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Cyber Security in the Public Sector: An Increasingly Lucrative Target That Needs Better Protection

by John Price, Head of Public Sector at Check Point Software UK&I

There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic with legally enforceable lockdowns to expose a demographic’s dependence on digital infrastructure. While the devastating SolarWinds breach in late 2020 made headlines around the world for its impact on corporations like Cisco and Microsoft and their thousands of customer organisations, the bad actors involved would have likely seen the private businesses impacted as collateral damage in pursuit of a much more lucrative target – the public sector.

The wheels of government have a reputation for turning slowly. Many governments, including the UK, are seen as overstretched, under-resourced in their response to potentially devastating cyber incidents. Take the WannaCry attack, for instance, which brought the NHS to a virtual standstill in 2017 because of unpatched and outdated software which took months to rectify. The government even had a £5.5 million deal in place with Microsoft to maintain support for the nearly two-decade-old Windows XP operating system long after it had fallen into obsolescence, which many would argue was an incident waiting to happen.

According to research from Check Point Software, there are 378 cyberattacks a week in the UK  and government organisations have become the third most targeted sector by cyber criminals over the past six months, ahead of finance, banking, manufacturing and healthcare. Threats such as triple extortion ransomware and supply chain attacks are on the rise, with malware such as Trickbot, Dridex, Qbot and IcedID surfacing more frequently, as outlined in Check Point’s Cyber Attack Trends: 2021 Mid-Year Report.

Any hopes that lessons may have been learned from this breach have been dashed this year as the widely reported Microsoft Exchange hack continues to cause problems within the public sector. Despite the vulnerabilities being identified in January 2021, with patches circulating as early as March, more than 50% of MS Exchange servers in the UK remain vulnerable at the time of writing, including those on the British government’s ‘gov.uk’ domain.  The public sector is, regrettably, a relatively easy target, but is it a lucrative one? Why are we seeing an increased number of bad actors targeting the public sector as we navigate our way through a global pandemic? As is often the case when it comes to malicious cyber actors, it’s a question of following the money.

What’s your data worth?

Data has value. It can therefore be extorted or sold on for profit. If a group of bad actors were to steal thousands of people’s credit card details by hacking into a private organisation such as a bank or online retailer, they’d fetch around £15 per record if auctioned off on the dark web. If, however, the same group were to attack an NHS trust and steal medical records, their potential profit would soar and net them more than £350 per record. And that’s not even taking into account the amount they could extort from the targeted trusts themselves. This isn’t helped by the fact that public sector organisations are often comprised of siloed data behemoths, so if a malicious actor is able to exploit a gap in their defences, the ‘pay-outs’ are often huge. As seen in the case of the MS Exchange and WannaCry incidents outlined above, responses to breaches in the public sector are often incredibly slow and poorly orchestrated, giving cybercriminals an even larger time window in which to exploit their targets.

Think resourcing, not outsourcing

Unlike in the commercial world, public sector organisations aren’t profit-driven and can’t easily justify the increased IT spend as a mere preventative measure. A year after the WannaCry attack, the government agreed a £150 million deal with Microsoft to equip all NHS computers with the latest Windows 10 operating system and ensure that all security settings were up to date. This is all well and good, but it took a catastrophic breach that put individuals’ medical records at risk to get budget approval. The public sector is, almost by definition, reactive instead of proactive when it comes to digital transformation. It’s there to serve, not to profit, and this leaves it vulnerable by default.

Part of that vulnerability is no doubt due to loss of control through third-party outsourcing. On the face of it, the cyber capabilities of the public sector and its employees are stronger than some of these incidents might suggest. According to the government’s annual report ‘Cyber security skills in the UK labour market 2021’, the public sector is actually surprisingly confident when it comes to performing advanced cyber security tasks. While a quarter of all businesses say they aren’t confident when it comes to penetration testing, for instance, more than 80% of public sector organisations are more than confident in their testing abilities. Similarly, 1 in 10 of all businesses say they lack confidence when it comes to user monitoring, but no public sector organisations report any such issue.

