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COMMENT NEWS UPDATE Digital Britain Government databases ‘illegal’ 009 has not started well for 2 One in four governmentand should has databases But data kept for council tax returns, the technology in the public sector: been branded ‘illegal’ be police’s National Fingerprint Database and government databases have been scrapped. the BBC’s TV Licensing system were all branded ‘illegal’; ContactPoint is on judged ‘green’ and said to have minimal A review of 46 major state databases hold; the role of ICS in child protection privacy concerns. found only six which were acceptable in failures is being questioned; data loss terms of their impact on individuals’ “There must be urgent and radical change scares continue - to the extent that privacy, says the Joseph Rowntree Reform in the public sector database culture so good data security becomes Trust. A quarter of government databases that the state remains our servant, not our newsworthy; and high profile criticism in Britain should be scrapped or master,” said report co-author, Ross of public sector management of IT redesigned because they are Anderson, professor of security contracts makes the national news. fundamentally flawed and probably illegal, engineering at Cambridge University. All of which, of course, builds on that a report from the think-tank stated. “Too often, computerisation has been particularly memorable low point at the Databases recommended for the used as a substitute for public service end of last year when the DfT’s attempts scrapheap include ContactPoint - a reform rather than a means of enabling at shared services were adjudged planned index of all children in England, reform. Little thought is given to safety, ‘stupendously incompetent’ by the the National Identity Register, the privacy and value for money.” Public Accounts Committee. electronic Common Assessment ‘Database State’ was written for Joseph But on to the good news. Councils are Framework and the Audit Commission’s Rowntree Reform Trust by the Foundation delivering real efficiencies through National Fraud Initiative. for Information Policy Research. judicious use of technology - Significant problems were identified in a www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/database-state.pdf Hammersmith & Fulham claims it was further 29 databases, which were able to cut council tax bills by three percent this way; mobile and flexible working is becoming the norm; GIS is recommended for independent review, while only six won the green light as being necessary and legal. ContactPoint halted: As LGITUwork totoroll went press, DCSF confirmed that out the child database had halted due to being used as the de facto way to ‘serious flaws’ in the system for shielding analyse data; web self-service is The databases were graded under a details of up to 55,000 vulnerable children. becoming a reality for citizens across traffic light rating assessing whether they Approximately one third of local the country; green is becoming lean; were illegal under human rights or data authorities have allegedly refused to sign and councils are running ahead with protection law, or collected and shared off the first phase of ContactPoint roll out social e-inclusion in advance of sensitive data without consent or a proper over concerns about child protection. government projects for a Digital legal basis. Britain. It is also worth noting that most of the New powers to rate public service highly public failures are associated with central government. Indeed, as can be seen above, local Primeaminister,information revolution as promised an Gordon Brown, has part of wide-ranging public services slow to make use of the enormous democratising power of information: “People take it for granted that they will government, has some impressive - if reform. access other people’s reviews and ratings as yet unrecognised by the broadsheets before buying something on eBay or - successes. Websites will allow people to compare councils and police forces, and patients Amazon, and yet we do not yet have As the recession takes hold across the will be able to post comments on their systematic access to other people’s country, frontline services will not be local GP services via the NHS Choices experiences when choosing a GP practice immune. The LGA reports that seven in site. Child care services are expected to or nursery.” ten councils expect to make job cuts. be open to similar scrutiny. A website comparing local council Demand on services will inevitably services is due to go live in May. The Mr Brown said that he is “ushering in a grow; and there is little hope of budgets government is also bringing together a new world of accountability” in which growing to match. national crime map for England and Wales parents, patients and local communities Local government has built solid shape the services they receive, to be available online by the end of 2009. technology foundations - possibly faster “ensuring all public services respond not Meanwhile, teachers will have to provide than ingrained culture and attitudes can simply to the hand of government, but to parents with