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Thousands of Scotland SMEs to benefit from free DigitalBoost support thanks to treble funding boost

Thousands of SMEs across Scotland are set to benefit from vital free support after the Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced that it was trebling funding for msp

The £1.5m of funding is considered a critical lifeline for helping many businesses to overcome the exceptional challenges brought about by COVID-19.

Now in its fifth year, DigitalBoost is a national digital business skills programme which provides businesses with free support to help them take advantage of technologies, improve productivity, increase resilience, and create new market opportunities.

DigitalBoost has received annual funding since being established and this year’s twofold increase underlines the importance of the programme and its role in contributing to the country’s economic recovery.

The funding will run until 5 April 2021 with hopes that it will continue further beyond that.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Economy Secretary, told GPSJ: “We are focussed on taking immediate action to support our economy as we look to rebuild after COVID-19 and by investing in jobs and digital technology we will create the foundations of a strong recovery for Scotland.

“There is no denying the challenge that lies ahead, but the pandemic has also provided us with an opportunity to rebuild better. COVID-19 has underlined the economic importance of digital capacity and capability – the businesses that have coped best are those who have been digitally capable. By almost trebling funding for the DigitalBoost programme for this financial year, more of Scotland’s SMEs will be able to improve their productivity and reach, while increasing their resilience.”

Welcoming the additional funding, Cllr Steven Heddle, COSLA Spokesperson for Environment and Economy commented: “During this pandemic, Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme has repositioned itself to help businesses adapt and survive the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Businesses are vital to Scottish local economies and as outlined in the Government’s Economic Recovery Implementation Plan, digital upskilling and maximising the use of technology will be a powerful tool in helping to bring the country out of this financial crisis. The additional funds for DigitalBoost will allow Business Gateway to add both more and broader digital support to what is already a fantastic service. It will also allow us to help Scottish

DigitalBoost provides local workshops, 1:1 support from a digital expert, online tutorials, and practical guides on topics including social media, cyber resilience, data analytics, digital marketing strategy and e-commerce. Another key component of the DigitalBoost service is a five-minute online health check business can take to assess their digital strengths and weaknesses.

Since the launch of DigitalBoost in 2016:

  • Over 36,000 hours of 1-2-1 support have been provided, free of charge, to over 2000 businesses.
  • Over 16,500 business owners have attended local workshops and webinars with 94% rating them good or better than good.
  • Over 7000 businesses have undertaken a digital health check
  • A staggering 22,000+ digital guides have been downloaded – an increase of almost 50% in the past year
  • Over 7000 businesses have benefitted from online tutorials

For more information on DigitalBoost and to get support for your business visit www.bgateway.com/digitalboost.

Lexacom launches Cabolo: a unique, portable, standalone unit incorporating the latest AI speech technology to transcribe any conversation 

Reporter: Stacy Clarke

Cabolo is a brand new addition to Lexacom’s voice-to-text portfolio. It is a unique solution that records and transcribes any conversation with complete security, using the latest AI speech recognition technology. Delivered as a small, portable, standalone unit, Cabolo needs no access to the internet and nothing more than a power source and password to operate. All the complex technology is embedded within the device, completely removing the need for cloud services or third-party data processing.

“Lexacom Cabolo has the potential to revolutionise how conversations are documented. There are no limits to its application; from the HR meeting to the board meeting, from the university lecture to the courtroom” said Dr Andrew Whiteley, managing director of Lexacom.

Once placed in a suitable location, Cabolo can accurately and efficiently transcribe the conversation of multiple people. This reliable and secure solution reduces the administrative burden placed on organisations and increases efficiency, accuracy and productivity.

Cabolo outputs transcribed conversations and video presentations as subtitles in real time and delivers a multimedia PDF with synchronised text and audio, which can be archived and later retrieved using extensive search functionality. Cabolo can be customised to transcribe multiple languages, with specialised vocabularies for different professions or even accents. It can also offer a much-valued tool for those with a hearing or other communication impairment.

Cabolo is ideal for recording and sharing any conversation, business meeting, lecture or video conference. It can also transcribe previously held meetings and conversations. If a recording has been made in a suitable format, the file can simply be uploaded to Cabolo for near instant transcription.

Whilst Cabolo can be used as a stand-alone device, it can also be integrated with existing conferencing equipment, enhancing the capabilities of board rooms, lecture theatres and meeting rooms.

“As the UK’s exclusive provider of Cabolo, Lexacom are now in a unique position to offer the full range of speech technology solutions, whether it be at home, on the move or in the workplace. Cabolo offers an extension to our capabilities that no other company in the UK can claim, bringing world leading AI speech recognition technology to everyone, in any context” said Dr Andrew Whiteley.

Contact Lexacom directly for a detailed demonstration or to discuss further how Cabolo could transform how you and your company work. Please contact 01295 236910, sales@lexacom.co.uk or see www.lexacom.co.uk/lexacom-products/cabolo/

 

The Lexacom Portfolio

Lexacom 3 is an advanced digital dictation and document creation system designed by professionals, for professionals. With its easy to use workflow management, it helps teams work together. It is the ideal solution for any business looking to evolve current practices and can be configured specifically for any organisation’s requirements or within existing business processes.

Lexacom also provides a wide range of additional services including the latest in professional AI speech recognition, encrypted cloud technology for mobile devices, integrated transcription services and secure cloud based data storing allowing work to be shared across many sites. All of these features will be essential for future working practice.

