News for w/c 8th July

Public Technology

Department signs ‘digital charter’ with 15 companies

The relocation of HM Revenue and Customs into 13 hubs around the country will see the department move into what it claims are “some of the most digitally advanced buildings in government”.

HMRC’s Estates directorate, which is overseeing the ongoing development and population of the new locations, has signed a “digital charter” with 15 companies involved in the construction and ongoing maintenance of the buildings. 

The signatories are: Atalian Servest; Aecom; Styles & Wood; Bellrock; BW; Interserve; White Young Green; ISG; Overbury; Faithful & Gould; Sodexo; Mace; Wates; Turner & Townsend; and BAM.

By signing the charter, the firms in question have agreed to focus on “maximising the use of data and implementing the latest digital technology, including smart technology where systems interact with each other,” according to HMRC.

The charter forms part of the HMRC’s Estates Digital Blueprint, which is designed to help ensure that staff make use of the latest technology, including mobile apps. The blueprint “will also deliver data and insight to support the right decisions being made at the right time during construction and operations” of the new hubs. This process will involve data – such as the comparative use of various areas in its existing locations – being used to inform “architectural and design decisions” during the construction of the hubs.

Amazon Alexa-NHS partnership splits expert opinion

BBC

Worried about a lump? Got a nasty cough that won’t budge? Many people Google queries about such symptoms daily – but now they can get NHS advice instantly by asking Amazon’s Alexa.

The voice-activated assistant is now automatically searching NHS web pagesto find answers to medical questions.

And the government hopes it will reduce the demand on human doctors.

But the move has split opinion among artificial intelligence (AI) experts and data ethicists.

“The sensitive data holdings of a national healthcare provider like the NHS are a form of ‘critical social infrastructure’,” said Berlin-based tech expert Mathana Stender.

“Yet they’ve been handed to a foreign company that’s both a defence contractor and targeted advertiser,”

NHS GP David Wrigley asked, among other things, whether the questions asked via Alexa would be encrypted and who would store any data relating to patient queries.

How to Create the Team Cohesion Needed for Digital Transformation

Chief Executive

Digital transformation is easier said than done. Companies know it takes a serious investment of time, energy, money, and will, yet they are still often caught off-guard by the scope of the effort. For that reason, far more companies start transformations than finish them.

One resource that is often missing is buy-in, but not from the source you probably expect. While the focus is often getting executives on board with digital-first initiatives, it’s the front-line staff who really need to be engaged. Recent research found that 84% of executives are committed to transformation compared to just 45% of lower-level workers.

Digital transformation depends on engagement at all levels because companies need the broadest perspective throughout this process. An executive in charge of operations, for example, has a much different perspective from someone who works in the field. However, both are valuable because together they reveal what the “digital-first version” of your company actually looks like.

Get a variety of stakeholders in the room together, and you’ll see a synergy you never expected. New ideas are born out of thin air as people combine their needs to create a holistic solution. The goal is digitization, but it’s driven by the needs of people.

White paper highlights NHS cyber vulnerabilities

UKAuthority

Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) has sounded the warning in Improving Cyber Security in the NHS, based on evidence from NHS organisations and examples of previous attacks – the most high profile being the spread of the WannaCry virus that disrupted at least 81 out of England’s 236 NHS trusts in May 2017.

The paper says the NHS is vulnerable to due to a combination of outdated computer systems, lack of investment and a deficit of skills and awareness in cyber security.

Among the problems it identifies is the complexity of accountabilities for cyber security. For example, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) receives information about a cyber attack from NHS Digital and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), which can make the information transfer complex and cumbersome.

While there is a set of data security protection requirements for different networks, there are no detailed specifications. And while NHS Digital collects information on cyber incidents, it is not statistically evaluated to build an understanding of risks and threats.

UK hits 8% full fibre coverage

Think Broadband

Whether the UK is to stay with existing ambition of 50% coverage of full fibre by 2025 or increase this ambition to bringing forward the 100% full fibre date of 2033 to 2025 looks very difficult to comprehend when we are getting mildly excited that the actual coverage has increased to 8%.

The UK hit 8.02% full fibre coverage on Monday 1st July when we updated the online stats for the start of July and with the daily updates on our internal system we are recording a total of 8.08%. 

8% looks inconsequential but the pace of roll-out has changed significantly with half of the roll-out appearing in the last 12 months and with roll-outs from firms such as Openreach, Hyperoptic, Vodafone Gigafast (built by CityFibre), Community Fibre ramping up.

Of course premises passed is just part of the story, no point in having an area with 100% coverage and no-one buying the service or companies refusing to connect people, so as well as tracking the premises passed the next year or two are crucial in seeing how much take-up there is and whether the various FTTP companies have the resources to both pass and connect homes and businesses.

NHS creating its own ‘G-Cloud’ for digital services

Computing

NHS CIO Will Smart tells Computing that the organisation is in the midst of creating NHS-wide procurement frameworks for IT services

The NHS is in the process of creating an organisation-wide procurement framework for IT services, similar to the G-Cloud digital marketplace set up for Central Government.

NHS CIO Will Smart admitted that it’s unusual for the NHS to make any organisation-wide purchases, but admitted that it is setting up a system to enable it to negotiate better deals with suppliers.

“You will see us doing more NHS-wide procurement frameworks,” Smart began. “We will use the commercial scale of the NHS to strike the best possible deal with vendors, but allow local organisations pull off the most appropriate solution. And we’ll do that at a core technology level.”

Public Technology

Over the past decade, tech-minded government reformers have pursued two main objectives: digitisation and disaggregation.

While digitisation is the sleek and seductive storefront of transformation, disaggregation serves as the back office and the goods warehouse. The former has seen departments, guided by the Government Digital Service, build ways to deliver hundreds of citizen services online, while also digitising many of government’s own internal processes. Supporting this have been concerted efforts to reimagine the way the civil service – and the wider public sector – buys and deploys technology. The ambition is to do away with the old long-term, multibillion-pound deals that were, invariably, awarded to just a handful of global IT giants.

Having broken up these contracts – a process otherwise known as disaggregation – the goal is to replace them with numerous smaller deals and, in doing so, enable innovative SME specialists to work with government in a way that was not possible in years gone by.

In the gamut of technology careers, working in procurement will never be towards the glamorous end. But, during the transformation efforts of recent years, the Crown Commercial Service has been the yin to the GDS yang: a necessary complement needed to make a whole of two halves.

CCS took its current form in 2014 when the centralised Government Procurement Service was expanded and strengthened by the inclusion of buying management teams from individual departments. This was two years after both the creation of GDS and the launch of the first G-Cloud framework – a streamlined commercial vehicle allowing for easier purchase of cloud services.

And while the work of the procurement agency may not always capture the imagination in the same way as its Cabinet Office stablemate, CCS can put up some pretty impressive numbers to demonstrate its effectiveness: its 2017-18 annual report reveals that the organisation enabled cumulative cost savings of £601m for a total of 17,000 public sector buyers.

Niall Quinn, technology director at CCS, tells CSW: “CCS was set up to save people money; there is money saved through using our frameworks, and there’s money saved through further competition [between prospective suppliers]. Further competition is key. So, we want much more of that across all of our frameworks, because that’s real and demonstrated.”

But, he adds, CCS’s work is not just about saving money – it’s about value. “If we educate people about how to use our framework better… and educate suppliers about how to bid better as well, then you have [everything] meeting in the middle to create value – namely appropriate skills, delivered to the right problem and solving it – at the right price.”

Over half a million homes now using full-fibre as access improves

Computer Weekly

Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report examines key trends in the UK’s broadband and mobile market, and finds that access to faster broadband is expanding rapidly across all delivery mechanisms.

The number of active full-fibre – or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband connections in the UK grew from 320,000 to 510,000 during 2018, reflecting the gathering pace of the national full-fibre roll-out, which is bringing the technology within physical reach of more homes, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report.