It’s only when we read further into the report, we start to see the real problems emerge. A quarter of public sector organisations have just one staff member responsible for cybersecurity and the percentage of public sector organisations outsourcing basic security functions such as firewalls, user privileges and backing up data, for instance, far outweighs that of the private sector. More than 95% of all public sector organisations outsource their firewall configurations to a third party; more than 80% rely exclusively on third parties when it comes to incident response and recovery; and almost half (48%) even outsource the control of internal user admin rights which, unless they have a very close relationship with their third-party IT partner, could have devastating security repercussions. So while the public sector might be confident in its cyber capabilities, that confidence might be ill-placed.

Good money after bad

In case you haven’t spotted it, the common theme here is a lack of internal resource and control. The technology is available, but only if the public sector is willing to continue putting up with the ‘technology debt’ it’s accruing through its overdependence on outdated internal tech and external cybersecurity solutions. According to a recent cabinet office report, keeping outdated computers going is costing the government roughly £2.3 billion per year, which is almost the same as the US government’s entire cybersecurity budget for 2021.

With a threat landscape that’s currently outpacing many private organisations’ capabilities, governments need to start thinking very carefully about their cyber security budgets, how much of their security solutions are outsourced, and how they can increase their risk posture in 2021 and beyond without continuing to throw good money after bad.

Check Point Software recently hosted a webinar entitled: “The State of Cybersecurity: Public Sector 2021” with experts from the field of cyber security in the public sector.  To access the webinar on demand visit: www.brighttalk.com/webcast/16731/504417

NEW CRISIS MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATIONS TOOL LAUNCHED BY EMPLOYEE SAFETY SPECIALIST

Peoplesafe Alert

Technology-led employee safety specialists, Peoplesafe, has launched a new mass notification tool designed for instant communication with employees in a crisis. Peoplesafe Alert is a simple, intuitive app which allows organisations to send and track mass safety messages to thousands of employees simultaneously, overriding phones set to silent or do not disturb and, if necessary, using geofencing capabilities to only communicate with those in a certain location.

Designed to be used in any crisis situation, the Peoplesafe Alert tool can be operated in real time and messages cannot be edited or forwarded to protect the credibility of the organisation and guarantee that the information is current, correct and constantly controlled.

With its own dedicated platform, the app can sit on multiple devices and operating systems which guarantees that the priority messages will cut through any other conflicting or distracting messages at the time of an emergency.

Although UK based, the Peoplesafe Alert app is available in all countries, meaning that employees can be targeted by country if required. This also means that messages can reach employees no matter where they are in the world when a crisis unfolds. When sending a communication, administrators have the ability to tailor the message to the recipient’s native language.

The tool is fully compliant with BS 22301 and the encrypted service is delivered from ISO27001 certified data centres which guarantees that an organisation is meeting regulatory standards for business continuity.

Emergency situations where Peoplesafe Alert would come into play include; extreme environmental events such as flooding or an earthquake, cyber-attacks, network security, control and access issues (such as recently seen with the outage of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram) and outbreaks of infectious diseases.

This marks an expansion for the technology company, which has previously focussed on lone worker safety and protection products and services. Peoplesafe CEO Naz Dossa said: “While the experience of steering employees through the COVID-19 pandemic is still fresh in everybody’s mind, we need to look ahead and guarantee that business continuity will not be compromised in the face of any future emergencies.

“Technology has been absolutely crucial in keeping employees informed, safe and (in the most part), able to deliver their work. However, given that the pandemic was an unprecedented situation, lessons have been learnt. Peoplesafe Alert’s instant, precise mass notification abilities will enable an organisation to communicate effectively with all, or some of their employees depending on the emergency.

“As technology safety experts with many years’ experience, we are in a prime position to assist our customers so that they can both take care of their employees in a crisis and maintain business continuity using next generation communications.”

Peoplesafe Alert licenses can cost as little as £1 per user, per month, offering a scalable solution that can flex with the requirements of the organisation.

LIBERTY CHARGE SEEKS TO ADDRESS ON-STREET CHARGING DEFICIT WITH FULLY-FUNDED SOLUTION

Liberty Charge – new charge point operator

Liberty Charge chose the public sector and local government event, Solace Summit, to launch as a Charge Point Operator (CPO), committed to tackling the chronic under-supply of easily accessible on-street charging in the UK.

With 40% of the UK’s urban residents having no access to off-street charging on a private driveway, Liberty Charge will provide fully-funded charging facilities on-street to help Councils meet a very clear public need and support their local sustainability and clean air targets.

