Manchester, UK, has been transformed over the past 20 years to become a leading European city for digital technologies. Mancunians have embraced the concept of the ‘smart city’, seeing the internet integrate with digitally enabled systems across the board and bringing everything into a well-oiled system of activity and communication. The concept of open data is essential to this ambition. Access to information is not only valuable to the individual but also on a city-to-city basis, where it can provide the foundations for commerce, dialogue and new initiatives. Adrian Slatcher, Senior Digital Development Officer at the Manchester Digital Development Agency, joins us to highlight the big areas of progress being made to our world…
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P.S. Don’t forget if Adrian Slatcher is speaking at the Smart Data for Government Event taking place in London between 23-24 September 2014. If you work in Central or Local Government / NHS / Police then subject to our approval you could be attending the event free of charge. Simply enquire at 020 7368 9737 or email email@example.com using the subject line: FREE PASS REQUEST SMART DATA FOR GOVERNMENT
From left to right: Mark Byrne, Head of Corporate, Education & Public Sector, Toshiba; Nick Offin, Head of Channel , Toshiba; Bordan Tkachuk, CEO, Viglen; Neil Bramley, Sales Director Northern Europe, Toshiba
Viglen, a British IT company, has been awarded Toshiba UK’s Platinum Partner of the Year and Education Platinum Partner of the Year, in recognition of its all-round performance and commitment to excellence within its Toshiba partnership and also its specialism within the Education market.
Achieving Platinum partner status is recognition by Toshiba of a level of excellence at reselling Toshiba products and consistently adding value to the relationship. The award winners were judged by Toshiba as demonstrating a level of excellence at not just reselling Toshiba products, but consistently adding value to the relationship through product knowledge, support, aftersales and integration services to enhance the Toshiba customer experience.
Viglen has grown its partnership with Toshiba from scratch over less than a decade to become one of the largest Toshiba resellers in the UK. As a result Viglen customers are benefitting from enhanced levels of support, expertise and resources, reducing the cost and simplifying the process of ICT procurement.
Commenting on the award, Viglen chief executive Bordan Tkachuk said; “As a PC manufacturer, Viglen benefits from a very close level of partnership with Toshiba. By pioneering a range of unique support and value-add services, Viglen is able to offer a level of bespoke service to enhance Toshiba’s already strong product portfolio, ensuring that together we offer one of the strongest mobile computing propositions available with justified performance, flexibility and value.
“This has undoubtedly helped in consolidating our position as a leading ICT supplier to the UK Education and Public Sector.”
Ofsted has awarded CACI a contract to deliver new Social Care inspection IT system
CACI has won a major contract to supply a new inspection solution for Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, to be used in its 4,600 plus inspections of social care providers each year.
Ofsted inspect and regulate all services involving care for children and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages throughout England, working with providers to promote their improvement, monitor their progress and share best practice.
The new contract with CACI covers Ofsted’s social care remit and is part of their vision to use technology for the better safeguarding of children. The CACI inspection software, OfficeBase, will be used to integrate and manage the core areas of Ofsted’s social care processes, covering areas such as registration, scheduling, inspection and enforcement, with accurate, timely and quick-to-access management information as a key outcome. OfficeBase will be a key enabler to the efficient and effective delivery of Ofsted’s social care business, and will be used by more than 200 staff involved in over 4,600 inspections of social care providers each year.
Commenting on the contract, Ollie Watson, Business Development Director at CACI said;
“Following a rigorous procurement process, we are delighted to have been awarded this significant contract by Ofsted. The partnership is both strategic and high profile and demands the highest levels of collaborative working. We’re also proud to be playing a part in ultimately supporting professionals to make the very best decisions for safeguarding our children.”
Central to Ofsted’s decision to implement OfficeBase was its ability to securely capture, share and access safeguarding information. Through an extensive implementation programme, where OfficeBase is required to interface with a range of other IT systems, the launch of the new solution will help Ofsted streamline processes in this area and drive efficiency across a broad remit.
