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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

by Richard Walker, Data and Insights Partner, Agilisys

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 government collects and the outcomes it drives has suddenly assumed a place at the forefront of public consciousness. While the concept of data saving lives has perhaps never felt more prescient, it is not only in times of unprecedented uncertainty that the value in public sector data comes to the fore.

Richard Walker

There are pressing questions for the public sector that will continue to challenge even after the threat of the pandemic diminishes. How do we deliver better care for an ageing population with changing needs? How do we predict and prevent threats to public safety? How do we move around the country more efficiently? And, how do we stop the damage we are doing to our environment? Data will help provide the answers.

Providing a return on investment of data 

Budgets are not endless. The difficulty in proving return on data investment is probably the number one reason to get serious about defining and measuring the value in your data, but it is not alone.

1.Not all data is equal 

When choosing which elements of a data strategy to invest in, choices need to be made. These should be informed by the value each initiative will individually or collectively unlock.

The answer for which actions to prioritise should lie in a clear understanding of the route to value. Not all data is equal when it comes to delivering your strategic objectives, you will need to prioritise and be able to defend those decisions to those who would have preferred you start with their area instead.

2.A need for clarity 

Like everyone else, us data folk should be held to account for the investments that are made in improving data itself (collection, curation, quality etc.) or the methods used to extract its value (analytics, digital applications etc.).

Without a baseline of the value in data, how can public sector organisations present a case for the improvements that have been made over time? The answer is they cannot. Therefore, providing a clear need to value their data assets and revisit those valuations over time.

3.Ensuring a fair price 

It may be an uncomfortable concept, but the world’s wealthiest companies are data companies. Make no mistake, the value in public sector data assets to those companies is monumental. It is data they can only approximate from all the other sources they mine.

In a hypothetical scenario whereby a local or regional authority were to look to monetise its data, you would want a fair price, to be assured that value is fully understood, and the best deal negotiated. This will not happen without measuring value.

How can a value be put on public sector data? 

1.Cost Value of Data

Collecting, managing, protecting and storing data all costs money. When you factor in the people and technology elements, it only increases. Working out how much your organisation currently spends looking after data is a good starting point for future negotiations.

Presenting your plan as an incremental investment (often a small percentage) to get better bang for the significant buck already committed, is a technique frequently used by those responsible for other strategic assets. The sell can take many forms, it might be that you will drive process efficiencies or performance improvements elsewhere in the organisation, or that you can identify savings and efficiencies within the current data spend portfolio but need to land an invest to save proposition.

2.Economic Value of Data

The economic value is the difference between costs and benefits. Applying a framework to a data related initiative is often difficult. In commercial settings, it can be achieved through testing e.g. make data available to sales team ‘A’ through a new BI platform but not to sales team ‘B’ — measure the difference in performance and you have a measure of value returned for your investment.

When we do this with government organisations, we tend to look at unit costs as being the most effective scaling factor for the benefits unlocked. I was part of a project a few years ago where the client had an issue with delayed transfers of care from an acute hospital setting into community settings. Neither party in the discharge process had visibility of the other’s data. Acute settings did not know when spaces would become available to discharge patients into, and brokerage teams had no advance view of how many patients with which types of need they were going to need to support.

The intervention was to create a live link between two systems to facilitate the exchange of data; a portal to view it through and engage the respective teams to ensure that relevant data protection principles were considered. The inputs (both data and technological), activities (drafting and reviewing a DPIA, configuring and testing the live link, designing, and building the portal) formed the costs (c£100k). The outputs, e.g., improved patient health outcomes, reduced incidents of delays in transfer of care and improved staff morale were some of the benefits. In total, conservative efforts suggested the trust was able to save £150,000 per month in bed days. This is a powerful example of how investing in a data and insights project effectively could yield real tangible and positive impacts.

3.Opportunity Cost Value of Data

The cost of unrealised value due to the “state” of the data asset can be measured using the opportunity cost of investments already made or outcomes not achieved.

Imagine your organisation has made a £20m investment in a new technology platform. You were persuaded to go for the market leader, reassured that concerns over legacy platforms were nothing the vendor had not seen before and that its solution would fix all of that anyway. Two years in and only 60% of the functionality has been enabled. Your vendor is blaming the state of your data. The state of your data is therefore costing you £8m.

4.Market Value

There are many partnerships being struck right now around innovative new technologies between public and private sectors. Often the public sector provides the data whilst the private sector provides the means to turn it into insight and action. I believe we will see more and more of this type of “joint venture” going forwards and we will very quickly come to think of public sector data as a magnet to pull in private sector investment.

Data is not finite and so the opportunity to repeatedly sweat the same asset through such deals is much greater. Not forgetting legitimate concerns around the ethics of using government data in this way, but there are ways to navigate those and end up at this reality sooner than we think.

However, these approaches are not designed to be mutually exclusive. To go toe-to-toe with other investment priorities, you will probably need as much ammunition as you can muster. It is vital, therefore, that in prepping yourself to cross the final hurdle to secure funding, you do not overlook the power in the human outcomes you plan to drive, be that better care, safer communities, or a cleaner environment.