Working in partnership with local authorities, Liberty Charge takes on the ownership and cost of running and maintaining the EV charging stations, as well as the supporting infrastructure on which they rely.

In collaboration with its delivery partner, Virgin Media O2, it will roll out an initial 500 electric vehicle charging sockets across five UK local authorities by the end of 2021. The initial roll out will include the London boroughs of Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham and Wandsworth. It will also include West and North Northamptonshire Councils, to help address the significant deficit of on-street charging outside the capital.

Currently, there are approximately 5,700 on-street charge points across the UK, the majority of which are in London, with only 1,000 outside the capital. Liberty Charge will be focused on accelerating this roll out in a bid to help meet one of the Government’s net zero goals of installing more than 120,000 EV charge points by 2025. This will also help accelerate the UK’s transition from fossil fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles, as the Government works to phase out the sale of combustion powered cars by 2030.

Neil Isaacson, CEO, Liberty Charge, says with the current roll-out rate, the Government’s target is a challenge: “Local authority budgets are already under pressure and they often lack the capital expenditure to undertake such an investment,” he says. “By providing a fully-funded, reliable and convenient on-street solution, we can help local authorities make this national target a reality.”

Neil says there are currently 11 million UK households with no driveway and no way of charging their vehicle off-street: “With our strategy, and the support of our delivery partner, we can plug a huge gap in the market,” he concludes.

The Solace Summit took place between October 11 – 15 as a hybrid event, part virtually and part in-person at the Bonus arena in Hull.

DOCUMENT AUTOMATION SAVES TFL PAYROLL TEAM 160 DAYS’ ADMIN TIME PA

Reflections in the glass structure of the new, enlarged ticket hall at Victoria Underground station

Transport for London’s (TfL) payroll team is saving 160 days’ administration time per year, thanks to the introduction of a secure online portal that automates the production and distribution of payroll and HR documents.

The secure online portal not only helped to enable the remote working necessary during lockdown but is also facilitating the long-term trend towards hybrid working which has accelerated over the last 18 months.  According to the *Office for National Statistics, in future, 24% of UK businesses intend to use increased homeworking and 85% of adults currently homeworking want to adopt a hybrid approach.

TfL is the integrated transport authority responsible for the day-to-day operation of London’s public transport network and the management of its main roads; it employs over 26,000 staff across multiple locations.

Until early last year, TfL’s payroll team used to print and post – via internal mail and Royal Mail – over 400,000 payslips, P60s and P45s annually. The process was time-consuming, expensive and environmentally unsustainable.

The organisation approached leading provider of secure document automation solutions, Datagraphic, with a remit to deliver Epay, its secure online portal that automates the production and distribution of payroll and HR documents.

The solution has allowed TfL’s payroll team to adopt a 100% digital operation.  This has saved them 160 days annually in administration time previously spent printing and distributing payslips, P60s and P45s, and enabled them to focus on higher-value tasks, adding further value to the organisation.  They no longer need access to corporate printing equipment and so can work anywhere.

It has also resulted in savings on resources such as paper, allowing TfL to cut costs and work with a greater degree of environmental sustainability.

Employees can securely access their payroll documents remotely via any internet enabled device from any location at any time.  As Epay works with TfL’s existing systems, employees only need to sign in once via their established rewards platform to access all their employee documents.  This ease of access has improved the employee experience and resulted in an increased level of employee engagement.

Said TfL’s employee payments delivery lead, Colin Turner: “Using Epay, we have saved time and money, which means our payroll team can focus on more value-added activities.”

Added Datagraphic’s managing director, Glyn King: “Document automation increases the efficiency of payroll operations and is supporting the trend towards remote and hybrid working that accelerated during the pandemic.”

Last year, Datagraphic became a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) G-Cloud 12.  Its solutions can now be purchased without going to tender, via the government’s CCS-managed G-Cloud 12 digital catalogue. The company is an SME, so by working with Datagraphic, public sector clients such as Network Rail, Leeds City Council, East Sussex Council and Surrey County Council, as well as TfL, are helping to meet the government’s target of spending £1 in every £3 with small to medium sized enterprises by 2022.

