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”.

News for w/c 22nd April 2019

Kcom sold for £504m to Universites Pensions

DCL Search

KCOM Group has been acquired for £504 million after an offer from Humber Bidco Ltd, a subsidiary of the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme is a UK pension scheme for universities and other higher education institutions.

The company has paid 97 pence per share, reflecting a 34% premium to KCOM’s closing price of 72.5 pence on Tuesday.

Shares in KCOM Group immediately jumped up by 34% on Wednesday afternoon.

Investment in ‘first class connectivity infrastructure’ a priority, EU Commission says

EurActiv

The cable industry’s ambitions of ubiquitous gigabit connectivity have long been hindered by a number of obstacles, including patchy coverage and consumer trust issues. Carlota Reyners Fontana explains what the EU Commission is doing to improve the bloc’s broadband gaps.

The European Court of Auditors have urged shelving EU targets of  providing all Europeans with broadband connection of over 30Mbps by 2020 because of concerns over rural coverage. What is the Commission doing to ensure that broadband connectivity is available to those who live in more rural areas of the bloc?

O2 mulls renewed challenge to BT’s leadership in UK broadband

Share Cast

Telefónica owned O2 is considering making another push into the UK’s fixed-line broadband market in a challenge of local incumbent BT, said Bloomberg on Thursday.

No plan had yet been tabled to the Spanish company’s executive committee and talks were at an early stage, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

In fact, the unnamed sources said Telefonica might yet decide not to go ahead with the project.

BT shares fell as much as 2.1% on the back of the news, but by 1559 BST were trading just 0.49% lower at 224.15p.

PM May approves Huawei for use in 5G networks despite opposition

st

Computer Weekly

The UK’s National Security Council has approved the use of Huawei’s networking equipment in parts of the country’s 5G mobile networks in spite of widespread opposition

The UK’s National Security Council (NSC) has reportedly approved the use of Huawei’s networking equipment in non-core parts of future 5G mobile networks, risking the wrath of key allies around the world.

The decision was made yesterday at a meeting of the NSC, which is chaired by prime minister Theresa May, and came despite apparent objections from, among others, defence secretary Gavin Williamson, home secretary Sajid Javid, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and international trade secretary Liam Fox.

Demystifying digital transformation – A practitioner’s companion

People Matters

Every business model is getting turned on its head. People have to adapt to it in real time. The digital transformation needs a road map. The authors Nishith Sharan and Tushar Khosla suggest a 5 E model in an attempt to demystifying digital transformation.

I have heard and read about the 6D model of Peter Diamandis that explains how technology grows. The basic thesis is that when we digitise anything and turn it into ones and zeros, it has the opportunity to grow like information technology. That is stage 1 and is called “Digitisation”. 

Phase 2 is “Deceptive”. Many technologies that seem like modern day technology from AI to 3D printing have been around for decades. It is the long winter that is deceptive. Doubling .01 gets you .02 which is not very different. It is only when the growth moves to whole numbers that doubling starts to be noticeable. 1,2,4,8,16, 32, 64, 128 … 

Phase 3 is called Disruptive. If you can stream music, why buy CDs? If you can learn for free from the best institutions and teachers, it is only a question of time before education gets disrupted.

Phase 4 is called Demonetised. Software is less expensive to produce than hardware and is often free. Think of the vast number of free apps you have on your phone already.

Phase 5 is called Dematerialisation. The flashlight, GPS, compass, maps are all new apps and you get the functionality without having to carry the physical product. 

The 6th phase is called Democratisation. When powerful technology is available to everyone in an affordable manner, it gets democratised. Smartphones are in that zone. We no longer get surprised to see people at various economic levels carrying smartphones.

Finding the right balance between empathy and tech

Mobile Health News

An interview with Siddharth Sharma, patient advocate speaking at the HIMSS & Health 2.0 European conference in Helsinki this June.

When Siddharth Sharma received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, his first reaction was to create a spreadsheet of health data.