Echo revolutionises professional speech recognition by using the latest AI technology to produce outstanding levels of accuracy from first use. Lexacom manage and support UK profession specific dictionaries, ensuring Echo stays up to date with not only professional terms, but also acronyms and abbreviations.

Cabolo is a unique solution that records and transcribes any conversation with complete security using AI speech recognition. The small, portable, stand-alone device does not require the internet to work. It is an ideal solution to record and share any conversation, business meeting, lecture or video conference. It provides subtitles in real time and delivers a multimedia PDF with synchronised text and audio which can be archived with extensive search functionality.

Mobile can be used on any handheld device and allows professionals to record, track and approve dictations wherever and whenever they like. Fully integrated with a desktop installation, Lexacom Mobile uses securely encrypted cloud technology to transmit dictations between professionals and secretaries, ensuring data remains safe at all times.

Scribe is an integrated transcription service available at the touch of a button and provides all Lexacom customers with instant access to a UK based, high quality, secure transcription service. This solution is fully embedded within Lexacom 3 and will enable work to be securely transferred, with no additional steps.

Connect is a secure, cloud-based service, allowing document creation at multiple sites, thus sharing resources and increasing productivity and cost savings. The data is stored in a UK-based secure data centre and is encrypted with G cloud security levels and has ISO 27001 certification.

Why the Covid backlog mustn’t slow down councils’ response to the climate emergency

Stephen Stead

By Stephen Stead, director of strategy and digital services at SSE Enterprise’s distributed energy business

COUNCIL officials have shown incredible leadership during the coronavirus pandemic – from supporting vulnerable citizens through to maintaining essential services, local authority workers have been at the forefront, ensuring the wheels of local government keep turning.

Now, many will be returning to their desks for the first time in months. They’ll be greeted by bulging inboxes and in-trays as they begin to catch-up on the projects that had to be put to one side to cope with the first wave of the virus.

Yet, while the backlog of work that’s been piling up during the lockdown will be immense, it is fundamentally important that this does not overshadow the longer-term threat of climate change. With circa three quarters of local authorities having now declared a climate emergency, now is the time to create a “better normal” and not just a “new normal”.

That same leadership that local authorities showed during the lockdown must now come into play in response to the climate emergency. Councils don’t need to do it all. However, they have a key role as a catalyst for decarbonising their local communities and in tandem, stimulating economic recovery and growth.

Boosting the local economy by making buildings smart

The simplest way of reducing carbon is to use less energy. Deploying energy efficiency measures across building stock has the added value of generating work for local contractors. Getting the basics right is an essential first step – from fitting insulation and double glazing to energy efficient lighting. A greater benefit can be achieved through the deployment of low carbon assets such as solar, energy storage, and high efficiency boilers or heat pumps supported by alternative funding models ranging from a basic Salix loan, through Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) to an Energy-as-a-Service model.

In tandem, further benefits can be delivered by making buildings “smart”. Depending on building type and size, this may involve the installation of a Building Management System (BMS) to provide energy optimisation and core control. With or without a BMS, sensor-based services can be applied that utilise measurement, intelligence and control to drive efficiencies. For example, occupancy sensors to tailor lighting and heating or to enable needs-based cleaning.

Smart building technology can also speed-up the return to work following lockdown. They can monitor room and desk occupancy and police separation. Post Covid well-being can also be improved. For example, SSE is installing innovative air purification technology that removes common harmful airborne substances and has been shown to be effective in reducing the infectivity of bacteria and viruses.

Buildings as revenue generators

Reducing carbon comes hand in hand with saving money when it relates to power. Additionally, it can also present a revenue generation opportunity. As the country moves to zero carbon, the penetration of intermittent solar and wind into our power system will increase. However, unlike coal and gas power plants, wind and sun cannot be controlled. Hence the energy system needs a way of balancing generation and load to align to a new world of low carbon generation intermittency.

To achieve this, markets have been established that pay asset owners to turn electrical demand and generation up and down in order to keep the system in balance. A building is essentially a large load. Even more so when heat pumps are installed and EV chargers connected. Where solar and storage are installed, it can additionally deliver controllable generation. As such it can allow organisations such as SSE to control its assets and generate revenues for it. Alternatively, it could simply use this smart control to accommodate local power network constraints and therefore defer investment.

Powering the switch to electric vehicles

Carbon reduction is not just about power. It is also about transport. As the number of EV models on the market increase, so too does consumer appetite to convert although this will remain muted until confidence in availability and speed of chargers increases. In short, to feel fully comfortable with an EV vehicle, charging needs to be a pop-in event, not just an overnight stop. Local authorities can impact this by influencing third party charger deployment. They can also lead by example with their own fleet, incentivise the conversion of grey fleet, and influence EV bus deployment.

There is also a revenue play here. As take up increases, so too will the demand for forecourt style EV charge hubs. By targeting their own fleet and/or that of large local businesses, sufficient anchor demand can be enabled to seed their funding, hence providing convenience infrastructure for the wider community. These hubs can be fed by solar power through private wire, increasing both green credentials and earning potential. They can be done on authority land, fed by authority solar power, or even done in partnership. All of which would generate much needed revenue.

