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September 2021
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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.

Sustainable Lighting and the Circular Economy

The circular economy presents big opportunities for sustainable lighting. Zhaga, the global lighting industry organisation, discusses the needed standards to best position the lighting industry for these opportunities.

Reinhard Lecheler

One of the key challenges of the 21st century is the building of a sustainable society: one that can meet its own needs in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet theirs. A key component to building such a society is implementing a circular economy.

A circular economy is an economic system that aims to limit the consumption of resources and materials and avoid landfilling waste. This can be supported by promoting serviceable products that use a modular design and that can be easily repaired, adapted, and upgraded.

In Zhaga, we use the term ‘circularity lighting’ for products and systems that support the aims of the circular economy through enhanced serviceability. Sustainable lighting is a more general term and includes the properties of circularity lighting next to supporting energy efficiency.

“Sustainable lighting systems are best built on an ecosystem of modular lighting products and services, including durable luminaires, LED modules, LED control gears, intelligent sensors, and communication modules,” says Reinhard Lecheler, Chair of the Zhaga Steering Committee, and author of a forthcoming white paper on circularity lighting.

With the circular economy and sustainability being key components to such important initiatives as the European Green Deal and its Circular Economy Action Plan, Zhaga is hosting an online summit on sustainable lighting, particularly as it relates to smart cities and buildings, on 29 September.

The Essential Role of Standardisation in Promoting a Circular Economy

Since its founding in 2010, Zhaga has been developing and standardising interface specifications for LED modules and control gear for lighting product manufacturers, lighting specifiers, and operators.

“The road to resource-efficient, circular business models starts with standardisation,” explains Dee Denteneer, Secretary General of the Zhaga Consortium. “By ensuring that these luminaires and components can be easily repaired, upgraded, replaced, or serviced, we’re futureproofing lighting and promoting a circular economy.”

ee Denteneer – Zhaga Consortium

Zhaga’s specifications are called Books, with each Book defining the interface of one or more components of an LED luminaire. All sensor/communication modules and luminaires designed and certified in accordance with a Zhaga Book are guaranteed to work together as intended, even if they come from different manufacturers. Taken together, the interface specifications established by the Zhaga Books enable an interoperable ecosystem of luminaires and components (e.g., communication and sensor modules, LED modules, control gear, etc.).

To illustrate what this looks like in practice, take the luminaires we use to light our offices, schools, industries, and streets, which are typically designed to ensure a long lifetime – up to 70,000 or even 100,000 hours. However, this longevity often means that the luminaire outlasts the connectivity solutions, which are subject to rapid technological change.

According to Lecheler, the communication protocols, sensor technologies, and functions can change during a luminaire’s lifetime, with completely new solutions emerging. Thus, it makes sense to decouple, or separate, the connectivity-related parts of a long-life luminaire from the rest of the luminaire. The way to do this is via a well-defined interface, such as those specified in Zhaga Books 18 for outdoor luminaires and 20 for indoor luminaires, and by enabling supplementation, upgrading, or replacement at any time after the luminaire is installed. Thus, the luminaire lifetime can be considerably extended.

The best-known use case for replaceable components is of course with old luminaires that fail. But it’s not just old luminaires that fail. Sometimes even a high-quality, durable luminaire might stop working early. For example, spontaneous defects or environmental influences (such as high surge voltages on the mains supply) can lead to a failure of the luminaire and/or its components. Such a failure is particularly problematic when, after years of operation, replacement luminaires and spare parts are no longer available, meaning the entire group of luminaires must be replaced.

According to Lecheler, to prevent such situations, one can turn to Zhaga Book 21 and Book 26, which describe standardised interfaces of linear LED modules that can be professionally replaced on-site. If the luminaire and LED modules carry the Zhaga logo, one knows that its components are interoperable and work together as intended.

Book 18

Enabling Product Updates

Books 21 and 26 also address product updates. According to Lecheler, an LED luminaire’s energy consumption is primarily determined by the (LED) light source being used. While the efficiency of an LED module continuously decreases during its operating time, the technological development – and the efficiency of new LEDs – is constantly progressing. At a certain point, the efficiency gap between the old, installed LED module and a newer, more efficient one becomes so great that it simply makes sense – from both an energy and economic standpoint – to replace the module.