regularly updated online the voice of local people”. report cards for all secondary school follow. children by 2010 and all primary school However, change is afoot. Shared In a foreword to the document, ‘Working children by 2012. services are beginning to gain real Together’, the prime minister promised an www.number10.gov.uk ground as a means to delivering information revolution, acknowledging www.hmg.gov.uk/workingtogether.aspx efficiency. And the reality of secure that the government had been much too connection between local and central government that GCSx brings could open up new vistas of opportunity. Doing more with less is nothing new for LGITU Coming Soon: May/June 2009 • Digital Inclusion in Action the public sector. The opportunity now, To discuss advertising and other • Information Assurance and Risk however, is to deliver a dramatic step- promotional opportunities - company Management change - by doing exponentially more profiles, product spots and case study advertorials - within LGITU contact: • Sustainable Communities with what we already have. • Technology bridging Health & Social Care Helen Olsen, Editor Ann Campbell-Smith Helen@infopub.co.uk Ann@infopub.co.uk Tel: 01983 812623 • Is NI14 Serving You? Local Government IT In Use March/April 2009 2 NEWS UPDATE Council outsourcing drives £8.5bn spend Data sharing clause dropped sector is attractive The publicthesoftwarethe -mostservices market for and IT PAC has identified more than £8.5bn worth of new outsourcing contracts that are set vendors in UK in 2009 with local government outsourcing programs a key to be awarded by UK local government organisations over the next two years. government has Thesharing across thedroppedsector - controversial Clause 152 – enabling data public driver for growth. The largest single opportunity will come in from the Coroners and Justice Bill the Faced with a recessionary one percent Essex, where the council has short-listed week before a vote on it in parliament. negative growth in software and IT two consortia, led respectively by IBM and services (SITS) across the UK as a whole, T-Systems, to outsource ‘any or all’ public In what appears to be an extraordinary major IT and back-office outsourcing services as part of a deal potentially worth victory for privacy and liberty campaigners programs in the local government sector up to £5.4bn. – including doctors and the Bar Council - are expected to drive a 3.7 percent parliamentary under-secretary of state for The Essex deal will follow other recent justice, Bridget Prentice, said that the increase in public sector SITS spending in large council outsourcing engagements, 2009. government had “decided to remove including South Tyneside (£300m deal with clause 152” so that there could be “further Figures published by Pierre Audoin BT Global Services), Glasgow (£256m deal consultation”. Consultants (PAC) and TechMarketView with Serco) and Birmingham, which is find that public sector SITS will be the aiming to save £1bn over ten years through Added Prentice, “I hope that we shall be fastest-growing vertical market. One of the a deal with Capita. able to look at how we can draft a more key growth engines will be investment in “With other government IT programs such appropriate clause, not necessarily under new outsourcing and shared services as FLIS, MIDAS and Ocean also in the the Bill, but at some further stage, so that programs by local government as they pipe-line, PAC expects many SITS we can put in place a proper data-sharing respond to central government mandates suppliers to offset pressure in the provision.” to deliver improved levels of public service commercial segment with an increased despite a reduction in tax income resulting focus on public sector opportunities,” said from the recession. PAC’s Dominic Trott. too A majority of UK IT contractorsfindscostly:research fromare organisations feel that IT contractors too expensive, new Morse and Vanson Bourne - 52.5 percent C PA success: The number of top- performing English councils has almost tripled since Comprehensive Performance N ew CAA: Inspection and reporting on the performance of English public services has changed. From 1 April six of IT departments feel that the amount spent on contractors is not justified by the Assessment - the Audit Commission’s inspectorates - Audit Commission, Ofsted, skills and experience on offer. annual measure of English councils’ Care Quality Commission and HM performance - was introduced in 2002. Inspectorates of Probation, Prisons and CPA ends this year with 62 councils achieving four star status, having started Constabulary – will be working together to make joint assessments about services - down costs: Just Technology drives housing specialists over half (51%) of say that ICT can help local authorities to in 2002 with just 22. This year’s total is a including children’s services, health, drive down costs further in 2009. Over half record over the life of CPA, which has also social care, waste and recycling, fire and (53%) believed introducing standardised seen 30 councils make substantial police. Results of these Comprehensive systems and processes organisation-wide