The annual report highlighted growth across the broadband market as Brits rushed to upgrade to faster broadband services, mostly to access subscription on-demand video services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Vodafone switches on 5G mobile network

Computer Weekly

The UK’s longest-standing mobile operator, Vodafone, has officially turned on its 5G mobile network at an event in London, and reintroduced unlimited data packages for users as it looks to shake up the market.

Mobile network operator Vodafone has officially launched its 5G mobile network service at an event in the City of London, with UK chief executive Nick Jeffery and reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton pushing the ceremonial big red button, marking the culmination of a multi-year, £4.5bn transformation and preparation programme for the operator.

News w/c 24th June 2019

NHS Wales flings £39m at Microsoft for Office 365 and Windows 10

The Register

Far away, my Office is calling… Outlook alerts do chime

The Welsh, it seems, just cannot get enough of Microsoft as 100,000 NHS staff across the country are set to receive a bucketload of the company’s productivity wares. comes hot on the heels of a £1.2m deal to see 1,521 “maintained” schools in the region getting their sticky fingers on Office 365 ProPlus.

While nearly half a million young people, aged between three and 19, were set to benefit from the education scheme, the NHS agreement is aimed at a good deal fewer people for considerably more cash.

As well as Office 365, lucky staff will also receive Windows 10 as part of the E5 subscription.

 

Revenue and profits tumble at Redcentric

Channel Web

MSP makes interim CEO permanent and appoints new CFO

Redcentric has seen its full-year revenue drop below £100m, despite a successful H2. The AIM-listed MSP reported a tumble of 6.7 per cent to £93.3m for its year ending 31 March 2019. Its EBITDA also…

‘Just about any Brexit will damage UK economy’

Public Finance

A think-tank has warned most forms of Brexit will damage the UK economy – while the Office for National Statistics has predicted borrowing will increase this financial year. 

A report from the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe has said that “most forms of Brexit will worsen the government’s fiscal position, probably significantly” and added that this will impact on policy initiatives and the timing of the Spending Review.

The study predicted that economic damage would disproportionately hit those in the country who are already worse off.

“The impacts of Brexit on regions and sectors are, if anything, likely to disadvantage those which are already lagging behind,” it said.

NHSX completes tech review and sets its mission

The HTN

In a recent blog published by NHSX ahead of its official launch, the organisation announced it has completed a major review of NHS tech spending, with some programmes to close, merge and some that have naturally come to an end.

Over the past few weeks NHSX CEO Matthew Gould has traveled around the country to hear from frontline staff, Gould said “As I’ve travelled round lots of different parts of the NHS in the past few weeks, clear patterns emerge. Number one is the need for interoperability. Too many NHS systems can’t talk to each other. It could be a blood test taken in one part of the NHS that can’t be viewed in another, a GP’s system that doesn’t update when a hospital switches a patient’s medication, a mental health crisis team who have no idea the patient also has a heart condition.”

“Our siloed systems put patient safety at risk because clinicians end up treating patients without the full information. They stifle innovation because developers can’t build on them.”

“We also know that too many clinicians are frustrated by clunky tech getting in the way of their ability to do their job.  Across the country, doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and others – all stretched and time-poor – are wasting huge amounts of time on painfully slow log- ins, fighting with old kit, or having to remember dozens of different passwords over the course of their day.”

Following the review by NHSX the organisation set its mission to reduce the burden on clinicians and staff, so they can focus on patients, giving people the tools to access information, improve productivity and ensure clinical information can be safely accessed, wherever it is needed.

Innovation Summit – Tech Will Automate 90% of Our Procurement Decisions within 3 Years

Spend Matters

I hadn’t realised that Denmark is internationally recognised as a leader in several aspects of innovation, including clean technology, biotech and IT. It’s no surprise then that Tradeshift chose to host their 2019 Innovation Summit in Copenhagen. Add to that the fact that Copenhagen is the ‘birthplace’ of Tradeshift and you have a good springboard for a two-day immersion with their customers, prospects, and team members from across the globe and functions.

UK geodata and digital chiefs to step down

Goblal Government Forum

The heads of the UK’s digital unit and its geospatial data strategy are both to leave their jobs, with digital chief Kevin Cunnington moving to a new role promoting UK government services to public sectors overseas.

On Friday the Cabinet Office announced that Thalia Baldwin is to become director of the Geospatial Commission, following an open competition. She is to replace William Priest, who founded the commission following his appointment last year.

Why are UK cities finding it so hard to become SMART?

Business Leader

The term ‘Smart Cities’ is frequently used but will mean different things to different people. In this report, Business Leader looks at what a Smart City is and investigates why UK cities are so far behind their global counterparts.

A ‘Smart City’ might conjure up futuristic images of flying cars, high spec tech and a large metropolis straight out of a sci-fi movie, but the reality is that it has real world applications that are taking over the world’s major business regions.

Smart city developments are designed to incorporate all facets of data, telecoms and people-centric technology to enhance the quality and performance of urban services.

Whether it is transport links, utility services, or a way for businesses and homes to reduce wastage and cost – smart city applications are the future for major cities across the world.

Carrier services help expand healthcare, with 5G in the offing

Network World

Many telehealth initiatives tap into wireless networking supplied by service providers that may start offering services such as Citizen’s Band and 5G to support remote medical care.

There are connectivity options aplenty for most types of IoT deployment, but the idea of simply handing the networking part of the equation off to a national licensed wireless carrier could be the best one for certain kinds of deployments in the medical field.

Telehealth systems, for example, are still a relatively new facet of modern medicine, but they’re already among the most important applications that use carrier networks to deliver care. One such system is operated by the University of Mississippi Medical Center, for the treatment and education of diabetes patients.

Virgin Media Preparing New Cloud UI for Hub 3 Broadband Routers

ISPreview

Customers of UK cable TV and broadband ISP Virgin Media may soon be getting a new User Interface (UI) for their Hub 3.0 wireless routers, which is currently being trialled. The new “Cloud Connect” UI is described as offering a seamless and real-time “Netflix like” cloud based experience.

The use of the word “cloud” tends to denote some sort of remote web-based management system (i.e. controlling your router remotely over the internet or via an app), which may well build on the changes that were introduced as part of their recent “Intelligent Wi-Fi” upgrade; the latter was similarly described as being a “smart cloud-based, adaptive system“.

News w/c 17th June 2019

£7.8 million to drive forward innovative ideas to transform railways

Gov.uk

The UK’s rail network is set to become more efficient, greener and cleaner thanks to new funding for innovative ideas.

  • drones to inspect tracks, a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution and plans for the first testing of a hydrogen-powered train are among 24 schemes awarded funding
  • projects will receive a share of up to £7.8 million in government funding for use on the rail network
  • innovative ideas are set to make the UK rail network more efficient, greener and cleaner

Drones capable of inspecting railway infrastructure, hydrogen train trials and a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution are among 24 winning projects in the third round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, unveiled by the Department for Transport today (13 June 2019).

Run by Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the UK rail industry, the competition seeks innovative ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel.

Strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts were the themes for this round. Each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000.

NHS needs ‘trusting’ partnerships with industry to accelerate innovation

Digital Health

The NHS needs “deep, trusting” partnerships with industry to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge health innovation, Baroness Nicola Blackwood has said.

Speaking the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) UK Market Conference earlier this month, Blackwood, who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the UK needs to be “relentless” in its drive to ensure its place at the cutting edge of health innovation.

To achieve this, the government’s life science sector needs to continue supporting healthtech SMEs to scale up.

“We are looking at how healthtech companies can access the finances they need and creating a finance innovation ecosystem which promotes collaboration between the NHS and industry, to ensure new technologies meet NHS priorities and therefore have a ready-made market within the UK,” she said.

Public Technology

Department opts not to award framework deal worth up to £350m after near-draw between two bidders

The Foreign Office hof a framework voice and data connectivity deal with an estimated value of between £75m and £350m.