However, these replaced LEDs don’t necessarily have to end up in the landfill. Thanks in part to Zhaga’s standards, the old module can be taken out of the luminaire undamaged. It may therefore be reused for applications requiring short daily usage. Alternatively, its materials could be more efficiently recycled in a process specifically tailored to electronics.

“The ecosystem created by Zhaga Books 21 and 26 allows for the selection of modules with different application characteristics (colour temperature, CRI, etc.), which are clearly specified by the manufacturer,” says Lecheler. “The connectors defined in the books ensure that the upgrades can be carried out in the field.”

Book 20

Ensuring Interoperable Control Gear

In addition to luminaires, Zhaga also deals with the interoperability of LED control gear. A prominent example is the analogue LEDset interface, with which the output current of a control gear can be set in a simple and standardized way and thus individually adapted to the requirements of a lighting application. The somewhat more modern form of current setting via uniform NFC programmers was also specified by Zhaga, is widely used in the industry, and allows for an update of the settings of the LED control gear in the field

The next frontier in control gear interoperability involves electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). To ensure that control gear can also be replaced easily and in compliance with legal requirements from this point of view, Zhaga develops requirements and guidelines in coordination with the relevant EMC Standardization Development Organizations.

Lighting the Future

By creating standards that promote modularity and the interoperability of lighting systems, Zhaga is helping to ensure that luminaries are repairable, upgradable, replaceable, and serviceable. “As a result, we’re lighting the future and making the circular economy go round,” concludes Denteneer.

To learn more about Zhaga standards and their application to the circular economy, be sure to tune in on 29 September for Zhaga’s summit on Sustainable Lighting for Smart Cities and Buildings. This online summit will expand on the standards and topics covered in this article, with a specific focus on how they apply to the smart city and building sectors. Representatives from national authorities, cities, industry associations, and lighting design and manufacturers will share their thoughts on the latest regulations and what they mean for the lighting industry. The summit will also present pioneering use cases that illustrate Zhaga standards in action. Register here: www.zhagastandard.org/zhaga-summit.html.

Why everyone will benefit from a digital NHS

Channel 3 Consulting helps health and care organisations harness the power of technology to deliver better patient care, improve services and operate more efficiently. Earlier this year, the company received investment to extend its geographic footprint and recently appointed industry heavyweight Paul Henderson to spearhead growth across the North of England.  Here he explains his passion for digital health and care and how the pandemic has highlighted the need for the UK’s healthcare sector to embrace technology-enabled transformation.

Ask 10 people what digital health means to them and you’d probably get 10 different answers.  Some would say it’s about having shared care records or electronic patient records; others might suggest it’s about ‘going paperless’ or enabling GPs to hold video consultations.

While all of these interpretations are correct, they only scratch the surface.

To me, the digital transformation of the health and care sector is akin to the way on-line retailing has changed shopping forever. By rethinking conventional ways of doing business and embracing technology, retailers are now able to provide a highly personalised service.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the retail migration into the digital space, it continues to revolutionise the way we buy.  As well as enabling 24-hour access, online retailers make purchasing easy, offering suggestions, comparisons, different ways to pay, collect or receive. Many continue to maintain physical stores for people who prefer in-person retail therapy.

In short, savvy retailers offer consumers every conceivable option to suit them and their lifestyles.

And this is what ‘digital health’ or ‘health tech’ does.  It enables people to be treated like customers, offering them choice and variety in the way they are treated or cared for, putting their preferences first and foremost.

In practical terms, this means people can be offered personalised care plans that incorporate advice about exercise, nutrition, mental wellbeing, and a whole host of other factors that support health. It’s about taking a holistic approach that allows patients to benefit from treatment for pre-existing conditions and preventative advice and support, too.

Digital health is a front door leading to a complex of interconnected pathways involving multiple service providers who collectively contribute to an individual’s wellbeing over their lifetime.

Ultimately, it’s about shifting the focus of healthcare from centralised institutions to peoples’ own homes and providing an efficient way for them to get help when they need it.

The launch of NHSX in 2019 – a collaboration between the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement – shows that the government recognises the need for the NHS to embrace digitalisation, transform outdated systems and improve how systems talk to each other.  This has been brought into even sharper focus since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the prime objective of implementing advanced data and digital technologies is to improve the overall health of our nation, not just treat the sick, it also leads to dramatic improvements in management efficiency and working practices, too.  It is a win-win for everyone, whether they are patient, clinician or administrator.