improvements and leap two or more star Area Assessments will be published was important for efficiency gains; 40 categories. online. www.audit-commission.gov.uk percent felt shared services was the key. Next generation corridor cuts: councils in England Jobseven inHalf ofanticipate furthermonths have axed jobs in the last few and ten is to pilot ‘next generation’ broadband in a bid to drive economic Manchesterupsocial and healthcare sectors in the city.digital communicationsgrowth and open a whole new range of opportunities for across business, redundancies. A survey of 129 council leaders by the LGA reveals the tough decisions that town halls are having to Funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, work is due to start in the make as the recession bites and they are summer on this £500,000 first step in creating a new digital infrastructure for the city. forced to balance budgets and keep The project will directly connect 500 businesses and 1000 homes in the Oxford Road council tax down. A regional breakdown of area with fibre optic lines which will increase broadband speeds by up to 100 times job losses that have already been made current service. shows that councils in the south are the Sir Richard Leese, council leader, said, “Even at this time of economic downturn most likely to have made cuts. Manchester has ambitious plans for its knowledge economy. We are committed to delivering Digital Britain and next generation broadband, and this new advanced infrastructure will help create exciting innovative new applications for the internet which will benefit our residents and businesses.” Sharedinhighways: Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole highway authorities have invested a shared service to improve Corridor Manchester brings together road maintenance across the area and Manchester City Council, the meet requirements of the TMA. Using Exor University of Manchester, Manchester software the three councils, led by Dorset, Metropolitan University and the are able to coordinate services throughout Central Manchester University the region far more efficiently and Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to effectively. As Paul Moon, highway build on the partners’ investments in systems manager at Dorset County the 243 H Oxford Road area of Council, explains, “The shared service Manchester and to generate further model offered clear opportunities not only economic growth and investment. for economies of scale but opened up the www.corridormanchester.com door for the delivery of consistent and Picture: Ove Arup and Partners enhanced services across the region.” 3 March/April 2009 Local Government IT In Use NEWS UPDATE Citizens doing it for Pupils put digital themselves technology to the test lmost half of the UK population has A used the internet in the last year to access public services or completed a Birmingham Pupils from fourand evaluatingschools will be reviewing technology developments and the latest form or process online, according to new applications at school and at home in a Ofcom research. But it appears to be the new programme by Digital Birmingham. half that does not live in deprived areas. “The best people to contribute to the Forty-two percent of people interviewed development of new technologies are said that they had looked for information those who are actually going to be using online about a government or local council them,” commented Birmingham’s deputy service, or used services such as paying leader, Cllr Paul Tilsley (pictured with children at the scheme’s launch). their road tax or registering for Child Tax “The Digital Schools project will provide us and our partner companies with valuable Credits online. feedback and advice on implementing new technologies, and will help us equip our Among people who have the internet at schoolchildren with the latest learning opportunities.” home, this rises to 55 percent who have Pupils will feed back their impressions and opinions to Digital Birmingham and its used these services online. However, only partners, including Microsoft, BT and the BBC. 15 percent of people from areas of multiple deprivation have used similar information Invest in self service websites or services online. Beacons: UK onlineshare theirUK online centres has named ten Community Media The majority of people (70% of the online sample; 60% of the general population) say Councilstoshould adopt a new strategic approach to self-service websites in response the economic crisis. Beacons to tips and experiences with the rest of the UK online centres network, inspire more projects, that the internet has made it easier to engage in citizen participation activities, Better connected 2009, Socitm’s eleventh and eventually get different online such as contacting an MP or signing a annual survey of local authority websites, communities working together. The aim is petition. But in areas of multiple states that the current crisis should be a to establish replicable models and deprivation less than half of people call to action for those not yet committed demonstrate the wider value of this work, interviewed agreed (42%) and to self-service - a low-cost