conditions described in the PSN Operating Model, and can be backed up by verification, also a rapid trust environment to be established.

How is this done? The PSN Compliance documentation provides the information.

To see the documentation, please click here

Why Android is the OS of choice for emergency services

Why Android is the OS of choice for emergency services

As Microsoft phases out support for its mobile operating systems (OS) many Emergency Services that previously relied on Windows-based mobile computers are evaluating strategies to migrate to Android.
Android has an 85% market share globally, which makes it very user-friendly. It also offers a number of key benefits to enterprise users that aren’t available with other OS options. Of course, migrating to a new technology is not as easy as buying a mobile device from a local retail store or wireless carrier. Emergency Services IT professionals should prioritize their unique security and operational needs when shopping for a new handheld mobility solution. Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating the various OS options and comparing consumer-grade, business-grade and enterprise-grade rugged mobile computers.

Remote working in the UK civil service: from emergency response to business as usual

Remote working in the UK civil service: from emergency response to business as usual

The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a huge change in working practices across the civil service, with nearly 90% of the 430,000 staff dispatched to their homes for months on end. At a recent webinar, experts from the Government Property Agency and Dell discussed what this mass remote working experiment might mean for the future of the civil service workplace

“In many ways, fixing the workplace and fixing the technology is easy. It costs money, but it’s relatively easy,” said Dominic Brankin, director of workplace services at the UK Cabinet Office’s Government Property Agency. “Supporting a change in behaviour and thinking and belief is much harder, and I think a longer road for us to travel.”

Ofcom Requires UK ISPs to Offer Emergency Video Relay Service

Ofcom Requires UK ISPs to Offer Emergency Video Relay Service

Ofcom has today finalised their decision to force all UK broadband and phone providers – oddly including those that may not even deliver phone services – to offer a free (inc. zero-rated data usage), 24/7 video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users to contact the emergency services, via a dedicated mobile app and website.

The changes, which were first proposed back in 2019, are designed to ensure that disabled people (particularly deaf users) can access the communications services they need in an emergency (i.e. the principle that disabled people should have equivalent access to emergency communications).

Virgin Media O2 provides ‘shot in the arm’ for small businesses with upload speed

Virgin Media O2 provides ‘shot in the arm’ for small businesses with upload speed

Virgin Media O2 is increasing upload speeds for its fibre business broadband customers in the first major service development since the £31 billion merger.

The enlarged company says it wants to provide a boost for SMBs that have seen revenues drop during the pandemic and are now more reliant than ever on connectivity for continuity.
Cloud applications, file sharing and video conferencing have all become essential tools to support distributed workforces and to deliver services to customers who are increasingly demanding digital experiences.

Civil service supremo praises use of data and tech in light of ‘tricky questions’ raised by Covid

Civil service supremo praises use of data and tech in light of ‘tricky questions’ raised by Covid

The reform plan unveiled this week will make government more “skilled, innovative and ambitious” but great commitment and discipline will be required to deliver on its goals, according to the country’s most senior civil servant.

In an all-staff memo, cabinet secretary Simon Case said the civil service must build on its work during the coronavirus pandemic to cement “long-term transformation”, through the Declaration on Government Reform unveiled by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

“In the crucible of the pandemic, our staff, systems and structures have been in constant flux, forcing us to look again at all our ways of working,” Case wrote.

Comparing the civil service to a marathon runner who ends one race only to begin training for another, he added: “As many of you have found while wrestling with outdated processes and legacy systems, we will need an even more skilled, innovative and ambitious organisation to pull it off. Our plan is to create a modern civil service that works better for the people we serve, for the government we support and for us.”

In particular, he praised civil servants for finding ways to use data and technology more effectively, and for working across silos.

Crown Commercial Service awards new Tech Services 3 framework

Crown Commercial Service awards new Tech Services 3 framework

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has awarded the new Technology Services 3 (TS3) framework which has additional services and improved call-off terms.

With the latest version of the framework, customers will be able to procure information and communication technology services across the entire lifecycle which ranges from strategy to transition and operational deployment.

The latest agreement builds on the success of the Technology Services 2 (TS2) framework and makes it easier for customers to procure services related to IT.

Set for launch in July 2021, TS3 will run for a period of four years and replaces TS2, which will expire in September.

