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Autumn 2014

March 2015
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EcoSteer: Benefits the public sector through energy measurement and monitoring

logo300dpi-flat The technology industry’s latest trend, the Internet of Things (IoT), might on the face of it appear as a daunting leap in the dark or as an overhyped consumer fad. Many examples of its use often look good on presentation slides or sound like the sort of thing dreamed up by overactive imaginations in Silicon Valley, but there are straightforward and pragmatic applications arising out of IoT.

One area of immediate interest is monitoring and measurement, especially of critical, expensive or remote resources, such as energy. This of course is not new, but recent advances are making it possible to extend energy monitoring and measurement in ways that have not been either possible in the past.

The consumer adoption of many technologies has driven down prices and shifted even industrial products towards simpler, sometimes stylish and generally more easily and readily replaceable design. For monitoring, measurement and data collection this means much broader availability of a huge range of lower cost sensing devices.

In addition, widespread connectivity through the availability of high capacity fibre networks and increasingly data capable wireless networks means that connecting sensors for monitoring precious resources at almost any remote site becomes technically achievable.

Many things are technically possible, but are they worthwhile and commercially viable, and would that include public as well as private sector applications?

The collection of accurate information from a variety of sources in order to make real-time decisions – a pragmatic definition of big data – could be not only interesting, but of real benefit. According to public sector responses in the research covered in the Hitachi Data Systems’2014 Information Innovation Index study, the biggest benefits from big data would be real time access to information, leading to better planning and opportunities to save cost. Three quarters of those surveyed thought the main drivers for public sector investment in big data were to support the overall organisation’s strategy, with almost two thirds acknowledging the requirement to comply with legislation and regulation. These drivers were much higher in public sector than in other industries.

Getting to grips with monitoring overall energy usage fits directly into two of those areas of immediate need – saving costs and compliance with legislation.

Existing approaches tend to be a little patchy. Some organisations will collect data from their supply meters, but often only periodically and in any event the meter gives no insight into details or specific usage within different parts of the organisation or power hungry applications. Neither does the data contain other intelligence that might explain peaks and troughs, which might be gleaned from occupancy data or environmental sensors capturing temperature and humidity.

Where smarter meters are in place, the solutions are often supplied with their own proprietary software, meaning that different sources of data are much harder to combine, especially in anything approaching real time. Across any organisation there will be multiple locations and a legacy of existing systems in place, many different.

So there is still a significant challenge. With a diversity of systems, meters and various sensor manufacturers, how can an organisation ensure that they can gather data from all the sites they need to monitor in order to have a complete picture of energy usage? Fortunately there are solutions at hand, but costs can escalate rapidly as more monitoring points are added.

For these reasons, EcoSteer, an energy and environmental monitoring software start-up based in the UK, has taken a different approach. Its platform is open, with a logical data model configurable to directly match organisational structures and business requirements, and a web user interface. It is sensor agnostic, to accommodate any type and manufacturer of device, and designed with a distributed cloud-aware architecture, to scale to huge numbers of sensors from large numbers of sites.

These technical arrangements are useful and important to deliver an enterprise grade service, but commercially the EcoSteer pricing model is far closer to a consumer model, meaning that it is highly cost effective to start with only a couple of sensors on a single site, and scale up without changing the underlying software or losing any data already gathered.

With recent advances in sensor and networking technology, now is the right time to invest in gathering more intelligence about energy usage. EcoSteer makes it possible to start early at low cost, learn, and grow to massive scale. Its recent news of a partnership with HP, where HP will embed and resell the EcoSteer platform in HP’s energy efficiency management solution for telecoms and utilities, demonstrates that the EcoSteer monitoring solution is anticipated to deliver both big data and smaller costs. Just as other industries expect to benefit from this, so too should organisations in the public sector, and they can start by taking small pragmatic steps, not a leap of faith into the dark.

Why Demand Management is important to local government

Martin Creswell is Chief Executive of iMPOWER and a member of the MCA Think Tank

Martin Creswell is Chief Executive of iMPOWER and a member of the MCA Think Tank

Carl Jung once talked of synchronicity, of separate events connected by a form of ‘meaningful coincidence’. Such connections, difficult to explain through the standard scientific method, were somehow deliberate and that the manifestation of one was reliant on the other. This art, of seeing the irregular links and patterns in what appears to be chaos or regimented uniformity, is not unlike one’s first attempt at a behavioural analysis.