“As an engineer, I did the most logical thing when I came back from the doctor with my insulin and my needles; I got out my laptop and opened a spreadsheet. I started logging everything to find out what was going on,” he tells MobiHealthNews.

However, Sharma knows that not all patients are as data savvy as him and insists that one size does not fit all when it comes to health technology.

Video project shines a light on tech sector

Eastern Daily Press

The tech sector is rapidly expanding throughout the Eastern Region, and to highlight this a group of local companies are planning an ambitious web video series.

Contributing billions to the local economy and employing nearly 50,000 people, the value of the tech industry in the East of England is massive.

To highlight the significance of the sector, the UEA and Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor are working with Archant – publisher of the Eastern Daily Press – and Tech East to produce a series of videos to display the technological advancements happening throughout the region.

The web series, entitled ‘The Disruptors’, will comprise 40 videos featuring 38 tech companies. The videos will showcase how these businesses are tackling global issues and changing industries.

Swapping to Broadband VoIP from a UK Copper Home Phone Line

ISPreview

The way people use home phone services is changing and many of us will eventually end up replacing our old analogue voice service with a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) alternative, which uses your broadband ISPs internet connection to make calls. But how do you set it up and move (port) your number? We explain.

Firstly, a little context is required. According to Ofcom, during 2012 UK people made a total of 103 billion minutes of landline calls and this has since fallen to just 54 billion in 2017. Much of this change, which has had a negative impact on fixed line call revenues, is due to consumers making greater use of Mobile phones, internet messaging (Whatsapp, Facebook etc.) and VoIP services.

On top of that the roll-out of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP / FTTH) based ultrafast broadband networks across the United Kingdom will eventually result in the retirement of old copper phone lines, which for many decades have been used to carry analogue phone (voice) signals (PSTN / POTS).

News for W/C 15th April 2019

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care wins award for most innovative use of 5G technology

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care has won a national award for the most innovative ‘real world’ use of 5G technology at the recent 5G Realised Conference in London.

The two day 5G Realised Conference celebrated 5G technology and its potential benefits to a diverse range of sectors including health and social care, agriculture, transport and tourism.

Liverpool 5G consortium won the award for a use case at Royal Liverpool and Broadreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT), where 5G technology is being used to support virtual reality (VR) headsets at a palliative care ward.

Rosemary Kay, Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Project Director, said: “We are very proud to have won this award as it recognises the care and effort our members have put into creating innovative use cases that improve people’s lives.”

Reframing the Digital Transformation conversation in 5 steps

Enterprise Regulars

I’ve spent 2 days at Cloud Expo Europe, the premier London based event covering cloud platforms, hybrid and multicloud approaches, cybersecurity, AI, blockchain and more, as well as well as all of the ingredients of the data centres that support those technologies.  A wide set of tech topics, but within them everyone’s talking digital transformation and it’s dangerous.  Dangerous because, like talking cloud 10 years ago, it means different things to different people, becoming a catch all with too much emphasis on the technology itself, rather than the business outcomes it supports.  It’s the classic mistake we technology marketers have been making with our “widgets” for decades.  We need to reframe the digital transformation conversation!

First, how do we define it?  On the first day I was chairing the Techerati Keynote theatre.  During the stand out session of the morning an audience member asked the speaker that very question.  The speaker was Ian Johns, Chief Architect at Kings College London, who was talking about how you should ride the wave of digital disruption, rather than being swamped by it.

The Three Pillars of Mobile Digital Transformation

CIO

According to IDC, Android is a strategic platform that addresses each one

Overall security, solution breadth, and user-friendly management capabilities are the three pillars of digital transformation, according to Phil Hochmuth, Program Director for Enterprise Mobility at IDC.

In a series of whitepapers sponsored by Google, Hochmuth details how Android is a strategic platform for enterprises to digitally transform their corporate workforces, key operational functions and tasks, and core business models with pervasive mobile technology.

“IDC believes that business decision makers should evaluate mobility technologies based on these three pillars of enterprise requirements — security, flexibility and availability, and IT user experience,” he said.

