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March 2019
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INDUSTRY CONSULTATION LAUNCHES TO HELP BOOST TRANSITION TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Reporter: Allan Roach

UK market innovator Gemserv has launched proposals to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). A new industry-wide EV Governance Framework (EVGF) will help boost consumer confidence in EVs, address market failures and provide a forum to engage market actors, helping ensure the UK realises the full benefits of the EV revolution.

The consultation comes as pressure mounts on the UK to meet air quality and climate change targets.  Much of the UK has illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide mostly from diesel vehicles and last year the High Court ruled for the third time that the government has failed to produce a lawful plan to tackle air pollution.  Carbon emissions from transport must also be brought under control if the UK is to meet its climate change targets to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.

EVs have huge potential to help address these challenges, and the government has pledged that all new cars and vans must be zero emission by 2040. Yet only 2.2% of new registrations last year were ultra-low emission vehicles.

Trevor Hutchings, Director of Strategy and Communications at Gemserv, commented:

“The uptake of EVs needs to accelerate significantly for the UK to meet air quality and climate change targets. The challenges facing those in the market are complex and significant, and require sustained action in order to achieve a swift and viable transition to EVs.

Rather than relying on government intervention, this is an opportunity for industry to step-up and grip the issues holding back the EV market, and to reap the economic benefits from a world-leading transition to low carbon transport.  We are calling on all organisations across the EV market to respond to our ideas and determine the best approach.”

The EVGF comprises common rules and standards – such as on smart charging and data sharing – to help the market operate more efficiently, championing innovation, and ensuring consumer protections and redress. It includes a digital platform powering a new marketplace, a compliance tool, and will be overseen by an industry-led forum, replacing the need for government to introduce prescriptive regulation.

To take part in the consultation, go to bit.ly/EVGF-Consultation

SWARCO teams up with SRL Traffic Systems

A SWARCO Trailer VMS

SWARCO and SRL Traffic Systems have agreed a significant new collaboration in the Variable Message Sign (VMS) industry.

SRL have purchased 100 mobile VMS from SWARCO in a deal valued in excess of £2.25 million, representing a significant development for the UK market.

The solar-powered signs are equipped with energy efficient LEDs capable of displaying full colour text and images with no restrictions. SRL will be managing the signs via SWARCO’s intelligent Zephyr solution that enables messages to be set from anywhere and at any time, remotely.

Scheduled messages can be programmed or emergency messages displayed with ease. Zephyr also enables each of the mobile units to be located and tracked via GPS, as well as monitoring power consumption and supply levels and other essential operating data.  The solution also allows information from external data sources, such as journey time through roadworks and flood warnings, to be displayed.

Alison Spooner, Commercial Director at SRL Traffic Systems, says ensuring quality for its customers is vital: “It’s our priority to provide our customers with the best products and technology available. SWARCO’s systems deliver reliability, flexibility and ease of use.”

The VMS are assembled at SWARCO Traffic’s production facility in Richmond, North Yorkshire and are delivered to SRL’s two dedicated VMS hub depots from where they are distributed to one of their 24 hire division depots.

“We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality VMS in the industry, as well as developing innovative and new technologies,” says Andrew Walker, Business Development Manager at SWARCO Traffic. “SRL is a highly valued customer, with a unique nationwide route to market, and we are delighted to be their chosen VMS supplier and will support them in delivering the highest-quality solutions. We see this is as the beginning of a long-term collaboration between two best-in-class organisations.”

SRL Traffic Systems is the UK’s leading manufacturer of portable and temporary traffic equipment to the traffic management industry, it owns and operates Europe’s largest traffic light hire fleet, and this initial investment by SRL is expected to be followed by additional investment in the near future.

“SRL’s aim is to grow this VMS division to 500 signs as quickly as we can through our well-known pricing and support structure and providing our customers with increased opportunities in the industry. For both SRL and SWARCO it is exciting times,” Alison concludes.

The Security Event: The Must-Visit Commercial & Residential Security Exhibition for 2019 and Beyond

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

The Security Event is a major new exhibition taking place from 9-11 April at the NEC Birmingham, created for the commercial and residential security market.  The event brings together a world-class education programme, market leaders and industry experts, to make it the most hotly anticipated exhibition for UK security professionals in 2019.

Hosted by Western Business Exhibitions (WBE), part of Nineteen Group and powered by Security Essen, The Security Event offers the opportunity to bring together the best and brightest the industry has to offer.  Take advantage of free entrance, free parking and free networking drinks at the show.

An event designed by the industry, for the industry

The Security Event has been developed with support from a key group of the industry’s major players, to deliver a world-class exhibition dedicated to UK security professionals, installers and integrators.  It is proud to have support of its ten founding partners – Anixter, ASSA ABLOY, Avigilon, Comelit, Dahua, Honeywell, TDSi, Texecom, Tyco and Videcon. This level of involvement ensures the exhibition covers the latest trends and innovations whilst addressing the evolving challenges facing the industry today.

The event has already created a buzz within the industry. Gareth Ellams, Group Sales Director at ASSA ABLOY told GPSJ: “We believe The Security Event is exactly what the UK security industry needs and are excited to come on board as a founding partner. At ASSA ABLOY, we are looking forward to the opportunity to engage directly with security professionals as well as end users, to present our industry-leading solutions.”

Francesca Boeris, Managing Director of Comelit commented: “Comelit are extremely excited to become a founding partner of The Security Event 2019. The events concept and UK focus aligns perfectly with Comelit’s aims moving forwards. We look forward to showcasing Comelit’s constant innovation and friendly technology to the UK Security Market at the NEC in 2019.”