Take for example a parent using the free school transport service for their disabled children, a service which costs local authorities a small fortune in taxi fares. On the face of it a rigid and uniform system; it is right these children attend school therefore by virtue of them being considered ‘in need’ by the state they are provisioned with a service to address that need.  When iMPOWER explored this problem further we found a previously unrecognised behavioural trigger, the council we were working with was simply offering the service to any parent who qualified. When they changed to asking those same parents ‘How are you going to get your child to school?’ the numbers of people accessing that particular service fell dramatically. Behavioural analysis allowed us to look beyond the linear nature of the problem and to find an innovative and cost effective solution. By simply reframing the offer of the service we unlocked a different set of behaviours in service users. This is just the tip of a big iceberg, and an area which has received recognition today from our industry Think Tank.

The new Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Think Tank report, Local Government – Time for Reinvention highlights how effective demand management really can transform local services. The report recommends that by taking a more imaginative look at service users through the deployment of behavioural analysis (and not just the traditional assessments of socio-economic need), councils can segment and tailor services in ways which may see reduced levels of demand.

With local government likely to be burdened by a further reduction of 30% in its overall spending power the sector will be in need of support and fresh thinking. If raw financial numbers behind the cuts are not enough, consider the 400,000 jobs lost in local government (according to UNISON), many of them from the councils corporate core; the critical thinking capacity if you will. What is left is essentially the front line. If local government wants to navigate its way through the next five years of fiscal contraction then it needs to start embracing new tools like behavioural analysis if it is to address the white elephant in the room that of increasing demand for public services.

The real danger to the sustainability of public services isn’t the fall in public spending; the amount we contribute to public services has fluctuated over recent history. Rather the real threat is that of unchecked (and poorly understood) increases in demand. As the MCA Think Tank point outs, managing this demand will be a significant part of most local authorities answer to their funding challenge. Behavioural analysis is one tool that will help to unlock better demand management but it is not the only. We at iMPOWER see this as a broader opportunity to expand on the orthodox socio-economic forms of analysis that have traditionally informed senior decision making in local government.

The MCAs new report into the future of local government makes this point clearly. We’re now operating in a world that is rapidly downsizing and where our populations are more mobile and increasingly transient. What this mean for ‘place based’ delivery of public services is still be decided. What is clear is that a one size fits all approach is not the answer, it’s one of the contributing factors to our current problems. We see a different public sector emerging, one where the stock in trade of local government will be the ownership of our most complex social problems, and in truth, many are not solvable. At least not by singular one shot solution. Rather, they are managed and ameliorated over time, evolving into ever more manageable versions of themselves.

Political commentator Janan Ganesh recently noted that those of who are 35 ‘have already lived through one re-imagining of the state’ and that we are now about ‘due for another’. I’m inclined to agree with him. Managing demand is not just an important part of the future of local government service delivery; it is also a gateway to the next generation of the state. 

Kirklees Council chooses Sennheiser for new Lync deployment in its council offices

SC 60 USB ML lifestyle

SC 60 USB ML lifestyle

Sennheiser, a global leader in premium headset and UC solutions, has been chosen by Kirklees Council to supply its call centre staff with over 4,000 new headsets under a new Microsoft Lync implementation. Sennheiser was chosen following an evaluation by in-house staff of four leading headset brands. Read on to find out why.

The Challenge

Kirklees Council were looking to deploy 7,000 staff under a new Microsoft Lync implementation, with a key deliverable being to establish a more mobile workforce and ensure that the best approach was adopted in terms of employee healthcare. A significant percentage uptake in headset deployment was required to replace fixed handset devices. Staff required more mobility, increased comfort and no compromise in performance at a price point that was realistic.

The solution

“We chose a large group of 200 people to participate in evaluations of four of the main headsets that fell within our tight budgets, but which offered the best audio, comfort and performance overall,” said John Clayton, Principal Officer at Kirklees Council. “Feedback was overwhelming for the Sennheiser’s solutions, the SC 30 and SC 60. The benefits were a better build, better quality feel and more robust product.

When asked for reasons why the Sennheiser headsets proved so popular, one employee who preferred to wear a headset all day stated that they are “Very light and comfortable and I don’t know that I’m wearing it.” Other important factors included the impressive audio and noise cancelling microphone, but one of the main reasons why this rollout was possible was due to the price point.

“It was envisaged that customers would more readily adapt to headset use on this product as it is light, comfortable and has a premium quality look and feel” said John. “However the price point made it very attractive against the IT budget, and its robust design means we expect fewer breakages over time and a longer product life, reducing our total cost of ownership.”

Constructed from premium materials, Sennheiser’s headsets are built to last. A real emphasis on comfort, from large ear pads and a flexible boom to HD voice clarity and noise cancelling microphones, ensures that calls can be conducted smoothly and efficiency regardless of the environment, and with built-in ActiveGard™ technology to protect against acoustic shock, deliver complete peace of mind.