How New Technologies Will Change GovTech

Governing

An overview of the current state of technology in the public sector, new technologies finally making their way into the space and the numerous benefits that the sector will realize.

Recently the outdated technology that many of our governments run on has been grabbing headlines on Bloomberg and NPR. The GovTech Space is marked by legacy technology, on-premise servers, failed deployments, and enormous consulting contracts that hamper the efficiency of our government professionals throughout their respective government.

Luckily, necessary technological modernization is on its way. A transformation for GovTech is here as technologies designed specifically for the public sector that allow applications to update continuously, scale, integrate, react at lightning speed, have exceptional user interfaces, and are able to handle modifications, updates, and upgrades have arrived.

Zero trust is about more than products

Computer Weekly

The zero trust security model is more than just products and network segmentation, it’s an architectural design principle with identity at its core that needs to be applied enterprise-wide, says analyst KuppingerCole..

Identity, and not the network, is at the centre of the zero-trust security model, according to John Tolbert, lead analyst at KuppingerCole.

“Many people associate this approach with the network, but zero trust is really an architectural design principle,” he told Computer Weekly.

“While a zero-trust security model is definitely applicable at the network level, it is about applying a notion of identity – specifically authentication and authorisation.”

How GDS cut PSN connection costs by using a VPN

Gov.Uk

This case study is part of guidance on moving away from legacy networks.

Objective

The Government Digital Service (GDS) needed to provide staff with a way to access services that still use the PSN.

GDS used its office move as the opportunity to start its migration away from the PSN. The IT team did not want to install any physical connections to the PSN at the new building because they knew it would:

  • be expensive

  • need building permission

  • not be ready in time

  • provide no long term benefits as most staff members were not using the PSN

Managing IT and Telecom Costs in the UK Public Sector

GovTech Leaders

Technology expense management helps government organisations reduce costs, drive efficiency and increase control across the entire IT and communications lifecycle, says Andrew Wyse, Managing Director, EMEA, Calero

When it comes to IT and telecom, public sector organisations face a unique challenge. Leading the way in modern IT and communications to drive digital innovation is an important goal, but with it comes intense pressure on costs and unwavering media scrutiny. Those working within the public sector must achieve this whilst maintaining a tight budget and demonstrating full transparency and accountability.

Public Wi-Fi Kiosks in the UK Are Turning Into Public Censorship Machines

Gizmodo

A telecommunications company, free Wi-Fi service, police departments, and local councils in the UK have developed and deployed a new system that aims to identify suspicious behavior on free Wi-Fi kiosks in the nation and then automatically block related calls.

According to a press release published on Friday by BT—the largest mobile network operator and broadband services provider in the UK—a “new automatic call blocking feature” has rolled out across all InLinkUK kiosks “in a drive to prevent misuse of the free calls service provided to the public.”

How IoT is being used in the public sector

ComputerWorld

Smart lighting, parking and beds – some of the ways IoT is being used in the public sector

Insufficient funding means the public sector is renowned for being slow-moving in adopting and experimenting with new technologies. However, the internet of things is very enticing for public services by providing comprehensive data flows.

The NHS, and a number of local councils in Britain are harnessing the power of connected things to provide insights into how to shape services and make them more streamlined, efficient and cost-effective.

News for w/c 8th April 2019

Virgin Media considers opening up its fibre networks to UK ISPs

DCL Search

 

Virgin Media is considering opening up its full fibre networks to a host of internet service providers, in a move that would greatly expedite the roll out of ultrafast services across the UK. 

A report suggests that Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global, is considering whether to allow ISPs to access its networks for wholesale rates. Currently the UK’s ISP’s, such as Sky, rely entirely on Openreach’s fibre network. The report suggests that Sky’s senior management team has approached Virgin Media as it looks to increase its market reach. 

Virgin Media’s cable networks cover approximately 50 per cent of UK households, reaching 14.4 million homes. 

The move would mean Openreach would face competition on the wholesale side of its business for the first time. 

The decision to offer wholesale rates to ISPs on its networks would dramatically alter Virgin Media’s business model in the UK, which currently relies on it having a monopoly on its ultrafast networks. 