Concluding Tom Zebedee, Head of IS at Ofsted commented, “We are pleased to be working with CACI on this implementation and are looking forward to using OfficeBase to support our core inspection and regulatory work.”
Nuance Communications Inc, has announced the availability of “Five Reasons To Speech Enable The EHR”, a free whitepaper published to address the current contradiction of the potential benefits of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems being undermined by the time it takes to use them. Studies have shown navigating an EHR can add up to 90 minutes to a medical professional’s day. With EHRs due in force in the NHS by 2018, the availability of the whitepaper and its recommendations could help ease the transition to the broader uptake of EHRs and save doctors’ time when using them.
The whitepaper, which is available here , focuses on five EHR-related areas that would benefit from being speech-enabled. It explains how a speech-interface – which facilitates the creation and maintenance of accurate, detailed and up-to-date patient records that are easy to navigate – can help to improve doctors’ and nurses’ satisfaction at work, by enabling them to spend more time with their patients and less time on administration.
It also explains how a speech-enabled EHR helps to put the patient back at the centre of care, in part by enabling them to see the creation of their own file or record in real-time. It also gives them the reassurance of knowing their consultation and the next course of action have been captured correctly, in their presence together with their doctor.
“Five Reasons to speech enable the EHR” explains how speech recognition increases healthcare institution’s return on EHR investment and further exploit their potential; this is because speech removes the biggest barrier to broad EHR adoption and use – that of having to learn another administration task.
The whitepaper outlines how speech also helps resolve the challenge of structured and unstructured data. Thanks to speech using normal, natural, language, it captures more – and higher quality – data then that achieved when typing or taking notes. This more comprehensive data provides medical institutions and professionals with access to richer and more detailed data for analysis, to facilitate better decision making in the future.
Through the creation of more accurate clinical documents, the level of patient safety and care is raised, as documents can be shared quickly, reducing the chance of life-threatening errors being made along the patient’s care pathway. It can also reduce or clear patient report backlogs, which is another cause of patients’ conditions worsening in advance of a diagnosis being documented and treated.
Nuance is deeply invested in a new generation of sophisticated and powerful applications, underpinned by voice and clinical language understanding (CLU), that reinvent the way doctors and patients experience healthcare, providing direct access to the healthcare information that matters most. Already, more than 750 global developers are utilising Nuance technology to humanise healthcare and pursuing the promise of virtual assistants in medicine.
Nuance’s speech recognition solutions for healthcare are available to NHS Trusts nationwide through an NHS Framework Agreement. In the UK, Nuance has already partnered with suppliers to install speech recognition-based solutions at Trusts across the country, including London’s Great Ormond Street, NHS Northumbria, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and more.
Connect with Nuance on social media through the healthcare blog, What’s next, Twitter and Facebook.
Nuance Communications, Inc. is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit www.nuance.co.uk
Jamie Smith-Thompson – managing director of Portal Financial
In a Ministerial Statement issued today the Government announced that it will prevent public sector workers from transferring their unfunded final salary pension to a private pension, in order to protect the Exchequer and taxpayers, leaving millions of people trapped in a scheme that may be inappropriate for their circumstances in the future.
The last Budget introduced unprecedented flexibility over pension funds, and was widely welcomed. Those with unfunded state-backed final salary schemes are now being excluded from these new freedoms, and will never have control of their fund. Although many final salary pensions provide a generous index-linked retirement income, there are those who choose to transfer the cash value to a private pension prior to retirement in order to take advantage of benefits such as 25% tax-free cash, flexibility on withdrawals and the option to leave the money to named beneficiaries.
Public sector workers affected by this change may well be asking the obvious question – why are the Government doing this now? Certainly it brings greater control back within the Treasury, but it isn’t as if there was a great glut of people already transferring public sector pensions away before this point in time. Yes, it suited some people very well, but the majority were quite happy where they were.