Mick Goodfellow, GM Honeywell Security EMEA added: “Honeywell Security is delighted to be joining The Security Event as a founding partner. This event provides an excellent opportunity to showcase our leading-edge security portfolio and in a location that allows us to enhance our relationships with our installer base.”

Leading global security companies already confirmed

Visitors to The Security Event will have the opportunity to meet with many of the world’s leading security providers.  Big-name providers already confirmed include: 2N, Advancis, ASSA ABLOY, Avigilon, Anixter, Bold Communications, Brivo, BT Redcare, CDVI, Comelit, ComNet, Controlsoft, Cop Security, CQR Security, Credit Card Keys, Dahua, Deister, Eagle Eye Networks, eLocker, ESP, Fastlane Turnstiles, Fujifilm, GJD, Gallagher, Genie Access, Honeywell, ICS Security, Luminite, IDIS, Insafe, MaxxOne, Morse Watchmans, RISCO, Selectamark, SKS, Suprema, TDSi, Texecom, Traders Warehouse, Tyco, Winsted, Videcon, Visual Management Systems, Zitko and more.

A tailored seminar programme

The Security Event will welcome high-profile speakers such as Martin Gill, Professor of Criminology and Philip Ingram MBE former Senior Intelligence and Security Officer. Martin Gill will be chairing a Keynote Panel offering insights direct from research on the trends impacting security installers and integrators, conducted on behalf of The Security Event. The session aims to explore the ongoing challenges within the security sector, how these are perceived, their impacts and in what ways might this determine who thrives and who does not.

Addressing the ever-growing cyber threats organisations now face, Philip Ingram will chair a panel entitled – ‘Convergence: The challenges for installers and integrators in the increasingly cyber enabled age’ covering important restrictions, threats and ultimately considerations which virtual platforms present to the security industry.

Throughout the three-day event, The Security Event’s Innovation Theatre will feature presentations from some of the innovative manufacturers on the cutting edge of their field, covering topics such as CCTV, access control, integration platforms, automation, intelligent locking systems. In addition to their exhibition presence, all ten founding partners will be welcomed into the Innovation Theatre, hosting seminars on a broad range of current, relevant topics to industry.

Seminar highlights from our founding partners include:

  • The door was open…: a look at the cyber gaps in your building systems – Tyco
  • Using digital services to add value to intruder alarms – Texecom
  • Deliver Business Efficiencies by deploying innovative integrated security systems – TDSi
  • The revolution created by Cloud based security management – Honeywell Security & Fire
  • Using technology and AI innovations to improve local public services – Dahua

A range of sessions covering vital industry updates, standards, regulations and business advice from leading bodies including ASIS, The Security Institute, SSAIB and the FSA will also be presented in the Security in Practice Theatre, available for all visitors as part of their free admission.

The Security Event is also pleased to confirm that Linx International Group will be sponsoring the on-site Technical Seminar Theatre, offering practical training tips and guidance for security installers and integrators. Linx and PerpetuityArc provide courses and training primarily aimed at our end-user community, such as security & risk management training programmes whilst Tavcom Training are an award-winning training provider of security systems. The Group has also launched The Register of Certified Technical Security Professionals (CTSP) designed to raise professional standards in the security and fire industry.

Even more value from your visit with co-located events

The Security Event is co-located alongside three other highly successful and established exhibitions from the WBE portfolio: The Fire Safety Event, The Health & Safety Event and The Facilities Event.

One Industry. Two Unique Audiences. The best of both worlds.

The acquisition of WBE by Nineteen Group at the end of November 2018 creates an unrivalled exhibition portfolio for the UK security market, with two complementary security events focused on two unique audiences. With International Security Expo focused on serving Government and End Users, The Security Event is ideally placed to deliver the UK’s number one channel focused event for the UK commercial and residential security market.

Following this announcement, Andy Croston, Owner/Director at Videcon Ltd voices his support for The Security Event, “As one of the first Founding Partners to come on board we saw the huge potential of this exhibition from the very beginning. Now with the support and resources of Nineteen behind them, we’re certain The Security Event will deliver exactly what the commercial security market has been waiting for”.

Tristan Norman, Event Director of The Security Event sums up to GPSJ why the security industry should be excited, “It is not often that the security sector gets to experience a brand-new event of this type and size. There has clearly been demand for a fresh event and we are enjoying tremendous support from the security community since announcing it. We believe this is a ‘must see’ event for anyone and everyone in the UK security industry and are excited to welcome visitors and exhibitors to Birmingham in the Spring.”

To find out more about The Security Event, please visit: www.thesecurityevent.co.uk

BEST VALUE AND LIFETIME PEACE OF MIND

An innovative approach to facilitating a long-term solution to people’s need for care support has been launched by Closomat.

The Palma Life offering enables local authorities to achieve best value. It combines, in a one-off payment, supply and commissioning of a Closomat Palma Vita wash dry toilet, plus a total 10 years’ service & maintenance.

It means the cost of the equipment, and its lifetime servicing and maintenance is addressed in one, single cost, often as part of a Disabled Facilities Grant. This eliminates all the associated issues with funding and co-ordinating of future service and maintenance, with all the associated liaison with client, and administrative time and paperwork. It gives clients peace of mind that their equipment is appropriately covered. It gives a full ‘fit and forget’ solution for dignified, independent toileting, reducing or even eliminating the need for care intervention- for less than £1/day.

“This is the first time that the concept of purchasing a piece of equipment, often as part of a Disabled Facilities Grant, with service & maintenance included in one price, has been available for a shower/wash dry toilet,” says Mark Sadler, Closomat Sales Manager.

