Archive for January, 2010

Speeding in 2017…

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Universal Access in the UK?

With Finland’s obstinacy to make universal access of the Internet to their entire population by 2015, a shockwave of influence has been sent across Europe, but Finland are taking it to another level, they are promising connections of 100mbps…a servicethey believe is a “Legal right”…

Here, in the UK, the signs of influence are starting to show. It is great to see the Digital Inclusion taskforce and Race for 2012 really stepping up a gear…with government announcing that they plan to disintermediate many public services and transfer them onto the web, universal access/digital inclusion will be a vital step in the right direction for Gov 2.0 aspirations…

…Furthermore, today, a Sunday of all days..some exciting news was unveiled on the Andrew Marr show, of plans for the UK to deploy a 100mb universal access service by 2017.

The questions of disintermediation, universal access raises all sorts of questions, but let’s focus on the positives briefly…the opportunities of universal access are too great to ignore. The Internet will become less of a comodity for the ‘Information Rich/Elite’ and instead will create a level playing field that bridges the digital divide, to offer equal opportunity, and national savings of around 9 billion a year (PWC, 2009)

Check this article for further details from the Andrew Marr show.

The relevance of Open Government (or why UK Government 2010 Barcamp was a success)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

ukgc10 I must confess, I am writing this because if I don’t Dave Briggs will humiliate me for my apathy (and rightly so) but with that said, I wanted to respond to some of the discussion circulating around the UK Government Barcamp about it’s relevance to the broader Public Sector community rather than a handful of passionate individuals drawn to a common cause.

It’s always a tough balance to strike, but I think those attending and organising such events need to be really mindful of the attendees – and more importantly the organisations they represent.

As a relative newcomer I have to admit I was blown away not just by the extent of the participation at all of the sessions, but also by the organisations that were and weren’t represented.

Some of the post event discussion has talked of the relevance of the event. I know people are pretty pragmatic as to what’s possible, but I think we are in danger of under-estimating the progress that has already been made.

Case in point #1: Look at the attendee list. There are representatives from many local authorities, DWP, NPIA, DirectGov, Cabinet Office, DoT and the Home Office to name but a few, (and not to mention those that didn’t declare their affiliation).

Case in point #2: More importantly (for me at least) is that the number of people from "IT" from those groups was actually pretty small – to me this is the biggest deal of all (and a great indicator that we’re headed in the right direction). I spend a lot of my time with Public Sector CIO’s and those engaged in delivering IT services to customers (internal & external) and let me tell you, they’d have been blown away by the discussions that were had at the event but I’d bet they will be even more impressed if you bring back the passion and drive into your organisation and help them make the transformational change we all know is required.

So overall, I agree with the sentiment that we need to _do something_ with all the energy, passion and good ideas, and to that extent I have a few suggestions:

  1. Just do it, but tell people why and be compassionate in your approach. Trust me, your average friendly neighbourhood CIO needs support from the business, but you need to help him help others understand why your project is important to your business. Wherever possible, work with IT to make this happen, give them the tools/ammunition to help others get your cause.
  2. Don’t be oblivious to the fact there are things you don’t worry about that others have to. Your CIO/Risk Officer/insert similar role here has a broader remit than you do. They have to worry about the whole, you only have to worry about yourselves. Yeah, I know there are those that use security or risk as a blocker to progress but if they say "no", don’t leave until they offer an option on how you actually could.
  3. Finally, remember where we are in this transformation and your role in making it happen. The 100 or so attendees (and the many colleagues that joined virtually) are the stone entering the pool, it’s our job to make the ripples reach further so it’s down to us to tell your friends and colleagues – you were there last Saturday because you care and you get it – make sure that by next year, those working around you understand to the same extent as you.

Lets give Dave the headache of finding a bigger venue – that would be a nice problem for us all to have…

The Virtual Revolution

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

BBC: The Virtual Revolution

I’ve been following the creation of this documentary for a few months now. What makes this TV series so special is that they democratised all of their material, interviews, documents and other resources free of charge. The series has theoretically been made by ‘the people’ for ‘the people’.

It starts next Saturday on BBC2, and should be a thoroughly reinvigorating watch.

Check out for the unedited rushes interviews.

Rise of the Pro-Ams

Sunday, January 17th, 2010
What ever next?

