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Big data 'not a game played by different rules', says regulator

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has set out how big data projects can - and must - operate within existing data protection law. But operating within the law should not be seen as a barrier to innovation, the report finds. Big data is a way of analysing data that typically uses massive datasets, brings together data from different sources and can analyse the data in real time. It often uses personal data, be that looking at broad trends in aggregated sets of data or creating detailed profiles in relation to individuals, for example lending or insurance decisions. The ICO report, "Big data and data protection", sets out how the law applies when big data uses personal information. It details which aspects of the law organisations need to particularly consider, and highlights that organisations can stay the right side of the law and still innovate. "Many of the challenges of compliance can be overcome by being open about what you're doing", said Steve Wood, ICO head of policy delivery. "Organisations need to think of innovative ways to tell customers what they want to do and what they're hoping to achieve. Not only does that go a long way toward complying with the law, but there are benefits from being seen as responsible custodians of data." The report also addresses concerns raised by some commentators that current data protection law does not fit with big data. "The basic data protection principles already established in UK and EU law are flexible enough to cover big data", said Wood. "Applying those principles involves asking all the questions that anyone undertaking big data ought to be asking. Big data is not a game that is played by different rules."
Pictured: The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, by Paul Clarke

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Ordnance Survey supports young programmers in Festival of Code

Young people from across the Solent area were encouraged to join a national coding competition this summer when Ordnance Survey teamed up with The Cathedral Innovation Centre and Totton College to bring Young Rewired State's Festival of Code to the Solent region. Under 19s were presented last week with real world problems which they were challenged to address through their self-taught hacking skills. The annual Festival of Code is organised by Young Rewired State, a not-for-profit organisation, whose aim it is to find and foster every young person with a love of coding and a determination to teach themselves technological skills. They were supported locally by Ordnance Survey's Innovation team, who helped them to create websites, prototypes, and apps, demonstrating that innovation and technology broadens horizons. Totton College is one of more than 50 regional centres from across the UK that hosted free, four-day sessions for young programmers. A full report on the results of these sessions will be published shortly on
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Just 9% of UK public sector will be paperless in 10 years, study finds

A study by digital print and document solutions specialist Altodigital has found the UK public sector is moving in the wrong direction in the quest for "paperless working" with an ever-increasing volume of wasted paper, energy and consumables, making the sector among the most wasteful in the UK. The research questioned 94 public sector decision makers and found only 3% believe they will be paper-free within the next five years, and 9% within 10 years. A further 65% believed the printed page remains mission-critical to their establishments' operation. Print behaviour among staff was also found to be inefficient, with 97% always printing in colour as opposed to black and white, 91% opting to print single sided as opposed to duplex, and 97% regularly printing out emails to read. 'Doubling up' also emerged as a trend, with 97% of the sector storing important documents both electronically and in hard-copy form, while only 41% choose to store their files electronically over hard-copy. The findings come despite the fact that some 74% of public bodies do already have print and document management technology in place. However, the reason could be that more than a third (39%) of managers in the public sector did nothing to inform their staff of the technologies at their disposal. When questioned about the reasons for failing to move towards a paperless environment, 29% of decision-makers in the public sector claimed they prefer the convenience of having a hard copy document to hand, 27% 'didn't trust' storing or using electronic documents over hard copies, while 35% believed printing a hard-copy document carries more gravitas than an electronic version. A further 24% thought 'going paperless' was too complicated and expensive, while 29% had a 'print it out' culture in place across their establishment.

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