Virgin Media has embarked on its £3 billion Project Lightning which will see the company extend its reach to 17 million UK properties.

 

How 5G Networks Will Benefit State and Local Agencies

State Tech Magazine

Next-generation wireless networks will enhance services in smart cities and public safety.

5G is coming very soon. The fifth generation of cellular technology promises to deliver speeds 10 times faster than 4G LTE wireless networks and cut latency to milliseconds. Not only will speeds be fast but network delays are expected to be extremely few, which should be a boon for city, county and state governments that want to use 5G to power Internet of Things sensors.

5G is expected to enhance mobility services in smart cities and for public safety agencies. “The capacity, speed and latency of 5G service makes it perfect for IoT and smart cities solutions, making objects like light poles, pavement and traffic signals smarter,” Sean Harrington, Verizon’s vice president for city solutions, tells StateTech.

In addition to enabling new applications for smart cities, 5G is also expected to enable a wide range of benefits for first responders, including real-time analytics of video surveillance, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, traffic management and other public safety functions. 

Digital Norm is helping Dorset residents to get faster broadband

Dorset Echo

A friendly new face is showing people in Dorset how easy it is to get better broadband.

Digital Norm has been developed by the Superfast Dorset programme. His family switches to superfast broadband and saves money at the same time. ‘Norm’ has been appearing in town centres, local newspapers, on council buses and social media. And there’s an online animation showing how Norm and his family transform their home WiFi.

More than 97 per cent of Dorset premises can now get superfast fibre broadband and over half of homes and businesses have already switched, making it the norm in Dorset. These faster, more reliable connections mean everyone can be online at the same time, quicker downloads, TV and films on demand and video calling without the annoying lag. But the uplift in speeds isn’t automatic – you must contact your internet provider and ask to switch to fibre broadband. Superfast Dorset won Government funding to create the Digital Norm campaign including the short film, which can be seen at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/superfast

The week in govtech: the biggest tenders and awards (9/4/19)

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…

Tenders

The biggest tender of the week comes from Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which is looking to build an electronic prescriptions system. The deadline for applications is 29 April and the framework is worth £49m.

  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust – EPrescribing and Medicines Administration (“EPMA”) System – £49m
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (NI) – Provision of ICT Services and Solutions – £12.5m
  • Fife Council – Provision of a leisure booking system – £10m
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland – Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP) and Associated Services – £8m
  • Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service – Integrated Communication Control System and Mobilisation Solution – £3m

Prior information notices

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has launched its version of the local full fibre network programme, an initiative designed to upgrade local authorities’ broadband connections. As part of the project, GMCA is seeking a supplier to provide a minimum of 20 year right of use dark fibre connectivity. The deal is worth £35m.

  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority – Greater Manchester Local Full Fibre Network Programme – £35m
  • Anglian Water Services Limited – Supply of Technical Resources for Emerging and Niche Technologies (Service) – £6.9m
  • NHS Digital – IT Service Management System – £3m
  • Wrexham County Borough Council – WCBC’s Apple Solution Partner for Education – £250k
  • Leicester City Council – Online Booking, E-learning & Management Solution Pre-Market Engagement – £175k

Awards

The outsourcing giant Capgemini has won one of the largest contracts of the week: a £9.2m deal to provide the Ministry of Justice with product management expertise to support the government’s £1bn courts reform project. The contract started in December and will last for two years,

  • NHS Calderdale CCG – Information Technology and Networking Services – £23.2m
  • HM Revenue & Customs – HMRC Messaging – Agile delivery and live support of service orientated components – £20m
  • Northamptonshire Police – Evidence examination and analysis – £20m
  • Department of Finance (NI) – Digital Toolkit Support and Development – £11m
  • Ministry of Justice – HMCTS Reform – Technical Digital Product Management – £9.2m

Employees sceptical about attitudes of employers to digital transformation

Workplace Insight

More than half of employees are confused about the true meaning of ‘digital transformation’ and have a high degree of scepticism about their employers’ appetite for digital innovation, a new poll suggests.