“Initial reaction from social housing providers and local authorities is wholly positive. They appreciate that such equipment is life changing, but also essential to daily life, so needs to be serviced & maintained. An offering such as Palma Life means the whole cost can be incorporated into the initial DFG. It gives peace of mind to provider and client, for years to come, especially as the service & maintenance is carried out by our own engineers, not contracted out to a third party.”

Closomat’s Palma Vita is already the most popular wash dry toilet to be installed to enable clients to go to the toilet on their own, with dignity. It is proven to offer the best wash and dry performance available.

Closomat WCs are also proven to be durable: there are many still in daily use 30 years’ after being installed.

Closomat was the first company to introduce shower toilets into the UK, almost 60 years ago. Uniquely, it is the only shower toilet company based in Britain, with British manufacture and full customer support before, during and after sales. Its uniqueness extends further: it is the only company in the sector to have its own, dedicated, nationwide team of service engineers, to commission every unit and deliver timely rectification of any issues (subject to the appropriate service agreement).

For further information see: Closomat, tel: 0161 969 1199; www.clos-o-mat.com; e:info@clos-o-mat.com; www.facebook.com/clos-o-mat; twitter: @closomatuk

WPS Launches Ticketless Parking and Validation Technology at Traffex

WPS, one of the UK’s leading Parking Equipment Manufacturers, is to launch two major technologies that will further its ability to offer the best solution for all parking environments.

Its new ticketless parking solution uses state-of-the-art ANPR technology that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver extremely reliable and highly-accurate reading rates. The AI ‘learns’ the more it reads, therefore becoming even more reliable once installed.

As a part of WPS’ proven ParkID™ software and utilising ParkAdvance™ hardware, the ticketless solution provides all of the features that users have come to expect. These include: a fully IP-based operating architecture ensuring the system is future proof and able to integrate with all technologies both now and in the future; renowned system reliability; and comprehensive reporting capabilities informing on revenue and parking usage data. The equipment also benefits from the support and expertise of WPS’ profssional and highly-skilled engineering and installation team.

Simon Jarvis, Managing Director of WPS in the UK, says there is a place for both ticketless and ticketed parking solutions: “Our choice of ticketed and ticketless parking from one core system enables us to tailor a solution that suits its environment,” he explains, “and because all of our solutions exploit the same technology at their heart, our customers can trial a ticketless approach with limited risk; a modular switch to ticketed operation is painless if they find ticket free operation is not completely optimal for their needs.”

WPS will also announce details of a new validation platform, ValID™ that meets the need for an intelligent and genuinely flexible large-scale parking validation solution to satisfy the needs of both the retail community and local authorities alike. It enables any retailer or leisure provider to offer and fund controlled, discounted parking in town centres, while also supporting the local authority in bringing value trade and spend to retailers, restaurants, cafes, hotels and other leisure providers.

Developed in-house by WPS engineers and Cheshire West and Chester Council (the Council trialling the system), retailers can quickly and easily enrol online as a participating validator, pay online in advance for validation ‘credit’ and manage their pre-paid accounts; the system also provides a management backend for the Council to control clients, build reports and provide insights into usage.

Simon says that it provides a solution not met by any other validation technology and strikes the necessary balance between retailers’ desire to offer free parking to attract custom and local authorities concern that free parking is difficult to control and easy to abuse:

“Rather than offering blanket discounted or free parking to everyone regardless of what custom they bring, the ValID system means that discounting can be selectively targeted at those who are spending in our towns. It also provides a simple, low admin system for councils to pre-collect validation revenue” he explains.

“We are extremely excited to showcase how this technology can provide a highly-efficient way for large numbers of retailers and leisure providers to offer parking validation, and not just the larger and more well-established brands.”

WPS will exhibit on parent company Dynniq’s stand, where a wide range of dynamic, high-tech and innovative integrated mobility and energy solutions and services will be showcased.

Traffex 2019 – Birmingham NEC, 2-4 April

Outcomes First Group specialist care home network ranked No1 in Ofsted’s evaluation of England’s largest providers – with 35% rated ‘Outstanding’ and 65% ‘Good’

Outcomes First Group – a leading specialist provider of care and education services to children, young people and adults with autism, learning disabilities, complex and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs –  has been ranked number one in Ofsted’s Inspection profiles of the largest private and voluntary providers of children’s homes with 35% of its 45 homes rated ‘Outstanding’ and 65%  rated ‘Good’.

Graham Baker, Group Chief Executive Officer, Outcomes First Group

The organisation operates a national network of award-winning Department for Education registered therapeutic care homes and special schools through its Hillcrest and Options divisions.

Well positioned on all key commissioning frameworks and trusted by a third of LAs in England, Hillcrest provides a child centred therapeutic approach to care and education. Its services are provided in a stable, secure and supportive environment, in which the children for which its cares can develop the skills and confidence necessary to help them fulfil their potential.

Outcomes First Group’s Options division provides care and education to children, young people and adults with autism, complex needs and learning difficulties and offers a pathway of services, with specialist teams of highly trained staff, including education, care and therapeutic teams. It provides a person centred approach to care and education, looking at the full needs of the individual and adapting its interventions accordingly.

Commenting on this significant achievement, Graham Baker, CEO, said, “We are really proud of this exceptional outcome which is a testament to our committed, hardworking and remarkable teams here at Outcomes First Group”.

For more information on Outcomes First Group please visit www.outcomesfirstgroup.co.uk

HSJ Partnership Awards 2019 shortlist announced

The finalists for the HSJ Partnership Awards have been announced today ahead of a prestigious black-tie dinner awards ceremony at Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on 20 March 2019. Following the success of the inaugural awards in 2018, the programme has been expanded to cover a swathe of new sectors across 16 categories, including a specific award for non-profits.