Delivering personalised healthcare need not be expensive. Invariably, initial investment is offset by the removal of waste from business processes. Improved efficiency also enables health professionals to direct resources where they’re most needed, whilst providing the tools to have more productive relationships with patients and each other.

A word of warning: too many organisations have been swayed by persuasive marketing and invested in shiny new technology only to discover it isn’t the panacea they had hoped for. To achieve effective digitally enabled transformation, clinicians and other staff must be consulted from the off. They are at the sharp end, day in day out. They will know, practically, what will make their lives easier and what pinch points need addressing post installation.

Patient demand and the associated pressure on the NHS workforce are at an all-time high. The NHS needs technology more than ever but new technologies are evolving at an unprecedented pace so it can be difficult knowing how or where to start. 

For these reasons, we collaborate closely with our client organisations.  As well as listening, we provide valuable insights and advice, gleaned from dozens of projects we’ve delivered to NHS organisations over the years.

Our website features many case studies that illustrate how we’ve helped transform systems and processes for the benefit of all stakeholders.  In fact, millions of patients have gained access to lifesaving information and enhanced pathways to better health as a direct result of our work.

Retailers that have focussed mainly on bricks and mortar stores have been dwarfed by those that have embraced digital opportunities.  Tesco, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have all maintained their status as the biggest and most successful retail businesses in the UK by embracing technology and disrupting time honoured habits and practices. As one of the world’s largest institutions, the NHS has much to gain by following a similar tech-enabled path that tailors its service to the individual needs and preferences of its customers.

Paul Henderson has over 30 years’ experience designing and implementing healthcare technology programmes. Before joining Channel 3 Consulting, he held senior roles at EMIS and KPMG, where he led analytics-enabled transformation programmes in care system redesign, place-based planning, new models of care, financial improvement, regulation and audit.

For more information visit: www.linkedin.com/company/272047

To follow on Twitter: @channel3group

National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) moves Covid-19 testing onto WinPath Enterprise

Ireland’s leading medical virology laboratory works with Medical Supply Company (MSC), CliniSys, and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to deploy the modern laboratory information system at Backweston Laboratory Campus

The move will future-proof capacity at the dedicated SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing facility and is already improving turnaround times

Ireland’s National Virus Reference Laboratory has moved its SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing hub onto the latest version of CliniSys’ laboratory information system.

The move to WinPath Enterprise will future-proof capacity and thereby reduce turnaround times at the NVRL’s Satellite Laboratory Backweston (NSLB) in County Kildare.

NVRL director Dr Cillian De Gascun said: “At the start of the pandemic, we were doing about 30 PCR tests a day, and that soon increased to 1,500 a day within the NVRL, and then almost 20,000 as community testing in multiple laboratories came onstream. All of that work came on top of our normal workload, which declined – due to reduced demand from non-Covid hospital work – but never stopped completely.

“It would be hard to overstate how important the relationship with MSC, CliniSys, and the HSE was when it came to our being able to handle that volume of work. In addition, it’s important to recognise the vital role the NVRL laboratory information management system (LIMS) plays in feeding data – including test results from its associated laboratories at Enfer and Backweston – to the HSE, public health teams, and the national testing programme.

“It was clear that we would not be able to maintain the quality of our service without putting Backweston onto WinPath Enterprise. So, it is great to see them go-live.”

The NVRL was established at University College Dublin in 1963 at the behest of the Department of Health and is a public-sector, not-for-profit, medical virology laboratory funded by the diagnostic testing that it performs on behalf of the HSE. It is the largest such laboratory in Ireland and has played an important part in Ireland’s national pandemic response.

Results from the NVRL’s SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing are fed back both to the HSE, which uses them to keep the public updated on the spread of the disease, and to the public health experts running Ireland’s test and trace programme.

In order to expand PCR testing capacity within the public sector, with the support of the HSE and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM), the NVRL established a satellite laboratory at the DAFM at Backweston Laboratory Campus in County Kildare.

As a result, since March, NSLB has done all of the NVRL’s Covid-19 testing, so its main laboratory in Dublin can focus on non-Covid testing.

Brian O’Grady, NVRL systems manager, said: “As the volume of PCR testing increased, MSC and CliniSys did a lot of work on our existing LIMS to help it to cope with the pressure. They kept it up and running but it was obvious that we needed a new system.