Do the Treasury believe that this year’s budget would see more people taking up this option if they did nothing to stop it? Maybe. Or is it a case of the Treasury closing the exit door on these schemes before they start to reduce the benefits they provide in real terms as part of a long term plan to make them affordable to maintain. Only time will tell.
The restrictions being put in place are, of course, fine as long as the benefits on offer suit you, and as long as you trust successive Governments to make good on their promise to deliver them. So that’s the key question for those affected to ask – do you trust the Government not to make unilateral decisions on public sector pensions in the future?
If you think you may be better off transferring out, or if you can’t quite bring yourself to trust the Government to do the right thing by you, then getting advice on your options early is crucial. It’s likely that an awful lot of your colleagues will be thinking the same thing…
Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of pensions specialist Portal Financial, comments: “We expect to see many people now choosing to transfer while they still have that option, and our experience is to act now, because it can take a while to transfer funds into a private pension and any outstanding applications that are not completed by the deadline will remain as they are.”
Patrick Crawford, CEO, Charity Bank
The value of loans approved by Charity Bank for charities and other social sector organisations almost doubled in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year.
Over the first six months of this year, Charity Bank approved loans worth £11 million compared to £6 million in the first half of 2013, an increase of 83%. During the same period in 2012, the Bank approved £5 million in loans.
Patrick Crawford, Chief Executive of Charity Bank, says, “Our experience is that charities and other social sector organisations are starting to regain confidence about the economy, and becoming more ready to borrow in order to grow their activities where it is prudent to do so.
“Social sector organisations can benefit if they diversify their sources of revenue and embrace mixed funding, including borrowing. By doing so they can strengthen their organisations, grow their revenues, unlock other funds and expand their impacts.
“The increase in demand for our loans has also been prompted by the effect of cuts in public sector spending on the social sector, compounded by the lack of finance for smaller charities from large commercial banks.”
Vehicle tracking specialist Ctrack has launched a new multi-comms solution to enable emergency services organisations in the UK to seamlessly switch between communication channels to meet precise operational requirements while minimising data transfer costs.
This solution takes advantage of the most appropriate mobile, TETRA or WiFi network to achieve the most cost effective real-time tracking and reporting, while ensuring complete connectivity due to the resilience provided by multiple communication networks.
This latest tracking solution will enable emergency services organisations to select alternative communication channels for data transfer to support and complement the standard use (Private APN) of the mobile network. As a result, the tracking unit can intelligently select TETRA mode when a vehicle is in an area with no mobile signal coverage, or alternatively an authorised WiFi or even Iridium Satellite network when available.
Ctrack Multi-comms will automatically selects the most appropriate channel to exchange data, helping to ensure maximum connectivity whilst potentially reducing communication costs. Meanwhile, a least-cost routing algorithm can provide users with the ability to prioritise information based on their exact needs to minimise data transfer expenditure further should this be required. This includes switching to WiFi when available to transfer low priority data not yet sent via more expensive channels.
This innovative telematics hardware supports multiple digital and analogue inputs which can easily be configured to monitor the status of on-board systems such as blue lights, seat belts, seat occupation, roller shutters and doors. It also supports the extraction of CANBus data from engine management systems supporting many types of vehicle providing metrics such as Fuel Consumption, RPM and subject to the vehicle compatibility, Odometer, MIL Lamp Indications / DTC codes.
In the event of an incident the rolling buffer provides in depth analysis of the last 12 hours of vehicle data with speed at one second intervals and g forces in three axis @ 250ms. Meanwhile the accident buffer can store 10 x events – 90sec before and 30sec after an event with Speed / RPM at one second intervals and 10 seconds before and after incident utilising the three axis accelerometer to provide 200ms data for incident reconstruction and analysis.
John Wisdom, Managing Director of Ctrack commented: “This latest functionality enables seamless and least cost data transfer providing emergency services organisations with even higher level of efficiency, reliability and security for their fleets and assets. Ctrack Multi-comms puts them in control to meet precise operational needs, gain added visibility and minimise overheads wherever possible.”