What’s often overlooked is that each of those EVs is in fact a portable battery, so when power isn’t needed to turn its wheels then it becomes a resource that can be plugged into the grid to either store the excess electricity being churned out on windy or sunny days, or to feed energy back into the wider system to meet moments of peak demand, like when everyone turns on the kettle at half time during the cup final, or when the adverts come on during Coronation Street. Each of these events supports wider decarbonisation whilst having revenue generation potential.

Turning up the heat on decarbonisation

Carbon reduction is also about heat. This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge with winter peak heat demand being around four times that of power. This challenge is not simply one of scale. It is also one of technology and cost. Heat networks can be limited both technically and commercially in terms of the number of homes that can viably connect. And where a heat network is not viable, a standalone heat pump is a poor cousin to cheaper, smaller, but, crucially, higher carbon gas boilers. Furthermore, individual property level heat pumps can exacerbate constraints in local power networks and could well result in increased connection costs where deployments cluster.

Due to their economies of scale where densification is sufficient, heat networks are without doubt the preferred choice to decarbonise heat. Their ability to transport waste and recoverable heat, from, for example, industrial processes, water, air, ground and even sewers makes them a powerful tool to help deliver heat decarbonisation. The Climate Change Committee and BEIS see heat networks as playing a crucial role in the pathway to net zero. So how can we increase the number of properties that can viably connect?

The starting point is to consider that, at the same time the government is pushing the rollout of heat networks, it is also encouraging the deployment of both fibre and EV charging networks. Were the local authority to align trenching, the civils element of each element can be greatly reduced, hence improving commercial viability. Where heat pipe building penetration is an issue, building level heat pumps can be deployed. Their associated operating cost can be reduced by connecting to a private electrical network, which, in turn, connects to local renewables, storage, EV chargers, and large local load, providing a local renewable energy system. Not only can the central heat pump that drives the main system be connected to this network, but also the heat network reach can be improved by running spurs off of the private wire network to outlying heat pumps and associated localised smaller networks. These in turn could target pockets of waste heat therefore further improving viability.

Sitting above all of this, is an overarching control system spanning heat, power and transport. This will use heat and power storage and demand flexibility to smooth peaks and troughs and to generate revenues that subsidise the system.

Finally, Energy-as-a-Service funding models can be applied to take the financial pain away by blending asset costs into the ongoing service cost and smoothing this across both heat networks and standalone heat pump deployments.

Fast and furious tech adoption could break NHS services

Covid-19 has accelerated the NHS technology agenda – including a sharp rise in video consultations. But we now need to learn from this to realise a bigger opportunity to create sustainable and intelligent digital patient pathways based on evidence, writes Alan Lowe, chief executive at Visionable

Alan Lowe, chief executive at Visionable

The NHS has had to be very speedy in its technology response to the Covid-19 crisis, witnessing around five years’ worth of digital advancement in as many weeks. We have seen a health service that has changed its appetite for risk amidst the pressure to do things fast and furious when suddenly faced with the challenge of being physically removed from patients. But as the dust settles, the moment to pause and ask the questions needed to ensure services don’t become broken in the longer term is starting to arrive.

Covid-19 will fundamentally change commissioning approaches, forever. It already has. Until now, methods of commissioning pathways have persisted to rely on face to face interactions, with little thought for reimbursing and incentivising people who might want to create a digital pathway that could be life changing for patients and the people responsible for delivering their care.

Now we have a different lens – keeping people safe in their home – a fundamental new driver that will influence how services are commissioned regularly into the future. If we are to do that in an effective, sustainable way, we can’t just throw technology at the problem. We have to ask the right questions about the design of services, about where technology and people fit in that design, and we need to start learning quickly from the answers.

Catching up on five years’ of learning to un-constrain the geography of care safely

With five years’ worth of tech adoption comes an equivalent breadth of learning for the NHS to catch up on. 

Video technology is one notable area that has seen tremendous sudden growth as the NHS has had no choice but to adopt it speedily. But the health service now needs to understand where it hasn’t worked, as much as where it has.

People designing services now need to ask how they can intelligently integrate newly adopted technologies like video into the patient pathway, where it is and isn’t appropriate, and what they need to augment video with in order to allow services to fully utilise it.

That means understanding when blood tests, urinary tests or imaging is required, for example. It means asking if some of these examinations could be done by post or when a healthcare facility is required – if that can be a nearby facility to the patient, with other aspects of the pathway at home.

Augmenting that video might mean utilising mobile MRI scanners, approved blood pressure cuffs, Bluetooth scales, and other appropriate devices that could be located in the home.

It means thinking about people too – and particularly for healthcare professionals – whether they have the right skillsets in place so that a nurse visiting a patient’s home can perform various roles that removes the need for different specialists to enter that home. Can that nurse, for example, take a photograph of wound care, that prevents several colleagues unnecessarily entering the house?

It means thinking about a great many variables. And if a multi-disciplinary approach is needed – can we create virtual MDTs that maximise time effectiveness and availability for clinicians and that reduce their own exposure to risk of infection.

In all this we need less haste and more careful consideration as we move at pace – we cannot just throw these things into the wild.  We need to employ healthcare system thinking – otherwise we risk doing things fast and breaking things.

We need appropriate devices that collect and provide the right information safely. We need to consider how to onboard datasets. And we need to think about how people use those devices, how it works for the citizen, what data the pathway needs, how that data will be used, how you manage that long term, and create a pathway that is congruent and based on user centred co-design.