Marry the two, though, and you should have a winning formula.

A Digital Transformation Journey with Futr AI – Newham Council Parking Customer Service Team

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 example of how the council is making a difference through technology.

With demands for council customer services ever increasing, Newham Council wanted to use the chatbot software to help streamline frequently asked questions to free up employee time to work on the more complex queries.

Ron Springer, Head of Customer Services said,” We receive in excess of 400,000 calls to the council contact centre every year – with a huge number of them being common questions.”

In particular, the council felt that parking calls could be triaged using chatbots, so that high priority calls could be dealt with by staff. The team also wanted a system that could provide real-time feedback so that common problems (as well as successes) could be identified to further improve customer services.

This led Newham’s digital transformation team to Futr AI, the leading public and social services chatbot software developer and integrator delivering superpowers to critical service teams to be the best they can be. From out-of-hours self-serve chatbots on any channel, to making live chat agents instantly multilingual in over 100 languages, Futr’s superpowers are transforming the way organisations serve their audiences.

The Newham team found the software easy to install and once the FAQs for parking with appropriate answers were in place, the chatbots were able to manage calls very smoothly, pushing the critical ones to council call centre staff.

Within the first six months of deployment, data showed that the council had saved 84 hours of call time and that the chatbots had answered 10,491 non urgent and repeat questions, saving the council about £40,000.

Not only did the chatbots assist with call volumes and time saved but also its multi-national language capabilities enabled queries to be answered in 23 different languages fluently. The ability to keep the chatbots on all day meant that customers had access to council parking services 24/7, allowing access to information at times convenient to them.

The digital transformation team have access to the real time data at any time and are able to analyse which problems their parking customers are experiencing the most, helping them to further tailor services to their customers’ needs.

A very delighted Ikramul Haque, Head of the Council’s Digital Transformation remarked, “Setting up Futr’s chatbots was one of the easiest integrations we’ve done. It arrived ready for use out of the box – deployment was as simple as a few clicks.”

Not only has the Council found that it is achieving better accessibility for customers, costs savings, enhanced customer services teams capacity, it has also given them the superpowers to engage fluently in over 100 languages seamlessly across various platforms –  the website, email or other applications like WhatsApp.

Ron Springer added, “Faced with increasing demand and channel shift, Futr’s chatbot is future-proofing our service delivery and giving our call centre the bandwidth to deal with more complex issues.”

Futr has over 1,000 organisation customers around the world and continues to enable customer services teams to deliver critical services to communities. For more information go to www.Futr.ai

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

Armour Comms will be showcasing several new capabilities of its OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE, NATO approved Armour® Mobile at DSEI, including a technical preview of its secure collaboration solution, Unity by Armour. Other innovations on show will be Armour’s work with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for secure mobile comms which is currently being successfully deployed across several operational areas to replace use of consumer grade apps; and Armour’s unique technology for Bittium devices, which enables users of Bittium’s Android TM2 solution to communicate without using the public internet.

Unity by Armour works in conjunction with Armour Mobile extending its secure collaboration capabilities with secure video conferencing calls (pre-defined or on-the-fly), screen sharing and integration with secure chat groups, in addition to the existing one-to-one secure audio and video calling, and interconnectivity with trusted unified communications systems. Unity by Armour provides picture in picture and multiple screens, and offers a familiar video conferencing interface, making it easy and intuitive to use. Unity by Armour is available with a choice of hosting options, including on-premises installation, ensuring that communities are controlled by invitation-only, increasing security and guarding against ‘zoom-bombing’.

Armour Comms will also be showcasing the latest innovation for its NATO approved secure communications solution which now includes unique Secure Push technology from Bittium. This feature allows secure and battery efficient signalling of incoming Armour Mobile calls and messages also in classified networks that do not have connectivity to public Internet.

Armour Mobile runs on Bittium’s Tough Mobile™ 2 series of ruggedised and secure smartphones ensuring voice and video conversations, and the associated files and attachments, stay completely private, no matter how hostile the environment. In addition, Bittium Secure Suite provides additional capabilities such as mobile VPN, device and application management, remote attestation and other functions.

Aimed at military, defence, law enforcement and government markets worldwide, Bittium and Armour products provide the same user experience as consumer-grade solutions, while keeping both data at rest and data in transit secure at all times.

David Holman, Director at Armour Comms said; “At Armour Comms we are focused on delivering highly capable, easy to use, intuitive solutions that are robustly secure and suitable for deployment at scale. For specific markets, like Defence we also work closely with our partners to enable higher assurance communications solutions.

“The new capabilities we have on show at DSEI are driven by our users and are designed with the user in mind. Delivering solutions that are easy and pleasurable to use encourages strong user adoption, avoiding the kind of workarounds that often beset traditional secure communications solutions, such as people resorting to the use of highly insecure consumer-grade apps on ‘shadow IT’ devices.  Armour Comms solves the conundrum of a secure-by-default comms application that is still easy to use and quick to deploy at scale.”

