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November 2018
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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.”

2018 Budget: GPSJ readers send us their comments

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Government & Public Sector Journal readers have sent us their comments on today’s budget:

Ben Jackson, CEO of early payment provider, Oxygen Finance, said:

“Today was a missed opportunity for the Chancellor to deliver on his Spring Statement pledge to stamp out late payment. All we’ve had since then is further consultation on the issue, but no decisive action.

“While further legislation isn’t the answer to this deep-rooted problem, there is a case for strengthening existing measures. In practice, this would mean immediate financial consequences for businesses who pay late. The existing rules see late payers merely reporting on the extent to which they pay late, with the onus on suppliers – who will be reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them – to trigger any financial penalty.

“Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business and without the certainty of regular, timely payments businesses cannot put their growth plans into action, which, at best, leaves them operating in a short-term fashion and at worst puts their very survival in jeopardy. While the Budget did include business-friendly measures, they mean very little when firms still aren’t being paid on time for the goods and services they provide.”

Responding to today’s Budget, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:

“The social care system cannot continue to get by on last-minute, piecemeal funding announcements. Adult social care in England needs at least £1.5 billion more per year simply to cope with demand meaning that the funding announced today, which will also need to cover children’s social care, falls far short. This highlights the need for a long-term plan for how social care will be funded and structured so that it can meet increasing demand. Successive Governments have dodged tough decisions on social care and the forthcoming Green Paper must now ensure social care gets the long-term plan it so desperately needs.

“Two billion pounds for mental health confirms the early signals that this would be a key priority for the forthcoming NHS long-term plan. But years of underfunding have taken their toll and this is no more than a small step on the road to parity of esteem. Mental health services need more than money to meet demand. A chronic shortage of mental health staff means that, despite the new funding, the service won’t improve until the Government and the NHS provide a plan to increase the workforce.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham told GPSJ:

“Today’s Budget had a number of welcome steps but Greater Manchester will need more from the Chancellor in the upcoming spending review if we are to face up to the big post-Brexit challenges.

“The skills funding package for Greater Manchester that’s been announced today is welcome but should only be another step on the journey towards full devolution of post-16 education.

“The nearly £70 million of additional investment in transport from the Transforming Cities Fund in 2022-23 is also positive but I know people in Greater Manchester wanted to hear more from the Chancellor on the chaos that’s affecting commuters and harming the Northern economy now.   Greater Manchester needs similar powers to London if we are to fix our roads and railways.  That’s why I’m calling on people across Greater Manchester to join our campaign to Take Control of our Transport at takecontrolofourtransport.co.uk.

“I also hope that the Government’s decision to refresh its Northern Powerhouse Strategy next year is a recognition of what Northern Leaders have been saying to Ministers over recent years.  The promises made to the North need to be delivered and the Northern Powerhouse urgently needs new momentum.

“On the vital issue of social care, any new funding for social care is welcome and critically needed, but the Chancellor’s announcement doesn’t address the scale of social care underfunding. Rather than sticking plasters, we need a long-term settlement for social care to ensure older and disabled people get the care they need.”

Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said:

“It would seem that that era of austerity is indeed not at an end for older and disabled people.

“The detail in the Red Book reveals that the announced funding of £650 million for social care is in fact a core of £410 million which will need to be negotiated in local Councils between children and adult services – both of which are hard pressed. Whilst this additional funding is indeed positive, it is both inadequate and temporary. There is also £240m in 2019/20 to continue the winter pressures funding that supports the NHS.

“The detail in the budget creates an invidious situation affecting older and disabled people locally.  Their needs will be competing with those of different Council departments, projected overspends, dwindling or exhausted reserves, supporting NHS needs and the needs of children and young people.

“It is however, welcome, that more money for the Disabilities Funding Grant is available, which is £10 million more than the Chancellor announced in his speech. It is positive the Government is making  more money available for social care overall. We must have a long-term funding solutions for adult social care and the Government must bring these forward in the green paper urgently.”

Ben Jackson, CEO of early payment provider, Oxygen Finance, said:

“Today was a missed opportunity for the Chancellor to deliver on his Spring Statement pledge to stamp out late payment. All we’ve had since then is further consultation on the issue, but no decisive action.

“While further legislation isn’t the answer to this deep-rooted problem, there is a case for strengthening existing measures. In practice, this would mean immediate financial consequences for businesses who pay late. The existing rules see late payers merely reporting on the extent to which they pay late, with the onus on suppliers – who will be reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them – to trigger any financial penalty.

“Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business and without the certainty of regular, timely payments businesses cannot put their growth plans into action, which, at best, leaves them operating in a short-term fashion and at worst puts their very survival in jeopardy. While the Budget did include business-friendly measures, they mean very little when firms still aren’t being paid on time for the goods and services they provide.”

Peter Hogg, UK Cities Director, said:

“The Chancellor was keen to share the love around the UK in today’s budget. Whilst he may have come to bury one of his predecessor’s pet policy initiatives – austerity, he went out of his way to praise the other – devolution. No part of the Union was denied Mr Hammond’s generosity, with devo deals for Tayside, Belfast and Mid Wales, whilst Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Oxford-Cambridge rail link and the devolved authorities all got additional funding or extended funding windows. This, linked to pledges on the Transforming Cities Fund, Future Mobility Zones, infrastructure, health, schools and defence, adds up to a very regionally focused budget.