Sennheiser’s noise-cancelling technology certainly proved its worth with one contact centre employee, who gave their own review of the product: “Being a busy contact centre we really struggle with background noise. We have taken many steps to reduce this, such as silent keyboards, and were also considering noise-cancelling tiles as it was difficult for the staff during their daily shift and also listening back to calls on recordings. We evaluated the Sennheiser noise cancelling headset and were immediately impressed by this key feature, we couldn’t pick up any background noise and the conversation with the customer was perfect and clear. It was like they were in a room on their own!”

“We’d certainly recommend Sennheiser’s headsets to other similar establishments,” said John Clayton. “They have helped us deliver on our requirements. Acceptance of headsets has been 95%+ with users being truly able to hotdesk; we have deployed only a small number of handsets for specialist use. In addition, Employee Healthcare is very pleased with take up as this helps with overall posture and allows people to use the computer whilst on the phone.”

Kirklees council now uses Sennheiser SC 30 USB ML and SC 60 USB ML headsets in its contact centre and have deployed over 4,000 to date on the new Microsoft Lync development, with employees also using the Sennheiser products for dictation and text to voice.

About Kirklees

Kirkless uses headsets across all Council functions to handle public, contractor and partner calls. These can be confidential calls at the desk, into call centres, staff home working, reception areas and other functions dealing with everything from child protection, bin collection and council tax enquiries to planning and short term health needs.  Call centre staff spend around six hours a day on the phone and are sat at desks when taking calls, though many work from home. Calls are often transferred, with business support in many areas who pick up calls and pass on to relevant staff.  95% of its workforce now uses headsets.

The headsets

Employees of Kirklees are now using the Sennheiser SC 30 and SC 60 noise cancelling headsets. The SC 30 is a single-sided wideband headset optimised for Microsoft Lync, with a noise cancelling microphone and extra large ear pad for comfortable long-term use. The SC 60 is a deployment-friendly dual-sided headset also optimised for Microsoft Lync with built-in noise cancelling and is designed for users requiring stereo sound and full call control in a Unified Communications environment.

Both models include ActiveGard™ to protect against acoustic shock and sudden sound surges, with a bendable boom arm to ensure optimal microphone position and 340° pivotable boom for wearing flexibility on the right or left ear, and come with a 2-year international warranty as standard.

Counter Terror Expo 2015 to cover key terror threat areas under one roof

Counter Terror Expo 2015 comes at a time when terrorism and unconventional threat levels across much of the world are at heightened levels. Recent events in France and Nigeria, to pick just two, have accentuated the myriad of different threats that have proliferated since the 1990s. And as the threats have increased and mutated, so the responses of countries, government agencies, and non-government actors have had to change almost beyond all recognition.

Counter Terror Expo 2015 covers these key terror threat areas under one roof, and uses the underlying principles that form the “UK’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism”, to link everything. The four principles that make up what is also known as the also known as the “Contest Strategy” are: “Pursue”, “Prevent, “Protect”, and “Prepare”.

  1. Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks;
  2. Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism;
    1. Protect: to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack;
    2. Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

At Counter Terror Expo 2015, the overall scene – the “intelligence picture” – is set by the “World Counter-Terror Congress”. Presentations on topics as diverse as communications security in a “post-Snowden Age”, use of digital media by radical groups, and the impact of new terror tactics are joined together under the four “Contest Strategy” headings. More detailed intelligence updates on Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, to name just some of the terror groups that are most frequently reported on in the media. Supporting briefings and presentations are provided by the Quillam Foundation, RUSI, University College London, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office.The cyber terror threat is covered extensively in the exhibition’s “Cyber Threat Intelligence” strand. The past few months have given much to consider here. From the hacking of Sony Pictures – possibly by North Korean agencies – through to the hacking of the US Defense Department’s Central Command (which had its Twitter and YouTube feeds taken over by a group claiming to be aligned with ISIS), this threat has seen massive changes of late. And it isn’t just the state-on-state threats (also seen in hostile Russian cyber attacks on neighbours) that present severe challenges. The use of cyber techniques by criminal groups is an equal challenge to law enforcement agencies as well as commerce. The “Cyber Threat Intelligence” strand sees key updates from UK Government Communications HQ, Europol, and the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit, backed up by “coal face” presentations from key industry leaders in the area.POLICE DOWNING STREET 2

The threat to infrastructure from terror groups has been a constant, but growing one. From threats to oil/petrochemical facilities (such as seen in Algeria in 2012, as well as in Nigeria and Iraq), to potential attacks on nuclear power stations, the sector presents a range of opportunities to terror groups, and thus risks to governments. So taking the “Four P’s” as the guideline, the “Critical National Infrastructure” seminar ranges across the options for identifying threats as well as solutions. Vital concept updates are given by the UK Home Office’s Security and Counter Terrorism department, GCHQ, NATO, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. To provide pin-point clarity about exactly what this can mean on the ground, the seminar also has feature presentations on the challenges of security at sporting facilities such as Wembley Stadium (as an example of the mass of such facilities that can seat close to 100,000 spectators), and the re-built New York World Trade Center.