The fundamental question to answer is – how can we un-constrain the geography of care safely?

Putting the citizen at the centre

Putting people at the centre almost sounds like a buzzword – perhaps because it’s something people in healthcare have been trying to achieve for a long time.

But if you put the Covid-19 predicament to one side, virtualised pathways still have enormous potential to change lives. And so responses to Covid-19 could now be more than replicating a physical meeting. This is our real opportunity for meaningful change.

Take the redesign of renal pathways as an example. Many people on renal pathways have historically been unable to work or remain in education because of the intensity of interaction with the hospital. They had to go to places – to hospital for tests, meetings and consultations. Virtualising that pathway has allowed people to remain in work or education.

We are now seeing less inconvenience for the patient as pathways start to digitise – from the risk of getting Covid to getting in the car and creating Co2 emissions – the downside of coming into the hospital is being gradually eliminated.But for this to be done safely we cannot rush and buy any old video conferencing tech. We need to create a second generation of teleconsultation where the resources of the healthcare system are configured around the patient’s digital interaction with their providers.

There’s no denying this is a complex piece to solve from a technology point of view and a service provision perspective.  We need to start to understand it now, we need to match clinical need to availability and we need to map it and blueprint what good looks like.

Post-lockdown recruitment gets green light at Bristow & Sutor

Bristow & Sutor, one of the UK’s leading local authority debt recovery specialists, is resuming recruitment and hiring for Enforcement Agents (EAs), Collection Officers and several ad hoc roles within the business. Collections and enforcement agencies have been on the front-line of businesses affected by social distancing measures, but with Government legislation allowing visits to resume next month, the company is looking to grow once again.

Bristow & Sutor already directly employs over 450 people across the UK to provide end-to-end debt collection and credit management support for clients in local and central government, as well as the private sector. The inability to safely undertake visits and inspections in recent months saw EA members of staff furloughed and, despite technological investment ensuring customer support staff remained available, almost all recruitment activity had to be placed on temporary hold.

All furloughed EA staff at Bristow & Sutor have continued to receive training and certification, so they would be prepared to work as soon as it was announced as safe to do so. From a local authority perspective this was essential, as businesses who did not retain staff will now need to recruit to replace, whereas Bristow & Sutor are immediately recruiting to grow. This is especially important when considering the company has recently won a number of key new business projects, including collecting unpaid Penalty Charge Notices at warrant stage for all road charging schemes and traffic enforcement contraventions for TfL (Transport for London).

Many local authorities are keen to resume collections and enforcement activity as soon as possible, to help fill the holes left by loss of revenue streams and to help provide increased support to those impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic. From Monday July 20th, Bristow & Sutor began supplying reconnection letters to debtors, giving them the opportunity to set up flexible payment arrangements and discuss changing circumstances before services recommence from the 24th August.

Andy Rose, CEO at Bristow & Sutor, says, “At Bristow & Sutor, we remain advocates of the direct model of employment, so we are delighted to be able to resume hiring again. We have already seen a significant number of clients instruct us to prepare for sensitively making visits to their debtors. It is our committed intention, to the very best of our ability, to protect our workforce, ensure the safety of the vulnerable in our community and work with all partners and customers during these uncertain times.”

Bristow & Sutor has been collecting local authority revenue for over 42 years. The business has successfully acquired £6million pounds on behalf of clients during the COVID-19 lockdown and recently won Silver at DCXA’20 in the Digital Transformation and Change category.

www.bristowsutor.co.uk

We come in peace to protect you from Covid-19

SafeGroup Covid-19 disinfection vehicle

Reporter: Allan Roach – News

It may look like an unequal contest between a space astronaut and an 23t excavator – but this is how lives are being protected in the construction and quarrying industries.

A decontamination technician from SafeGroup wearing a full body suit and powered respirator gives the excavator long-term protection against Covid-19.

A broad-spectrum electrostatic disinfectant spray destroys the Covid-19 pathogen and bonds strongly to surfaces it is applied to, providing protection against the virus for up to 30 days.

This is helping reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission via high touch points on construction and materials handling machinery, such as cab door handles and controls.

As the government phases out Covid-19 lockdown measures, SafeGroup, headquartered in London, is working with an ever-widening range of businesses needing to protect premises and equipment against Covid-19.

It is also the first emergency cleaning specialist in the UK to provide Covid-19 surface testing – with results returned by the scientific laboratory within 72 hours.

SafeGroup Chief Executive Officer Steve Broughton said: “The local lockdown in Leicester shows Covid-19 has not gone away. Construction contractors and plant operators need to remain vigilant to protect their teams.

“Data from the Office for National Statistics shows male construction workers have among the highest death rates from Covid-19 in the UK with 25.9 deaths per 100,000 males.

“Construction companies and plant operators are doing all they can to change working practices to maximise protection. But building sites are among the most difficult spaces to make Covid-19 secure.

“This is making the long-term protection against surface contamination that we can provide especially valuable. Regular decontamination work to remove pathogens like Covid-19 could become the new norm for years to come.

SafeGroup Covid-19 protection excavator

“Covid-19 is a gamechanger in terms of workplace hygiene. The expectations of employees and customers on personal safety aren’t being heightened they’re being rocketed through the roof, which is why we’re offering testing to prove workplaces is free if Covid-19.”