Epay swiftly facilitates document automation without system changes or capital outlay and can reduce the time spent on manual and repetitive document processes by up to 98%.  It doesn’t charge license fees, with a pricing model based on the number of documents uploaded and distributed rather than the number of employees. Return on investment is delivered in months rather than years.

While the solution is “digital first”, it is also capable of securely generating and delivering printed documents as required.

Epay clients include public sector organisations such as Network Rail, Leeds City Council, East Sussex Council and Surrey County Council, and private sector companies including Specsavers, Airbus, Sodexo and H&M.

For further details about Epay or to arrange a demonstration, please visit datagraphic.co.uk or call 01246 543000.

*Office for National Statistics: Business and Individual Attitudes Towards the Future of Homeworking, UK:  April to May 2021

Drone data proves impact of positive environmental messaging

Ellie Mackay, Ellipsis Earth CEO, flying drone – photo: Ellipsis Earth

The most scientifically robust litter survey ever undertaken in the UK has revealed that positive, playful environmental messaging can cut litter and reduce plastic pollution. By creating bins that had positive, engaging messaging and strategically placing them in litter hotspots a 75% decrease in littering was achieved. In contrast negative and hectoring messaging increased littering by 10%.

The pioneering use of drone and AI technology was led by scientists at Ellipsis Earth. They undertook three sets of drone flights over Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole creating a detailed map of every bit of litter dropped in the surveyed areas including beaches, town centres and green spaces. Surveys took place during the March lockdown, over the late May Bank Holiday weekend and finally during August Bank Holiday weekend.

The charity Hubbub used the data collected in May to implement a range of anti-littering campaigns built around proven behaviour change campaigns. In parallel the council ran their traditional communication campaign with more aggressive messaging.  Results were measured by the August survey.

The interventions that proved most successful with residents and visitors in Bournemouth were the glow-in-the-dark bins, which saw an 88% reduction of glass bottle and aluminium cans littered in the vicinity, and ballot bins, where an average reduction of 73% of cigarette butts was recorded, when placed in targeted locations.

Other findings from the trial, revealed:

  • The east side of Bournemouth Pier (where multiple interventions were placed) saw a reduction in litter of 79%. The west side (where no interventions were placed) had zero reduction
  • Large brightly coloured bins helped reduce litter in Bournemouth Lower Gardens by 89% when they were brought in to supplement existing small closed bins which had previously been the worst performing bins in the region
  • Ballot bins attached to lampposts (where people answer a question by depositing their cigarette end) placed in targeted locations showed an average reduction of 73% of cigarette butt litter
  • All other existing council bins across Bournemouth and Poole showed no decrease in litter
  • In Christchurch and in all the other beaches in the area where no interventions were put in place there was also no decrease.

Where negative and accusatory messaging was used, there was a 10% increase in litter in areas near this signage, suggesting that negative messaging doesn’t prompt positive behaviour.

The data also indicated that a fundamental change in strategy is required to cut plastic pollution reaching the sea. One of the largest forms of littering were small plastic fragments. Food outlets along the Bournemouth beachfront sell takeaway food in disposable polystyrene containers. Many are left on the beach to be pounced upon by seagulls searching for food scraps. The containers break into tiny plastic fragments which are blown or washed into the sea. This type of pollution would be ended if outlets were obliged to use reusable containers with a deposit repayable when returned. The solution exists but policy leadership by the council is required to make it happen.

The data illustrated that a surprising number of beach toys such as buckets, spades and inflatables were left littered on the beach. These are relatively cheap and can be cumbersome to carry so clearly some people think they are not worth the effort of removing. A solution might be to create a rental service for these items on the beach front. Not only could this cut littering it would also reduce the hassle of buying and lugging awkward items around which are only used infrequently.

Bournemouth rightly prides itself on world class beaches. The pristine sand is cleaned early every morning before visitors arrive. However, significant levels of litter are dropped in the late evening by people partying on the beach.  Invariably this litter is washed into the sea before the early morning clean.  Shifting cleaning routines to just before High Tide would prevent plastics reaching the sea.  This is harder for the council to organise and potentially more expensive, but currently they are allowing the problems to be literally washed away.

Above everything, the campaign illustrated the significant value of high-quality data to inform decision-making. Based on the information provided councils could create more focussed litter prevention strategies, place bins where they are most needed, refine messaging in hot-spot areas, target resources more efficiently and work more closely to reduce littering.