The five-year contract, carried out in association with the Department for International Development and the British Council, would have provided connectivity services to about 550 sites in 170 countries, connecting UK head offices to embassies, consulates and other overseas offices.

“Following a procurement process for global telecommunications services, the outcome between the first and second placed bidders was deemed to be so close that it was decided not to award a contract from the procurement,” the Foreign Office told PublicTechnology.

“We are now undertaking a review of our technology and commercial strategies before deciding how to come back out to market for these services.”

5G testbeds programme gets £40million funding boost

Digital Health

Initiatives testing how 5G can improve health and social care are to benefit from a further £40million investment in the testbeds programme.

The testbeds and trials programme, announced in early 2018, has driven improved mobile connectivity in multiple industries, including healthcare.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care is one of the projects that’s benefited from funding in the past, with a number of projects in place including a loneliness gaming and quiz app which connects people with learning disabilities.

Announcing the new wave of funding at the 5G World Conference as part of London Tech Week, digital secretary, Jeremy Wright said: “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making sure that Britain has a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future.

CityFibre and SSE Enterprise Telecoms announce new ethernet partnership at Connected Britain

DCL Search

CityFibre has announced a new partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, whereby the company will become an Edge Plus strategic partner for Ethernet services.

“Partnering with SSE Enterprise Telecoms was not only beneficial to increase demand in the market, but culturally, our two organisations are well suited, both being guided by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a need to disrupt the market. As a result, we’ll be able to take advantage of SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ extensive network reach and customer base to increase demand for full fibre, metro-based services,” CityFibre told Total Telecom at the Connected Britain event in London today. 

CityFibre is set to become an Edge Plus provider for Ethernet services from SSE Telecom. The deal will see CityFibre’s ethernet services added to SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ price comparison tool LIVEQUOTE, offering customers a far greater choice when selecting a last-mile service provider.

As part of the deal, SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ customers will gain access to 15 CityFibre networks, five of which are already live with a further ten to be added in the next few months.

UK unveils Technology Innovation Strategy

Global Government Forum

The UK government has published its Technology Innovation Strategy, which sets out how it will implement digital technology to improve service delivery.

The Cabinet Office’s minister for implementation, Oliver Dowden, announced the national strategy last week, in a speech at the launch of London Tech Week.

“The UK has led the world in harnessing technology to transform public services, but we cannot afford to sit back,” he said. “Adoption of new technologies by the private sector is changing how people live their lives and the public sector has to pick up the pace to stay relevant.”

The document is split into three sections focusing on:

  • recruitment and up-skilling the existing workforce;
  • providing an environment for experimentation; and
  • ensuring up-to-date technology and access to useful data.

 

Rapid TV News

In a UK first, and providing a boost to IPTV adoption, full-fibre infrastructure provider and ISP Truespeed is to start offering residential customers an Active Ethernet 10Gbps-capable full fibre service.

As a way of explaining the advantages of such networks, the company notes that unlike with 10Gbps PON-based networks where the fibre-optic beam is split between customers on a segment of the network causing contention, Truespeed’s Active Ethernet network delivers a dedicated 10Gbps link to every individual customer, thus maximising throughput and so potentially boosting considerably experiences for applications such as video streaming and TV.

Truespeed already offers residential customers in the rural South-West connection speeds of between 100Mbps and 1Gbps and has plans to expand beyond this region over time. It has just completed a small pilot deployment with the new 10Gbps-capable residential fibre Ethernet switch from Danish vendor DKT A/S and plans to offer it to residential customers alongside the current 1Gbps box over the course of 2019.

UK May Get ‘Thousands’ of 5G New Entrants Under Proposed Shake-Up by Ofcom

Light Reading

The future 5G opportunity for UK operators appeared to shrink today after regulatory authority Ofcom announced dramatic plans to sell licenses to “thousands” of 5G new entrants, imitating moves that have already been made in Germany and several other markets.

Under proposals unveiled at today’s 5G World event in London, Ofcom would reserve 390MHz of valuable “mid-band” spectrum between 3.8GHz and 4.2GHz for local coverage and campus use. If the scheme takes off, anyone could apply for a 5G license covering an area of just 50 square meters and develop their own local 5G network.

That could be done in partnership with a mobile network operator, but it could also be through an equipment vendor or startup, said Mansoor Hanif, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, describing the proposals as “revolutionary” during a presentation at today’s event.

Liverpool carers celebrate the role new technology’s playing in helping them overcome loneliness

Liver 5G testbed

Unpaid carers from Liverpool say loneliness prevention device, “Push to Talk” has helped them overcome social isolation.

Push to Talk is a new technology that connects unpaid carers to chat to each other, at the press of a button, at any time of the day.

Carers spoke about the innovative technology at an event to mark Carers’ Week (June 10-16 2019) at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory, Liverpool.

Mary Brandt from Kensington was introduced to the Push to Talk device by her Local Solutions team and says it’s brought her great comfort: “When Chris from Local Solutions came with the Push to Talk box my family said, ‘what do you need that for?’ I told them it was for carers in the same situation as me, people caring and living on their own who don’t always have somebody to talk to.

“I love using it. I contact other carers and we talk and have a laugh, it does everybody good. We don’t always talk to each other about our problems, we just chat.”

She added: “ My son who I cared for, for many years, doesn’t live with me any more, although I see him a lot of him. When I cared for him I hid it from people at work as I knew their thoughts about people with mental illnesses and didn’t want my son talked about that way. It made me feel quite lonely. When I met with people from Liverpool Carers Centre, Local Solutions, who introduced me to Push to Talk, I felt like they were giving a voice to the carers.”

News w/c 10th June 2019

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

Telegraph

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

Mirror

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

ISPreview

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

News for w/c 3rd June 2019

The path from HSCN to Internet First

UKAuthority

Some eyebrows have been raised with the indication that the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), although still not fully bedded in, has a limited shelf life.

The issue took on a higher profile a couple of weeks ago when Health Secretary Matt Hancock highlighted the issue in a speech to the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress. It came with NHS Digital’s publication of guidance on the move to an ‘Internet First’ approach to connectivity that points towards the public internet rather than HSCN being the default approach – at least in the long term.

It adds that HSCN has been designed from the outset to support the transition from public to private networking, and prompted thoughts that health and social care organisations should begin to look at secure public internet connections sooner rather than later.

This reflects the Government’s broader guidance that public sector organisations can begin to use public internet services, which now have appropriate levels of security, rather than relying on the Public Services Network (PSN) or HSCN. But it has also raised some voices with the message that there is no reason to hurry, and the immediate focus should remain on the HSCN.

Immediate demands

Innopsis, the trade association for IT suppliers for the public sector that has been pushing the cause of the HSCN since its inception, is indicating that the principle of Internet First does not necessarily reflect the immediate demands.

Its managing director Mike Thomas says: “In common with all public sector bodies there is a general acceptance of wanting to move towards an internet approach, and for quite valid reasons.

“There are whole sections of the public sector that could be served by public facing internet applications with adequate security and resilience. We fully endorse that view, but it needs to be done in an organised way.

“The major issue at the moment is that most of the applications that the NHS and most of the public sector want to access are not internet facing and cannot be without an enormous amount of development work.”

Vodafone UK claims 5G could be the end game

Mobile World Live

The 5G era could mean the industry will never need another generation, Vodafone UK’s head of mobile networks argued, but only if operators remain faithful to how the technology has been conceived and avoid short-cuts when introducing it.

Speaking at a briefing on the future of networks held Vodafone’s Newbury HQ, Andrea Dona pointed to studies which suggest 5G could be the ultimate mobile technology, if “we get it right”.

He explained the industry had been “monolithic” with 2G, 3G and 4G, but 5G was more open and, from a standards perspective, designed “ to accept all the existing different technologies”, including small cells and Wi-Fi, making it more future-proof.

