EURIM Monthly Newsletter

From Philip Virgo, Secretary General

Printable Newsletter

November 2010

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Some items link to material in the members’ area. Please email if you do not have your password to hand.

1) Turning the Challenges of the Spending Review into Opportunities for the Recovery

2) Securing the More Effective Use of ICT to Deliver More for Less

3) Securing the Jobs of the Future for the UK - and your Constituency

4) Bringing the World-Class Fixed and Mobile Broadband to a Business Near You

5) Joining Up Training and Immigration Policies for Local Access to World-Class Skills

6) Information Governance for Global Competitive Advantage, not just Local Security

Turning the Challenges of the Spending Review into Opportunities for the Recovery

Objectives for Quarter 4 and Strategy and Tactics for 2011
On 20th October, immediately after the announcement of the spending review, the governing council met to review the current programme and discuss plans for 2011. Time is no longer on our side. We have to move from studying problems to securing action to address them. That means a short-term focus on bringing politicians, industry and officials together to identify and remove the barriers to implementing those solutions on which there is agreement. In parallel, the working groups are being asked to look at how to use short-term activities to also bring forward long-term change, including in the ways that policy is formulated, scrutinised and implemented in a world where confidence in the wisdom and competence of central government can no longer be taken for granted.

Securing the More Effective Use of ICT to Deliver More for Less

Rebuilding the image of ICT as part of the solution not the problem
The Public Service Delivery Group has been tasked to produce succinct briefing material on how best to use ICT to help deliver efficiencies. It has also been asked to circulate interim reports on its work on good practice in planning and procurement for widespread peer review. The aim is to draw in new members and partners to help secure action on the improvements needed to improve value for money, including by reducing the overheads (both time and money) of planning, procurement and bidding.

The forward programme for 2011 will begin by focussing on collecting case studies of success to help reduce the growing risk that new technologies and implementation partners will be used to replicate approaches that have failed in the past. There is a particular interest in low cost, rapid payback, projects where the processes (people as well as technology) inter-operate with existing systems, use open-standards (or those which are effectively “open”) and are suitable for widespread replication and extension – i.e. they also include low cost, unobtrusive routines for handling security, resilience and privacy to the standards now expected.

The aim is to make the case studies available via the House of Commons Library to answer questions from MPs and for use by those working on the many Party Political and Think Tank exercises that are likely on the means of improving public service delivery at affordable cost over the year ahead. Please e-mail if you would like to participate in this exercise, stating whether you would wish to be part of the leadership/planning team or merely to contribute case studies and/or review the outputs. Please also suggest groups with whom we should co-operate on policy studies in this area.

3) Securing the Jobs of the Future for the UK - and your Constituency

Putting national political agendas into local context and vice versa
The aim is to assemble hunting groups of MPs and employers who will work together to ensure that local communities (not just London and a few technology clusters) are locations of choice for those working for businesses that could be located anywhere in the world.

That will entail bringing forward investment in infrastructure (particularly fixed and mobile business broadband) and skills (updating those already in the workforce) and ensuring information governance and fiscal regimes that are trusted world-wide and attract rather than repel global businesses. We need to put national policies into local context and use local concerns to inform national policy. That means addressing long-standing policy disconnects.

The Knowledge Economy Group chaired by Stephen McPartland MP is taking an immediate look at the need to join up skills and immigration policy. For example, the list of trusted sponsors for those wishing to study in the UK under the points system includes reputable and well known education and training providers alongside others with similar names operating from back rooms over restaurants with no sign of any education or training facilities.

Our response to the recent BIS consultation on Skills for Sustainable Skills recommended that:

"The UK Borders Agencies should actively support reputable accreditation services routines to help enhance the UK position as a global leader in world-class education and training, welcoming those coming to “learn and return” while limiting and discouraging fraud and abuse on the part of those simply seeking to bypass immigration controls."

Corporate members with global career paths wish similar action to halt abuse of the routines for supposedly skilled workers, making a clear distinction between those sponsored by reputable employers and those producing paper “evidence”.