means to meet and together develop a national strategy for 20 percent disagreed. growing demand for council information the UK online centres network to lead the and services when resources are scarce. way on community and social media. However, 31 percent were unaware of online citizen participation opportunities – The report presents evidence that the web and this lack of awareness increases to is already the most used channel for BT First Contact 72 percent among those in areas of accessing council services, and yet multiple deprivation. between 12 percent and 31 percent of web enquiries end in failure, leading to costly A recurring theme throughout the avoidable contacts being generated for How much are you losing research was a desire to keep traditional other, more expensive-to-serve channels. in translation? face-to-face methods of contact. Indeed, 63 percent of people living in areas of Report author, Martin Greenwood, said, “Given the current economic crisis, the BT First Contact can help you to: multiple deprivation expressed this view. time has surely come for major investment • Deal with non-English speakers in Next generation e-government in self-service.” He urged councils to a far more efficient and cost “become obsessive about making online effective manner fcom has cleared the way for O companies and organisations to invest in super-fast broadband services for UK journeys”, especially the ‘top tasks’, and to have a “ruthless approach to content” that focused on what customers actually want. • Reduce your reliance on expensive interpretation services homes and businesses. If the online service failed, he added, “an • Enhance citizen engagement and Next generation broadband can deliver avoidable contact will have been created”. interaction speeds of up to ten times the level of Web guru, Gerry McGovern, advised • Deliver equality and consistency today’s broadband services - enabling councils to focus on making the most simultaneous services such as two-way popular tasks work properly and give across public sector services video calls, improved data retrieval and citizens back time: “If you save time for Want to know more? more opportunities for home working. citizens you will save money for your council.” www.socitm.gov.uk To find out more about how BT First The replacement of the copper access Contact can help your people to networks with fibre is essential, says See feature on Digital Britain, page 15. communicate with non-English Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards: speakers and save valuable time and “Super-fast broadband represents one of the most important developments in The Central Government web review: guidance on Office of Information has launched a consultative review of draft money - as well as how it has the potential to serve emerging local modern communications for many authority partnerships in a decades. measuring the quality and value of government websites. Produced in consistent, high quality manner - “Our message is clear: there are no coordination with the Cabinet Office, the please email email@example.com. regulatory barriers in the way of guidance will create a common framework investment in super-fast broadband; we for government departments to measure want to promote investment but also the cost effectiveness and performance of ensure that there is fair and effective their websites. competition for the future.” www.coi.gov.uk/improvingwebsites www.ofcom.org.uk Local Government IT In Use March/April 2009 4 NEWS UPDATE ‘GCSx only’ for housing Devon E-Investigations:(SIU) hasCounty Council’s Newcastle City Council goes live this Trading Standards Service special month with an enhanced civil benefit data Investigation Unit adopted GC enforcement programme in a move that Mail via the Government Connect Secure represents one of the most A s LGITU goes to press DWP prepared to switch to Government Connect Secure eXtranet (GCSx) only for housing eXtranet as its preferred communication option over post, fax and non-secure comprehensive applications of the new Traffic Management Act regulations benefit data communications between email. It is now exploring the new since their introduction last April. itself and local authorities. opportunities secure email brings Software from Imperial Civil Enforcement investigators: sharing council tax, housing Solutions will help manage an expected Only authorities that have achieved Code benefit and electoral roll data with Devon 90,000 Penalty Charge Notices a year. of Connection (CoCo) compliance, or councils; requests to police regarding Close collaboration between the agreed an exemption with DWP, will be previous convictions; registering court council’s parking services and able now to access the Customer cases for recording purposes; VAT environmental services teams has also Information System (CIS) database and returns/references with HMRC; NHS deliver housing benefits to citizens. enabled the related campaigns; beating scams, authority to Confirmed DWP’s head of housing benefit counterfeiters and rogue traders through harness strategy division, Paul Howarth: the exchange of sensitive information with powers within “Authorities not compliant with the Code cross-border councils. the 1990 of Connection (CoCo) by the 31st March Environmental will be unable to access DWP data, including CIS, on 1st April unless they are exempt.” Research Data confidence plummets:security in the from DQM Group finds public confidence in personal data Protection Act to issue Fixed Penalty Three weeks before the changeover (11 public sector at an all time low. Trust in the Notices for March) 102 councils were either live with ability of a wide range of organisations to certain GCSx or cleared as compliant and protect the security and confidentiality of offences such imminently due to go live. The vast personal data and details has slumped in as fly-tipping, majority (304) were working with DWP at the last year. Even the most trusted littering, and the CoCo assessment stage - a necessary institutions – GPs and police forces – have dog fouling. pre-requisite to connecting to the pan- experienced a decline. By far the worst government secure system – with a performers, however, were local significant number having agreed exemptions up until September 09 - authorities (46% down to 23%) and central government departments (45% to 19%). support: Four out of people Public surveillance powersfivetheir local are favourable towards the use of directed in predominantly on the basis that they are area, according to new research which involved in reorganisation as of 1 April. afe ID: A pressure group has brought criticises a recent report from the House of Four councils had yet to formally submit a CoCo, the consequences of which will not S into question the government’s ability to securely store information on UK Lords Constitution Committee warning that surveillance risks undermining funda- be known until later this month. citizens. NO2ID, which is a campaign mental freedoms and privacy. According to opposing the government’s plans for ID a PSB study commissioned by the New DWP is fundamentally revising the way it Local Government Network, there is strong interacts with local authorities, with a core cards and a National Identity Register, has backed criminals to find a way around any public support for local councils to use shift from postal data exchange to secure surveillance techniques such as covert electronic transfer of data via GCSx or security measures which the government would put in place. video recording to tackle anti-social GSx. From April, DWP will use e-Transfer, behaviour, drug-dealing and theft. a new Generic File Transfer System (GFTS) for secure data exchange. www.dwp.gov.uk/housingbenefit www.govconnect.gov.uk the unexpected: Protectingthan ten thousand The deletion Identify that new toolExperian has of more government records in Australia by the drunken ex- launched a citizen: for local authorities to locate and link disparate citizen data fiancee of an IT staffer highlights the need ob searching: Growth in the number of records for single citizen view projects. J people looking for work in today’s economic climate has led to a huge jump for protection of critical user IDs and passwords. According to Mark Fulbrook, Cyber-Ark’s UK and Ireland director, high QAS Identify uses Experian’s vast consumer data sources alongside in the use of digitally inclusive technology, level administrator IDs, such as the one advanced matching algorithms to match reports ‘Looking Local’. Last month, 26,000 misused, should have been protected by citizen records. Each citizen record is people across the country used their TV an authenticated protection system and automatically cleaned and given a unique remote to search for jobs via local the use of one-time transaction access numerical key, which can then be used to government sites on interactive TV. numbering (TAN) technology. retrieve all records held for a citizen and gain a complete view on every contact oogle Street View: Scores of pictures have been removed from Google’s they have had with the organisation and G controversial new mapping application after a glut of privacy complaints immediately followed its launch last month. Street View allows users to access 360-degree views of roads and homes in 25 cities and includes millions of photographs its various departments. www.qas.co.uk of residential and business addresses, people and cars. Sophisticated technology was used to blur people’s faces before launch. However many people have been able to council tax cut: Hammersmith IT deliversCouncil has cut council tax & Fulham bills by three percent saying it is saving recognise themselves – not always in money by using IT more efficiently. More situations/places they may have wanted to than £12m of efficiencies will be delivered be seen in perpetuity on the world wide in 2009/10 by making better use of IT, web. Security concerns have also been cutting red tape, reducing staff numbers raised – the site offers anyone and office space. The council is also reconnoitring a building for innocent, and improving customer access while saving not so innocent reasons, a useful guide to money, for example, by allowing people to access points and weak spots. renew parking permits online. 