Welsh farmers choose online forms for payments
The number of farmers choosing to complete their Single Application Forms through Rural Payments Wales Online has more than doubled compared with last year, according to the Welsh Government.
It said that since February more than 2,500 of the online submissions had been made, and over 60% of farmers or their agents have registers. This has led it to forecast that online applications will far outnumber those made on paper this year.
Rebecca Evans, the deputy minister for farming and food, emphasised that next year only the online channel will be available, but that the forms should be easier to complete in future.
"This year's SAFs will take longer to complete compared to previous years because this is the first year of the new Basic Payment Scheme," she said. "While there is a lot of additional information required from farmers under the new regulations, developing the Single Application Form online has meant we have been able to incorporate lots of smart features that help to reduce the time it takes to complete and prevent some of the common mistakes that can be made.
"Although the European Commission is thought likely to provide member states the option to extend the deadline for SAF submission from 15 May to 15 June, I will not take up this option as it will delay the start of part payments to all claimants."
AccessNI goes digital
Northern Ireland's criminal history disclosure service has been moved fully online as part of the Executive's Digital First initiative. It is now hosted on the indirect web platform.
Justice Minister David Ford said: "The key benefits include the quicker return of many certificates, online validation to help with form completion and a case tracking facility for individuals and employers to obtain updates on the progress of an application. It should also help organisations that require the checks to reduce their administration costs.
"The new service will also enable AccessNI, during 2016, to offer portable certificates that applicants can take to different jobs, thus reducing the need for a certificate to be obtained for every new position.
"In taking this step, AccessNI will be the first disclosure service in the UK to provide the full range of services online.
Libraries get new digital lending option
US based 3M Library Systems has made its 3M Cloud Library Digital Lending System available to libraries in the UK.
Under the system, borrowers obtain a PIN to log in to the service and can check out e-books and audio books to PCs, smartphones and tablets through the 3M Cloud Library app, and dedicated e-readers such as Nook, Sony and Kobo. They can browse libraries' digital collections with 3M's Discovery Stations, and librarians can curate their collections from a catalogue of several hundred thousand e-books and audio books.
The system is already available to more than 1,000 libraries in the US and Canada.
Eduserv to support Amazon cloud
Not-for-profit cloud services provider Eduserve has begun to support Amazon Web Service (AWS) as part of its Assured Hyrbrid Cloud Service. The latter provides an integrated platform for hosting public sector data with a blend of security controls covering Official and Official Sensitive data.
The service brings together Eduserv's secure cloud hosting, currently Pan Government Accredited to IL3, and the AWS Cloud, with Eduserv's Cloud Connector enabling applications to securely share information across security domains. The company said the service is designed for organisations that need the flexibility and economies of scale offered by AWS, but need to keep some data in a UK sovereign cloud service.
Ed Zedlewski, managing director of managed cloud services at Eduserv said: "One of the major barriers to adoption of cloud computing is the handling of Official Sensitive data. Our hybrid cloud, coupled with AWS, provides a secure, accredited cloud environment for sensitive information.
"AWS is continuously innovating and adding new features and services. We are working with AWS to help make this rich environment of services more accessible to the public sector to help them accelerate the delivery of online services.
Suffolk saves by using LMS
Suffolk County Council has reportedly obtained significant time savings through the use of the Learning Management System from WebBased.
Its Workforce Development team has used the system to manage the organisation's continuous professional development (CPD) events, and has reduced the administration time from an average of four hours to 15 minutes for each, largely through the use of an online booking system. The council stages approximately 3,000 CPD events per year, which amounts to 11,250 hours saved.
Fiona Denny, Suffolk's head of workforce development, said: "It has also supported our multi-agency working, with increasing numbers of partners using the system to advertise their programmes and opening them out to other professional groups."
Skyhigh partners with Skyscape under G-Cloud
Skyhigh Networks, a cloud security and enablement company, and Skyscape Cloud Services, which exclusively provides the UK public sector, have announced a partnership to deliver cloud security services via the G-Cloud.
The former will host its services on the latter's assured platform to provide security and compliance capabilities for UK public sector organisations and non-UK-hosted cloud services such as Salesforce, Box, Office 365, Jive, ServiceNow, Jive and Dropbox. The service can encrypt and/or tokenise data in motion with the government body holding the encryption keys, ensuring that no data leaves the UK. In addition, the service can deliver data loss prevention, cloud activity monitoring and anomaly detection.
Skyhigh said this will enable public authorities to use hundreds of cloud services while providing the necessary data protection.
Image from Marion Phillips, geography.org.uk, through Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0