Furthermore, the myriad of threats aren’t just focussed against fixed infrastructure facilities: transport networks are a regular target for terror groups’ plans and attacks. From the 9/11 aircraft hijackings, through the 2004 Madrid Atocha train bombings to the similar attack on the London Underground in 2005, transport presents ideal targets for terror groups. Although aircraft are the highest profile targets, it is often transports means such as buses that see the most attacks – Boko Haram and Al Shabab have both carried out shocking fatal attacks on buses in Nigeria and Kenya recently. But the Transport Security Live Strand at Counter Terror 2015 will cover all these areas, with key addresses from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the Department for Transport, and industry players such as Boeing.

Lastly, Counter Terror Expo 2015 covers that area whose importance springs into life when terrorists strike or “things go wrong”: the Blue Light Services, the fire and ambulance/medical services. The Ambition seminar covers preparing Blue Light Services for the scale and range of terror attacks, and the building of resilience in the services. On top of this, the manner of response of responders to high scale terror attacks – whether a “Mumbai-style” gun attack, or a chemical/biological attack is also covered by speakers from leading UK and European First Responder organisations.

Ideally, governments and companies wouldn’t have to plan for such events. But the past decades have shown that – unfortunately – the risks and range of terror threats have grown ever higher. Nobody can ignore contingency plans for terror/terror-style attacks, and the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine shows that the risks to non-government bodies can be as high as those for state entities. This is why Counter Terror Expo 2015 aims to provide context, analysis and answers to the vast topic of counter-terror.>

With 300+ suppliers, from leading UK and international primes to specialist SMEs will be exhibiting their latest technology and equipment for law enforcement and security personnel. Some of the leading and innovative exhibitors will include Winkelmann UK, Tactical Electronics LLC, Alford Technologies, Digital RF and Chemring EOD which manufactures Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Counter-IED equipment; Geoquip Worldwide, Terrafix Ltd and Neosoft, producers of secure communications equipment; Counter Measure Systems which specialises in police and special forces equipment and training; ICM X-Ray which produces groundbreaking miniaturised portable X-ray equipment; and RFA Security, providers of explosive detection and sniffer dogs.

Unmanned vehicles are playing an increasingly important role today and CTX exhibitors include ICOR Technology which manufactures the CALIBER® family of robots, offers five different sized platforms providing remote capabilities for SWAT, EOD and Hazmat teams. iRobot’s unmanned ground vehicles are designed to reduce the risk to personnel, operate downrange, report data and deliver predictive intelligence. Unmanned ground vehicles are also a speciality of NIC Instruments, which develops the lightweight First Responder that can be configured to the needs of specific missions. The unit can easily be repaired in the field.


Vickers Energy Group welcomes Business Innovation and skills to its Trafford Park Headquarters

Vickers Energy Group welcomed the Permanent Secretary, Director Generals and policy makers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to its Trafford Park site last week to discuss the company’s success in the UK market and its growth overseas.

The visit included a round table discussion about the importance of government support to growth, how exports are helping the company to grow and its plans for future development in the UK. The company is working with clients to help manage their energy consumption more effectively and reduce costs and C02 emissions.

This was part of a tour of Greater Manchester carried out by BIS to witness first hand Manchester’s vision for economic growth. The visit highlighted the importance of areas such as Trafford Park to the growth of Greater Manchester as well as opportunities and challenges for the local economy.

David Hilton from Vickers said: “We were delighted to welcome the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to our headquarters in Trafford Park to discuss our business alongside the opportunities and challenges we have in reaching out to expand our client base in the UK and abroad. Our proposition is pretty simple – our energy management system saves our clients thousands of pounds in energy bills and reduces carbon emissions. We are looking forward to a busy year as more and more businesses focus on environmental policies and the need to reduce consumption.”

BIS Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly said: “It is fantastic to see first-hand the innovative British companies that are leading the world, particularly in important fields like energy management.

“In Government we are working hard to support businesses to grow. Just this week, we invested a further £1 billion in local economies across England by expanding the successful Growth Deals. This will help to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, start hundreds of infrastructure projects and boost business support schemes.”