“As soon as WinPath Enterprise was in place, we noticed that people were being notified of results quicker. In some cases, it’s only an hour, but that’s still a benefit for the people who need them.”

The NVRL has been using the WinPath LIMS for 30 years. The contract for WinPath Enterprise was signed in January 2021, with NSLB going live in the middle of July 2021.

Deirdre Burke, NVRL manager, said: “The biggest challenge was to move over from one system to another without a break in service, because we had to be able to keep feeding data into the testing system. We were running tests on one system over night and then we switched to the new system the next day.

“It all had to be done remotely, but we had a Microsoft Teams channel open all day for support, and that worked very well. Now, we want to start planning the next steps. The NVRL main lab will definitely move over to Enterprise in the coming months.”

WinPath Enterprise is designed to support laboratory networks. It offers superior integration capabilities, a better security architecture, and more up-to-date workflows than its predecessor.

As it happens, WinPath was not affected by the ransomware attack that impacted many Irish healthcare systems this summer. However, the extra security features of WinPath Enterprise were an additional factor in NVRL’s decision to move onto the new system.

Michael Lawlor, Clinical IT support manager at Medical Supply Company, said: “The new system supports networked laboratories and confirms the NVRL as Ireland’s hub for all virology testing, integration, and exchange of clinical patient data.

“With the support of the HSE, the NVRL decided to make the move to WinPath Enterprise and the timescale in which they have done that has been amazing. They really put their heart and soul into the move supported by MSC and CliniSys’ deployment team.

“Even though they were incredibly busy, we’re delighted to see that they are already reaping the benefits. Moving to WinPath Enterprise has future-proofed the testing system and improved security. It is a move that is helping in a lot of ways.”

Tim Crook joins the editorial board of Government and Public Sector Journal

Professor Tim Crook has today joined the editorial board of the Government and Public Sector Journal.

Tim has been a journalist, broadcaster, academic, and author for over four decades and during that time has campaigned for freedom of expression and journalism rights in the British legal system. He’s combined his career with teaching/training journalism and broadcasting in Higher Education and is currently Emeritus Professor in Media Communications & Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Tim is also the President of The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) and PPB Chairman.

GPSJ editor, Stuart Littleford, said: “This is brilliant news that Tim has today joined the journal’s editorial board.

“Tim brings with him an enormous amount of experience and is in the very top tier of professional journalism and media in the UK.

“His publications are regarded as the gold standard within the industry and I look forward to us working together on many topical issues in the journal.”

Annual SolarWinds Study Reveals Opportunities for Business and IT Collaboration in Managing Enterprise Risk Driven by Internal and External Security Threats

SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2021: Building a Secure Future examines how technology professionals perceive the evolving state of risk in today’s business environment following internal impact of COVID-19 IT policies and exposure to external breaches

SolarWinds introduces Secure by Design program as a guide for industry-wide approach to help prevent

Continue reading Annual SolarWinds Study Reveals Opportunities for Business and IT Collaboration in Managing Enterprise Risk Driven by Internal and External Security Threats

Tom Magner joins Government & Public Sector Journal’s editorial board

Tom Magner

Government & Public Sector Journal is pleased to announce that Tom Magner has today joined the editorial board of the journal.

Currently, Tom works as News & Political Editor on Carers World Live (public service health and social care broadcast journalism), he is a writer, director and presenter on Carers World Investigates.

Continue reading Tom Magner joins Government & Public Sector Journal’s editorial board

How to Deliver on the Potential of Public Sector Cloud Migration

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek™ at SolarWinds

IT teams across the public sector are under pressure to migrate technology infrastructure, services, and data to the cloud. Whether the objective is to deliver cost savings, performance improvements, better reliability, or a combination of benefits, the trend is well established. Increasingly, the emphasis is shifting away from

Continue reading How to Deliver on the Potential of Public Sector Cloud Migration

Pandemic: How Teachers Can Help Pupils to Catch Up

UK Schools were closed to all but key worker children on 5 January 2021 in response to COVID-19 – and re-opened on 8 March 2021. As schools re-open, and teachers adjust to their post-covid teaching jobs, Reuters reveals that the British government has pledged a £700m support package to help primary and secondary schoolchildren to

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