“We are at the forefront of technology, the cutting edge of technology and we don’t quite know, but if you look at the theory, you could argue that actually it could be the last G.”

“It does, however, depend on how we adhere to the logic of how it has been engineered.”

Dona proceeded to hail the UK’s approach to be a first mover in Europe, as an example of how 5G could be a long-term solution.

“To go first on 5G in Europe and really be at the forefront, we can learn first and be the ones shaping it,” he said.

Councils to publish deals done with developers

Local Gov

The 5G era could mean the industry will never need another generation, Vodafone UK’s head of mobile networks argued, but only if operators remain faithful to how the technology has been conceived and avoid short-cuts when introducing it.

Speaking at a briefing on the future of networks held Vodafone’s Newbury HQ, Andrea Dona pointed to studies which suggest 5G could be the ultimate mobile technology, if “we get it right”.

He explained the industry had been “monolithic” with 2G, 3G and 4G, but 5G was more open and, from a standards perspective, designed “ to accept all the existing different technologies”, including small cells and Wi-Fi, making it more future-proof.

“We are at the forefront of technology, the cutting edge of technology and we don’t quite know, but if you look at the theory, you could argue that actually it could be the last G.”

“It does, however, depend on how we adhere to the logic of how it has been engineered.”

Dona proceeded to hail the UK’s approach to be a first mover in Europe, as an example of how 5G could be a long-term solution.

“To go first on 5G in Europe and really be at the forefront, we can learn first and be the ones shaping it,” he said.

New code of practice to limit road works disruption

BBC

New rules are being introduced in a bid to limit disruption from road works caused by utility firms.

In future, trenches dug in roads and pavements will have to be narrower – and then filled in quicker.

The Scottish government is bringing in a new code of practice to reflect modern ways of working and the fact that many underground cables are now more compact.

Ministers say it will help speed up the delivery of ultra-fast broadband.

It will also mean shorter periods of disruption for power, water and gas works which use these this technique.

Hospital trusts call for more national IT procurement

UK Authority

, would reverse government policy of nearly a decade under which individual NHS trusts have largely taken responsibility for their IT. This was introduced by the coalition government of 2010-15 in response to the failings of the highly-centralised National Programme for IT (NPfIT) of the previous Labour government.

The report said that interviewees saw some value in returning to centralised procurement, particularly for Microsoft licences, and noted that 2016’s review of NHS IT by Dr Robert Wachter warned that it was important not to “overlearn the lessons of NPfIT… centralisation sometimes makes sense, particularly in the context of a national health system”.

5G to broaden application fields for big data technology

CGTN

The combination of 5G and big data is being highlighted at the ongoing China International Big Data Industry Expo 2019 in Guiyang City, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, displaying a wide range of big data applications and technologies.

5G technology possesses characteristics of high bandwidth, low latency and strong compatibility, which can help ease and save people’s lives.

For instance, a bus safety warning system under the coverage of a 5G network can monitor the status of the driver in real time. If the driver dozes off, or answers the phone unsafely, the system can issue an alert. In addition, passengers will be able to pay for their travel through a facial recognition payment system.

“We can upload the passenger’s picture to the cloud platform in real time, and make a comparison (on the big data platform), then payment can be done if the information matches. The delay of the process is only 10 milliseconds, which cannot be achieved by a 4G network,” said Zhang Jirong, an exhibitor.

Are Startups Missing A Trick By Neglecting The Public Sector?

Forbes

Despite being a venture capitalist who makes a living out of deploying capital into fast-growing tech companies, I always tell the entrepreneurs I work with that the best funding they can get is through sales. Sales provide cash flow, verification, ability to navigate product life cycles and instill confidence. Entrepreneurs mustn’t lose sight of this and should explore all possible channels in their quest to generate the sales they need to build sustainable growth. In this respect, the public sector may offer one of the biggest opportunities of all.

Just like businesses, governments are navigating the daunting task of digitalizing their services for a rapidly changing world. And yet few businesses could claim their task is as big or complex as that facing the public sector, with its diverse and critical services that reach millions, or even billions, of people.

From the digital updates that are desperately needed now, to customer-centric platforms to ease pressure on stretched resources, not to mention the solutions that we don’t even know we need yet, the scope of the challenge is mind-boggling. Governments are tackling huge, complex problems around issues such as compliance, tax-evasion, migration, terrorism, cybersecurity, aging population, health—the list goes on. Technology has a pivotal role to play in solving all of them.

University of Surrey deploys blockchain and AI-powered ARCHANGEL for securing national archives

Government Computing

The University of Surrey said that it has deployed a decentralised computer vision and blockchain-based system, called ARCHANGEL, to secure the digital government records of national archives in the UK, Australia, the US and other countries.

The system, based on blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), has been developed by the university through its Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) department alongside the Open Data Institute (ODI) and the National Archives in the UK for the protection of the long-term future of digital video archives.

According to the university, the blockchain of ARCHANGEL functions as a database maintained by multiple archives, enabling everyone to check and add records, but prevents the added data from being changed. With no modification of data possible, the integrity of the historical record is maintained, said the University of Surrey.

NHS WiFi now available to millions of patients

NHS-Digital

Free NHS WiFi is now available in 6,749 GP practices and 212 acute, mental health and community NHS Trusts across England, benefitting millions of patients.

95% of GP practices and 98% of NHS trusts are already connected with the remaining four trusts and ten CCGs all underway with their own procurements and set to be live this year. NHS Digital exceeded its target to have 95% coverage, by 31 March 2019, in GP practices and NHS trusts.

Having access to free NHS WiFi is offering a range of possibilities for staff and patients, from staying connected to friends and family using messaging services; to empowering patients to monitor and look after their own health better using digital health services; to keeping injured children entertained in A&E.

News for w/c 27th May 2019

First to 5G? For smartphone users, the race is kind of meaningless

CNet

EE is the first UK carrier to jump to 5G. But for most consumers, the upgrade just isn’t worth it yet.

Pop the champagne and polish the medals, for the competition to be first to 5G has declared its victors.

UK carrier EE turned on the first 5G network in its home country on Thursday, beating its rivals to the punch. EE joins Verizon and Swisscom as “winners” of the race to being the first in a given country to offer customers the next generation of network speeds.

5G is the successor to 4G, and its higher speeds will enable new experiences, from autonomous cars to seamlessly integrated smart homes. For a handful of early adopters out there, EE’s 5G switch-on will bring the first taste of whizzier, much-hyped mobile internet.

But it’s crucial to recognize that it will just be a handful. Initially, 5G will only be available in the busiest and most central parts of the small number of launch cities. The rest of the time, you’ll be connected to the good old-fashioned 4G network.

So it may be worth holding off on upgrading to a 5G phone contract for now.

Here lies the awkward period when 5G transforms from relentless hype to reality. It’s a point of pride for a network to switch on 5G first, and you’ll hear a carrier trumpet the claim in countless commercials. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect when you’ll get 5G or the ultimate strength of your network’s 5G offering. Keep in mind, the industry celebrates many 5G milestones, even if most average phone users couldn’t care less.

The biggest govtech deals of the week (29/5/19)

New Statesman

This is the latest instalment of an exclusive series analysing the UK’s biggest public sector tech deals. Every week, in partnership with the data analysis firm Tussell, we drill down into the most valuable tenders and awards from the last seven days. Here’s what we found this week…

Prior information notices

Manchester Airport has unveiled plans to launch a software reseller framework worth £18m. The notice is unusually light on detail, but the framework is likely to form a part of the airport’s broader £1bn transformation programme. The airport, the largest outside of London, also created a £19m framework for the provision of its IT services last year.

Tenders

The biggest tender of the week comes from NHS-Digital, which is launching a £500m framework for digital care services. It will provide “contract vehicles for, amongst others, GPs practices, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other NHS providers to purchase systems and services”, the notice states. The deadline for applications is 5 July.