The excavator treated by SafeGroup was at a quarry in Telford, Shropshire operated by brick manufacturer Michelmersh. The emergency soft FM specialist is also working with construction companies having to find entirely new ways to work due to Covid-19.

Amy Harris, Group Health, Safety and Training Manager for Michelmersh, said: “We want to ensure a safe environment for staff and customers, along with peace of mind that the working environment is being regularly disinfected and protected.

“SafeGroup’s Covid-19 treatment service has become a key part of our strategy to maintain a low-risk environment and has been welcomed openly by all our staff.”

A poll of 431 onsite construction workers by Construction News magazine found that 40% thought too many people flout new worksite social distancing rules and nearly 40% considered it impossible to stay two metres apart on a building site.

www.thesafegroup.co.uk

In an Age of Digital Transformation, Security Is Now a Core Competency for IT Professionals

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds

While cybersecurity isn’t an immediate casualty of increased complexity, the more digitally transformed public sector organisations become, the more vulnerabilities they face. Similarly, as global workforces have recently moved to their homes, IT teams across every industry have been faced with a rapid expansion of attack vectors. Between this rate of change, increasing complexity, and new devices needing to be secured—and in new ways—we continue to play a seemingly never-ending game of catch-up with the cybercriminals.

These challenges require some concerted changes and improvements throughout the sector. Top of the list throughout this extended work from home period, and the months to follow: security must enter the core competency set of every tech pro, whether as a self-managed skillset or outsourced to an MSP or MSSP. To start, tech pros must develop a complete understanding of the IT environment they support to uncover areas of risk and effectively convey priorities to senior management. That’s in contrast to the situation today where some organisations simply don’t understand the depth of cybersecurity risks they face, or worse still, even realise they may have a problem in the first place.

It may feel as though for every few steps taken towards digital transformation, a few steps are taken back when a cyberattack occurs. As it becomes the everyday norm, what changes can be made in organisations to keep progress on track and reduce targeted attacks?

Cybersecurity Solutions for Digital Transformation

Integrating security systems helps increase visibility into a network and helps organisations manage a wider attack surface. By using applications and devices with built-in security or, if developing an application, making robust security settings the default option, organisations can trust their users will be kept safe from malicious threats.

Teams should also undertake regular penetration testing to identify potential vulnerabilities and opportunities to improve security. While many use log management and signature-based deep packet inspection, attacks can still go undetected, so when using these kinds of solutions, ensure they come with an intelligence feed covering zero-day threats—these threats exploit an unknown computer security vulnerability, i.e., there’s no known security fix because developers aren’t aware of the problem.

Incorporating automation into security processes can help organisations continuously monitor for threats and expand cyber protections, even with limited personnel and resources. Good examples are tools designed to scan web applications from the outside to look for security vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection, command injection, path traversal, and insecure server configuration. However, it’s not just the tools that are crucial, but the people too, and the communication between them. If information about a possible threat is detected, for example, it should be shared across the organisation, so everyone can take steps to minimise risk.

Upskilling and Training to Keep Everyone in the Know

The importance of cybersecurity skills and training should not be underestimated, because just as gaps can render organisations vulnerable to threats, on the flipside, good training can be an extremely effective supplement to technology-based security solutions. For instance, simple processes such as training staff to recognise emails from scammers can go a long way in avoiding a security breach, and this is an attractive option considering most public sector organisations operate on limited budgets.

For the tech specialists, security is already frequently front of mind. SolarWinds recently shared the findings of its IT Trends Report 2020: The Universal Language of IT, which revealed for 73% of public sector tech pros, at least 10% of their daily responsibilities already include IT security management. This is reflected in the way organisations prioritise their staffing needs, which are now being driven by security and compliance (55%), cloud computing (i.e., SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) (53%), and hybrid IT (37%). Only a collective 18% name emerging technologies—like artificial intelligence, edge, microservices, and containers—as the biggest influence on staffing needs.

At the same time, the top three areas of security skills organisations are prioritising for development include network security (49%), backup and recovery (35%), and security information and event management (SIEM) (29%). This makes sense when you consider organisations aren’t allocating their budget to emerging technologies—particularly as this year’s budgets are re-evaluated in the face of economic challenges. In the same study, nearly two-thirds (62%) indicated their organisation’s tech budgets allocate less than 25% of their spending to emerging technologies.

Technology professionals could, if possible, take advantage of any quiet times and prioritise their own training through upskilling, which would help to maintain good cybersecurity standards and keep digital transformation on track. In addition, it’s important the country’s public sector tech pros start to add a new organisational language to their realm of expertise—the language of business. In seeking a seat at the executive table, tech pros can put cybersecurity and digital transformation higher on the business agenda.

Outsourcing or Insourcing?

Maintaining a solid cybersecurity posture is hugely important for every organisation, but in the public sector, where budgets and resources can present barriers to progress, another option to consider is outsourcing the cybersecurity function to an expert or deploying a managed software solution.

Many organisations are now opting to outsource their cybersecurity, as the benefits gained through this often outweigh the costs. With a third-party involved, organisations have access to the latest technologies and software available to tackle the ever-increasing threats. Along with this comes the experts themselves—people who live and breathe security day in, day out. Teams of experts are typically available 24/7, allowing for a rapid response to security lapses or vulnerabilities, regardless of the time of day or night. When the entire country relies on the public sector, knowing this level of security expertise is always available is a comforting reassurance.