What ever next?

Experience and tenure are at stake, we are starting to see an army of amateurs falling out of the clouds (pun intended), and the new heroes are the underdogs, the unknowns and the every day Jo’s. We see it everywhere, from television atrocities such as X-Factor, where you can become a hero just as quick as becoming a loser. But there are important success stories to consider, such as the Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez who through political persecution spread the words around the world of the real experiences of those living in Cuba, to which she was awarded the prestigious ‘Maria Moors Cabot’ journalism award.

Leadbeater and Miller describe professional amateurs, or ‘Pro-Ams’ as “Innovative, committed and networked amateurs working to professional standard. This emerging group, the ‘Pro-Ams’ could have a huge influence on the shape of society in the next two decades”. I certainly wouldn’t disagree…But it’s also not a new thing, take Richard Branson and Bill Gates as examples, Pro-Ams in their own right back in the hay day, but I think what Leadbeater and Miller are getting at is the opportunity that the Internet, and more importantly the Web has created. In the past 15 years we have seen a proliferation of more multi-million dollar organizations than ever before, just to name-check a few: Google, Twitter, eBay, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, PayPal (etc) and these are not just fads, each organization in their own right has changed intricate details of society, and out of nowhere they were sprung by Pro-Ams. So what does this all mean? It means opportunity for those less fortunate, innovation enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

Looking back over the past decade, the Internet and the Web have advanced and become pervasive commodities, and looking five years ahead it’s possible to see it becoming a mere service that we WILL take for granted, like many of our developed world pleasures. However, unlike the ‘real-world’ in the cyber-world your voice can be heard if you shout loud enough. Fede Alverez, a keen amateur film maker uploaded a video project that he’d been working on, it was a 4 minute sci-fi spectacle depicting giant robots destroying the capital city of Uruguay…not too dissimilar to Michael Bay’s blockbuster hit Transformers 2, but unlike Bay’s $50million flop, Alvarez’s powerful short film was made for free, instead opting to use his own skills behind the camera, creating his own CGI robots and getting his friends involved. Within a few days, Alvarez was contacted by many Hollywood studios and has now signed a $30million deal to shoot a film for Sam Raimi (Famed for his Spider-Man remake, and Evil Dead trilogy).

These are stories of glory, and maybe your next-door neighbour isn’t going to become the next James Cameron, but one thing is for certain, there are millions of people around the world being discovered for their fresh and new ideas. Talent is easier to spot than ever before, don’t be blind-sided by experience and tenure, because originality and passion will never become passé.

Australian Open Government Apps – And the winners are…

Monday, January 11th, 2010

mashupaussie The Aussies have just announced the winners of their MashupAustralia contest. It’s worth a look, not just because there are some great entries in there, but, seeing as there are a bunch of similar contests here in the UK (and more expected the closer we get to the election) you might find some good ideas to help you with your own submissions.

It’s great to see the global momentum Open Government is gaining and even better that there are more and more _real life_ examples of what can be achieved.

The “Noughties” By The Numbers

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Got this from an internal thread, interesting stats (although mainly US based) that contrast the changes from 1999 to 2009…

Noughties by the Numbers

All this and still no hoverboard!

Cloud Computing – 2010

Friday, January 8th, 2010

cloudbin Just came across a good article on the future of Cloud Computing for 2010 – it’s a great summary and indicator of how fast things are progressing, you can read the full article here, but in summary, the following (in my opinion) are the three key areas to watch:

The year of the platform – after years of working through Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) and Software as a Service (SAAS)the coming of Platform as a Service (PAAS) marks the beginning of the realisation of the full benefit that the cloud approach has to offer.

Here Come Private Clouds – specially pertinent in the Public Sector, the information assurance requirements of governments and nations are driving an approach that sees the adoption of “national cloud” infrastructure.  This will challenge many of the cloud providers as issues around data sovereignty and legislation such as the US Patriot Act will force them to offer geographically local solutions (which is kind of counter intuitive to the purists architectural vision for cloud computing).

Security – What a surprise, the growth of cloud computing has lead to a new frontier to defend and secure.  whether it’s new concerns like Differential Privacy, or old “friends” moving to new platforms (the first cloud based bot-nets have recently been discovered).