Vickers saves its customers over £75 million per year and is at the forefront of energy management technology in the UK. On average it saves its customers £18,000 per year.

Nottingham tenants among first to unlock high tech safety

Sharpes warehouse - Nottingham Community Housing Association

Sharpes warehouse – Nottingham Community Housing Association

Feeling insecure in their own homes is a thing of the past for some Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) tenants. They are one of the first UK housing associations to take advantage of an innovative door entry system. Twenty flats at a converted warehouse, Sharpes Warehouse, have been fitted with the ability to lock and unlock front and entry doors remotely by the use of telephones.

Supplied by specialists in wireless intercom systems, Intratone, the pilot project aimed to improve access to each flat and increase security for tenants. The system uses GSM technology, enabling tenants to control access to their homes via their landline or mobile phone without the need for additional cabling. The whole system is monitored over a web platform, making lost keys, access for carers, contractors or visitors, or conversely restricting access, a thing of the past.

In control

The previous system was a spent hard wired door entry system and the access control on the panel (a coded keypad) was no longer working. Tenants had to gain access with keys and had to physically come down to the main door to let people in.

The NCHA maintenance team look after nearly 300 properties across the Sleaford area, making granting access to properties a difficult physical task. This is becomes time consuming and expensive as traffic increases when factoring in maintenance contractors, carers or tenants losing keys. Now visitors can call the caretaker on his mobile, who can let them in remotely.

Sharon Singleton, Regional Housing Manager said: “We were looking for a system that would put our staff and residents in control of access to Sharpes Warehouse apartments. We are very pleased with the outcome of the project which is already making a big difference, giving our tenants peace of mind and saving time and resources for our maintenance team.”

Putting the system to the test

Part of the challenge of this installation was the rural location. NCHA is a vast Housing Association with housing stock disseminated across the Midlands. So it was crucial that the system worked even with a weak signal, plus the ability to have control of the system remotely from a central location was vital.

The system offers value for money and low on-going maintenance cost, with no need to replace broken handsets or incur call out fees for fault finding on the cables.

Derby based specialist IT installers, Salt Network Consulting, have been NCHA’s preferred contractor for a decade.

Tasked with installing the new system, the team quickly realised the benefits of the new technology over similar industry standard products. Managing Director, Tim Salt said:
“Intratone is a unique and cost effective system that enabled us to install a reliable intercom system with minimal manpower and remote maintenance, making the job more cost effective for everyone involved. Initially, we were assisted on-site by the Intratone team, in order to grasp the new system’s setup process. Although unconventional, we now regard this product as a welcome addition to our portfolio of products and would consider this system as a great advantage to our other clients who have to fit a new system to an existing building, especially if they haven’t any cabling or it is spent.”

A resident’s satisfaction survey carried out on completion of the works show positive feedback on the ease of the system and reports an extra sense of security.
Pleased with the outcome, NCHA maintenance staff are reported to be over the moon with the system.

About Intratone

Intratone Telecom is a subsidiary of Cogelec specialising in wireless GSM intercom systems, including access control and security equipment. Founded in 2000, Cogelec is a French company, by 6 associates who were previously involved in the access control industry, with headquarters located in Mortagne sur Sèvre in the Vendée region. It now has more than 65 employees and a turnover of approximately €12 million across Europe. Established in 2007, Intratone enabled partner Orange be the first telephone operator to provide communication and wireless telephone intercom systems for collective housing. Intratone provides a complete range of GSM door entry systems : audio panels, video door entry systems, Visio intercoms.

Sennheiser and Apogee announce partnership at NAMM Show

At Winter NAMM, audio specialist Sennheiser and Apogee Electronics, industry leader in digital audio conversion technology, have announced their collaboration.

At the NAMM Show in Anaheim, Apogee’s Betty Bennett and Sennheiser’s Peter Claussen have jointly announced the cooperation of their companies. Peter Claussen, COO of Sennheiser, said that “Apogee and Sennheiser are a perfect fit. We both operate in the demanding premium sector, serving professional and semi-professional audio customers across the globe. Our product portfolios perfectly complement each other, and I am looking forward to collaborate with a company that has truly pushed the boundaries of digital audio.”

Betty Bennett, Co-Founder and CEO of Apogee, commented, “This is an exciting collaboration for us. Sennheiser is a highly respected brand with an incredible product portfolio and an extensive global reach. Our reputation for delivering premium products to the pro and prosumer markets are well aligned and our core competencies are very complementary. This collaboration will result in innovative, high-quality products that will truly inspire our customers.”