Awards

Cadence Partnership has secured one of the largest awards announced last week: a £16.5m deal to provide implementation, delivery and transition services to the Department for Education. The contract began last June and will run for two years.

 

Blockchain ‘beneficial but not yet transformative for public services’

UK Authority

Blockchain in its current form can provide benefits for public services but is not yet transformative or disruptive, according to a new report.

Blockchain for digital government, published by the ISA2interoperability group in the European Commission, also proposes a framework of policy steps to exploit the potential, saying the priority is for the technology and ecosystem to become more mature

The report is based on a series of case studies across European countries, looking at what activities can be supported by distributed ledger technology, the benefits for digital government, which ongoing services can be scaled up and what policy actions are needed.

It highlights three main functions within blockchain that can be useful in digital public services – notarisation, the provision of a shared database and workflow automation – saying the services that use the first are the most mature.

Among the other findings are that projects with a high level of maturity tend to be less complex with more centralised governance; that blockchain services already in place respond to clear business needs and have an active public sector actor and technology partner; and they are predominantly based on open source software.

In addition, blockchain is always just one layer of a more developed service that usually runs on top of a legacy-type database.

Why councils are bringing millions of pounds worth of services back in-house

The Guardian

After 40 years of awarding contracts to the private sector, insourcing is now the way for local authorities to cut costs and improve quality

Chris Morgan got a job as an electrician repairing council houses in Stoke-on-Trent just over five years ago. Although he enjoyed his job, Morgan, 36, says he did not always feel he could raise issues with his line manager. “Our supervisors weren’t always in the trade we were in,” he says. The city council had outsourced its housing repairs service to Kier group in 2008. But since the council brought the work in-house last year, Morgan says he feels happier. “I know my supervisor knows what I’m on about. It makes me more confident,” he says. “We have had extra talks, health and safety training. They have put in a new canteen and showers, so the facilities are better too.” And with a £1,000 pay rise, plus an extra £500 for doing asbestos work, Morgan is also a bit better off.

Now all repairs, maintenance and home improvements to the council’s housing stock, as well as public building maintenance, are in-house.

A report by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) published today, shows that Stoke is far from unusual, with 77% of UK councils planning to bring services back in-house this year. And the report calculates that between 2016 and 2018, at least 220 local government contracts have been brought back into council control.

 

Council spending on local services down 21% over past decade

The Guardian

Drop in finances is a reflection of austerity drive imposed by Tory-led governments

Council spending on local services has fallen by more than a fifth since 2010, according to a report from Britain’s leading independent economics thinktank.

In a reflection of the austerity drive imposed on local authorities by Conservative-led governments during the past decade, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said spending on services in England had fallen by 21% between 2009-10 and 2017-18.

In a sign of the increasing difficulties facing local authorities across the country, the leading tax and spending thinktank also said the funds available to councils would become increasingly inadequate in the 2020s, rendering the current financing system for the country’s local authorities through council tax and business rates unsustainable.

English councils warned about ‘exhausting’ reserve cash

BBC

Some councils in England have been warned they risk running out of cash reserves if recent spending continues.

Analysis by the BBC has identified 11 authorities the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) said would have “fully exhausted” reserves within four years unless they topped them up.

The Local Government Association said councils faced “systemic underfunding”.

The government said councils were responsible for managing their funds.

Councils have faced cuts to their government funding and rising demand for services such as social care, while MPs have warned children’s services are at “breaking point” .

Cash reserves – money held back for specific projects or emergencies, such as flooding – are seen as a measure of financial security.

Between them the 152 major councils in England had £14bn in reserve in March 2018, £500m more than the year before but £400m less than in 2015.

Yorkshire-based YPO secures four year deal with Amazon Business

Yorkshire Post

The publicly owned YPO has signed a four-year contract with Amazon Business to supply goods and services to public sector bodies including local authorities, multi-academy trusts and universities.

The deal, which is worth up to £400m, will offer public sector customers who are buying from Amazon Business access to a much wider range of products.

Amazon Business provides access to hundreds of millions of products from tens of thousands of smaller independent suppliers from across the UK, helping customers to save time and money.

By accessing Amazon Business through Wakefield-based YPO, which is one of the UK’s largest public sector buying organisations, customers will be earning income for the public purse.

A percentage of each sale will be given back to the public sector.

LGfL doubles broadband bandwidth for schools

UK Authority

Educational tech provider charity LGfL has announced a doubling of the capacity of its Ignite broadband network for schools.

The increase comes from a deal with supplier Virgin Media Business and should affect approximately 3,000 schools across the UK.

Under the refreshed plans, all schools will be offered free upgrades to a minimum connection of 100Mbps (for both upload and download) with LGfL schools on average receiving a 200% plus boost in their bandwidth. This should enable hundreds of schools to increase their connection speed to 1Gbps.

They will also be able to receive next generation firewalling, complementing LGfL’s existing range of security software that includes Malwarebytes, Sophos Intercept X, advanced email filtering and Meraki device management.

Ofcom drafts new rules to promote fibre investment

Government Computing

The UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) said that it has drafted a set of new rules aimed at supporting fibre investment by enabling rival companies better access to Openreach’s infrastructure.

The regulator said that firms involved in laying high-speed fibre cables for broadband and mobile networks will benefit from greater access to the telegraph poles and underground tunnels of Openreach under the new rules proposed by it.

Under rules set by Ofcom in 2018, Openreach, which maintains the main broadband network in the UK, is already obligated to allow rival firms to use its telegraph poles and underground ‘ducts’ to lay their own fibre networks.

News for w/c 20th May 2019

Internet First policy and guidance published plus consultion announced

NHS Digital

NHS Digital has published the Internet First policy and guidance to assist owners of digital services in health and care to make their services available over the internet.  This supports the UK government strategic direction and the Internet First architecture principles. The Secretary of State described these in his ‘vision for digital, data and technology vision for health and care’in October 2018, for digital services to be accessible over the internet

NHS Digital are consulting with health and care organisations and digital service suppliers to understand the potential impact the Internet First policy and guidance could have on them and to find out what further support is required. 

HSCN provides the ideal underlying network connectivity to support the increase in demand for internet connectivity as health and care organisations implement the Internet First policy. HSCN continues to provide private connectivity to access systems not yet available over the internet. 

NHS Digital will commence full consultation with the commercial sector, health and care sector and central government on the development of a complimentary network operating model. Consultation is expected to commence in early summer 2019.

5G’s importance for smart cities has been underplayed

UKAuthority

Everyone talks about 5G hype but Kevin Hasley RootMetrics & IHS Markit argues that the importance of 5G to connected communities and smart city success has been underplayed.

We’re entering the age of connected communities. Whether at home, at work or on the go, a strong and consistent network connection has become a necessity rather than a luxury. As smart cities become a reality, both enterprise and consumers will need even greater network reliability and faster speeds than that are available today.

Certainly, technologies like NB-IoT and LoRa have a role to play in our connected lives and are helping create a pathway to the future. But as the connected community continues to develop, no single technology will be able to meet all demands, at all times. This is why 5G remains so critical to the future growth of smart cities: delivering fast speeds, increased capacity and incredibly low latency, 5G will play a fundamental role in the infrastructure needed to support our increasingly connected lives.

A Glimpse Into Cloud-First Deployment Growth

IspReview

Digital requirements for speed and scalability are driving huge rates of production applications running in containers on public clouds

Long gone are the days where public cloud infrastructure was primarily for application development or test environments. Enterprises today are increasingly turning to the cloud first to host their live applications in production—and much of that is now run in containerised environments.