5 March/April 2009 Local Government IT In Use NEWS UPDATE Post Office - potential front office for government Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary. “It answers the needs of the financially excluded and will appeal to many in this Office has won a five-year The Postmotorists with photographic contract to support DVLA in issuing millions of that it would renew the contract for the post office card account, used by four million people, and benefiting the retail time of economic uncertainty. The post bank will be a true people’s bank meeting driving licences using new, world class side of branches up and down the country. the needs of society and business alike technology – highlighting its potential to The new government sponsored Savings and will bring crucial security to the post provide a national ‘front office’ service for Gateway, designed to help people on low office network. The government must government. incomes save, will also be available move swiftly to endorse this timely Welcoming the news, business secretary, through post offices. proposal.” Lord Mandelson, said that the Post Office’s Campaign for ‘Post Bank’ David Waltho, head of government affairs trusted brand, unrivalled network, at SAS and developer of the ‘Saving from experienced staff and the new technology Meanwhile a new coalition of trade unions, business organisation, pensioner Poverty’ social enterprise – a proposal for being purchased for the contract put the an ‘electronic jamjar’ attached to POCA, company in an excellent position to bid for and pressure groups and charities has launched plans for a new ‘Post Bank’ to allowing for weekly budgeting and debt other work. repayment – welcomed the news: “SfP is run as part of the Post Office Network. The Said Lord Mandelson, “I am passionate proposal, which has cross-party support, delighted at this campaign, which clearly about the Post Office and strongly believe would provide more financial services to shows both the strength of enthusiasm for that if the right steps are taken there is a people and businesses currently not the social enterprise delivery model and positive future for the network. But served by high street lenders. the need to address a gap in the market nostalgia is not a currency that will enable for banking services for the financially the Post Office to thrive. “The Post Bank is the right proposal at the excluded.” right time politically and industrially,” said “It must innovate, look to future and identify new opportunities and new ways heffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has of doing business.” The government is providing up to £1.7bn S revolutionised access to patient records by implementing a new virtual desktop development, of funding to the Post Office, including serving up to 2000 named users, which allows medics £150m a year to help support a network of to access patient records via the hospital’s bedside around 11,500 branches to 2011. It has entertainment system. Quest Software partnered with made it clear that it will continue to support ANS Group to deliver the Windows-based solution the non-commercial network beyond this that uses SmartiD authentication and Connecting For date. Health smartcards to turn interactive bedside systems In November the government announced into a full clinical desktop while the card is present. Networking your people - Assuring your information Secure Connections The Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of data are critical to overcome the increasingly complex threats to business reputation and the security of information. Whether provided Reliable Data as an EADS service or operated in-house, EADS applies the same rigour to the design, implementation, operation and management of your data networks as we do to our Protected Networks Aeronautical and Space solutions, thereby securing the data and protecting your organisation. www.eadsds.com firstname.lastname@example.org Local Government IT In Use March/April 2009 6 EADS Defence & Security - Networking the Future NEWS UPDATE Bridging Welsh digital plan: Derbyshire County Derbyshire onbecome the first local No parking: Parking‘talk back’ to Council has bays in divide planning authority to receive and process Basingstoke now visitors warning motorists not to abuse 100 percent of its own applications online elsh Assembly deputy minister for W regeneration, Leighton Andrews, has announced a new initiative to tackle digital through the government’s Planning Portal. The council made the switch to electronic disabled parking bays and not to leave valuables on view in cars. Special audio parking units have been installed in two submission in early 2008. exclusion in Wales. of the council-owned car parks in During the next six years the Assembly Basingstoke as part of a 12 month pilot by Basingstoke and Deane and SFX Government will spend nearly £20m, including European Regional Development Brentopened andtwo newBrentTwitter has tweets up pokes: communication for residents - a council channels of Technologies. If the units prove successful they may be rolled out in car Fund monies, on a new digital inclusion programme to provide community groups, account