Bringing the World-Class Fixed and Mobile Broadband to a Business Near You

Removing the obstacles to allowing market forces to work
The immediate task is to summarise and prioritise the actions necessary to ensure that the obstacles are removed rapidly and efficiently. We need to bring forward investment in time to avoid the need for bandwidth rationing in the summer of 2012 - when most of the population expects to be able to go online to watch the event(s) of their choice, including while stuck in the traffic jams caused by the priority lanes to get the participants to the venues. That will require political understanding of the sources of market funding, (including public and private sector business communications budgets, content subscriptions and Internet advertising) and of the importance of technical issues such as spectrum availability. Rory Stewart MP and Therese Coffey MP have joined the Communications Group co-chaired by Malcolm Harbour MEP and David Harrington of the Communications Managers Association.

Debate has been moved forward by the material on shared infrastructure and funding models in the National Infrastructure Plan. The sub-group (chaired by Anthony l’Anson of Alcatel-Lucent) looking at the procurement of shared network servicesEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only has agreed to collect case studies showing how the alleged barriers to sharing (business rates, state aid rules, planning guidance, health and safety, codes of connection etc.) have already been overcome or avoided. The aim is to help expedite the availability of authoritative guidance and thus bring forward investment. The case studies will be moved from the password protected members area to the public area as soon as they have been validated.

Current debate is muddied by allegations as to the scale and nature of demand and the costs of provision. A paper summarising current and planned spend of communications, the means of meeting that demand, the business models of the major players and the various sources of information is being drafted. It will shortly be circulated to members and observers for peer review. The provisional finding is that there is no shortage of funds (including from major users wanting to contract reliable, resilient bandwidth and from UK and international pension and sovereign wealth funds seeking “utility” investments) provided that market forces are allowed to work.

Joining Up Training and Immigration Policies for Local Access to World-Class Skills

Towards integrated policies for UK workforce skills acquisition and

Employers have become used to importing skills to make up for long-standing deficiencies in the local supply. At the same time many Universities and Colleges have come to depend on overseas students to make up for equally long-standing deficiencies in UK funding regimes. Current policy is to address immigration as a security/fraud issue and FE/HE funding as an education (i.e. first entry to the workforce) issue. The need to join them up is covered in section 3 above.

There is also an urgent need to give adequate priority to reskilling those already in the workforce or about to be made redundant. For example a short term “crisis” has been identified with regard to cybersecurity skills (from information assurance and forensics to surveillance and electronic warfare). This may be about to become very much worse as players compete for staff to meet commitments for what needs to be operational by summer 2012. The need is not just to secure the Olympic Games and infrastructures around them, but everything else that is likely to come under strain (see section 4 above) let alone attack. Meanwhile, however, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of staff with related skills are being made redundant as a result of defence and other cutbacks.

We are therefore looking at the practicality of a short order exercise to:

  • Identify the groups already active in the cybersecurity skills space (updating previous work).

  • Identify relevant initiatives that are already under way and the status of those planned.

  • Identify who is willing to work with who, to achieve what and to what timescale.

  • Invite others to join those who have agreed to work together.

The aim is to use the cybersecurity skills crisis to pilot approaches that are long overdue with regard to our mainstream education and training system. We are therefore seeking to recruit those who are under pressure to address the short-term skills needs (quality as well as quantity) of their own organisations and customers and those willing to pool existing materials and training modules, delivering them when and where needed. If the approach works it will hopefully transform attitudes towards building on the longer-term exercises on cybersecurity needs and career structures that are being done by others. If so, we can then think about applying the lessons to education and training policy as a whole and break out of the current sterile debate on funding.

The scoping meeting is on 8th November and the aim is to have plans ready for announcement on 2nd December. Note that if the analysis is correct there is a need for having the shared delivery of many of the update modules under way by Easter. E-mail me c/o if you would like to join the leadership or implementation teams.

Information Governance for Global Competitive Advantage, not just Local Security

Reconciling the agendas of government, business and consumers for
security, efficiency and choice
The announcement of 650 million over four years for addressing cybersecurity, as one of four “tier one” threats to the nation, marks the start of a gallop to ensure that our information security and online surveillance and investigation processes are fit for the challenges of summer 2012. However, we must also ensure that our governance routines, including for the inter-operability of UK public sector processes with those of the private sector and the rest of the world, serve to make London (and its supporting back offices across the rest of the UK) a location of choice for globally trusted services.