“This is good news for the UK’s overall competitiveness at a critical time and will helpfully encourage confidence and investability. It is also reassuring to see the Chancellor recognise the need to enable growth in our cities and the corridors that connect them. It is disappointing – if understandable – to see limited funding for London. The HIF funding (Housing Infrastructure Fund) of the DLR extension and inclusion of Lower Thames Crossing in the Roads Investment Strategy 2 settlement are welcome, but it feels like a missed opportunity to see nothing on Crossrail 2, The Bakerloo Line Extension or indeed the regeneration of Thames Gateway.” 

Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research and Insight, said:

“The end to the use of the PFI for social and economic infrastructure is good politics as no deal has been signed since 2016.  However, finding the finance to plug the gaps left by the EIB – which the budget does not address – along with public sector expertise to deliver publicly funded programmes, may prove to be longer-term liabilities. Meanwhile, given the raft of announcements in connection with future capital expenditure on housing, roads and the high street, the lack of an announcement on the progress of the construction sector deal points to the need for greater coordination between Government Departments.”

Will Waller, Head of Market Intelligence, said:

“Noticeable by its absence in Hammond’s speech was any mention of the ‘Help to Buy’ Equity Loan Scheme.  But the housebuilding community won’t be disappointed.  The red book heralds a new Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme that will run from April 2021 for 2 years to the tune of almost £9bn.  Even better, it also won’t be contingent on any site-specifics or new planning policy. This is a huge win for housebuilders in minimising uncertainty, particularly crucial as an average of 40% of revenue of the top ten house builders is supported by the scheme and it has played a huge part in driving profitability in an increasingly challenging market.  Equally, it will allow more first time buyers to get on the ladder. That said, whilst this policy will provide renewed comfort and opportunity, the red book makes it clear that March 2023 will be the definite end to the scheme.  The big house builders will need to invest  in evolving business and delivery models.”

Natalie Sauber, Market Intelligence Lead for Manufacturing & Technology, said:

“The Chancellor’s cash injection of £90 million to create future mobility zones is a positive move. Smart transport solutions present a huge opportunity to radically transform how we live, work and travel. It is reassuring to see the Government take another important step in its campaign to embrace the next generation of citizen driven mobility. Now is the time for local authorities and transport bodies to get ahead of the game.”

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said: 

“We were disappointed that the Budget did not confirm a commitment to introducing universal food waste collections in England or any further funding support to encourage local authorities to introduce these where they haven’t already done so. 

 “We strongly urge the Treasury, BEIS and DEFRA to ensure the forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy includes these measures to help end the scandal of valuable organic materials being wasted in incineration or landfill – meeting our Carbon Budgets depends on it. As highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change, we also need urgent action on replacement for the Renewable Heat Incentive by the end of the year to ensure that generation of renewable heat continues to receive government support. 

“ADBA welcomes the confirmation that Ministers will maintain the difference between alternative and main road fuel duty rates until 2032 to support the decarbonisation of the UK transport sector – this recognises the valuable role that clean fuels such as biomethane need to play.” 

In its Budget Submission, ADBA set out the case for rollout of universal food waste collections in England to replicate the improvement in food waste recycling rates seen in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as the result of a similar policy. As well as helping to divert food waste away from environmentally damaging landfill or incineration, the National Infrastructure Commission has estimated that introducing universal food waste collections in England would save local authorities up to £400 million in capital costs and £1.1 billion in operational costs between 2020 and 2050.

The Budget states that if current policy fails to reduce the amount of waste going to incineration and landfill ahead of recycling, the Government is prepared to introduce a higher tax on incineration, though it declined to set out a firm timetable for this.

ADBA will continue to strongly push for support for universal separate food waste collections in the forthcoming Resources & Waste Strategy, and will continue to make detailed representations to the relevant Departments.

Responding to Budget 2018, Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, told GPSJ:

“Today’s Budget shows the Government has started to listen to the LGA’s call for desperately-needed investment in our under-pressure local services, but falls short of what we need in the long-term. Councils were at the front of the queue when austerity started so local services should be at the front of the queue if it is coming to an end.

“The LGA’s Budget submission highlighted the severe funding pressures facing councils in 2019/20. The Chancellor has acted to help tackle some of this immediate funding crisis with £650 million for social care which provides a financial boost for some of our local public services.

“While this funding will ease some of the immediate financial pressure facing councils and our local services, it is clear that this cannot be a one-off. Today’s funding is a start, but the real test will come in the Spending Review next year.

“Local government in England continues to face significant funding gaps and rising demand for adult social care, children’s services and homelessness support will continue to threaten other services our communities rely on, like running libraries, cleaning streets and maintaining park spaces. Councils also continue to face huge uncertainty about how they will pay for local services into the next decade and beyond.

“Investing in local government is good for the nation’s prosperity, economic growth and the overall health and wellbeing of the nation. We now look forward to working with the Government to ensure the forthcoming Spending Review delivers a truly sustainable funding settlement for local government, and its adult social care Green Paper puts social care on a firmer, long-term financial footing for the people who depend on care and support.”

Commenting on the Budget, Dan Burke, public sector strategy partner at PwC, said:

“Public service leaders will be pleased to receive extra short term cash to cover major pressures in areas such as social care, universal credit, roads, housing and defence. But all the big decisions will have to wait until next year’s Spending Review.

“The end to austerity in public spending will depend on a Brexit ‘deal dividend’ that the Chancellor hopes we will be enjoying by next Spring.