The team of judges were impressed with the calibre of all the entries and their commitment to work with the NHS to deliver value for money and improved patient care through sector leading innovation and exceptional service. Shortlisted applicants demonstrated that their projects have made a tangible difference to the NHS by, for example, improving services, facilities or quality of life for patients, or working more efficiently to save money.

Winning entries in the HSJ Partnership Awards 2018 included new payroll systems, a new clinical pathway for leg ulcers and an alternative dispute resolution protocol tool, with each project demonstrating clear benefits to NHS organisations.

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan said: “Congratulations to all of the shortlisted organisations and I look forward to celebrating your success at the prestigious black-tie awards dinner in March.

“The HSJ Partnership Awards highlight the invaluable work performed by the organisations that work alongside the NHS to deliver first class patient care, shining a spotlight on their efforts which are often unseen but are essential. Each of the shortlisted organisations is delivering tangible benefits to NHS patients, clinicians and the facilities they use, making a real difference in these challenging economic times.”

For the shortlist, please visit: bit.ly/2DjUTpe  

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust employs Thoughtonomy Virtual Workers alongside human teams to improve patient experience and boost employee satisfaction

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Groundbreaking intelligent automation program highlights huge potential for realizing efficiency benefits rapidly across the NHS

Working with Thoughtonomy, ESNEFT has cut the time taken to process the first stage of each GP referral from 15-20 minutes down to five minutes.  The program will eliminate the need for staff to spend more than 100 hours a week processing paperwork and instead ensures referrals are actioned 24/7.

The intelligent automation program, which has been running since July is the first of its kind within the NHS and is initially being deployed in five specialist clinical units – Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, Nephrology and Haematology. Within the first three months, the Trust released more than 500 hours of medical secretaries’ time and estimates it will also save £220,000 in associated direct costs by July 2019.

Darren Atkins, Deputy Director of ICT at ESNEFT, said: “We’re delighted with the results we’ve realized so far and are hugely excited about the potential benefits of automating more processes across our Trust. When you look at the time and cost savings we’ve already banked within just one specific area of our operations, you start to get an idea of how intelligent automation can drive transformation on a huge scale within the NHS.”

Using the Thoughtonomy Virtual Workforce® platform, three virtual workers at Ipswich Hospital actively monitor incoming referrals from the national GP Electronic Referral Service (eRS) in real-time, 24 hours a day. As soon as a referral is received, the virtual worker reads the content and extracts the reason for referral. It retrieves all relevant referral data and supporting clinical information such as scan and blood test results from disparate sources, before merging everything into a single pdf document. The virtual worker then uploads the document into the Trust’s administrative systems using highly secure smart card technology and alerts the lead consultant that the referral is ready for review and grading.

Prior to the automation program, medical secretaries were responsible for processing referrals manually, downloading and printing documents, which they then scanned into a new document.  In a large Trust such as ESNEFT, which deals with around 2,000 referrals per week, this was a huge drain on medical secretaries’ time.

According to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), automation could save the NHS up to £12.5bn a year, the equivalent of 10% of its annual budget. In addition, it is estimated that a further £6bn could be saved through automation in social care. The recent Darzi Review of Health and Care called on healthcare bodies to ‘embrace full automation to release time to care’ as part of a 10 Point Plan to future-proof health and care services in the UK.

Terry Walby, CEO & Founder of Thoughtonomy, said: “Intelligent Automation has a massive role to play in streamlining time-consuming and inefficient processes across the NHS. By absorbing a wide range of time-intensive, repetitive tasks, we can unburden staff from administration and allow them, instead, to focus on delivering the excellent quality of care upon which we all rely. We’re delighted to be working with forward-thinking NHS Trusts, such as ESNEFT, who are championing the use of AI and automation technology in order to deliver real benefits to hardworking frontline staff while reducing costs. This, in turn, translates into a better patient experience for all.”

Frontline staff at ESNEFT have welcomed the new automated process. Dr Petr Pokorny, a Staff Grade Neurologist, said: “It allows for a more efficient, fluent flow of work, as it’s easier to deal with five new referrals every morning rather than a huge pile of 35 referrals once a week. What’s more, we now have our medical secretaries fully focused on the things that make a real difference to our staff and patients.”

The new automated referral process supports ESNEFT’s obligations under the Standard Contract for 2018/19 to process all referrals via the Electronic Referral Service (eRS), and to optimize its operations in line with the Paper Switch Off program, which comes into force on 1st October.

Thoughtonomy enables organizations to enhance the productivity of their workforce through the intelligent automation and digitization of knowledge work. It uses AI and robotic process automation software to emulate how people work, allowing companies to add flexible resources to their team without disruption and rapid ROI.

About Thoughtonomy

Thoughtonomy is an intelligent automation technology company that has created an award-winning platform to helps companies of all sizes improve the productivity of their workforce. Combining the principles of cloud computing, software robotics and artificial intelligence in a single integrated platform, our customers enjoy frictionless deployment of a digital workforce that delivers fast, measurable results in an infinite number of roles.

Thoughtonomy was founded in the UK in 2013 and now works with more than 200 clients in 29 countries and has offices in London and Manchester in the UK, New York and Austin in the US. Thoughtonomy’s SaaS platform combines AI and RPA to supply companies with virtual workers that automate office work.

For further information, please see thoughtonomy.com

Digitalisation: Businesses must mitigate against new, invisible risks

“Security systems must be up to date – particularly encryption and authentication technologies”

Written by Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn

Digital transformation is happening everywhere at breakneck speed. Each year brings a new development or a new technology that increases and evolves digital strategies worldwide. Of particular exposure to emerging risks are organisations that use cloud services or solutions connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). As organisations digitalise more processes and data, the number of potential security gaps is surging, increasing the risk of damaging data breaches.