Call-off contract durations can be from two to seven years.

Crown Commercial Service commercial director and chief technology procurement officer Philip Orumwense said: “Technology Services 3 has been designed and developed using an extensive discovery and consultative process with many of our customers, suppliers, and partners.

“This framework truly reflects and represents their expectations and provides the platform for the country to build back better with the right mix of quality and innovative suppliers, including SME providers.

“This is another example of how CCS is putting customers at the heart of everything we do to help support the public sector to continue on its digital transformation journey.”

As part of the changes to the framework, sub-lots were removed from Lot 4, a new Service Integration and Management (SIAM) lot and new call-off terms have been designed ‘to better reflect the diversity of technology services offered’.

The new agreement includes 253 suppliers, 64% of which are SMEs, and aims to build on the progress made on making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to become suppliers.

Protecting your business from email compromise attacks

Protecting your business from email compromise attacks

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a fast-growing cybersecurity threat that all businesses, especially small and medium-sized (SMB) ones, face. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported in their 2020 Internet Crime Report that they fielded 19,369 Business Email Compromise (BEC) complaints amounting to over $1.8 billion in adjusted losses in the United States for that year.
BEC attacks primarily use email, but can be carried out using SMS messages, voice mail messages, and even phone calls. BEC attacks are notable because they rely heavily on so-called “social engineering” techniques, meaning they use trickery and deception against people.

Vodafone puts social and environmental responsibilities at heart of new strategy

Vodafone puts social and environmental responsibilities at heart of new strategy

New Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam has pledged to give the company a sense of purpose that extends beyond the mere provision of connectivity services, reflecting the elevated role of connectivity in society in a post-Covid world.

Speaking at his first major event since replacing Nick Jeffery as UK chief executive in February 2021, Essam praised the achievements of his predecessor, who is credited with overseeing a turnaround at the company through network investments, new propositions, and improvements to customer service.

The former Vodafone Group Chief Commercial Operations and Strategy Officer said he was joining a “resurgent” company and had inherited a platform that would allow the company to react to the changing needs of customers and businesses in an increasingly digital world.

Royal Navy uses artificial intelligence for the first time in test off the west coast of Scotland

Royal Navy uses artificial intelligence for the first time in test off the west coast of Scotland

The Royal Navy has made its first at-sea use of artificial intelligence (AI) to track supersonic missile attacks, as part of a NATO exercise taking place off the west coast of Scotland.

HMS Dragon, a destroyer, and frigate HMS Lancaster are testing how two AI software packages can support personnel in reacting to missile threats.

Startle monitors airspace and generates alerts and recommendations, while Sycoiea builds on this to identify incoming missiles and recommend weapons to deal with them.

The AI software is designed to help personnel react faster, rather than replacing humans.

“I was able identify missile threats more quickly than usual and even outwit the operations room,” said above water tactician leading seaman Sean Brooks on HMS Lancaster.

“Observing Startle and Sycoiea augment the human warfighter in real time against a live supersonic missile threat was truly impressive – a glimpse into our highly-autonomous future,” added the ship’s weapon engineer officer lieutenant commander Adam Leveridge.

What inflation tells us about the UK economy – and how you’re spending your cash

What inflation tells us about the UK economy – and how you’re spending your cash

With price changes in the public eye as Britain edges towards post-pandemic recovery, an ONS statistician explains what they mean.
One of the key economic statistics we produce at the ONS is consumer price inflation, a measure of the prices people pay for goods and services. With this number slowly creeping up, partly as a response to the short-term effects of the pandemic, this metric is again being drawn to people’s attention.

In the first two decades of this century, inflation – using our most comprehensive measure, CPIH – averaged around 2 per cent a year. On the surface, this sounds quite modest (and, dare I say, dull?). Of course, inflation has not remained steady throughout this period, from a high of 4.8 per cent in 2008 to a low of 0.2 per cent in 2015, so the 2 per cent figure is merely an average. But there are two points to remember.

Firstly, inflation cumulates over time – in fact it ‘compounds’, to use the more technical language, so the 2 per cent a year means that prices in 2020 are 48 per cent higher than in 2000. A price increase of nearly one-half is much more dramatic: an item that cost £10 in 2000 would cost around £15 in 2020.