“Whatever happens, it’s clear that the long term future for public services depends on finding new ways to deliver them, using the new technology that is already driving innovation in the rest of the economy.”

Adam Lent, the Director of the New Local Government Network (NLGN) thinktank told GPSJ:

“Local public services have endured more cuts than any other part of the public sector over the last eight years. This has thrust councils into a growing financial crisis. The Chancellor’s long list of one off and relatively small cash boosts are welcome but are really nothing more than sticking plasters. If austerity is genuinely to end then councils need a long-term settlement that delivers financial sustainability. Councils will now look to the Spending Review next year for this but given the Chancellor’s modest prediction for spending growth, they will look forward more in hope than expectation.”

Digitalisation: Businesses must mitigate against new, invisible risks

Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn

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.

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.

GDPR – THE FATIGUE, THE FEAR AND THE ROBOTS

Many of us are suffering from GDPR fatigue. All articles, news reports, internal meetings are essentially repeating the ICO’s main principals and broad steps needed to become compliant. The word journey is also banded about, suggesting if steps are being taken, and can be proved, you’ll avoid the hefty fines which now act as the GDPR stick.

However, three months on GDPR is slowly starting to feel like something real, rather than something hypothetical found in a business text book.

Within the first month of GDPR, the ICO received 1,124 complaints about data breaches. Mainly from individuals, but sometimes from organisations proactively informing the ICO of breaches. This was a sharp increase from previous years, but it appears not a knee jerk reaction that was to abate. Now the ICO has released data from the first three months, and it has received 6,281 complaints. This averages around 2,500 complaints a month for months two and three.

If you then compare to 2017, the ICO only received 2,417 in total over the same three-month period, a 300% increase. Clearly, individuals are not only aware they have rights now but feel empowered to do something about it.

So, has everyone in the UK read the GDPR policy and do they know when to complain?

I highly doubt it, but data breeches are news headlines, and not only that they are high profile. So, while the nuances might still be a problem, stories such as Facebook/Cambridge Analytica are well known, and without knowing all the details can provide individuals with a general sense of personal data ownership and rights, and a confidence that companies can be held to account.

Without a doubt the number of organisations that approach Restore with requirements that stem from GDPR concerns has risen sharply, especially over the last two months. And this isn’t just organisations that are worried about how they hold customer data, but increasingly HR teams worried about their employee data.

What is worrying organisations the most? Where are their weak points?

 From our internal research a lot of organisations are worried about what they call dark boxes of data – ie stored boxes whose contents are unknown; and the amount of archive paper data. This paper data is hard to categorise and know quickly and simply what you hold on an individual. As data becomes increasingly digital, individuals can have some data on paper and some stored electronically.

This makes organisations uncomfortable that they can quickly reply to SAR requests, and most importantly keep up to date with retention periods.

What are retention periods and why are they important? 

With the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal we learnt about data harvesting, where individuals hand over data believing it’s just for one thing, eg an innocent game/quiz on Facebook. However, that information might be sold on, along with other information Facebook harvests or, the game itself might be created by a data company like Cambridge Analytica which wants to use that data for other commercial uses. Basically, a sense of tricking the individual.

T-Mobile is another organisation who seems to be constantly in the news with data breeches. Their issues are around data security and unauthorized data access.

However, data breeches aren’t just these high-profile examples, that most companies have high up on their risk agenda. Not adhering to retention periods are still classed as data breeches.

When you hold individuals’ information, each type of information has a retention period – this is how long you must keep the information on file, and then a time when it must be deleted, and you are no longer allowed to hold that information.

And for HR Teams this isn’t as straight forward as after X years delete all data held on a previous employee. Each type of information has different retention periods, so information about maternity will have a different retention period to next of kin/emergency contact details, to contract signed, to pension information. And this is when paper records make conforming to GDPR difficult, time consuming and manual.

Robots to the rescue

GDPR in a nutshell is about safe, secure, accurate information not kept longer than necessary. If you digitise, you can automate, and if you automate you can let robots keep you GDPR compliant.

A good records management system allows you to set permissions and rules for each bit of data, giving internal colleagues different access to information contained within one database.

A good database with robotics sat within it, can automatically remove data into recycle bins, ready for you to check and delete, once certain rules like retention period are met.

And if you get AI involved, you can link data held in different databases on the same individual, so updates are replicated. AI can also pull information out of documents and process information if it is an invoice etc.

In conclusion 

“If the 2013/14 Yahoo data breach happened today”, commented Paul Moonan, Managing Director of Restore Digital, “the company would have faced fines anywhere in the region of $80-160 million. No matter the size of your company, this is a devastating amount. It is important to treat data as a privilege and understand the rules and rights of the individuals. It’s also important to remove the manual aspect of data management. Not only is it time consuming but is prone to errors that can be costly. Utilising technology and robotics can make GDPR a simple task”.

About Restore Digital

 Restore is the largest UK-owned document management company, working with over 4,000 small, medium and blue-chip companies from our 100+ locations across the length and breadth of the UK. No matter where you’re based, Restore always has an office or bureau nearby.

All our solutions stem from our unrivalled scanning capabilities. We have the largest fleet of IBML scanners in Europe and our document scanning service is second to none. 

This core function of scanning is enhanced by our data capture and automated solutions that means paper documents aren’t just turned into a PDF, but the data contained within them can work harder and be pushed to the right people or databases in a timely fashion.