How councils can lead the way to decarbonise transport with hydrogen

By Chris Hampton, Product and Business Development Manager – Hydrogen, at BOC UK & Ireland

Council Guide to H2

Councils and local transport authorities (LTAs) are well-positioned to take a leading role in de-carbonising the UK’s transport system. By updating transport fleets to use zero emissions vehicles, councils can lead by example and, even more importantly, put the infrastructure in place to enable others to follow suit. Councils and LTAs should carefully consider their options for decarbonising transport. The decisions they make today could affect the choices available to other fleet operators tomorrow.

Where to start?

‘Where to start?’ is one of the most common questions asked by councils and LTAs. To answer that and more, we’ve compiled a simple guide, available here: BOC’s Guide to Decarbonising Transport with Hydrogen Hubs.

The hydrogen advantage

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer some key advantages over battery electric vehicles. They offer a fast and familiar refuelling process, which is comparable to today’s petrol and diesel vehicles. Hydrogen vehicles also offer good range (typically 350-500km) from a single refuelling. A further benefit is that hydrogen suits big and heavy vehicles that would otherwise require heavy batteries to power them. These characteristics make hydrogen an ideal fuel for buses, refuse trucks, road sweepers, gritter lorries, delivery vans and other vehicles in daily use with the ability to return to base for refuelling. All of these vehicle types are running on hydrogen today.

From small to large scale

BOC offers modular refuelling stations that enable customers to start small and grow their infrastructure with increasing demand. If you operate a small fleet of vehicles but you want to benefit from the economies of scale that come with producing higher volumes of hydrogen, BOC can help you join forces with other users to build a shared refuelling facility with a larger vehicle usage. Scaling up can dramatically reduce the price of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a strategic focus for the UK government and as a result there are a range of funding sources available to help finance your project. BOC is also able to help finance the capital cost for high-volume refuelling hubs.

Hydrogen Refuelling Station

Location

As well as having a location for vehicles to access dispensing pumps, a refuelling station will need space to store the hydrogen and an electrolyser to produce it. However, the area needed is typically no bigger than a traditional petrol forecourt. Layouts can be designed to fit almost any space and sites can be safely located adjacent to residential areas, if required.

Green hydrogen

To produce green hydrogen, you need renewable energy. BOC works with customers to source renewable power from a suitable supplier.

Safety

Hydrogen refuelling stations are safe. You must of course ensure appropriate safety distances from nearby assets, but this can be calculated and built into the engineering design. Hydrogen storage vessels are purpose built and designed to maintain pressures at optimal, safe levels and pumps are designed to ensure a safe connection between the dispenser and vehicle – with effective system safety checks every time hydrogen is dispensed. BOC has been producing hydrogen for over 100 years and it’s parent company, the Linde Group, has designed and installed over 200 hydrogen refuelling stations worldwide.

Timescales

Typical total build time is around 15-18 months. This allows for planning permission, civil engineering works, construction and commissioning.

Demonstrating success

When Aberdeen City Council wanted to develop a cleaner public transport network, it worked with BOC to develop, install and operate a tailored, state-of-the-art hydrogen refuelling station. The facility, based at the Kittybrewster bus depot, produces green hydrogen from electrolysis on site, and supplies a fleet of buses that travel up to 350km each day. Kittybrewster is now accessible to all hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, including double decker buses and private vehicles.

Moving forward

Opting for hydrogen refuelling to decarbonise your transport fleets is simpler than you think.  By putting modular infrastructure in place it’s possible to scale up, share costs and help other fleet operators decarbonise their vehicles too. The first step is to find the right partner. A good hydrogen fuel specialist should be able to manage the whole project, from assessing specific transport and infrastructure needs to advising on funding, design and development of the facility. It could even operate and maintain it for you.

If you’d like to find out more you might find BOC’s guide to Decarbonising Transport with Hydrogen Hubs a useful resource. It contains all the information in this article – and more – in a handy PDF format.

Vicki Gets Set to Energise Local Network Growth Plans

Vicki Dunn

Energy Assets Networks & Pipelines, a leader in final mile gas and electricity network adoption, ownership and management, has appointed a new Business Development Manager covering the north of England and Scotland.