From 2011 until now, the prevalence of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) has grown from fringe occurrences to near ubiquity. Eight years ago just 17% of organisations stood up IaaS environments, compared to 58% today. And in the last four years, the use cases have changed dramatically, too. The percentage of users running applications in production has risen from 27% in 2015 to 49% in 2019. Meanwhile, the percentage of organisations running more than one in five of their applications as software-as-a-service (SaaS) has surged from 38% in 2013 to 67% in 2019. So say the latest figures from the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) 2019 Public Cloud Trends report.

5G opens the way for Internet of Things revolution

Digirupt

The pace of technological advance could quicken dramatically as 5G mobile devices are rolled out across the world.

The introduction of 5G mobile technology – with Vodafone announcing its network will launch in Glasgow in July after EE revealed its system would go live at the end of this month in Edinburgh – has been overshadowed by the row over the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei.

This may appear to be an incremental improvement on 4G – streaming videos will be smoother, downloads will be faster, gamers will be able to blast zombies in real sunlight. However, according to industry figures, the greater connectivity will finally allow the much-heralded ‘Internet of Things’ to become mainstream. Combine this with artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘machine learning’ and the possibilities start to explode. And those possibilities are both good and bad.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been ripe for parody – why would the toaster want to ‘talk’ to the fridge and what would they have to say to each other?

Wait, why the hell is the ‘race to 5G’ even a race?

The Verge

No one seems to have a good answer to this question

I have a dumb question that no one seems capable of answering directly: Why is 5G a race?

Everyone — the wireless industry, Democrats, Republicans, the major media, you name it — frames the building of next-generation 5G networks as a “race” in which the United States needs to demonstrate “leadership.”

Here is The Washington Post declaring America has the lead in the race to 5G. Here’s CNN asking “Who’s winning the race to 5G?” Here’s AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson declaring that China isn’t beating the US to 5G “yet,” as some sort of ominous warning. Here’s T-Mobile CEO John Legere telling the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology that merging with Sprint will let his company “win the race to 5G.” Here is an entire microsite from industry lobbying group CTIA titled “The Race to 5G.”

Let us never forget AT&T being so desperate to lead this “race” that it rolled out fake 5Ge logos on its phones.

But the stakes of this supposed race are wholly unclear. What happens if we win, besides moile telecom execs getting slightly richer? More importantly, what are the drawbacks to coming in second, or even third? Where is the list of specific negative outcomes of China building a 5G network a month, a year, or even five years before the United States? I’ve never seen it, and I keep asking about it

Planning system project looks to cloud

UK Authority

Two London councils have presented the case for a cloud based, end-to-end back office digital system to support simple planning applications.

Southwark and Hackney have recommended the running of an alpha project to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) for a service to handle simple eight-week applications, which account for more than 50% of local authority planning officers’ time.

It follows a discovery project that they have carried out with the Connected Places Catapult, Greater London Authority and service design and digital product development agency Unboxed as part of the Ministry of Housing, Community’s and Local Government’s Local Digital Fund programme.

English councils ‘face £52bn funding black hole’

Public Finance

English councils could be forced to make draconian cuts to local services if Westminster does not pump extra cash into local government to avoid a £51.8bn black hole over the next six years.

This is according to the County Councils Network, which released figures today saying that even if local government in England raised council tax by 2.99% per year between 2019 and 2025, the funding gap would still be more than £30bn.

Paul Carter, CCN’s chair, said: “Over the last decade councils have played a crucial part in reducing the deficit, but the yearly compounding effect of funding cuts and rising demand means that the situation is fast becoming untenable.

“This research demonstrates the need for government to provide all councils with additional resources at the Spending Review, with the most significant financial challenges being experienced by county and metropolitan authorities most in need.”

The £51.8bn funding gap would only maintain services as they are currently run, the CCN added – plugging it would not improve or enhance them. The £30bn figure assumes that central government would allow councils to raise council tax bills by 2.99%, the organisation also said.

Councils in England were likely to end up offering residents a ‘bare minimum core offer’ to residents unless government provides extra funding, the CCN warned. “Yearly council tax, using their reserves, and making services more efficient and productive, will not be anywhere near enough to fill the funding gap”.

KCOM Complete Full Fibre Broadband Rollout to Cover Hull UK

ISPreview

The incumbent ISP for Hull and East Riding (East Yorkshire), KCOM, appears to have announced the “completion” of their £85m “Lightstream” roll-out, which means that nearly all of the 200,000+ premises within their network area should now be within reach of a 900Mbps+ Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) service.

The operator’s target was to ensure that “every KCOM customer will have access to Lightstream .. by March 2019,” which in reality means that around 96% of premises within their addressable network area can now access a “full fibre” connection and roughly 4% can take a slower 75Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) solution. But we wouldn’t be surprised if a few tiny bits of ADSL-only still exist in awkward areas.

£200 million rollout of full fibre broadband begins

Gov.uk

31 schools in rural areas amongst the first to benefit

The starting gun has been fired on a programme to rollout gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to the most rural and remote locations in the UK, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright announced today.

Last summer, Government identified that approximately 10 per cent of UK premises, largely in rural and remote areas, would be unlikely to receive gigabit-capable connections commercially by 2033.

An “Outside In” approach is being taken to make sure rural areas are not disadvantaged in the race for full fibre broadband. This new approach will help ensure that the identified 10 per cent of premises are reached at the same time as the commercial roll out happens across the UK.

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, launched today, is the first step of this approach.

News for w/c 13th May 2019

Vodafone tightens its belt as it prepares to splash the cash in 2019

DCL Search

Vodafone has cut its dividend payment to shareholders as it gears up to launch 5G services across Europe and acquire a host of Eastern European assets from Liberty Global

Vodafone Group issued its full year financial report on Tuesday, with revenues falling by 6.2 per cent to €43.66 billion, leading to an operating loss for the year of €951 million.

In the build up to the publication of the figures, many analysts speculated that Vodafone would be forced to cut its dividend pay-out. Sure enough, on Tuesday morning Vodafone announced that it would be cutting its dividend from 15.08 cents per share to 9 cents per share.

“We had weaker revenue growth progression as we went through the year and spectrum costs came out more expensive than anticipated and so the board took the decision – a decision that was not taken lightly – to rebase the dividend to 9 Euro cents per share. That was in order to rebuild our headroom and also support the transformation that we are going through as a group at this time. We are really at the pivotal moment as we move in to a 5G world, as we are about to take on the Liberty Global assets and drive convergence,” Vodafone Group CEO told Total Telecom at a media briefing in London on Tuesday.

“What we are also doing is accelerating deleveraging into the lower range – we are at 2 and a half to three times and we want to reach the lower end of that range as quickly as possible.

“Importantly, in rebasing that dividend, we want to ensure that we have a secure, progressive dividend moving forward, in what is increasingly an uncertain world with regard to the trade wars we are seeing at the moment and [the impact of] Brexit. We felt that having a secure dividend and deleveraging quickly, was the prudent and appropriate thing to do,” he added. 

Press 2 to make a bid: Troubled biz comms beast Avaya confirms fire sale

The Register

Cue shares diving 16% for Santa Clara-based contact centre tech outfit

Troubled call centre and telecoms provider Avaya has confirmed it is up for sale following a rollercoaster couple of years and a poor set of results for its latest quarter, Q2 ’19.

Avaya’s chief executive Jim Chirico said:

“Following the receipt of expressions of interest, the company has engaged J.P. Morgan to assist in exploring strategic alternatives intended to maximize shareholder value. The board has not set a timetable for the process nor has it made any decisions related to any strategic alternatives at this time.”

He warned investors there is no certainty of any particular outcome to the talks and said the company would not be providing further updates.

Avaya reported revenues of $709m for its second quarter ended 31 March 2019, compared to $738m in the first quarter and $672m in the second quarter of 2018.

Operating income was $38m compared to $50m in the first quarter and an operating loss of $89m for the second quarter of fiscal 2018.

Avaya blamed media reports of a possible buyout or merger for creating channel and customer uncertainty leading to its poor performance.