For further information please visit: www.restore.co.uk/

Dynama’s organisational design and resource management software is awarded a place on G-Cloud 10

Dynama – Andrew Carwardine – Managing Director

Dynama is delighted to announce that its organisational design, resource management and workforce optimisation software has been accepted onto the latest iteration of the UK Government’s Digital Marketplace, G-Cloud 10.  This coincides with the successful listing of Dynama on AusTender, the Australian Government’s Procurement Information System.  Dynama’s proven track record of working with some of the most respected organisations in the industry, means public sector and defence organisations around the world rely on its leading software to maximise the effectiveness of their skilled personnel, assets and surety of compliance, in often complex and diverse environments, safely and cost-effectively.

Dynama currently supports some of the most challenging operations in the public sector including the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary, NATO, US military and the Australian Defence Force.  Most recently, the Dynama OneView application has been successfully deployed as NATO’s new Automated Personnel Management System (APMS) providing organisational structure management, HR and logistic support to personnel across 29 Member Nations in Europe, North America and Allied Partners around the world.  Dynama is also currently working in partnership with Andromeda Systems Incorporated and the US Department of Defense (DoD) to provide Dynama OneView, to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.  This is used to aggregate and visualise data for the entire programme, which encompasses over 2,700 aircraft, with their associated personnel and support equipment.

Andrew Carwardine, Managing Director of Dynama said, “We are proud to be accepted onto the Government’s latest G-Cloud framework and to have the opportunity to share the benefits of our technology with those who keep us safe and secure on a daily basis.  These vital service providers share the common challenges of deploying appropriately skilled staff to the right place often at short notice and within budget constraints.  With our fully automated solution which has been accepted by the Government’s Digital Marketplace, public sector organisations can trust us to help them create robust organisational design, resource management and workforce optimisation strategies that boost efficiencies and control costs in a highly flexible way.”

Dynama has over 25 years’ experience of providing the specialist knowledge and technology necessary for both commercial, defence and government customers in heavily regulated industries, where legislative compliance, health & safety and the deployment of scarce, expensive and highly qualified resource are top priorities.  Dynama OneView is a single, integrated organisational design and resource management solution which customers exploit to ensure their people and resources are applied with maximum efficiency in the right place and at the right time.  Based on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) architecture, OneView eliminates the need for hardware saving on infrastructure costs and capital expenditure.  For more inforobalmation, visit www.dynama.gl

ENGIE Establishes Responsible Business Charter and Independent Scrutiny Board

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

ENGIE, the leading energy and services Group, has established a new Responsible Business Charter and independent Scrutiny Board, further underlining the company’s commitment to operate to the highest economic, social and environmental standards.

The Charter ensures that ENGIE will make commitments in the four areas of fair business growth, transparency and accountability, being a fair employer, and supporting our communities and environment. The Charter responds to the need for the business to demonstrate how it contributes to society more widely.

The company’s adherence with the Responsible Business Charter will be overseen by the newly established independent Scrutiny Board, chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake. The Scrutiny Board will report back to ENGIE’s UK Executive Board and be supported and independently validated by the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

The four commitments will be validated by supporting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on key issues including, speed of supplier payments, fair executive pay, customer satisfaction, pension obligations, environmental and social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and living wage.

Wilfrid Petrie, CEO of ENGIE UK, said: “Operating in a responsible and transparent manner has been absolutely fundamental to ENGIE’s operations, and I am proud that we have formally established this commitment through the Responsible Business Charter.  I believe that the Charter and work of the Scrutiny Board will establish a new industry standard helping us to lead in responsible business practice.”

Lord Bob Kerslake, Chair of the Scrutiny Board said: “UK energy and service companies are facing evermore public scrutiny of their business, so it is extremely encouraging that ENGIE has acted pro-actively to strengthen their business practices.  I and the other Scrutiny Board members are looking forward to working with ENGIE to ensure they continue to operate for the benefit of all their stakeholders.”

More information on the Responsible Business Charter and Scrutiny Board can be found at www.engie.co.uk/responsiblebusiness.

ENGIE enters local authority energy white label market with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s ‘Qwest Energy’

ENGIE, the leading energy and services Group, has signed its first energy white label contract with a local authority – Cheshire West and Chester – to supply householders across the north-west of England from a new local energy platform called Qwest Energy.

The proposition sees ENGIE become the first private sector business to partner with a local authority to launch into the local energy company market for four years – after a series of council-only owned initiatives. Qwest Energy has been developed through Qwest Services; Cheshire West and Chester Council’s joint venture company, set up in 2015, to provide expertise in facilities management, customer services, workplace solutions and digital transformation across the region.

Qwest Energy aims to help local residents save money on their energy bills, with a specific focus on reaching out to disengaged and vulnerable customers. For every new customer, Qwest Energy will provide a contribution to a Qwest Energy Community Fund. The new platform will leverage ENGIE’s existing infrastructure, which is already serving over 75,000 home energy customers across the UK.

Paul Roberts, Managing Director of ENGIE’s home energy business said: “For our first local energy launch we are delighted to be providing our services to Cheshire West and Chester and to be providing a unique range of propositions tailored to the specific requirements of the area – backed by our desire to make a difference for those most in need. We see this venture as a long-term partnership for the benefit of residents across the whole region.”

Andrew Lewis, Chief Executive at Cheshire West and Chester Council added: “Qwest Energy will support thousands of residents, the community and the environment for years to come. Not only does it offer an affordable option for residents, but the Community Fund will help tackle important issues like fuel poverty.”