Vicki Dunn, from Tadcaster near York, joins EAN/P with strong industry experience, having previously worked for companies involved in utilities construction.

In her new role, Vicki will be developing new business relationships with independent connection providers (ICPs) and working alongside existing EAN/P customers to help them optimise the asset value of their energy network construction projects, whether for residential housing or industrial and commercial developments.

Said Vicki: “I’m really pleased to be joining EAN/P at such an exciting time in the company’s development. It’s an area of the energy market I find really interesting and with the national focus on increasing housing provision, there are lots of opportunities opening up.

“I’ve had many job roles in my career, but business development is something I really enjoy because it involves working alongside customers to overcome challenges to help them deliver their projects. I also think my experience working for ICPs will add value to our proposition.”

Vicki is joining one of Britain’s fastest growing and most innovative local network ownership and management businesses. In addition to providing a flexible approach to asset adoption, EAN/P has also invested heavily in in-house technical, legal and administrative expertise to support the work of contractors, housebuilders and industrial and commercial developers.

This includes the launch of the Milestone Legal Progress Tracker, the first online project administration and customer communication portal of its kind in the connections industry, enabling clients to see the status of their projects at a glance, at any time.

The company is also a leading player in the development of Britain’s EV charging network, working alongside companies such as InstaVolt and MFG to help expand the country’s charging capacity.

www.energyassetsnetworks.co.uk/

Revving-up Revenues: How urban media operators can help to subsidise the growth and running costs of smart cities to the benefit of citizens

Annie Rickard – Managing Partner of OOH Capital

Every day articles are published about what a city should be. At the same time, there is much discussion around the way people’s work habits have changed because of the pandemic and the impact remote working is having on city environments.

Whether it’s a one-minute city or a fifteen-minute city, or some other city, they will all have one thing in common. Things have changed and, as stated in the latest Global City Report from management consultancy A T Kearney, city planners must ‘re-imagine city planning in a way that makes the lived environment more sustainable, resilient and inclusive’.

One asset that is often overlooked or undervalued in this equation is urban media: communication in public spaces. This is also commonly known as Out of Home Media.

Most cities and municipalities around the world already derive valuable revenue share income from Urban Media. And additionally mobilise valuable free public messaging campaigns through their Out of Home media estates, with posters and digital screens that are tastefully incorporated in bus shelters, on public land and in public transport networks, providing important civic and safety information, that reach and impact their citizens when they are away from home, engaged in the activities of daily life.

And the income can be significant. It is estimated that a large proportion of revenues generated through Out of Home advertising ends up in city treasuries, through revenue sharing agreements with Operators. But can city authorities achieve more, by revving-up their revenues from urban media and unlocking the hidden value residing in these often-underexploited estates?

Cities have long accessed these benefits through varied webs of commercial partnerships with Out of Home Operators that offer, through these urban media facilities, a vast spectrum of civic amenities and other essential community services.

They range from bus shelters, public toilets and way-finding signage to providing a medium for public messaging, a service that has been much utilised by authorities during the Covid pandemic.

And these Urban Media Operators offer services that maximise incremental income potential while providing the next-generation amenities that enable convenience and promote community pride.

However, many of these commercial partnerships have been negotiated at different times over long time spans, that were codified before the introduction of today’s cutting-edge technologies, which means that cities may not be fully aligned with the needs of 21st century communities and their citizens.

It’s time for cities to optimize their existing and future urban media programmes by rationalising and streamlining commercial relationships and investigating the financial and community benefits that the latest technologies afford. This will allow cities to leverage the potential of innovation and digital integration.

By reviewing and improving how they manage their urban estates, cities and municipalities can introduce new revenue streams, enhanced civic communications, and deliver an improved carbon footprint, all the while building better municipal services including data integration, security solutions and maintenance assistance.

And urban media, with its financial contributions and innovative ways of providing public amenities, can make a great contribution to the process of financing new ideas and making public spaces more useful, attractive and friendlier environments.