and a Facebook page - to make it parks across the borough. social enterprises and individuals with easier for people to get in touch and find support to use technologies. out what the council is doing. Brent is now accessible through these fast-growing, The Welsh Assembly Government will also social media sites in addition to its own establish a Digital Inclusion Unit, which website and will be providing regular will take forward policy development, and updates on policy, achievements and will coordinate and mainstream digital events. inclusion activity, as well as oversee the delivery of the programme, named Communities 2.0. tweetosphere: Cllr Councillors join cllrtweeps website, has Tweeps, of the D erry calls: Northern Ireland enterprise minister, Arlene Foster, has announced confirmed that196 councillors from 129 councils are on Twitter and joining in on Open publishedaimedTheensuringOpen has and twittering: Source software government a new policy on at £80,000 funding to extend the Londonderry the UK’s latest communication craze – Wireless Walls Project into the wider city regularly telling the world what they are maximum value for money for taxpayers. precincts. Part funded by Department of doing in 140 characters or less. The site A twitter from digital engagement minister, Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the gets its inspiration from Tweetminster and Tom Watson, just hours later, announced: European Union, the project tested the all other public Twitter directories. ‘The UK Gov on Open Source has been set usability and usefulness of wireless Currently 58 Lib Dem, 54 Conservative, 46 in stone since 2004. It’s just been updated: networks in environments such as Labour, seven Independent, six Green, four http://bit.ly/whD6D Would welcome government, education and business DUP, three BNP, three Residents’ genuine views.’ In the official Cabinet groups. It offered tourists a greater choice Association and one English Democrat Office announcement, Watson said that of how to get information, via podcasts councillor have signed up. the new policy ‘reflects changes to both and electronic tourist guides. http://cllrtweeps.com/ the Open Source market and the government’s approach to IT’ and set out ten actions that would ensure ‘a level Home access rolls out in Oldham and Suffolk playing field for Open Source Software, and encourage use of Open Standards’. visited Oldham to Schools minister, Jim Knight,part of the Homelast monthpilot.meet the first families to receive their computers as Access The £300m Home Access programme, announced by the prime minister in September 2008, aims to deliver equal learning opportunities to the 35 percent of families that connection: Electoralmatched tohadOver 100 UK local authorities have Registers their Electoral the National Land currently have no access to the internet at home. The pilot will refine and test the and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) by process for awarding grants for computing packages to low income families in Oldham Intelligent Addressing (IA). To date, IA has and Suffolk before the planned national roll out in late autumn. processed over 6.6 million individual Knight welcomed the news that over two thousand learners had already been addresses and reports a match rate awarded Home Access Grants by Oldham and Suffolk local authorities which are across England and Wales of 96.8 percent. administering the programme in partnership with Becta, the government agency for technology in learning. “It is impossible to overstate the importance of IT to today’s children,” said Knight. “As previous generations may look back fondly on inkwells and fountain pens, today’s Projects Disability projects:accessibletotomake technology more people with disabilities have been launched by children see laptops and Welsh Assembly digital inclusion minister, Jim Knight, minister, sees the new pilot scheme Wayne David. The ‘Switched on memory sticks as their in action with help from ten year old Evan Cook. everyday materials for Communities’ project will offer support and school. training to meet the technology needs of disabled users. The ‘Wales Remote Access “It is vitally important that we Project’ will raise awareness of ICT close the digital divide and opportunities available to individuals with do not allow it to swallow disabling conditions via access centres. children from families who may not be able to afford a computer or the internet.” The programme forms part of online: Broxtowe Borough Funerals is installing technology in its Council crematorium which will enable people Becta’s Next Generation not only to view a service but give Learning campaign. eulogies and readings online. The cost of Approved suppliers for the setting up a link for a relative or friend to initiative include XMA, 02 watch a service is expected to be and Toshiba. between £20 and £30. 