2019 HSJ Partnership Awards will showcase education providers’ joint working projects with the NHS

Health Service Journal (HSJ), the news and information service for all healthcare leaders working in, for, or with the NHS, has expanded and enhanced its Partnership Awards for 2019, following the success of its inaugural programme earlier this year.

The newly launched 2019 Partnership Awards, which recognise private sector organisations, including a new category specifically for education providers, that are working to help the NHS deliver better and more cost-effective patient care, boast several new categories and a prestigious black tie dinner awards ceremony at Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on 20 March 2019

Featuring a total of 21 different categories, covering a broad swathe of sectors, the expanded programme now has new categories, including mental health consultancies and not-for-profit organisations.

A vast range of joint working projects and service providers will be eligible for recognition. Entrants must be able to demonstrate 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 2018 HSJ Partnership Awards 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.

Alastair McLellan, Editor of HSJ, said: “Hundreds of organisations, across numerous sectors, work behind the scenes to assist the NHS. However, their contributions are often unseen and not given due credit. The HSJ Partnership Awards provide the opportunity to celebrate the work of these invaluable contributors who are delivering tangible benefits to NHS patients, clinicians and the facilities they use.

“Building on the tremendous success of the first HSJ Partnership Awards, we have adopted a black tie dinner format, similar to that used for our HSJ Awards programme. The glamorous evening will showcase the innovative projects and long-term support programmes that are really making a difference to the NHS in these challenging economic times.”

The Government & Public Sector Journal (GPSJ) is again working as a media partner for the 2019 awards.

For details on the individual categories and entry criteria, please log on to www.partnership.hsj.co.uk.

Entries must be submitted by 26 October 2018.

OutSystems Enables Hackney Council to Enhance Its Digital Services

Hackney Council can now build mobile applications 50 percent faster using the OutSystems platform

OutSystems, provider of the number one platform for low-code development, today announced that Hackney London Borough Council is using the OutSystems platform to enhance its digital services. Hackney Council is the local government authority for the London Borough of Hackney and one of the largest London borough councils with more than 3,500 staff. With OutSystems, the Council is building and delivering a number of important applications that will support tenants and leaseholders in its housing estate which comprises 28,000 homes and 32,000 tenancy leaseholders.

Hackney Council selected OutSystems over other vendors because it demonstrated a number of strengths. Matthew Cain, Head of Digital and Data, comments, “One of my early tasks when I joined Hackney Council in 2017 was to understand the digital architecture of the council, and while it was quite robust and sophisticated, it was also out of date in certain areas. Having had previous experience of low-code platforms, I was keen to understand the potential scope of low-code and rapid application development in supporting Hackney’s ambition to deliver better services.”

The new initiative with OutSystems will enable the delivery of digital capabilities to its housing estate and is a part of Hackney Council’s ambition to move online to improve customer services and reduce costs. The first product, “Manage My Rent Account” is a mobile application that has been designed for more than 8,500 tenants of Hackney properties. Hackney Council is also in the final stages of private beta for another application called “Manage My Tenancy,” which has been specifically designed for officers who look after Hackney’s housing estate.  Both applications will enable tenants and housing officers to manage their rent accounts and estates remotely.

“We invited OutSystems along with a couple of other vendors to demo their platforms. We were immediately struck with the flexibility of OutSystems UX,” said Cain. It is really important that we continuously improve the experiences that our users have in order for them to succeed unaided. We were also impressed by the openness of the product and its ability to access data via the rest API points.”

OutSystems was awarded the contract and worked in partnership with Hackney Council to refine its requirements. Hackney was impressed with the OutSystems approach and viewed the project as a true co-design effort.   The platform has enabled developers to speed up their pace of work and have a deeper understanding of user needs. Matthew adds, “OutSystems is a valuable enabler allowing our developers to produce high quality solutions quickly. We have a number of graduate and apprentice developers and the speed that they are now able to work and the quality and consistency of their output is amazing.”

Matthew explains, “We expect to develop one new app per quarter over the next 12 months. Previously, we were lucky if we could develop two apps in a year, so we have doubled our capability to deliver apps faster to the business.”

Hackney Council is also evaluating the role that OutSystems can play in supporting its internal systems, such as systems to manage joiners, movers, and leavers. Matthew concludes: “How digital we are right now is not an easy question to answer. We have a lot of web forms and IT-enabled processes, but there is still an extensive program of work to ensure our services meet our users’ needs.  Our goal is to deliver high-quality end-to-end digital services for our residents and staff, and OutSystems will certainly help us meet this ambition.” 

About OutSystems

Thousands of customers worldwide trust OutSystems, the number one low-code platform for rapid application development. Engineers with an obsessive attention to detail crafted every aspect of the OutSystems platform to help organizations build enterprise-grade apps and transform their business faster. OutSystems is the only solution that combines the power of low-code development with advanced mobile capabilities, enabling visual development of entire application portfolios that easily integrate with existing systems. Visit  www.outsystems.com, or follow us on Twitter @OutSystems or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/outsystems

Greater Manchester health and social care moves ahead with Shaping Cloud engagement

Stephen Dobson, interim chief digital officer for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Health and social care partnership set to make rapid procurement efficiencies whilst mapping out workforce and citizen benefits of moving to the cloud 

Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSC Partnership) aims to deliver rapid savings and identify how the cloud can support the region’s devolved vision for integrated health and care services through work with public sector IT specialists Shaping Cloud.