Reports last month suggested Mitel was lining up to buy the firm; private equity investors were also said to be interested.

In February Avaya appointed a new CFO Kieran McGrath.

Councils urged to step up plans for 5G

UK Authority

Local authorities have been urged to audit their assets as potential infrastructure and use ‘connectivity considerations’ in local planning to encourage the development of 5G networks.

The call has come from trade association for network operators Mobile UK in a report, Councils and Connectivity, that says authorities are not yet doing enough to support the roll out of a crucial element of national digital infrastructure.

The report comes with two main recommendations. One is for councils to place a greater emphasis on the importance of mobile connectivity to their local economies. They can pursue this through the audit of assets for siting network nodes, along with learning lessons from the roll out of broadband and exploring different models of collaboration with the private sector.

The other is to publish a clear statement of approach to building a mobile infrastructure. This would come with ensuring that any plans for new developments such as housing estates and road upgrades would include considerations of the potential for mobile connectivity.

It would also involve embedding mobile connectivity in plans for local economies and the appointment of digital champions – possibly in a council cabinet post – to provide a single point of contact and align competing interests.

Data visibility: The biggest problem with public clouds

Cloud Pro

Being unable to see your data leaves you open to data breaches, performance issues and unnecessary costs. So what needs to be done?

Use of public cloud continues to grow. In fact, 84% of businesses had placed additional workloads into the public cloud in 2018, according to a recent report by Dimension Research. Almost a quarter of those (21%) reported that their increase in public cloud workloads was significant.

However, while respondents were almost unanimous (99%) in their belief that cloud visibility is vital to operational control, only 20% of respondents said they were able to access the data they need to monitor public clouds accurately.

“If there’s any part of your business – including your network – which you can’t see, then you can’t determine how it’s performing or if it is exposing your business to risks such as poor user experience or security compromise,” points out Scott Register, vice president, product management at Ixia, the commissioner of the report.

This sounds like a major issue and yet surprisingly, it’s nothing new. Tony Lock, distinguished analyst and director of engagement at Freeform Dynamics, has been reporting on visibility issues for over five years, and not just regarding public cloud.

How To Win Your Share Of The Government’s £7B Technology Spend Just Like Adzuna

Forbes

It took four years for Andrew Hunter and Doug Monro to win the contract to replace the government’s job search platform. For the co-founders of Adzuna, the wait was worthwhile.

Two months later the search engine for UK jobs raised £8 million in a Series C from Smedvig Capital bringing to £12 million the total of its funding raised since its launch in 2011.

But it turns out that Adzuna, as an SME, is very much an exception to the rule for having won a share of the government’s estimated £7 billion technology spend.

Buying into the future, a report by Public into how the government allocates public spending shows that less than £1 in every £10 spent by the government on technology goes to startups or SMEs.

 

Even more shocking, says the report by Public which helps startups solve public problems and runs the annual GovTech Summit in Paris, is that the vast majority of opportunities listed by the government as “suitable for SMEs” actually goes to international technology suppliers.

Mobile Operators Call on UK Councils to Help NOT Hinder 5G Networks

ISPReview

The trade association for mobile operators, Mobile UK, has warned that many councils currently adopt an “inconsistent” approach to improving mobile connectivity and fixed line broadband is often given a higher priority. Instead the group wants local authorities to take the future roll-out of ultrafast 5G networks more seriously.

At present O2, Three UK, EE and Vodafoneare all expected to tentatively start the commercial roll-out of their future 5G mobile networks during the latter half of 2019, although their primary national deployments may have to wait until 2020, which is when Ofcom hope to release more of the necessary radio spectrum bands (assuming squabbling between operators doesn’t delay it).

News w/c 6th May 2019

Emergency services radio system ‘£3.1bn over budget’

BBC

A replacement for how Britain’s emergency services communicate is set to go over budget by at least £3.1bn, a spending watchdog has warned.

The Home Office has already delayed switching off the existing system by three years to 2022.

But the National Audit Office (NAO) has raised doubts about whether the project will be ready by then.

Ministers say the new service would result in faster response times and better treatment.

The Emergency Services Network (ESN) would replace Airwave, a digital radio network introduced in 2000 and used by all 107 police, fire and ambulance services in England, Scotland and Wales.

5G Was Rushed to Market – It Shows

Light Reading

Roughly five years ago, the global wireless industry touted 5G as something that we wouldn’t see until around 2020. And then everyone got 5G fever.

As a result, wireless engineers — spurred on by the whips of their paycheck signatories — finalized a barebones version of the 5G standard in 2017 so that operators like SK Telecom and AT&T could get to market more than a year ahead of that initial schedule.

But now, here in the middle of 2019, today’s 5G networks don’t inspire much confidence.

SD-WAN Delivers Digital Transformation to Your Next-Gen Branch

CSO OnLine

The days of a branch office relying on a fixed MPLS connection to backhaul all internet traffic, data, and workflows back to the core network are over. To compete in today’s digital economy, today’s branch offices need to be an integral part of the network, rather than functioning an add-on attached through some dangling WAN connection.

Instead, organizations need next-gen offices that can utilize cloud-based resources and global collaboration applications, such as VoIP and videoconferencing, which require highly scalable bandwidth. Traditionally, this was provided with MPLS, but because today’s networks, cloud-based resources, and data are constantly shifting and relocating, they have rendered those rigid connections traditionally obsolete.

UK willing to delay 5G roll-out in order to get the security right

Pocketnow

The roll-out of 5G services in the United Kingdom could be delayed, according to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright. The Secretary said he was not willing to trade off the economic benefit of using cheaper logistics and hardware with security risks to Reuters.

There is certainly the possibility of a delay in the process of the roll out of 5G: If you want to do 5G fastest then you do that without any consideration for security. But we not prepared to do that. So I don’t exclude the possibility that there will be some delay. — British Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright

Wright also said that the primary concern shouldn’t be the cost, but rather the security of the network and services. The Secretary didn’t disclose when the report regarding the security of the network will be published, but he expects it to happen soon.

Government ‘cloud-first’ policy under review by CCS and GDS

Computer Weekly

Longstanding cloud-first policy set to be replaced by more “appropriate” guidance to reflect public sector’s changing technology deployment habits, CCS confirms

The UK government’s public cloud-first policy is under review, and set to be replaced with an updated policy that reflects the growing appetite for hybrid IT deployments in the public sector, Computer Weekly has learned.

he original guidance came into force in 2013 and states all central government departments must take a public cloud-first stance on all new technologies purchases, as set out in the Government Digital Service’s (GDS) Technology Code of Practice. While the policy does not apply to other public sector organisations, they are encouraged to follow this advice too.

Computer Weekly understands an update to the policy is in the works, to take into account how the public sector’s attitude to cloud has changed in the six or so years since the initiative was first introduced.

The biggest govtech deals of the week (8/5/19)

New Statesman

This is the latest instalment of an exclusive series analysing the UK’s biggest public sector tech deals. Every week, in partnership with data analysis firm Tussell, we drill down into the most valuable tenders and awards from the last seven days. Here’s what we found this week…

Prior information notices

  • Department for Transport – NLA Media Licences
  • The Thirteen Group – Cyber Security Services
  • NHS England – Prison Healthcare Digital Tool
  • Leeds Trinity University – Wesire Design
  • Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead – CMS, CRM and EFS

Tenders

  • Crown Commercial Service – G-Cloud 11 – £1.95bn
  • Transport for London – Reseller Framework – £160m
  • Hampshire County Council – Children’s Social Care IT Solution – £10m
  • Scottish Government – Server & Infrastructure Maint – £5m
  • GMP – Mobile Tech Refresh – £3.35m

Awards

  • FCA – Fujitsu – VDI Services – £160m
  • University of London – HCL – End User Computing – £41m
  • Crown Commercial Service – Multiple – eSourcing Platform – £10m
  • Bristol City Council – Microsoft – Future State Assessment Delivery – £9.6m
  • PHE – Trustmarque – Windows and Office licences – £5.8m

 

 

Greater Manchester invites bidders for public sector broadband

Computer Weekly

£32m tender request will enable ultrafast full-fibre connectivity to more than 1,300 public sector sites in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester’s local authorities have come together to invite tenders for a £32m full-fibre broadband network project that will connect 1,300 public sector sites to a newly-built 450km network, with access guaranteed for 20 years to come.