Student service availability and social media support key to new business wins and highlights increased focus on customer service as universities compete for paying students
Service Management Software company, Sunrise Software, today announced that three leading UK universities have selected its Service Desk platform, Sostenuto, in recent months. Plymouth University, York St John University and one other are all implementing Sunrise’s Service Desk platform across departments including IT, libraries and estate management, with extended deployments planned in areas including social media support.
“Increasingly, universities are thinking and behaving as service oriented businesses as they need to compete and attract fee paying students to their campuses,” says Geoff Rees, Sales Director at Sunrise Software. “Whilst initial deployments underpin the needs of IT, libraries and estate management, utilising the ‘platform’ capability of the software means that the universities can, and are, extending their student service offering across many of the university faculties – from registration management to catering, accommodation, resource management, health & safety and more.”
Developed using the latest HTML 5 technology, the software’s attractive and easy-to-use interface, combined with its’ ability to work on multiple devices, are two of the key attractions for universities that seek the latest in contemporary systems to demonstrate the commitment to student services. In addition, Sunrise’s capability for social media interaction will enable universities to provide support via channels such as Twitter and Facebook, which are rapidly becoming the communication channel of choice for students.
“For many students Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have replaced more traditional methods of communication such as email and telephone.” Says Geoff Rees, “our platform, Sostenuto, allows universities to embrace this shift in the use of technology, extending the Service Desk to achieve greater reach and adoption of services. For example, on average students have four different devices with which they may connect to the network. They expect to be able to ask for support from any of those devices and Service Desks need to be able to provide it.”
Sunrise allows Service Desks to proactively listen to social media channels, such as Twitter, for comments based on #hashtags, keywords, phrases or public messages sent from, or between specific users. Such automated searches provide important early warnings of potential customer service issues, even before they are communicated formally to the Service Desk.
At any point in the processing of a Service Request or Incident, the Service Desk can automatically send messages via their favoured social media channels informing the customer of progress so far. Service teams can then proactively broadcast the status of specific identified problems via social media channels.
Sunrise is in discussion with a number of other universities that are seeking to raise their standards of student support and join up their support and communication processes.
Delivering on the European Advantage ‘How European governments can and should benefit from innovative public services’ reveals an environment of ‘quantity over quality’
Paris, May 28, 2014 – The European Commission released today the 11th Benchmark Measurement of European eGovernment Services, carried out by Capgemini Group, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, and its partners. The study, Delivering on the European Advantage ‘How European governments can and should benefit from innovative public services’, provides insight on where Europe is on ICT delivery and uptake whilst delivering a call to action going forward. This year marks Capgemini’s ongoing partnership with the European Commission, after recently being awarded the mandate to deliver eGovernment benchmarking insights for a further four years.
The report, which surveyed over 28,000 citizens from across the EU member states, reveals an environment of ‘quantity over quality’ – whilst government online services are now widely in place, usage of them has slowed due to several challenges including ease of access, speed of use and lack of transparency of the service delivery process. The report offers insight into how services can be made ‘twice as good, in half the time, for half as much’, and can stimulate public service providers to respond faster and smarter.
This year a focus of the report was on uncovering benchmarks against four key pillars and how Europe needs to digitally transform in order to predict new models of public delivery, foster innovation and leverage these services and the companies that deliver them internationally, for local value and international economic advantage. As the eGov action plan concludes in 2015, there are many areas where Europe needs to adapt in order to achieve predicted targets. Key findings from the report highlight progress and gaps in the following four areas:
1) User Centricity – The indicator for online usability measures the relevant aspects of the quality of the user experience, by assessing usability (support, help, feedback functionalities), ease of use and speed of use. Although usability features are widely present on government websites (78%), this hides the fact that the user’s experience, within the customer journey, is less favorable: the evaluation of ease and speed of use comes out 20 percentage points lower (at 58%).