Details about the collaboration are to be revealed at a later date.

About Apogee

Apogee Electronics is an award-winning manufacturer of professional audio devices that advance audio recording and deliver ultimate sound quality, inspiring simplicity and incredible value. Apogee initially made its name with special anti-aliasing filters that solved many of the early problems associated with digital audio. Later, Apogee’s complete conversion systems pushed the envelope of digital audio quality and established Apogee as a key innovator in the field of professional digital audio. Today, Apogee converters and audio interfaces are regarded as the reference standard in the audio industry. Products such as Symphony I/O, Big Ben, Ensemble and Duet all have set the benchmark by which digital audio recording hardware is judged. Now with its latest products JAM and MiC, designed especially for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and GarageBand software, Apogee continues to be at the forefront of recording technology. Apogee’s mission is to build products that offer ultimate sound quality, innovative design and unparalleled value to all music creators from the aspiring artist to the discerning audio professional.

About Sennheiser

The Sennheiser Group based in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, was founded in 1945 and has gone on to become a leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Sales in 2013 totaled 590.4 million euros. Sennheiser employs more than 2,500 staff worldwide and operates plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA. The company has a worldwide network of subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hongkong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. It also has long-established trading partners in other countries. Georg Neumann GmbH, Berlin, a maker of studio microphones and monitor speakers, and Sennheiser Communications A/S, a joint venture making headsets for PCs, offices and call centers, are also part of the Sennheiser Group.

More up-to-date information about Sennheiser is available on the internet at

UK SBS Appoints deputy director of property asset management

Laura Thomson, Deputy Director, Property Asset Management, UK SBS

Laura Thomson, Deputy Director, Property Asset Management, UK SBS

Shared business services mutual, UK SBS, has appointed Laura Thomson BSc MRICS as Deputy Director of its Property Asset Management service. She brings over 25 years private sector experience in corporate real estate to help deliver the strategic direction of UK SBS’ public sector clients. UK SBS works with clients across the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and its partner organisations, and the company manages  a combined property portfolio of 253,000 m2 occupied by over21,000BIS employees.

Prior to joining UK SBS, Laura held senior roles at Cushman Wakefield, Inter-IKEA, and DTZ where as Director for Corporate Real Estate she was responsible for the delivery of national integrated estates services for both Government and corporate clients including the Crown Prosecution Service and the Health and Safety Executive. Latterly she has acted as an independent consultant providing strategic estate management advice to corporate clients including the Manchester Airport Group.

“I am very pleased to be joining UK SBS at this exciting time and I see a great opportunity to bring my extensive experience of corporate real estate management to help create a centre of excellence for the provision of property services for BIS and the government sector”, says Laura Thomson, Deputy Director, Property Asset Management.

The sharing of business services sits at the heart of the Government’s strategy on economy, efficiency and reform. Laura Thomson will support Director, Roger Taylor, and his team in working with Government to help deliver this in the area of property asset management.

OPSWAT acquires email security provider Red Earth Software

OPSWAT, provider of solutions to secure and manage IT infrastructure, yesterday announced the acquisition of Red Earth Software, developer of email security and secure file transfer solutions.

The Red Earth Software acquisition now enables OPSWAT to extend its advanced threat prevention technology to protect email and file transfer in addition to servers, endpoints and proxy servers. Red Earth Software recently integrated OPSWAT’s multi anti-malware scanner Metascan® into its products Policy Patrol Mail Security, an email security solution for Exchange Server, and Policy Patrol Secure File Transfer, a solution that enables users to securely send large and confidential files. With the Metascan integration, Policy Patrol customers now have access to robust protection against malware threats.

With the acquisition, OPSWAT is acquiring Red Earth Software’s valuable expertise and extensive customer base in the email security and secure file transfer business, helping OPSWAT move faster in achieving its vision of secure data workflow: providing organizations with a central security solution for protecting data originating from various sources.

“We are excited about the Red Earth Software acquisition,” said Benny Czarny, CEO at OPSWAT. “Email security and secure file transfer play an important part in securing data workflow in organisations, and Red Earth Software technologies will be crucial building blocks for our new comprehensive security offerings.”

“With the acquisition, Red Earth Software will be able to grow its existing email security and secure file transfer business, as well as build new comprehensive solutions for securing the total data workflow in organisations,” said Mike Spykerman, CEO of Red Earth Software.

Hertfordshire County Council awarded grant of £4.86m to revolutionise children’s social care

Hertfordshire County Council is delighted to have been awarded a grant of £4.86m to revolutionise children’s social care in the county.