If the full benefits of developments such as cloud services and IoT are to be realised, digital data must be protected at all times – but most security strategies and policies are no longer fit for purpose, being traditionally ad hoc and limited point solutions. In this age, information security must become a key strategic priority if organisations are to have any hope of mitigating the risks of digitalisation while enjoying the benefits.

Cyber security has become a much-discussed topic in recent years, and the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has only served to heighten the conversation. So why are so many organisations embracing the future of digitalisation while their security strategies are stuck in the past?

Ease of use 

As we have all seen in the wake of GDPR, there is a tendency to associate heightened cyber security and data protection measures with a worsening user experience. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. When security is an integral part of a business strategy, and not incorporated as an afterthought, there is time to formulate the easiest and most effective processes for employees to follow. Building security into your strategy should also mean it is adaptable to new and emerging technologies.

Once thought to be squarely an IT concern, with the advent of data protection laws and greater digitalisation across organisations, security is now a cross-departmental issue and should be something the board regularly reviews.

Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn

The speed of digital transformation

Often the thought of bolstering security practices seems antithetical to the pace of digital transformation. Updated security measures are associated with regulations, best practice processes, training and awareness. These associations can make security seem like a hindrance, rather than an aid to achieving digital transformation.

The truth is that on the contrary, security is moving to the forefront of digital innovation. When built into new technologies and devices from the outset, security enables wider, secure and more seamless access to data in the IoT.

The landscape of digital technologies 

As the Internet of Things becomes flooded with newer and faster digital technologies the breadth of “things” available can seem incompatible with a comprehensive digital strategy. As with most strategies data is key. Gathering, synthesising and analysing security data from across the landscape will keep organisations alert to risks and allow the development of an adaptable strategy to protect against these risks.

Developing effective security requires strategy and, most importantly, must be prioritised in a time of such rapid digital change. While there is no set template for such a solution, investing time and money in the process is a good way to start. Depending on the requirements of a specific company, an effective security strategy will look at integrating different technologies, the handling and protection of data, and organisation-wide training in best practice processes to minimise risks, regularly.

Business security strategies must keep pace with the speed of their digital transformation programmes. This means carrying out data audits at regular intervals, and reviewing policies to check that they remain fit for purpose. Security systems must be up to date – particularly encryption and authentication technologies –, tested regularly, and adjusted to defend against evolving cyber threats.

The most important aspect of a successful security strategy however is consistency. Build security into your organisation’s digital strategy from the beginning, make sure it is observed across the board, and you have the best chance of being protected against new and emerging security risks in the digital age.

Satisfy unrelenting demands for fast, reliable Wi-Fi

Keith Cahoon

By Keith Cahoon, Business Development Director UK, Mist Systems

The demand for fast, predictable and reliable Wi-Fi continues to increase with our expanding reliance on access through ‘Bring Your Own Devices’ for work and personal use and demand for access to Wi-Fi provided by employers, education establishments and in other areas such as hospitals, conference centres and cultural venues.

However, it has been hard to satisfy this demand and to provide a consistently good experience across iPads, Chromebooks, Smartphones and other devices. US-company Mist Systems has arrived in the UK to address this challenge.  By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cloud, Mist makes wireless more predictable, reliable and measurable, and adds more value to the wireless network via scalable location services that personalise the mobile experience.

With the Mist Learning WLAN, time-consuming manual IT tasks are replaced with AI-driven proactive automation and self-healing, lowering Wi-Fi operational costs and saving substantial time and money.  For example, automated event correlation is used to identify the root cause of problems quickly.  Dynamic packet capture (dPCAP) is used to eliminate truck rolls for troubleshooting.  Plus, an AI-driven assistant enables IT administrators to get complex answers using simple questions, like “What was wrong with Bob’s Wi-Fi last Tuesday?”

Mist also brings enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® LE and IoT together so businesses can increase the value of their wireless networks through personalised location services, such as wayfinding, proximity notifications, and asset location. With Mist’s patented virtual BLE (vBLE) technology, no battery beacons or manual calibration are required.

All operations are managed via Mist’s open and programmable microservices cloud architecture. This delivers maximum scalability and performance while also bringing DevOps agility to wireless networking and location services.

Companies throughout the world are switching to an AI-driven WLAN in the cloud for multiple reasons.  First, they want more agility and scalability that cannot be provided with traditional on-premises solutions.  Second, they want more assurance for business-critical applications, with visibility into the user experience.  Third, they want to increase the value of the wireless network with location-based services that enhance the experience for wireless guests, employees, and customers. 

Below are some qualifying questions to determine if the move to an AI-driven WLAN is for you:

  • We have an aging wireless infrastructure and it requires a lot of time investment from IT staff
  • We only have a small IT team and they’re already very stretched, we’d like to reduce Wi-FI demands on the IT team
  • Demand on our wireless infrastructure is growing daily and our current set-up just won’t keep up
  • We seem to be constantly firefighting and troubleshooting wireless problems
  • We can’t map wireless usage to identify demand from groups of users, locations or even days or times of day
  • We rely heavily on video calls and streaming and we can’t get the speed or reliability we need
  • We want to move to a wireless infrastructure that can cope with demands today but also those of the future.

Example: using Mist for office environments

ThoughtWorks is a privately owned, global technology company with 42 offices in 15 countries and an IT department based in London. It provides software design and delivery, and pioneering tools and consulting services.

“We are a Wi-Fi first company,” said Kevin Fenn, global head of networks at ThoughtWorks. “Most offices are open seating, with little or no fixed desks, nor wired connectivity. This means the WLAN always has to work consistently, reliably, and with the highest performance.”

In addition, the company hosts many partners and clients in their offices who require simple and reliable access to ThoughtWorks’ guest Wi-Fi network.