Armour has recently announced the availability of its Armour Core v4 server-side software which includes a range of enhancements designed to significantly improve performance and usability including support for IPv6, the latest network communications protocol, enabling calls to seamlessly transition between modern networks.

More information about Armour Communications solutions can be found at www.armourcomms.com

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

Emily Heard

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 the world.

Laura Brealey

Fran Mussellwhite

Emily Heard, who heads Bevan Brittan’s Procurement, Competition and State Aid practice has successfully been included in the guide for a number of years, as has consultant Susie Smith, who has previously won the “Who’s Who Procurement Lawyer of the Year” award.

Susie Smith

Procurement partners Laura Brealey and Fran Mussellwhite are included in Who’s Who Legal for the first time.

Commenting on the success, Emily Heard said: “Procurement is an incredibly dynamic area of law, and the team has been very busy advising both contracting authorities and private sector clients on procurement matters across a range of sectors including housing, infrastructure, energy, waste and transport and health. Being recognised for our expertise on this global platform by our peers means a great deal.”

Earlier this year Emily Heard was also recognised by Who’s Who Legal as a ‘Global Elite Thought Leader’ and is one of only 12 lawyers in Europe recognised within the government contracts and procurement practice area.

Public Sector IT: How Monitoring Could Be The Answer

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds

As organisations throughout the public sector have turned to remote working solutions over the past year and a half during the global pandemic, technology has solved countless problems—but it’s created challenges, too. The tried and tested “business as usual” processes were disrupted, and organisations were forced to rely on applications that may not have been crucial before but were now one of the few things keeping their services running.

It’s been 18 months since COVID-19 first hit the U.K., and the new normal means remote working—in some form—is here to stay. Therefore, custom applications must not be allowed to fail the public sector; even a small drop in performance can have life-changing consequences, so optimising these apps has been high on the priority list.

Two of the most important needs from technology are accessibility and visibility. But how can organisations ensure these demands are met? Employees rely on their IT teams to keep applications performing as required and to allow them to use the network without any downtime. In a nutshell, IT teams need to safeguard all applications and infrastructure to prevent disruptions—today, monitoring vital infrastructure has never been so important.

When users are working remotely, IT teams must monitor everything from applications and databases to storage and the network. Part of their role is to make sure remote workers experience seamless IT, analyse and resolve any application or access issues, and prepare for any spikes in IT demand.

These are the requirements—here’s how to approach them.

1.Maintaining a Seamless Remote IT Environment

To ensure all remote workers experience their organisation’s IT systems as if they were in the office, all applications and data must be as readily available remotely as they are on-site. One of the smoothest ways in which IT teams can support this is through the implementation of cloud-based collaboration platforms, which allow the entire workforce to connect and work together in real time.

Additionally, IT teams should develop and maintain IT dashboards to actively monitor the health and accessibility of systems, applications, and networks. These dashboards can identify and highlight any areas where the teams can make improvements to benefit users. For example, matching the number of software licenses to the number of people using them helps workers be productive and helps manage the budget of the organisation.

2.Resolving IT Issues Swiftly and Simply

IT support is a necessity, and the requests made of these teams change regularly with alterations in working conditions. Therefore, the support team must be fully staffed to ensure they can keep up with spikes in demand, particularly with more remote workers than ever before unused to being outside the office. Not only is this important to keep other employees working, it’s crucial to avoid a burned-out support team.

To help reduce the pressure on IT support, organisations can introduce self-service options wherever possible, enabling other employees to solve certain requests themselves. As return to office policies are being rolled out, it’s also important to ensure employees can request support wherever they are, through multiple channels such as phone, email, dedicated support applications, and collaboration tools. A VPN service is also an option for users needing secure remote access.

With IT teams monitoring the performance of every component application and network segment, they can also more easily determine whether issues reported by a user are caused by the organisation or whether the fault is with the bandwidth in use by the employee.

3.Preparing for Demand Spikes

Capacity planning was hard enough pre-pandemic—the new normal has led to unexpected fluctuations in demand, as employees have switched to remote work or have been part of a skeleton crew on-site. IT teams can use the quieter times on-site to optimise the network and wider IT environment, and build future capacity ready for when demand increases again.

To do this, teams should monitor the network to produce a behaviour baseline to which they can refer. Then, they should review the aggregated log data to identify bottlenecks and consider an improvement plan to resolve them. If a given timeline for purchase and implementation of this plan is greater than the organisation’s tolerance for risk, IT teams should determine if the workload can be migrated to the cloud, for example. Not only can this reduce the procurement cycle, a cloud offering may also provide fast scaling capable of automatically meeting user demand.

Building a Better Future

Change is never simple, whether it’s in the public or the private sector. The global pandemic has driven unprecedented change around the world, faster than anyone could have anticipated. But if IT teams can embrace these changes and continue to work towards maintaining “business as usual,” they can support their colleagues in every department and continue meeting their organisations’ aims and goals for the good of society.

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