Alternatively, for those either lacking the budget for outsourcing or who’d feel more comfortable relying on their own teams, managed software solutions could be the safest option. These vary between vendors, but most should deliver intelligence to proactively identify threats, take automated action to mitigate damage, and analyse data to prevent future attacks from occurring. Though the best solutions on the market will be very expensive, the different packages on offer may be more affordable than outsourcing—though the onus will be on the organisation purchasing the software to manage it and act on the information it produces.

Whichever way you look at it, security should be a core competency. Being ready for worst-case scenarios is crucial in maintaining a strong defence, so it’s important to find and implement easy-to-use, affordable, and scalable security solutions to work across the varied IT environments found across the public sector.

The imminent challenge of non-Covid-19 patients within the NHS and how Lexacom will support new ways of working in healthcare

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

The Covid–19 pandemic has not only caused worldwide deaths and suffering but has also resulted in a dramatic change in healthcare working practices. In the post Covid–19 world, there will need to be a re-evaluation of how healthcare is delivered and managed. There will be more reliance on remote working together with the need for efficiency and flexibility in working practices. With the whole of the NHS focused on the pandemic, there are now hundreds of thousands of non-Covid-19 patients waiting for primary care referrals and secondary care clinic appointments, not to mention surgery waiting lists. This equates to an avalanche of referrals, letters and other documents which will need to be created quickly, efficiently and accurately.

Document creation is fundamental to the healthcare system, whether it be from the clinic or from home during telemedicine consultations, by secretaries typing out letters or using speech recognition to automate document creation. The UK-based company, Lexacom, is ideally placed to help support these changes by leading the way in digital dictation, speech recognition, remote transcription and document management.

“In the coming months, the backlog of non-Covid-19 patients is going to place a further strain on UK healthcare administration. Lexacom is proven to increase efficiency and speed up turnaround times of referrals, letters and other documents. NHS trusts require quick answers as soon as possible and Lexacom provides the security and accuracy that medical professionals need. Our solutions can also be instantly accessed and embedded into existing admin systems and can be used remotely. This will be essential for future working practice” said Dr Andrew Whiteley, Managing Director, Lexacom.

Lexacom has been delivering workflow solutions to the healthcare, legal and professional markets for the last 20 years. Their vision is to help organisations around the world increase their professional productivity and to drive operational excellence through innovative, reliable and cost-effective solutions.

Furthermore, Lexacom has recently been included in the newly released NHS SBS Digital Dictation, Speech Recognition and Outsourced Transcription Framework. This allows NHS trusts and other healthcare organisations to directly access Lexacom’s portfolio of software and hardware.

With over 60% of general practices using their software, Lexacom are in the unique position of improving the links between primary and secondary care and to support the NHS during these challenging times. “Being included on the SBS framework further strengthens the long-standing relationship we have as a trusted and approved partner within the healthcare sector and we are proud to be recognised for this” said Dr Whiteley.

During this pandemic, healthcare delivery has changed to cope with the unprecedented situation. In the post-Covid-19 world, changes that have been instituted will need to be developed to provide the best service for patients, improve workflow and efficiency and to keep both staff and patients safe. Lexacom has a proven track record of delivering this by ensuring easy access to world-leading digital dictation, AI speech recognition and remote transcription technology.

For further information, please contact 01295 236910,  sales@lexacom.co.uk or see www.lexacom.co.uk.

 


The Lexacom Portfolio

Lexacom 3 is an advanced digital dictation and document creation system designed by doctors, for doctors. With its easy to use workflow management, it helps professionals and their teams work together. It is the ideal solution for any healthcare facility looking to evolve current practices and can be configured specifically for any organisation’s requirements or within existing medical admin systems.

Lexacom also provides a wide range of additional services including the latest in professional AI speech recognition, encrypted cloud technology for mobile devices, integrated transcription services and secure cloud based data storing allowing work to be shared across many sites. All of these features will be essential for future working practice.

Echo revolutionises professional speech recognition by using the latest AI technology to produce outstanding levels of accuracy from first use. Lexacom manage and support a UK specific healthcare dictionary for their clinicians, ensuring Echo stays up to date with not only medical terms, but also professional acronyms and abbreviations. 

Cabolo is a unique solution that records and transcribes any conversation with complete security using AI speech recognition. The small, portable, stand-alone device does not require the internet to work. It is an ideal solution to record and share any conversation, business meeting, lecture or video conference. It provides subtitles in real time and delivers a multimedia PDF with synchronised text and audio which can be archived with extensive search functionality.

Mobile can be used on any handheld device and allows professionals to record, track and approve dictations wherever and whenever they like. Fully integrated with a desktop installation, Lexacom Mobile uses securely encrypted cloud technology to transmit dictations between healthcare workers and secretaries, ensuring data remains safe at all times.

Scribe is an integrated transcription service available at the touch of a button and provides all Lexacom customers with instant access to a UK based, high quality, secure transcription service. This brand-new solution is fully embedded within Lexacom 3 and will enable work to be securely transferred, with no additional steps.

Connect is a secure, cloud-based service, allowing document creation at multiple sites, thus sharing resources and increasing productivity and cost savings. The data is stored in a UK-based secure data centre and is encrypted to the highest NHS and G cloud security levels.