7 March/April 2009 Local Government IT In Use NEWS UPDATE National system would One-stop Budget Step into the 21st improve child safety will be century... coordinating one-stop information from L ord Laming has made more than fifty recommendations for improvements needed to protect children at risk of abuse across government on Budget day - Wednesday 22 April – as news and policy Councils areflexiblechangeonand aworking benefits of missing out the full due to resistance to and mobile – including one for development of a is announced. ‘reluctance to let go of 20th century national Integrated Children’s System The government web portal for ‘central to management thinking’. (ICS). local’ government news and information Potential savings on buildings and His second report, commissioned after the covers news, policy and consultation accommodation costs - as well as other Baby P tragedy in Haringey, follows up the updates and other information from more benefits like higher staff productivity and 108 recommendations he made in 2003 than seventy government departments, reduced CO2 emissions - are being following the death of Victoria Climbié. agencies and public bodies. missed, claims Socitm, through old The principal conclusion was the need for Brief summaries and comprehensive fashioned management beliefs: ‘If I can’t a national Safeguarding Delivery Unit categories give ‘at a glance’ updates on see my people, how do I know they are reporting to the Cabinet and parliament. latest information from the centre. Users working?’ However, the report highlights significant of the email alert service can also receive Importantly, the problem is not a technical failings of some ICS currently in use. It reminders for ‘consultations ending soon’ one, since most councils now have the finds that ‘Too much time and money is to make sure that they don’t miss the required infrastructure. being spent at local level trying to correct opportunity to have their say on policy the failings of individual systems and making related to their area of expertise. Socitm’s briefing points out that stronger national leadership of ICS is employment costs are the biggest item on info4local is managed by a partnership of needed’. It recommends that DCSF should the budget of almost every public sector eight departments, including CLG, DCSF, ‘undertake a feasibility study with a view organisation and that flexible working Defra, DoH, DfT, Home Office, DWP, and to rolling out a single national Integrated enables people to be deployed more Government Offices. www.info4local.uk Children’s System better able to address effectively and efficiently. Research also the concerns identified in this report’ or shows it makes them happier, more better assert its leadership over local engaged with their work, and more suppliers. The study ‘should be completed within six months of this report’. by GIS: Managingto,oforlocalNearly three- quarters Europe plan authorities across have implemented, productive. “Now is a really good time to take action,” Lord Laming said that children at risk had geographic information systems in the last says briefing author, Chris Head. “Any to be identified earlier with greater sharing 12 months, according to Datamonitor’s public sector organisation that isn’t of information between the different report, ‘Where in the City? Using GIS to already looking for big savings certainly authorities. He also called for greater Manage Government Information’. From will be very soon, when the decline in tax training for senior managers. mapping crime rates, urban planning, receipts, increasing benefits claims, and monitoring traffic patterns, to national huge government borrowing will force But he acknowledged the pressures that defence, governments are looking for social workers face, saying they deserved their hand.” www.socitm.gov.uk ways to leverage GIS in order to make huge support with better training and more informed management decisions and See features on mobile and flexible working, lower staff turnover. provide enhanced service to constituents. pages 13 & 14. protection in Scotland: Enhancing childScotland toprotection A system allowing child agencies across share Aspirations begin in Durham information quicker and better to ensure safeguards are in place for those at risk is to be developed. The £1.5m Vulnerable Digital inclusion minister, Wayne David, says that “Durham is leading the way in promoting social inclusion through ICT.” Person’s System (VPS) will help agencies David was visiting the county to see first hand the ‘Aspirations Begin at Home Project’ react faster to changes in a child’s which aims to raise education standards and help young people achieve their dreams circumstances in the future to keep them for the future. safe from neglect and abuse. The VPS - The project has already helped to install computers and broadband connectivity in which will also cover vulnerable adults - around three hundred homes, enabling over nine hundred people to gain access to a will initially allow police forces to share PC and encouraging more families to engage in their children’s learning. The project secure, accurate and up-to-date has evolved to also help adults develop IT skills through the introduction of flexible information electronically but will be open and adaptable broadband internet and comprehensive training schemes. to other agencies in due course.
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