Finally, ThoughtWorks’ employees are heavy users of video communications. There are approximately 45,000 video calls made per day globally across the company, which is about 7 calls per person on a typical day. These video calls have to work consistently and reliably, as the company’s business depends on it.

Example: using Mist in education

Guilford College is a premier liberal arts school located in Greensborough, North Carolina.  In 2017, the school was ready to upgrade its five-year-old Cisco Wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure.

“Our primary goal was to provide reliable and measurable Wi-Fi coverage in classrooms, residential buildings, and the student union,” said Chuck Curry, director – information technology and services at Guilford. “However, because we only have two full time networking people, ease of operations and automation was also paramount.”

Guilford evaluated several options to streamline and improve its wireless services, eventually landing on Mist Systems. According to Curry, “The Mist technology is the most modern cloud platform on the market, providing unique visibility into the user experience and automation of day-to-day troubleshooting and operations.”

The college is using the new AI-driven WLAN to:

  • Guarantee students’ access to online content in classrooms with Wi-Fi service levels
  • Enable easy guest Wi-Fi via captive portal with SMS sign-in
  • Securely share personal devices in dorm rooms and common areas, like AppleTVs and Chromecasts
  • Enable easy troubleshooting by helpdesk using AI-driven virtual assistant
  • Provide analytics on mobile-user behaviour to optimise resources across campus, such as security guards and study areas.

Meet us

Visit our stand at ONUG London and find out why industry analyst Gartner has ranked Mist as a “Visionary” for the second year in a row in its “Gartner 2018 Magic Quadrants for Wired & Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure and Indoor Location Services” (download the reports here: www.mist.com/gartner-mq-mist-visionary/).

  • ONUG London – 7th December

    The event covers issues such as IT strategies for digital transformation; the future of cloud computing and enterprise-level applications; the evolution in technology infrastructure.  Find out more and book your place: www.onug.net/events/london-2018/

Contact us: Website: www.mist.com/

Tel: 02032 395170

Email: keith.cahoon@mistsys.com

Five Ways Local Authorities Can Integrate Live Chat Into Digital Transformation

For GPSJ by Graham Jarvis – Freelance Business and Technology Journalist

Graham Jarvis

Gemma Baker

In June 2018 Salford City Council won the Digital Council of the Year and the overall Digital Leader accolades at the prestigious DL100 Awards ceremony during Digital Leaders week. The latter award was drawn from the winners of all of the categories. Steven Fry, Head of Customer and Digital Services, Salford City Council, says this makes the city council the “best of the best.”

He says it was an amazing feeling to hear Salford City Council’s name being announced as the winner at the event, describing it as testimony to the hard work the council had put in. He adds: “Our live chat facility featured in the submission as evidence of how we are providing customer services in a way that our residents want.  Our call handlers can respond to 4 enquiries via live chat at any one time compared to just one via the phone.”

Gemma Baker, Marketing Executive at live chat solutions provider Click4Asssistance, explains how the seeds of success were sown. She says that Salford City Council approached her firm to help the council to streamline resourcing and to support the council’s constituent customers. The council approached her organisation during the winter of 2015, and after discussions about everything from live chat capabilities and strategy, Salford’s live chat implementation began in April 2016.

“Having a reliable live chat solution, that is user-friendly, helps place representatives in a position where they can fully concentrate on the service they provide Salford City’s residents”, she claims before adding it means that the council can focus on what its citizens expect and require – a “fast and accurate response” to their enquiries. She elaborates: “It also aids managers overseeing the communication channel, to focus on their operators’ performance and make improvements to their skills rather than being distracted by a solution that isn’t working to their expectations.”

Digital transformation

Beyond this, live chat and chatbots are part of the U.K. government and public sector’s digital transformation agenda. So, there are a number of emergent trends to consider. From Fry’s perspective, the first is about the fact that the public sector is embracing what he calls “true digital customer service design”. Hot on its heels is the creation for ‘true omnichannel services’, and the third trend that he sees is the use of smart data, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“I think the public sector were a quite a way behind the private sector in terms of end-to-end service design properly until recently, we at Salford believe service design should cover all channels from digital to face-to-face”, he reveals.

Steven Fry, Head of Customer and Digital Services, Salford City Council

This may be why he finds that live chat and chatbots are being cautiously introduced to the public sector. However, Fry considers live chat to be a great addition to his council’s customer service options: “We have carried out a lot of analysis around digital capabilities within the city to make sure that technologies such as live chat would be utilised, and around 85% of our citizens in Salford are digitally capable, hence the reason we implemented it.” In addition to this, he stresses that the council runs a digital first strategy – from end-to-end service design to face-to-face contact and telephony. The aim of this approach is to ensure that the council can cater for everyone living within the city.

Baker adds: “The government has set out a strategy to have local authorities digitally transformed by 2020. With the pressure on to achieve this, budget restraints also need to be taken into account. Therefore, live chat becomes one of the methods that councils can implement to enable them to satisfactorily support their residents, whilst decreasing staff resources and not spending a fortune. In fact, most councils using Click4Assistance have implemented live chat for less than £5000 per annum, and so there is no need for the tender process to procure this communications channel.”

Chabot enhancement 

As for chatbots, Fry comments: “We’re interested to see chatbots being used elsewhere as this could be a potential enhancement to the digital experience, allowing easy, tailored access to services on a 24-hour basis. The likely uses would be to help manage demand so that we can free up staff time to spend with residents who need more support.”

Click4Assistance Mobile

“There are a few councils already taking a look into the technology but not many have actually implemented it”, says Baker before commenting: “I reckon we will see this increase as AI can allow councils to dramatically reduce their contact centres and focus resource on customers who would prefer face-2-face contact,  as you would only need a few operators on hand to takes chats, should they be requested by the resident or the bot cannot supply an answer.”