The Lexacom Story

Like all great companies, Lexacom was created to solve a problem. Working as a busy GP partner in the 1990’s, Dr Andrew Whiteley was constantly frustrated using antiquated, unreliable dictation recording machines and tapes for creating letters and patient referrals. The numerous problems associated with this way of working inspired Andrew to develop one of the first digital dictation programs. Designed to be easily used by everyone, even the most technophobic senior partner, his practice quickly embraced the new technology.

Word spread and enquiries started to flood in as practices heard about the solution and wanted to use it. At this point, Andrew and his founding partner, Dr Matthew Tytherleigh, decided that Lexacom should be developed into a business.

Two decades later, Lexacom has thousands of customers, tens of thousands of users and a platform of five innovative solutions used to make millions of documents every year, across three continents. Lexacom is one of the most exciting software companies in the UK and with Andrew still the Managing Director, Lexacom has been able to stay faithful to those early ideals of addressing the needs of the user.

Lexacom customers are passionate supporters of the user-friendly software and the inclusive approach to new feature development. There is constant evolvement and refinement of the solutions that are offered in response to customer feedback. Although the company’s early foundations were in healthcare, Lexacom’s approach and ease of use has meant its software is favoured by busy professionals including lawyers, accountants, local and central government, surveyors and estate agents. 

Lexacom is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, serving clients throughout the UK and Europe. With several forward-looking partners, Lexacom also distribute their software throughout the Middle East and Australia.

Zhaga standards break barriers to smart and connected lighting

The Zhaga interface standard for street lighting future-proves luminaires to keep pace with rapid developments in digital technology. It enables a multi-vendor eco-system of interoperable luminaires and sensor/communication modules and breaks existing barriers to smart and connected lighting.

The Zhaga smart interface specifications will have a major impact on the value of the lighting infrastructure for connectivity and on the investment decisions of city governments, specifiers and utility companies. It will drive innovation in in sensor/communication modules incorporating new smart applications.

Zhaga is an open and global consortium of lighting companies that creates interface standards for components of LED luminaires. Zhaga so enables multi-vendor eco-systems of interoperable products.

Zhaga has now applied its vision to connectivity and smart streetlighting. The standard in the Zhaga Book 18 was published in November 2019 and is called “Smart interface between outdoor luminaires and sensing / communication modules”. This standard defines a smart luminaire interface, including mechanical socket and communication and control aspects, so that a sensor/communication module can be externally mounted on the luminaire supported by plug-and-play. The interface is in this respect similar to the USB slot on a computer.

This short paper describes the vision leading to the standard, the standard itself, certification aspects, and ends with a brief conclusion.

Connectivity vision

The increasing digitisation in many areas of our society presents new challenges to manufacturers, specifiers, installers and users of lighting installations. The long lifetime of outdoor lighting is very difficult to match with the dynamic developments in digital technology.

This inability to combine the long-lasting nature of the lighting infrastructure and the rapid changes in digital communication and sensor technology has led to an underutilization of the lighting infrastructure for smart applications and has regrettably reduced the solution toolbox for smart city and smart buildings. This has hampered progress in this space.

To resolve the challenge and secure a central place for lighting in smart city, a connectivity solution for lighting should at least meet the following requirements. From a functional point of view, the solution should enable the lighting to connect to the IoT, enable light management through control and energy and status reporting, and support beyond lighting applications.

From a more methodological point of view, the solution should be future proof and easily upgradable to keep pace with rapid developments in digital networking technology. It should also be based on standards to avoid vendor lock in.

Zhaga solution

Zhaga has now addressed this problem by creating a new interface standard for outdoor luminaires. This standard turns the streetlighting infrastructure into a strong enabler for smart cities.

The Zhaga standard for smart streetlighting defines a smart luminaire interface which includes both a mechanical socket and communication and power aspects. It allows a sensor/communication module to be externally mounted on the luminaire and supports plug-and-play. The interface is in this respect similar to the USB slot on a computer.

Luminaires with the Zhaga interface can be equipped – in field – with sensor/communication modules to extend their initial functionality. In one case, the module includes radio communication, and enables remote light control and the transmission of diagnosis and energy data to a central management system. In another case, the module includes sensors. In yet another case, the module includes even more advanced smart city applications for e.g. city security of environmental control.

Certification

The Zhaga vision on connectivity hinges on the interoperability between luminaires and sensor/communication modules of multiple vendors.

To create trust in interoperability, Zhaga has defined a certification program to accompany its standards. The program is carried out by independent test houses and the certification status of products can be verified though a publicly accessible database and though logos which are trademarked to prevent misuse.

The logo also presents business advantages to end-users, as it encourages a wide supply of innovative solutions and multi-vendor sourcing options. For manufacturers, the certification logo offers a strong marketing tool, and shows that the product derives added value from a strong product eco-system.

Conclusion

The Zhaga interface future-proves a luminaire and ensures that it can keep pace with rapid developments in digital networking, sensing and smart-city technology. Modules incorporate the developments and are easily replaced. An installed base of luminaire with the Zhaga interface drives innovation in the module market; innovations in the module market add value to the lighting infrastructure. A certification and logo program create further trust in the interoperability of luminaires and nodes from different vendors.

The Zhaga smart interface standard for streetlighting, the Zhaga Book 18 was published in November 2019. First certified products and infrastructure installations are now available. Zhaga will shortly publish a standard for indoor lighting, based on an approach comparable to the one used for outdoor.