The company, which has already supported the cloud ambitions of global digital exemplar trusts Salford Royal and their fast follower Pennine Acute, is undertaking an ‘asset review’ that will baseline current infrastructure used across 20 NHS and local government organisations involved in the GMHSC Partnership.

This will identify what software applications are in use across the region and highlight opportunities for more cost-effective procurement practices to reduce duplication and leverage economies of scale for this landmark initiative.

The GMHSC Partnership is made up of NHS organisations and councils in the region, and is tasked with overseeing devolution and taking charge of the £6bn health and social care budget as well as a £450m transformation fund.

“Seeing what technology is in use across the public sector should mean the review will pay for itself in procurement efficiencies”, according to GMHSC Partnership interim chief digital officer Stephen Dobson. “However, it is the wider benefits of cloud adoption that are more attractive,” he says.

“Cloud is coming whether we like it or not. What I want to do is to accelerate the move to the cloud across Greater Manchester,” said Dobson. “I’m trying to get to the future faster.”

To help set out this future state, Shaping Cloud is conducting an enterprise architecture mapping exercise to identify current regional infrastructure. It will then develop a costed plan on what applications and storage can move to the cloud, indicating further potential financial savings and productivity benefits.

The asset review, scheduled for completion in the spring 2019, will also identify and address the need for organisations to have an information governance compliant asset register, as well as support workforce training and development needs that come with wider use of the cloud.

“The cloud will improve our ability to access what we need from wherever we are,” said Dobson. “For example, if an NHS consultant is required in a different hospital, he or she can access the information and applications they require without the need for getting a new piece of kit, or another laptop belonging to that trust. That’s a huge benefit both for staff and for the patient.”

For Dobson, the cloud should mean greater opportunities for flexible working and collaboration between the multidisciplinary teams that are increasingly required to deliver the region’s integrated, person-centred care model. Overstretched IT teams will also benefit, spending less time managing multiple applications and infrastructure.

Once the infrastructure is in place, Dobson says the region will have a platform: “Where it will be easier to collaborate and improve the delivery of health and social care services.

“It’s vital that we change how we use technology across our services. We must deliver on this, for the benefit of patients and our health and care workforce.

“Our partnership with Shaping Cloud will support us in achieving this and improve how we share data between organisations and access information. They really understand the challenges of delivering at scale and they have a genuine passion for service delivery.”

Chosen for its experience in public sector IT, hybrid cloud and digital transformation, Manchester-based Shaping Cloud has already worked with some of the region’s health and local authorities. It is now set to support Mayor Andy Burnham’s vision of Manchester as the UK’s leading digital city and deliver ‘the greatest and fastest possible improvement to the health and wellbeing for the 2.8m people of Greater Manchester’.

Shaping Cloud will set the building blocks for appropriate and phased use of the cloud, which will then be taken forward across the region with the support of the region’s digital board, which comprises senior leaders from Greater Manchester including GMHSC Partnership chief officer Jon Rouse, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust CEO Sir David Dalton, and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust CEO Sir Michael Deegan.

Shaping Cloud Founder and CEO, Carlos Oliveira, said: “Being selected as the preferred supplier to GMHSC Partnership is testimony to what we can and shall deliver. We are privileged to work in an industry where our products and services have the power to improve people’s lives.

“Our work with the partnership will create a blueprint for a modern IT infrastructure at an organisational, local and regional level. Leveraging the latest technologies, it will allow organisations to collaborate more effectively and be an enabler for the delivery of better services to the people of Greater Manchester.

“We’re fully behind Greater Manchester’s mission to improve the health and wellbeing of every citizen in the region. It’s about people achieving their potential and amplifying Manchester’s position as a world-class city. It’s a big responsibility and one we’re happy to help with.”

The work sits alongside activity that sees Manchester improving network connectivity through early adoption of N3-successor the HSCN, investment in full fibre networks, and greater information sharing via its successful Local Health and Care Record Exemplar bid, which itself may benefit from using the cloud.

For further information visit: shapingcloud.com

The Internet is still OK… sometimes

Justin Day, 6point6

The Government Digital Service gave its blessing to using the Internet instead of the Public Services Network in January 2017. But there’s danger in letting the solution define the requirements, says Justin Day of 6point6 Cloud Gateway.

In early 2017, the Government Digital Service (GDS) published a blog called “The Internet is ok”. It outlined the public sector digital and technology leaders’ position on the Public Services Network and concluded that it was clear that everyone agreed we could just use the Internet.

This was a big moment. Up to this point, some decision makers were wary of the Internet. The blog was an important advisory piece which highlighted that if you follow the guidelines, everything will be OK.

The very next thing that the author did was to clarify that the Internet is ok for the vast majority of the work that the public sector does, but not all. “But from today,” it said, “new services should be made available on the Internet and secured appropriately using the best available standards-based approaches. When we’re updating or changing services, we should take the opportunity to move them to the Internet.” Internet by default.

Eighteen months on, where are we? Is the Internet still ok and was it ever ok?

A long time ago, I was given some advice that we don’t sell technology; we sell a service level agreement. In the context of what Government departments provide to the general public – access to services – this advice holds true. What the public wants is access to services. When looking at solution options, procurers must ask themselves what service level guarantees are on offer.

The first issue with the Internet is that its service levels cannot be guaranteed: if a service relies on the Internet, then it is difficult to say who one can call when network performance inexplicably degrades, or connectivity is lost altogether. This by itself may make the Internet an inadequate choice of solution for some critical services, and that’s without going into a discussion about which services, then, should be considered critical.  This factor is not yet given sufficient weight by decision makers.