2) Transparency – Transparency refers to elements of service delivery in which crucial information any user needs when dealing with public administration: Informing if an application has been received through to where the application stands in the entire process are all factors. The transparency benchmark is scored at only 48%, and this is due mainly to the insufficient information provided for users during the delivery of eGovernment services: the transparency level is slightly higher for the provision of institutional information about the administrations and of personal data related with the services. However, there is still a long way to go if governments want fully open and transparent services and organizations.
3) Cross Border Mobility – Mobility for businesses and citizens implies seamless services, without any burdensome procedures when crossing borders within the EU. Cross-border mobility is also quite low with a benchmark at 49%: the range of services offered to support citizens’ mobility within the EU is very limited, especially as regards transactional services. This is shown by the very large gap between the benchmark of online availability of domestic services and that of cross-border services (a full 30%). It shows that most countries are still not considering cross-border online services a worthwhile investment.
4) Key Enablers – key enablers and innovative technical approaches (Cloud, IPv6, SOA, big data, mobile and social media) are vitally important to fully exploit the potential of ICT; to do ‘more with less’. The key enablers benchmark clocks in at 49%, but the level of implementation of the 5 technology tools measured varies considerably, from the 35% score of eSafe to the 62% of eID. The enablers were measured in connection with the delivery of services. Even the most widely implemented of them, eID, is still far from full deployment.
Citizens expect the public sector to adapt and adopt
With technology pervading every avenue of daily lives, expectations towards government performance and quality of services is growing. Citizens now see what is possible in the private sector and await the public sector to adapt and adopt. From the commercial sector citizens now experience user friendly, intuitive, online services that work and as such now expect this of Government services. And on those occasions where citizens don’t, they generally come with supportive customer service, and are increasingly responsive to social media feedback. The commercial world starts service design from the customer’s end. It is harder to do so with public services; it is however just as important.
This gap between citizens’ satisfaction of commercial services compared to public services is significant. For example citizens are significantly more satisfied by the services provided by banks (satisfaction 8.5 out of 10) than for regular public services (satisfaction 6.5 out of 10). There is also a worrying inverse relationship between interaction and satisfaction for public services: the more interaction with government is required, the lower satisfaction results. This also results in lower usage for each of these services.
Additionally, limited collaboration between government organizations is also a barrier for full online, seamless service provision. It prevents governments and citizens from reaping the benefits of digitization of government services. As long as governments do not collaborate closely, more money will be spent on the development of the same solutions, solutions will not be interoperable and information cannot be easily exchanged between government organizations.
“With wider services now in place, governments across Europe should now focus on innovating to streamline customer communications with citizens to increase satisfaction and close the gap on expectations,” comments Dinand Tinholt, Vice President and EU Account Executive at Capgemini. “The public sector could innovate further by modelling elements of user-centricity from the commercial sector. However, this needs to be balanced with increased transparency around what citizen data is being used for, whilst collaborating more effectively between organizations.”
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda commented “It is great news that governments are making on-line public services more user-friendly, but we are still not enticing citizens to engage on-line with public administrations as they would with their bank or other digital service providers. Europe’s citizens and businesses are already thinking digital and living digital. Now it’s time for governments to be digital and more transparent in the service delivery, and this can be achieved by opening up their data, processes and services. There is no need to hesitate, governments can provide better services at less cost, create jobs and growth opportunities, and increase accountability and trust.”
The report insights map benchmarks against the eGov action plan that the European Commission and Member States adopted in 2011 which is due for completion in 2015. The results build from a variety research data, using different methods, with collaboration from Member States. With Europe’s vision of both the eGov action plan towards 2015 and Horizon 2020 in mind and an assessment of the current performance of the member states, action needs to be taken that clearly shows how the region must adapt and change, to exploit the untapped potential of our European advantage.
To access the full report, please go to www.capgemini.com/egov-benchmark
For more information about the EU’s digital agenda, please go to