For further information please visit: www.zhagastandard.org

Everbridge Launches Fully Integrated Critical Event Management (CEM) Solution in Europe That Helps Organizations Mitigate Crises and Manage the Safe Return to Work After COVID-19 Lockdowns

 

Global CEM Leader that Provides Software to Top Multinational Brands like Goldman Sachs, Tiffany & Co. and Nokia, Expands its Award-Winning Platform to Europe

CEM Platform Helps Employers and Governments Conduct Coronavirus Contact Tracing and Critical Communications for a Safer Return to Offices and Other Public Spaces

Registrations Now Open for Virtual Executive Panel Discussion and Product Demo on June 17th

 

Everbridge, the global leader in critical event management (CEM), today announced the expansion of its award-winning software platform in Europe, just as businesses, healthcare facilities and governments focus on the safer return of people to offices and other public places following COVID-19 lockdowns, and navigate multiple crises at the same time—spanning the coronavirus pandemic, active shooter situations, terrorist attacks, severe weather, supply chain disruptions, IT outages, cyber-attacks and other incidents.

Over 5,000 global firms rely on Everbridge to keep their people safe and organizations running in anticipation of or amid critical events, whether natural, digital, or manmade. The Everbridge CEM solution provides an integrated, end-to-end approach for managing all phases of a critical event, accelerating the time to identify and resolve threats, and providing a unified, organizational view to facilitate more coordinated action. CEM helps organizations, such as Goldman Sachs, Tiffany & Co., and Nokia identify and assess the severity of events; determine their relevance to an organization’s people, assets, suppliers, and supply chains; automate taking action to mitigate threats and track progress; and analyze performance to improve future response. The Everbridge CEM solution leverages 225 out-of-the-box, pre-existing integrations, more than 100 communication modalities, and 22,000 risk data sources to provide a unified enterprise-wide, end-to-end platform that digitally transforms the critical event management process. For customers currently using Everbridge software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in Europe, the common architecture allows for seamless and rapid upgrades from the existing point solution to the full CEM suite.

Everbridge CEM also includes COVID-19 Shield™: Return to Work and Contact Tracing, which help organizations manage the complex process of returning to the workplace and other public spaces during the pandemic. This turnkey solution incorporates a specialized coronavirus-specific data feed to alert on new outbreaks, changes to local policies, and transportation / production disruptions that could hinder supply chains. It also offers quick-start templates and integrated modules to Know Your Risks, Protect Your People, and Protect Your Operations and Supply Chain. Organizations can get up and running in 48 hours or less. To date, customers have used the Everbridge platform to deliver over 400 million COVID-19-related communications.

“There has never been a more important time for organizations to manage risk, communicate with their employees and get people back to work safely,” said Javier Colado, Head of International, Everbridge. “Adopted at enterprise scale by a growing number of organizations in the U.S. and now available in Europe, Everbridge’s critical event management solution provides a comprehensive approach for leaders planning how to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and manage the many threats that continue to occur at the same time. This CEM launch will both benefit organizations headquartered in Europe and multinationals who operate there.”

Everbridge’s CEM expansion offers several new enhancements tailored to Europe: enriched risk data leveraging the world’s largest vetted database of threat incidents, severe weather tracking and updates, transit disruption updates, and an expanded database of key points of interest including nearby hospitals and embassies. These new data sources benefit multinationals using CEM worldwide, as well as Europe-based organizations.

“At Accenture, the safety and well-being of our people is always our top priority. So it’s important that we have the ability to reach our people quickly wherever and whenever they face a potential threat to their security,” said Arlin Pedrick, Chief Security Officer, Accenture. “Our Emergency Management System has proven to be invaluable in supporting our people before, during, and after a significant event.”

In addition to more than 1,000 customers in Europe, Everbridge also provides Public Warning systems on a countrywide level and is the only company with five European countries deployed, including Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Iceland.

The Everbridge CEM solution is available today and complies with major data regulations, including GDPR, ISO 27001 and C5 in Germany.

Siemens and Finastra to Speak at Launch Event on June 17

Everbridge will demonstrate its newly expanded CEM solution on June 17, 2020, during a special virtual executive summit. Finastra CEO Simon Paris will deliver a keynote speech on how his global firm, the third-largest Fintech company in the world, uses the technology to keep staff safe. Finastra uses Everbridge to significantly reduce the time it takes to respond to IT incidents on its applications and to respond to external crises.

Other speakers at the summit include:

  • Arlin Pedrick, Chief Security Officer of Accenture, who has responsibility for protecting hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide
  • Marco Mille, Chief Security Officer of Siemens, #62 on the Fortune Global 2000 and a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission, as well as for medical diagnoses
  • Andy Cox, Partner, Crisis & Security Consulting, Control Risks, a global risk consultancy firm with 36 offices that has established a CEM practice
  • John T. McRae II, Group Vice President & General Manager, Syniverse, the world’s most connected company™

Limited registrations for the special event are currently open. Please register for the event here. 

Everbridge also recently hosted its “Coronavirus: the Road to Recovery” virtual leadership summit, which brought together the best minds across public and private sectors, including C-level speakers from the The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Cleveland Clinic, U.S. Army, Accenture, Biogen, The NBA’s Boston Celtics, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and more. On-demand content from the event may be found here.

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