This brings us to a second issue: why are the limitations of the Internet given insufficient weight, despite the caveat of the original post? To understand why, we need to understand the decision makers who, broadly speaking, fall into one of two camps: digital enthusiast or digital moderate.

Broadly speaking, enthusiasts believe that everything should be in the cloud and that the Internet is the route to delivering it. The moderates still believe in each case on its merits. So, why are the enthusiasts winning?

The first reason is the advice itself: it’s easier to win an argument when the official advice supports your position. The digital resistance is often on a hiding to nothing.

Secondly, the sheer numbers of digital enthusiasts; they are now the norm. Perhaps it’s because the current generation has effectively grown up with accessible IT: they expect services and apps to exist powered by the Internet, using a device we all carry, our mobile phone. Therefore, the Internet is the right way to go.

Finally, even if all other factors were deadlocked, enthusiasts usually get the green light simply because few decision-makers want to be labelled a hindrance to progress.

My instinct honed from time spent around several Government departments is that the Internet is ok, but that it is not the answer to everything. People need to be more thorough, and to revert to the discipline of examining properly, whether cloud services and the Internet is the right thing for what they’re doing.  At a technical level, you can certainly look at things like latency, or quality of service. But they are the easy ones to look at. From the client perspective: are they getting the SLA that meets their needs? Do I want to have that extra layer of security encryption or otherwise?

Holistically, it’s about recognising that there is a multitude of options, not just one. This leads me to my overarching point: about the hybrid network, the hybrid cloud, which I think will win out within the next two years.

There will be a layer of early adopters which have been burned. Those following behind will have done more research and will know that the right thing to do is work on a case by case basis. Being flexible, digital and agile means applying the right technologies from the huge range available that works best for the end consumer, the business and everyone in the chain. It doesn’t matter what that is.

That, to me, is digital and that, to me, is what being agile means.

Since 2017, 6point6 Cloud Gateway has offered a portfolio of solutions that turn into reality the much talked about but rarely delivered agile network. It provides a secure gateway that is entirely vendor- and technology-neutral, connecting organisations to any cloud service provider or legacy infrastructure using any carrier medium, enabling transformation at the pace of change that suits the customer. Already prized by two major public sector entities, its solutions put organisations back in control of their IT, their data assets and their business, enabling agile transformation without contractual lock-in.

Electric vehicle transition offers golden opportunity for Local Authorities to improve air quality

By Matthew Boulton, COO of Pivot Power

The public sector is grappling with the emerging public health crisis that is being caused by poor air quality in cities, resulting in an estimated 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. The electrification of transport is a powerful lever for reducing local pollution levels, whilst also contributing to our national climate change targets, and offers opportunities for Local Authority investment in infrastructure assets which can provide healthy and growing long-term revenues.

But vehicle electrification is not easy.

Price and range of available models have been key barriers, but the landscape is changing fast. All the main manufacturers have announced new electric models in their line-ups, and the rapid cost decline of underlying battery technology means that analysts such as Bloomberg predict EVs will be getting close to cost parity with fossil-fuel cars by 2022.

The number one barrier to new car buyers switching to EVs is range anxiety – the fear of running out of charge at the wrong time. To decarbonise our transport system, people need to feel confident that there are public rapid-charging options available when it isn’t convenient or possible to rely on a slow overnight charge at home. And rapid charging of cars is a power problem. The newest rapid chargers can take 350 kW of power – as much power as an entire supermarket, just for one car. And it’s no good turning up at a rapid charger and finding yourself in a queue. To guarantee availability in a world full of EVs, you need to have clusters of rapid chargers, and that requires an enormous amount of power.

Pivot Power has been established to decarbonise both our energy and our transport systems. We will be connecting huge lithium-ion batteries directly to National Grid substations in 45 locations across England and Wales. These batteries will enable the grid to accommodate increasing amounts of wind and solar, helping to smooth out fluctuations in their supply, so that the grid can be kept in balance on a second-by-second basis as we continue to reduce the carbon emissions related to electricity generation.

We have selected substations which are also close to key national roads and on the edges of big towns. In each location we will have access to 60 megawatts of power – the equivalent of supply to 30,000 homes. As well as using these connections for the batteries, Pivot Power will be taking power from each site to create intense clusters of EV charging capacity.

At the centre of each of these clusters will be a ‘superhub’ – a 100-bay (or more) centre for rapid recharging. At the superhub, passing drivers will be able to pause for a rest, maybe a bite to eat, maybe a quick catch up on phone calls and emails. They will have a range of rapid chargers at their disposal, able to top the car back up in anything from 5 to 45 minutes, depending on the traveller’s requirements and vehicle’s capabilities.

But there are opportunities to do more with that power. We can take it to nearby locations where there is potential for installing additional mass charging capability: bus depots, Park & Rides, retail car parks, corporate HQs and logistics fleet hubs. By creating a pocket of intense EV capacity in one area, we want to act as a catalyst for EV uptake right across the town – making residents feel confident that there is a range of convenient and available public charging options available.

How can a local authority play a part in this revolution?

As a planning authority – Whether it is for the initial ‘battery on the substation’ application, or for the superhub at the motorway junction and the cable connecting the two, the Local Authority will always have a key role to play in the statutory processes assessing those applications. We will be studying local development plans and engaging proactively with you to try and make sure these developments fit into your local strategy and objectives.