Annie Rickard is Managing Partner of OOH Capital

OOH Capital is the complete consultancy for a time when technology is transforming urban media. OOH Capital helps clients, ranging from cities and municipalities to brands and businesses, realize value from the limitless potential urban media provides. The partners at OOH Capital have a combine experience covering more than 75 countries and are well-equipped to advise on a global scale. OOH Capital provides expert knowledge from assessment and evaluation, through to strategy, deployment and finally delivery. More information is available at www.oohcapital.com 

Orion Health supports Professional Record Standards Body partnership scheme

Leading shared care record and population health management provider to become ‘quality partner’ and early adopter for assessment against the core information standard 

Move demonstrates Orion Health’s commitment to open systems and standards that will guide the development of shared care records in England

Orion Health is supporting the Professional Record Standards Body’s partnership scheme by applying to become a ‘quality partner’.

The company, which is one of the UK’s leading providers of shared care records and population health management systems, will work with the PRSB to develop the ‘core information standard’ and its assessment process.

The ‘core information standard’ is critical because it underpins the NHS’ drive to make sure that every integrated care system has a ‘basic’ shared care record in place and is ready to develop a ‘comprehensive’ shared care record by 2024.

Nadine Carey-Whitehead, sales director of Orion Health in the UK

Orion Health will also be assessed against the PRSB’s ‘document naming’ standard as part of its support for the partnership scheme, which has been set-up to recognise healthcare IT vendors with a strong commitment to best practice.

Nadine Carey-Whitehead, sales director at Orion Health, said: “Open standards are core to what we do at Orion Health. Without them, it is incredibly difficult to gather and make sense of all the data that needs to go into a shared care record from across the health and care sector, so we are always looking out for ways to support their development and adoption.

“We have said that we will help the PRSB to develop its core information standard and the process for assessing companies against it in any way that we can. As a market leader, we have the benefit of having a product in use on the ground that already exceeds the requirements of the ‘basic’ shared care record.

“However, we want other companies to be using this standard and for customers to be asking them to do that. If everybody uses standards, it supports the production of high quality information and the whole industry moves forward. We can all get the ‘basic’ shared care record done and move onto other things that will benefit the system, clinicians and patients.”

The PRSB helps to develop and implement standards for the structure and content of health and social care records and is looking to become the “authoritative voice” on what constitutes a high-quality electronic record.

It set up the partnership scheme earlier this year, to create an alliance with the health and tech sector and to recognise vendors committed to best practice.

Companies can join at two levels: as a partner, to demonstrate their commitment to standards; and as a quality partner, to demonstrate that they are meeting one or more standards.

Lorraine Foley, chief executive of the PRSB, said she was delighted to have Orion Health on board. “The intention of our partnership scheme is to move everybody forward by getting the standards that we have developed adopted and used,” she said.

“At the heart of being a quality partner is an assessment of compliance with one or more standards and Orion Health has agreed to become an early adopter of the ‘core information standard’, which underpins shared care records.

“It is different from some of the standards we have developed, because it is a collection of data items that can be used at many points in the patient journey, so the question of whether it has been met or not is going to be nuanced.

“We will work with Orion Health and others to come up with a sensible assessment process that will deliver meaningful results.”

The PRSB and Orion Health are keen for more suppliers to join the partnership scheme. Foley said vendors welcomed the opportunity to work with its experts and clinical teams on standards specifications, while the PRSB benefited from input on how the standards could be adapted to work better in practice.

However, the PRSB is also looking at how it can include NHS providers, to create a “gravitational pull” for making open standards a requirement in systems procurements and deployments.

“What we want is the PRSB, vendors, and providers all pulling in the same direction, to create better records that will support more efficient, better care,” she said.

Carey-Whitehead agreed – and argued that the development and deployment of open standards will be particularly important as the NHS looks to adopt new digital ways of working as it repairs and resets after the pandemic.

“COVID-19 highlighted not just the necessity for, but also the benefits of a shared care record. It taught us that we need to do things differently, but we need to do them in a standardised way.”

Key ways to gain a budget boost and lower impacts on the environment

By Scott MacIndeor, water and sustainability lead and Head of Advanced Services, Water Plus

Public Sector organisations have a great opportunity currently to give a boost to budgeting, lower impacts on the environment – and get ahead of the curve for future legislation. It’s down to the water that’s flowing through the taps, showers and toilets on-site and harnessing people power to cut water waste, and – ultimately – lower the utility costs, including energy.

September onwards is an important time for many in the public sector with budget setting meetings in councils and new financial years getting underway for others, like schools and universities.