Separate to the tender, the remaining two authorities, Manchester itself and Tameside, are already actively investing in full-fibre broadband backed by £23.8m secured from the government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) scheme in 2018.

The Irish Government is expected to give the go-ahead to the National Broadband Plan

News Talk

The Irish Government is expected to give the go-ahead to the National Broadband Plan on Tueday morning.

A number of alternatives have been rejected, despite the cost of the project ballooning to €3bn.

This project would roll out high-speed fibre broadband to more than 500,000 homes across Ireland over the next few years.

Most of those are in rural areas where access is currently poor or non-existent.

But the National Broadband Plan has been mired in controversy.

All but one bidder for the contract pulled out of the race – and the cost to the state has risen six-fold to about €3bn.

When that became clear, the Irish Government began looking at alternatives.

But a final report is expected to warn those alternatives would take much longer, be more expensive and in some cases never deliver broadband to some homes.

UK “increasingly unlikely” to meet SME tech spend target, report finds

Global Government Forum

New research analysing the procurement habits of three UK departments has found that only 8% of their technology budgets are being spent with small and medium-sized businesses.

The government aims to channel a third of its external spending through small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2022, but in the field of technology “it is growing increasingly unlikely that the government will meet its objective,” a report published by govtech venture firm Public has found.

Public’s analysis of data from Tussell’s procurement database found that the majority of contracts were being awarded to large vendors, which have competitive advantages over smaller businesses and start-ups.

“Procurement continues to favour insiders and incumbents. These larger organisations know how to navigate complex processes, execute heavy tenders, and can afford the pitfalls of long and uncertain sales cycles,” the report says. “In turn, smaller and more agile organisations struggle to sell to governments.”

News for w/c 29th April 2019

Public Technology

Report gives Whitehall above-average scores in every area except digital services.

A report crowning the UK civil service as the best in the world awarded the institution with above-average scores in 11 out of 12 metrics – with digital services being the only exception.

The International Civil Service Effectiveness (InCiSE) Index assessed 38 governments from around the work and ranked the UK top of the pile. New Zealand, Canada, Finland, and Australia completed the top five.

The report, which was jointly compiled by think tank the Institute for Government and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, gave the UK civil service a higher-than-average score in 11 of the 12 indicators under consideration.

The country was rated as the best civil service in the world for regulation, and the third best in five other areas: policymaking; fiscal and financial management; tax administration; openness; and procurement. The UK also placed highly in the fields of human resource management, capabilities, and crisis and risk management, being ranked fifth, sixth, and seventh in these areas, respectively.

The report does point out that the UK was the only country with a full data set available.  

All UK GPs, Hospitals and Community Care Facilities to Get Full Fibre

ISP Review

The Government’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, has today announced his intention to upgrade the National Health Service (NHS) with better digital connectivity, not least by ensuring that all GPs and Hospitals are connected to Gigabit capable “full fibre” connections (FTTP or leased lines).

A large number of NHS sites have already been connected to similar networks by various different ISPs, although some reports have noted that 39% of related organisations are still using slow copper lines and on top of that 80% of GP practices could soon be using outdated IT systems, which are not suitable for the demands of future care.

The first sign of a possible change in approach came last year after Matt Hancock MPcalled on Openreach (BT) to help him ensure that “every single GP” could get access to a “full fibre” broadband connection. In response the operator’s CEO, Clive Selley, is claimed to have said, “send me their addresses”.

‘We must walk before we can run’ regarding tech in the NHS

Practice Business

The RCGP’s new ‘tech manifesto’ states that a robust all-encompassing system is required across the NHS before IT can truly revolutionise patient care

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has released its new ‘tech manifesto’, which states that the NHS should be a world leader in technology.

The manifesto states that a joined-up IT system stretching across the NHS should be prioritised before patient care can be truly overhauled by technology.

RCGP research shows that, if nothing changes, around 80% of practices could soon be using outdated IT systems that are insufficient for the future of healthcare, according to Pharma Times.

In response, the British Medical Association (BMA) has backed up the RCGP’s ‘walk before we can run’ position

Research shows lukewarm response to video GP consultations

Practice Business

Research shows that patients aren’t as interested in video consultations as many people – including GPs, app developers and healthcare leaders – expected

New research from askmyGP shows that patients aren’t embracing video calls as much as NHS England anticipated.

According to MobileBusiness, patient demand for video consultations with their GP is lagging behind other health app features.

Messaging, phone conversations and face-to-face consultations are still preferred.

The survey’s data was gathered during the first quarter of 2019 from a sample of 213,000 patients from 21 practices.

In just 0.1% of cases, patients requested a video consultation – compared with 47% who wanted a telephone conversation, 28% for secure messaging and 25% for face-to-face appointments.

The research suggests that the appeal of video appointments may have been over-estimated by GPs, app creators and NHS England alike.

Predictive Analytics-Driven Telehealth Program Lowers ED Visits by 20%

Home Healthcare News

In recent years, the U.S. health care system’s shift toward value-based reimbursement has given home health providers cause to test all sorts of approaches aimed at reducing hospital readmission rates or preventing unnecessary trips to the emergency department.

Predictive analytics-driven telehealth outreach programs that risk-stratify patients based on medical vulnerability and other factors can be particularly impactful, findings from a recent study suggest.

Digital transformation is putting government data at risk

Beta News

The push towards digital transformation in the US government is putting sensitive data at risk, according to a new report.

Almost all (98 percent) of respondents from federal agencies report that they are using sensitive data within digital transformation technology environments. Yet, less than a third of respondents are using data encryption within these environments.

Technology is the tool of digital transformation, not the outcome

IT World Canada

Migrating to a multi-cloud environment that allows for agile method and DevOps approaches is difficult enough from a technology point of view, but it’s the business challenges of managing people at risk that pose the real barriers, shared attendees at a Toronto event.

As intangibles economy all-stars Uber, AirBnB, and Spotify have proven in recent years, a winning business model is no longer about manufacturing physical products and holding key assets. It’s about using data to harvest insights and facilitate a consumer-pleasing experience. It’s not about Earth-shattering technology, it’s about a smart application of it.

Interview: ‘Networks hold key to a smart system future’

Utility Week

“I genuinely believe that working for a distributor is where the action is” says Northern Powergrid’s policy and markets director Patrick Erwin. He shares his vision for its key role in the smarter system of the future, with Utility Week magazine editor Suzanne Heneghan

Patrick Erwin has a small office for a “big picture” man – or maybe it just feels that way. While every one of his responses is painstakingly considered, the policy and markets director at Northern Powergrid spontaneously makes a powerful argument that networks are key to the smarter system of the future.

It’s a vision that looks all the more compelling once you check out his CV. Erwin has strong commercial nous, honed over several years of working across a broad range of industry roles.

He has also spearheaded some of the most important initiatives shaping the energy sector today. It was Erwin who set up the Infrastructure Planning Commission, and who helped drive initial work for the Climate Change Act. He also led on early plans for two energy bills, and has spent time at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the then-Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Beijing defends Huawei amid row over role in UK’s 5G network

BBC

The UK should make “independent” decisions about whether to let Huawei help build its 5G network, according to China’s ambassador in London.

The US, Australia and New Zealand say the Chinese firm is a security risk because of its ties to the state.

But writing in the Sunday Telegraph , Liu Xiaoming said Britain should resist pressure from other nations.

He said risks should be taken seriously but added the company had enjoyed a “good track record on security”.