Role for Artificial Intelligence

Fry believes that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will play a big role in government and public sector contact centres over the next few years. He thinks this will specifically be about tailoring the user experience and the user journeys:

Overall Winner – Salford Council

“It will help to design and enable true public sector reform by understanding user needs, what services people with the city want to access, and to provide early insight for prevention and early intervention. This goes across health, social care, and debt, most of the wider determinants of health. What we are certain of is that whichever solutions we use intelligence-based workflow will be one of the biggest impacts for the organisation.” 

Talking about Salford City Council’s plan for using AI and ML in customer services, he explains that its teams are at the point of refreshing its digital strategy for the next 3 years. The purpose of this agenda is to consider how the council can best provide its services and link those aspirations with the relevant technology.  Having said that, he comments: “We can see that AI and ML would allow for differentiated approaches to delivering customer services. This is about getting the right information and to support people within the city.”

People before technology

After all the council has a saying that “It’s not about the technology; or the project management style, it’s about the people who use the it.” For this reason one of the authority’s digital transformation programmes is called the ‘Digital You programme’, which he explains is about “skilling up 8,000 residents in the city who don’t have the 5 basic digital skills”. To achieve this goal, the council is working with the Good Things Foundation to create “a real movement for change in the city.”

Speaking again about why Salford City Council won its awards, he discloses: “Another key part of our submission was to describe how we are racing to become one of the world’s most attractive cities for digital enterprise.” Fry says a City Chief Digital Officer has been appointed and a Digital Collaborative have been created to help it to achieve this ambition. The Digital Collaborative consists of Salford City Council, the Salford Royal Foundation Trust, Salford University and MediaCityUK.

He explains why this is important: “The whole ethos of the collaborative approach is around creating a single front door for inward investment in digital within the city and improving the opportunities and lives for the people who live in Salford. A recent announcement that Vodafone has set up a 5G test-bed in MediaCity UK. So, in summary, winning the award was about the city council’s holistic approach to digital.”

Top 5 integration tips

So, what are his five best practice ways to integrate live chat and chatbots into digital transformation programmes?  In response to this question, he offers the following tips: 

  1. Ensure that you have the right strategy – make sure your digital service design is right;
  2. Properly research your customer base in terms of digital capability and appetite;
  3. Bring live and chatbots in when the customer is ready, and build it into your digital design;
  4. Co-design the solution with those who will be delivering the service, as well as those who will be using it.
  5. Upskill the workforce in live chat and social media by having a workforce development plan.

Baker also adds her advice, she says: “Look at areas of the council people are getting most frustrated with; struggling to complete a certain type of form, or as council tax is a very popular section there can be lengthy waits to speak with someone from that team etc. These are then the primary areas that need to have live chat added so representatives can better support residents. (It’s better to have chat across the website but if only a few departments can have it then prioritise these first.)”

She concludes by saying that council must have a strategy in place to understand fully who will be managing live chat, the timescales involved in implementing it, customising it, and training etc. It’s also an imperative to consider who the representatives handing the live chat will be: will it be handled by a chatbot or by a human being? There may some enquiries that are just perfect for a chatbot to answer, but there will be others that may require the empathetic human touch of a good customer services advisor. So, consider the purpose of the communications channel because once you’ve got a strategy in place, your Government department or council can work on being as successful as Salford.

For more information please visit: www.click4assistance.co.uk

Tackling the UK Government’s identity crisis

David Orme, SVP at IDEX Biometrics

The UK Government influences our lives on a daily basis through its plethora of public services, from the NHS and education to social benefits and national security. However, a re-occurring obstacle that presents a challenge for accessing these services is proving identity. There are also high instances of healthcare and social benefit fraud where effectively proving identity is an ongoing issue. For these public services public services to be fully optimised, it is paramount to have the correct measures of identification in place to ensure that the correct people receive the services they need. Put simply, without an effective means of identification, the UK Government is massively at risk of being unable to maintain control of how its resources are deployed throughout the country.

Amidst this national proof of identity crisis, it should come as a great relief that we are currently on the cusp of a new era of biometric identification. With biometric authentication technology already being used in smartphones and passport identification in the UK, we can expect to see the world moving towards using biometrics as a means of identification in more areas of our everyday lives. In the face of such advancements, the UK must ensure that it does not fall behind the curve.

The Government highlighted its intentions on 28th June [1] early this year in a much-anticipated proposal outlining how it would adopt an increased use of biometric information in everyday public services, however many have raised concerns that it doesn’t go far enough. The Government must capitalise on biometric developments by incorporating methods such as fingerprint authentication into national identification cards to ensure a far more robust and secure process of identification. This form of identification would be used to access everyday public services, similar to card payment authentication processes, and greatly assist in running them more effectively.

Despite the proposal representing a step in the right direction, for many, it’s lack of strategy was highly concerning, and it suggests that the Government is wholly unprepared for this next step of innovation. To fully embrace biometric technology as a nation, it is clear that more needs to be done to both address the role it will play in public services and to create greater awareness amongst the general population.

No time for confusion 

With only 14 pages specifically dedicated to explaining the Home Office’s plans for the increased use of biometric information in everyday public services, there were vast criticisms that it did not go far enough to discuss the actual legislation that will be implemented. For example, Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo complained that “the Home Office appears to lack either the will or competence to take the issues seriously – for a government that is building some of the biggest biometric databases in the world, this is alarming.”[1]

This was echoed by Paul Wiles, the UK’s biometric commissioner, who was frustrated by the proposals lack of clear strategy, “it is disappointing that the Home Office document is not forward looking as one would expect from a strategy – it does not propose legislation to provide rules for the use and oversight of new biometrics, including facial images.”[2]

With the Government seemingly unable to determine the best way to integrate this technology, it is clear that more needs to be done to consider how best to ensure a smooth transition for public adoption. This will in turn improve the process for when this technology is eventually incorporated into our lives.