It is the highest of any grant awarded to local authorities in the UK from the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

The money will fund a ground-breaking change in the way we approach child protection and improving the lives of vulnerable families across the county.

“We are planning a completely new way of working for social workers, which represents a great hope for the future,” said Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.

“Our pioneering new approach will cut down on red tape and free up our social workers to spend more time with families. We will also be working closely with our partners to ensure vulnerable families get all the help they need, when they need it.

“This grant is the result of the hard work of staff and, crucially, our partners in health and the police and reflects the government’s faith in our innovative plan to improve the health, education and wellbeing of more than 1,000 of our highest risk children and families.

“I am delighted that we have received this money to help us press ahead with our plans, which will give hundreds of children a better start in life. We hope it will become a model for other areas of the country to follow.”

The grant will allow us to extend the work of our safeguarding teams across the county. The teams will now be joined by community psychiatric nurses and domestic abuse specialists, who will all be trained in new ways of supporting families.

The safeguarding teams will work alongside schools, children’s centres, health visitors, police officers and the voluntary sector to make sure children in Hertfordshire have the opportunity to live in a caring home where they can thrive and prosper.

Cheaper refuelling simplified for the public sector

Cheaper fuel from a CCS Supplier

Cheaper fuel from a CCS Supplier

The Fuel Card Group has signed a Framework Agreement with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), making it easy for public sector vehicles to access cut-price fuel. The Agreement, RM1027 – Fuel Cards and Associated Services, covers all Group brands including The Fuelcard People, Fuel Card Services and MileageCount. It greatly simplifies the procurement of diesel and petrol, and helps to avoid the £2 transaction fees imposed upon public sector customers by other suppliers.

Steve Clarke, marketing manager for The Fuel Card Group, said: “This enabling agreement simplifies the public sector procurement process, because the CCS has established pre-agreed terms and conditions for individual contracts. Anybody in the public sector running vehicles can now arrange fuel cards within minutes, rather than weeks. Whichever fuel card they choose from our range, they can expect to save up to 4p per litre for both diesel and petrol. They can also be assured that there will not be transaction charges, whenever they refuel, or any other additional fees.”

The Framework Agreement can be used by organisations across the UK public sector including central government, local government, health, education, devolved administrations, emergency services, defence and not-for-profit organisations. The Agreement is fully EU compliant, saving customers the time and money associated with conducting their own procurement exercise. Suppliers are carefully evaluated during the tender process and pre-agreed terms and conditions offer customers sound contractual safeguards.

The CCS is an executive agency and trading fund of the Cabinet Office. Responsible for improving government commercial and procurement activity, it provides a professional procurement service to the public sector. CCS framework agreements are a set of pre-tendered contracts with suppliers from which public sector customers can purchase goods and services.

Steve Clarke said: “Whether a public sector body is running just a couple of van or thousands of mixed vehicles, it can now cut its fleet running costs within minutes. The CCS has done all of the legwork, so that an organisation needs only to choose the fuel card or cards that suit its specific needs. Being independent and impartial, with an unbeatable range, we can assure them the best possible combination of service, savings and security.”

Partnerships open doors to affordable LED lighting in public sector

The 8point3 LED/HMP Isis partnership, endorsed by Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Crime and Police, amongst others

The 8point3 LED/HMP Isis partnership, endorsed by Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Crime and Police, amongst others

8point3 LED helps Swanscombe Leisure Centre achieve significant cost and energy savings through new LED lighting

8point3 LED helps Swanscombe Leisure Centre achieve significant cost and energy savings through new LED lighting

It is well known that LEDs bring huge cost and energy savings to lighting in the public sector.  One company, 8point3 LED, has been taking a creative approach to partnerships to bring LEDs into the public sector – affordably.

Ashley Bateup, MD of 8point3 LED explains: “We are committed to promoting LED lighting and controls and the benefits they deliver to the wider world.  With this in mind, we work with many public sector organisations, such as Dover District Council and Her Majesty’s Prison Service, developing partnerships that help them move from traditional lighting to LED lighting into their buildings in a way that is affordable.

“Our latest scheme is the most creative yet.  To get LED lighting into a Young Offenders Institute, we have actually set up a training workshop onsite.  The offenders are now learning how to construct our latest Sabre LED technology to our exacting quality standards.  These are then being fitted throughout the institution and potentially the wider prison network.  This is creating a double benefit: bringing engineering training to the offenders and significant energy and cost savings to the institution, affordably.”

8point3’s team is experienced in working with public sector facilities managers to provide cost effective, long lasting LED lighting solutions.  Another recent partnership has been with Swanscombe Leisure Centre, run by Gravesham Community Leisure.  The ageing sports hall lighting needed replacing and centre manager, Wayne Pedrick, wanted proof about payback times, LED light quality and guarantees against any lamp failures before making the switch.