Looking closer at water – and how it’s used – can pay back organisations quickly, reduce risks to keep doors open and facilities functioning and cut the amount of carbon being created. And your staff want to help you with this.

How people power and data in the public sector can help

Research shows over half of public sector employees cut their water use at home because they are concerned about their impact on the environment and believe their employers could do more to encourage a reduction in water use at work*. The insight in the survey, published here, provides a window into the views of staff to help those managing facilities.

And an Acute Hospital in England that had data loggers installed this year on water meters, found the extra, daily information on water use through an online smart portal is helping with their financial planning including budgeting and forecasting, as well as identifying opportunities for water efficiency steps.

Scott MacIndeor, Head of Advanced Services at Water Plus, said: “Many sites in the UK public sector and other industries will have seen changes in the amount of water they’re using since March 2020 – and this could still vary considerably in the months and year ahead with current working patterns and the numbers of those using facilities. Although water can be an afterthought for many organisations, it can be an untapped source for saving and has the power to deliver wider benefits where it’s used more effectively – including lower energy costs as hot water use decreases.

“Sites with just one, or a few water meters can also benefit from noting meter readings each month, if the meter is safe to access. Knowing what you’re using, where – and when – helps you spot any issues early that may cause disruption. Plus, where less water is used and where water waste reduces, it means less carbon created, so less Scope 3 emissions, helping towards environmental climate targets and Net Zero.”

September 2021 also saw the latest water factsheet briefing note for the Environment Bill**, which included information around building standards and local authorities being encouraged to introduce minimum standards on how much water each person uses each day at sites.

The sense in site checks

Regular servicing and maintenance of taps, toilets and urinals – as well as any water efficiency devices in buildings – is important – so you know they’re working properly and no water’s being wasted.

  • Carrying out site checks regularly is also worth the time. A council that had data loggers installed this year was alerted to a Town Hall that had water leaks losing 200 litres of water an hour. If these leaks continued for a year it would cost more than £5,200. Another site also had 100 litres of water an hour being lost.

 Also, in the last 12 months, a High School with a leak in a plant room at their site – was losing an estimated 12,000 litres (12 cubic metres) an hour, at an estimated cost of £850 a day – caused by a copper pipe that had corroded. The leak was causing some flooding in the plant room so needed quick action. Water Plus provided a quote for its repair experts to attend and complete work on-site and the leak was fixed the following day.

  •  Keep an eye on the weather and take steps to be ready for colder months. Make sure your employees know what to do if they see a leak and how they can report faults like running taps. Review your plans so you know where you’d get extra water if needed and keep updated on weather alerts for where your locations.

Partner with experts to harness water’s full power

Water Plus is the largest water retailer in the UK and manages the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in England and Scotland – from councils, schools, colleges and universities, to UK Government-owned sites, prisons, hospitals and the emergency services.

Water Plus also has a unique weather alert tool, which some multi-sites are currently using, to help manage risks and impacts from this on sites.

Get in touch about what can be achieved with your water by contacting their team at hello@water-plus.co.uk

** September 2021 update water factsheet: www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-bill-2020/10-march-2020-water-factsheet-part-5#further-information

Putting a Value on Public Sector Data

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Over the past 12 months we have frequently heard the Prime Minister declare that Government is “following the science”. At the same time, millions of us have found ourselves staring at charts and monitoring trends eager to understand the current situation. The link between the data that

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Newham Borough Council is a vibrant Council bordering the City of London, most of its residents are from ethnic minority backgrounds and cumulatively speak more than 100 languages. Newham’s leadership team is constantly looking for ways to provide the best for its citizens. Introducing intelligent chatbots to its parking customer service offering is an important

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Armour Comms showcases new secure collaborative working solutions with MOD and Bittium at DSEI

DSEI, 14 – 17 September, 2021, ExCeL, London, Stand No: H1-450

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Bevan Brittan’s procurement lawyers listed in Who’s Who Legal

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Four Bristol-based lawyers from national law firm Bevan Brittan are included in Who’s Who Legal 2021, a prestigious international guide to the legal profession.

The four colleagues from Bevan Brittan’s procurement practice are included in the guide’s government contracts section, which is based on feedback from lawyers and in-house counsel from around

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