Realising the power of biometric technology

 So what role should biometric authentication technology play in the future of the UK’s public services? Well firstly, with fingerprint recognition technology, it is no longer simply what you know but instead, who you are that will prove identify. By linking people to a card through their fingerprints, it is a far more secure means of authentication that will limit potential fraud and criminality.

Biometric authentication can be implemented across a wide-range of public services including the NHS, national security, as well as in schools and universities. For example, the addition of biometric authentication to national identity cards will ensure the right people receive the right help.  National security will no longer just rely on paper passport identification, but also fingerprint methods of biometric authentication to more accurately prove a person’s identity.

Think too of social benefits cards. Using fingerprint methods of authentication linked to national identification, the Government could better ensure welfare is accessed by the right person and that vulnerable individuals aren’t victim to welfare fraud. Such methods could also be used as a means of age verification for the purchase of alcohol or other age-limited products and could also extend to effective means of registration in schools and universities, enabling staff to keep better track of student’s attendance – and as a clear deterrent for absentees!

Avoiding a ‘big brother’ regime 

Before this change can be implemented on a grand scale, it is paramount to consider the extent to which the general population is comfortable sharing more personal data with the Government. Whilst this is yet to be determined, one thing that is certain is that the key to the success of biometric authentication in Government ID lies in striking the balance between privacy and convenience. After all, following various high-profile data breaches and suspicions of Government infringements, we live in a society that is becoming increasingly sceptical about sharing personal information.

Whether consumers realise it or not, facial recognition has long been used as a method of authentication to prove identity, whether through surveillance to monitor for criminal activity or through UK border control at airports, which we as a nation have become accustomed to. The use of biometrics has also broken into the consumer tech market, with smart phones using fingerprint and iris recognition in place of passwords, which have become broadly accepted. However, there are regular debates around the superiority of fingerprint-recognition versus its biometric counterparts, such as facial and iris recognition.

The reality is facial-recognition relies on external databases to store and compare data, whereas fingerprint-recognition only requires the user’s information to be stored on the card itself, removing the attractiveness for cyber criminals on the lookout for a central database of fingerprint data. Fingerprints are also far less prone to change than facial features and irises that could be duped via contact lenses, so it is a more accurate form of authentication.

The biometric revolution is not a distant fantasy, but a very pressing reality, so it is essential that the Government acts fast to establish how the technology can be implemented and utilised properly. This can only be achieved through stringent legislation to support adoption and greater understanding.

[1] www.theregister.co.uk/2018/06/29/uk_biometrics_strategy/

[2] tech.newstatesman.com/policy/home-office-biometrics-strategy-2

Armour Comms and Global RadioData Communications partner to provide 24/7 support for Armour Mobile solution

Dave Holman

Now available via the Government UK Digital marketplace G-Cloud

Armour Communications, a leading provider of specialist, secure communications solutions, has partnered with Global RadioData Communications (GRC) to provide a joint solution with 24/7 support. GRC has already secured its first two customers for the new combined solution that provides additional levels of security. The new service is available via the UK Government Digital Marketplace G-Cloud 10, under the cloud hosting, software and support framework listed as SCYTALE Armour Comms.

Subscribers to the GRC solution will be able to communicate with other white listed communities, typically, enabling different government departments to communicate securely using Armour Mobile. The service covers all Armour Mobile standard functionality, which includes voice calls, one-to-one and group messaging, voice and video conference calls, file attachments, sent/received/read message status, and Message Burn, a facility where the sender can set a message to disappear after a certain time (for example 5 minutes after it has been sent, or 10 minutes after it has been read by the recipient).

Steve Slater, Operations Director at GRC commented; “Armour Mobile provides the broadest range of secure communications features currently available for use on an ordinary smartphone, providing security that is transparent to the end user, something that is increasingly important to our user base.  Services that provide a consumer-grade look and feel with higher levels of assurance combined with the convenience of using the phone the user already has, means that making and receiving a secure call or communication does not disrupt normal working patterns, helping to ensure user adoption.”

MessageBurn

David Holman, a Director at Armour Comms stated; “GRC is our first partner to provide a 24/7 support service from its HQ. Increasingly, clients are demanding higher levels of assurance and support, and we are delighted to be working with GRC to meet this requirement.

Using a FIPS 140-2 validated crypto core, Armour Mobile has been awarded many certifications including Commercial Product Assurance (CPA) from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and is included in the NATO Information Assurance catalogue.

Comment on National University of Ireland data breach to GPSJ

Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn

In light of the news that the National University of Ireland (NUIG) has lost a USB containing student details, Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn has provided comment to GPSJ.

Jon told GPSJ: “This breach is yet another example of user error and the risks of not encrypting sensitive data. Whilst the number affected does not reach the thousands we have seen in breaches of late, the end result is ultimately the same – sensitive information has been lost and could very easily land in unscrupulous hands.

The university claims to have ‘strict policies in place relating to the use of portable devices, in addition to a staff data protection training programme and online security training’, but the most effective method would have been to identify a standard hardware encrypted USB for data protection, to ensure that if, such as in this case, the device is lost or stolen, the contents remain obscured and inaccessible. Its use should be enforced by locking USB ports to only accept that device. This then removes the risk that data could be downloaded to unencrypted portable media. The cost of defence is much lower than the cost of a breach, particularly in the wake of new GDPR legislation.”