Focussing Identity policy on what is achievable in the real world
The Identity Governance sub-group, co-chaired by the Earl of Erroll and John Bullard (IdenTrust) has found profound differences between government and the private sector as to the objectives of their various identity management systems. However, it has also got agreement on the need to find ways forward that bridge the needs of national government (from defence to service delivery) at one end and of financial services (from international high value to domestic mass market) at the other. Moreover all groups appear agreed on the need for a neutral venue to discuss how to learn from each other and handle the inter-operability issues.

The group is looking at an approach similar to that used by the Security by Design Sub-Group, with high level material for setting policy linking back to detail which recognises the complexity of the issues and links to authoritative sources but does not get bogged down in detail. The sub-group also appears set to become a key sounding board for those working on policy in this area and is organising presentation meetings accordingly. It may well be that rather than seek to make recommendations on some of the thornier political issues, where the differences are fundamental, we will work with reputable think tanks – with our role being to help ensure that their recommendations are practical.  

A sub-group helped review proposals for standards for biometric systems and found unanimity to pay more attention to operational issues, such as the user behaviour of the populations expected to use the applications, the responses required at peak times and the issues of false negatives, before starting to select which mixes of technology to use.

Can society afford to rely on security by afterthought not design?
We had an excellent attendance at the reception for the launch of the Security by Design report on 27th October, including many of the officials responsible for policy in this area as well as the suppliers responsible for delivery. Carlos Solari, former CIO at the White House, who chaired the working group, made the key point: “We can no longer afford the cost of treating security as an afterthought. Not only is it more expensive, it does not work.” He also gave examples from the private sector of how the change of approach had let to major savings. We also used the opportunity to publicly announce plans to follow up the report with exercises on "good practice in security procurement, including the procurement of advice" and on "the supply of security skills, including training and accreditation, at all levels".

Improving confidence that public information is fit for purpose
The Quality of Information sub-group chaired by Guy Daines of CILIP (the professional body for information scientists and librarians) is working on a detailed report to back up the summaries circulated for comment. The Coalition Government policy of transparency with regard to public sector information is a major challenge for organisations whose data has not previously been scrutinised for accuracy. The implications are profound, especially when juxtaposed with pressures for enhanced privacy and security at the same time as sharing to improve service quality and to make better use of what is already known in order to improve the quality of policy formation and scrutiny. The different numbers cited as to the number of families/individuals who may be forced to move as a result of changes to housing benefit rules is an example of many debates to come as central and local government seek to better target the funds available. The sub-group expects to be ready to report in Quarter 1 of 2011.

Please be ready to respond to the e-Crime Reduction Partnership survey.
The scoping exercise is now under way with funding from the Nominet Trust and the slides used by Michael Levi to introduce discussion at the Parliament and the Internet Conference, chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP are on the website and the online survey is being piloted. The survey will be complemented by an interview programme and an online discussion forum. Please e-mail Dr. Matthew L. Williams to participate.

Bringing together the Race Online and Get Safe Online messages
The discussion in the session on Online Safety at the Parliament and the Internet Conference found a need to prevent different messages cancelling each other out in the minds of the target audiences. We therefore plan a workshop to bring together those who already run programmes for thousands of in-house staff and contractors looking after corporate and customer data. The aim is to see if they can work together to extend that approach to cover customer education as part of their marketing strategies - "this is how to deal safely with us online". The workshops will be aimed at:

  • those looking to use customer education as a means of securing competitive advantage;

  • those tasked to get clients to transact with them online as part of cost saving targets.

The objective is to have pilot programmes, which link to and compliment Race Online and Get Safe Online et al, under way in time for public announcement as success stories next spring (e.g. Infosec). Please e-mail to suggest who should be invited to participate.

Please let me know if you would like an invitation for your organisation and, if so, who it should be sent to and what they would expect bring to the table - e.g. resources, budget, responsibilities etc.


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