As a land owner – We will be looking for land to locate the new superhubs. If the Local Authority has suitable land for this purpose, or for the creation of new fleet-charging locations (bus depots, Park & Rides), these could become valuable sources of revenue.

As a public service provider – A Local Authority may wish to lead the local push to transport electrification, converting its own vehicle fleets (cars, vans, refuse trucks) and creating the charging infrastructure it requires.

As a policy maker – Once it has established a strong network of local EV charging, the Local Authority can push harder on zero emission zones for the city centres, and mandate a quicker transition to electric buses and taxis.

As an investor – Pivot Power will be building core, strategic assets for the country’s future. Whether or not these are located on Local Authority land, there will be opportunities for co-investment in both the batteries and the EV chargers as a means of securing long-term revenues into the public purse.

Pivot Power is trying to accelerate the EV revolution, and is looking to collaborate with Local Authorities who want to grab the opportunity to shape the impact that revolution has locally, designing and installing appropriate infrastructure which catalyses local EV uptake, improves local air quality targets and establishes reliable future revenue streams, setting an example for other towns to follow.

How to make the most of the apprenticeship levy

How to make the most of the apprenticeship levy

In April 2017, legislation that presented a complete overhaul of how apprenticeship training in the UK is structured and delivered came into effect. The intention of the apprenticeship levy is to increase funding and boost the volume of apprenticeships available within the UK, both in public and private sectors. But with apprenticeship numbers reportedly falling across the UK, the levy has become a hot topic with many different moving parts. Lizzy Grayson, Category Manager for Corporate Services at YPO, offers her insights into the workings of the apprenticeship levy for public sector organisations and how to make the most of the new procurement process.

How does the levy work?

The levy works by applying an annual 0.5% charge on an employer’s total payroll which is automatically deducted via PAYE. The funds raised are isolated to the individual organisation’s levy pot, with this sum then being allocated to procuring apprenticeship schemes. This only occurs once the payroll of the employer is in excess of £3million, placing many public sector organisations within the bracket. In addition, each employer that is paying into the levy will each receive a flat annual allowance of £15,000 to counterbalance their levy payment. If necessary, employers will also have the ability to access further subsidised funding for apprenticeships.

Procurement processes with many moving parts can be difficult to negotiate when procuring apprenticeship standards. What seems like a simple process can take organisations several months, incurring administration costs and taking valuable capacity time.  This factor, combined with the nature of the apprenticeship levy process being new to all parties, can be seen as one of the many reasons that the uptake number of apprenticeships has decreased since last year. 

How are new standards created?

As the Education and Skills funding agency changes apprentice framework systems into standards, trailblazer groups are created across all sectors to develop apprenticeship standards. Trailblazer groups are created by the ESFA and have representation from different areas of the sector. 

What does it mean for public sector organisations?

Public sector organisations have previously had a requirement for apprentice’s to support their business needs, it helps develop individuals in a unique way, giving them the skills and experience of delivering in the workplace. Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, this is increased and many organisations want to utilise their levy to the maximum and deliver more apprenticeship programmes in a variety of areas. The funds and management of apprenticeships will inevitably increase across all public sector organisations, many of which have recruited dedicated apprenticeship managers to develop specific programmes within their organisations. This has become especially prevalent with the department of education recently setting the target of 2.3 per cent of public sector workforces to be made up of apprenticeship roles by 2020.

Due to the increase in spend across each public sector organisation, they will need to procure apprenticeships in line with the EU Public contracts regulations

As of today there are 305 different standards across routes such as the emergency services and social care. However, this number is rapidly increasing to include more apprenticeship roles as trailblazing bodies approve new sector standards. With over 2,600 providers approved on the Education and Skills Funding Agency register of approved apprenticeship providers listing, public sector organisations may understandably not be fully aware of every apprenticeship scheme available for procurement.

It is more important than ever for public sector organisations to find the appropriate apprenticeship provider. The market is rapidly growing so access to national and regional providers will be key to delivering a successful apprenticeship programme. The challenge will be to ensure that value for money is achieved, due to the changes to levy bandings many providers are delivering close to the banding rates. We recognise that our role in this is to help public sector organisations understand the added financial and quality value that they can achieve.

YPO recognises that it can quickly become confusing for public sector organisations as they attempt to choose the best procurement framework for their organisation. Subsequently, we are launching the first national Apprenticeship Framework that covers all standards in August 2018, collating compliant routes to apprenticeship providers across the UK. Apprenticeship providers will also be able to bid on a quarterly basis for all current and new standards thanks to the structure of the Apprenticeship procurement framework. The framework will support apprenticeship providers and give them one procurement process that will allow public sector organisations to procure their apprenticeship standards directly.

The framework aims to make spending Apprenticeship Levy funds simpler for public sector organisations by finding each compliant route to market for the procurement of apprenticeships. It is the first and only national framework of its kind and will aim to cover all growing future trailblazing standards. YPO’s framework is aiming to enable apprenticeship levy funds to be spent more effectively and create savings in administration costs for local authorities. Apprenticeship providers across the UK are invited to help bridge the current gap between provider and purchaser by being part of the Apprenticeship Framework. YPO is heavily focused on customer service as a procurement organisation and is committed to helping the public sector engage with the Apprenticeship levy in a positive way.

With many years’ of experience, YPO is one of the leading UK public sector procurement organisations. The organisation is public owned which means profits are returned to public sector customers, which helps gives assurance that maximum savings can be made.