Working closely with Terry John, Technical Specification Manager at 8point3, the end result is a superbly lit facility that delivers bright, glare-free lighting that saves the leisure centre £3,235 per year on electricity bills, has a 4 year payback period, no maintenance costs and reduces carbon emissions by 16.97 tonnes per year with the opportunity for additional savings to be made through the lighting controls system that was included as part of the installation.

In addition, the lighting meets the new Sport England Appendix 9 Recommendations for Premier, Club and Community levels for Badminton and all of the LEDs are guaranteed for five years – but should give useful light for more than 50,000 hours – meaning that none should need replacing during that time.

Wayne concludes: “The 8point3 LED lighting solution has been very well received by users of the sports hall.  They like the better quality light that the LEDs give and we are looking forward to enjoying the cost savings that they bring as well, for many years to come.”

Exporting not the only road to small business growth

Small and medium sized enterprises are missing out on a wealth of public sector contract opportunities and are being urged to revise their outdated view of a system they see as overly complicated. Despite local government spend topping £227bn, the lion’s share of SMEs still avoid taking advantage of this opportunity. A lack of technical know-how, fears over red tape and feeling powerless to compete with larger organisations are the primary reasons cited according to Graham Longley, Executive Councillor and Deputy Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

At a time when Westminster is placing a strong emphasis on exporting, SMEs are now also advised to look closer to home in search of growth opportunities. A local government contract not only offers a steady revenue stream, it signals the high quality of a business, making it an invaluable new business tool.

Aiming to make winning contracts more accessible than ever, Business Southend has launched a Local Procurement Portal aimed at businesses of any size. A key feature for small businesses is the innovative ability to form consortiums with, so even embryonic sole traders can begin winning lucrative contracts.

The launch of the portal is an important step towards dispelling the myths that  public sector contracts are only for larger companies and that they necessarily involve a great deal of effort to achieve. A free Put The Pro in Procurement guide is also available for download and contains invaluable advice to businesses looking to do business with the public sector.

Graham Longley, Executive Councillor and Deputy Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council says:

“We see first-hand how gaining public sector contracts can boost any business, from multi-nationals, to kitchen table start-ups. At Southend-on-Sea Borough Council we are working extremely hard to dispel some of the unhelpful procurement myths which still linger. From where we stand, local government contracts have never been easier to attain and there is a tremendous amount of support available to those who seek it, with the Business Southend Procurement Portal a prime example.”

Alan Davies at says

“We’re a local firm based in Essex. In the past we’ve taken on a lot of smaller contracts which have been great for getting us known and building a loyal group of customers. Going for the opportunity at Southend Borough Council meant that we had to improve our policies and change our internal systems. The result of winning the contract has meant that we’ve practically doubled our staff numbers and significantly grown our turnover. Now that we have the Southend contract we’re looking for other opportunities to continue growing our business.”

Toshiba air conditioning shortlisted in three categories of national technology awards

Air conditioning training equipment

Air conditioning training equipment

Training centre

Training centre

Toshiba Air Conditioning, a division of Toshiba Carrier UK Ltd, has been shortlisted for three major awards in the National ACR Awards 2015.

The company is a finalist in the Training Provider of the Year category for the creation of a nationwide network of air conditioning training centres, while the latest advance in Toshiba’s Total Refrigerant Leak Protection and Management System is shortlisted in the prestigious Air Conditioning Product of the Year category.

The company has also been shortlisted for the Best Marketing Campaign for its powerful promotional initiatives over the past two years that have gained high profile coverage across the industry.

This latest recognition follows Toshiba’s recent success in being announced as a finalist in CIBSE’s Building Performance Awards 2015, in the ‘Training Initiative of the Year’ category.

David Dunn, Toshiba general manager, said: “It is obviously very pleasing to be recognised by our industry peers in this way. Particularly as it is for our initiatives in the vitally important areas of training and environmental protection.”

“As a major supplier, we see it as our responsibility to take the lead in best industry practice. In little over a year we have accelerated our training initiative and established a UK-wide network of training centres, and become one of the most important providers of air conditioning training in the country.

“That is a considerable achievement, and reflects a huge amount of work and energy by everyone involved, both at Toshiba and our distributors.

“On the refrigerant front, our refrigerant leak protection system is unique in the market and gives end users and building occupants total assurance. It is winning converts among some of biggest air conditioning ends users in the market.”

The winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner, being held at Birmingham Town Hall on 29 January 2015.