The research into employees’ attitudes toward digital transformation, innovation and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, conducted by YouGov amongst employees at 500 businesses with 50 or more employees, on behalf of Cherwell Software, found that 57 percent of employees don’t know the correct meaning of ‘digital transformation’: 20 percent of respondents couldn’t hazard a guess at its meaning and 12 percent thought it meant moving to a paperless office.

The research findings go some way to explain why the 2018  Dell Digital Transformation Index placed the UK in 17th place in its adoption of digital transformation, lagging way behind emerging countries like India, Brazil and Thailand.

“It’s obvious that not enough time is being devoted to communicating with employees to develop their understanding and involvement in the process of digital transformation,” said Oliver Krebs, vice president of EMEA sales for Cherwell.  “Unless business leaders bring their teams along with them on this journey British organisations are likely to fail and our ability to compete in the global market place will be severely compromised.”

Over half of workers don’t understand what digital transformation is

IT Portal

Some think it’s about making work paperless.

For some workers in the UK, digital transform is still a complete mystery, new research has found.

A survey from Cherwell Software on a pool of 500 businesses with 50 or more employees found that some workers simply don’t know what it is, and others think it has something to do with transforming the office into a paperless environment.

But it’s not just employees who are sometimes clueless about digital transformation, its meaning and its purpose. It’s also employers. The majority of employees (64 per cent) say their employers only adopt new technology once it already enters mainstream adoption.

Less than one in ten are considered ‘digital innovators’, being the early birds in the digital transformation effort.

Civil Service World

Civil Service World hosted a webinar briefing to learn more about how smarter networks like software-defined networking in a wide area network, or SD-WAN, can lower costs, improve operational efficiency, and create a new citizen experience.

At its most basic level, SD-WAN is a technology that typically sits on top of networks. Realistically, its main role is to look from the application down. What SD-WAN technology gives us is the ability to bring networks together – to look at them from a user perspective and organisational perspective – and start to look at how traffic is shaped, how traffic is used, what happens when network states change, and really make sure that an application experience is built. That’s “Intelligent Connectivity”.

In the past, the way we did this would be to look at things from the network up. We’d build a network with an amount of capacity and then ensure as best we could from the network configuration that the user and application experience was optimal. SD-WAN has approached that from the other side. It’s a technology that gives visibility and control, and is far more dynamic than what we’ve had in the past.

Public Technology

Jason Kitcat has got rid of digital strategies and teams and introduced in a single function devoted to service change

Jason Kitcat has a radical approach to digital delivery in local government. At Essex county council, he has done away with digital strategies and digital teams – he thinks the word ‘digital’ is overused and meaningless, anyway – by integrating a range of disciplines into a single function focused on change.

“In my view, the culture, practice, tools and techniques of the internet age should be a mainstream part of how any organisation addresses its strategic objectives and challenges,” says Kitcat, who joined who joined Essex in 2017 as executive director of corporate development.

“Having a digital team or strategy, or innovation team, and all that stuff, essentially gets the rest of the organisation off the hook. It makes them think it’s not their job. Special people will deal with it. So my inclination was to mainstream it as much as possible.”

A Quarter of Brits Willing to Fund Smart City Solutions

Business News Wales

New research has found an increasing appetite for smart city measures that aim to tackle urbanisation problems, such as congestion and security issues, with almost a quarter (24%) of Brits even saying they would be happy to fund these solutions using part of their own tax contributions.

The study of 1,000 people, conducted by ATG Access, found that this willingness rises substantially when it comes to funding measures which improve transport infrastructure. More than half (57%) would be happy for their tax to go towards smart traffic lights, and 44% for smarter signs which give real-time traffic updates.

Nearly a quarter (24%) said they would also be willing to fund smart barriers that help with incident management.

Investment in the smart city concept looks set to grow, with global spending expected to hit $135 billion by 2021. However, uptake in the UK has thus far been relatively slow with cost often cited as an issue.