Public Services Network encryption service up to 'Restricted'
A new encryption service that will enable secure 'RESTRICTED' information at Impact Level 3 (IL3) to be safely shared over the Public Services Network (PSN) has been announced by the Cabinet Office. The Inter Provider Encryption Domain (IPED) is an enhancement of the existing PSN services currently operating at IL2 (PROTECT) level. It will help extend the reach of PSN to organisations that deliver citizen-focused services and need to access information generated in areas such as criminal justice and social services. Secure sharing of this sort of information requires additional encryption and identity protection, over and above the agreed PSN standards already adopted across the public sector. The IPED will comprise services from at least six PSN-compliant service providers. Its first providers, BT and Vodafone, have achieved PSN Certification and their IPED services have been successfully delivered and tested, the Cabinet Office said. Some 558 organisations across the public sector are currently switching from the old GSi/GCSX Government Secure Network infrastructure to the new PSN, the department said.
Pictured: Computer network cabling, by Ocrho/Wikimedia Commons
Local authorities struggle to meet saving targets, Civica research finds
About two-thirds (65%) of local authorities are finding it harder to reach their cost cutting targets while maintaining service delivery this year compared to last year, according to research conducted by specialist systems firm Civica. Despite a freeze in budgets allowing for longer term planning (47%), twice as many decision-makers say that making financial savings is as important this year as last (2014: 63%; 2013: 31%), with improving service delivery and supporting citizens through the latest welfare changes also topping the priority list. The study, which questioned local government and social housing directors and managers at Civica's annual conference, revealed that half (51%) of organisations are still working to address up to 25% of their 2014-15 funding gap. The majority of respondents pointed to the role of technology as a key route to improving service delivery (67%), with the most popular technologies for improving efficiency this year being agile and mobile working solutions (64%); moving customer-facing services online (59%); moving back office-systems into the cloud (50%); and using social media to engage residents (33%). However, the research suggests there is still work to be done to encourage the use of relevant social communications channels. Just half (54%) are already using social media to engage actively with their audience, the study found. It seems many are being held back by worries that it's not relevant for their audience (37%), security and/or data privacy barriers (36%), getting by-in from senior management and general lack of understanding and knowledge in their organisations (30%).
Changing Places - how innovation and transformation is taking place in local government: www.public-knowledge.co.uk
Gaps in public sector responsiveness and inclusiveness - eGain survey
The ability of UK public sector bodies to deliver responsive and inclusive citizen services may be hampered in the long term by gaps in their digital strategies, according to a survey of more than 400 public sector decision makers by research company iGov for digital customer engagement firm eGain. While cost reduction and efficiencies are the most significant drivers for digital transformation among survey respondents, public sector entities do not currently have a complete and accurate view of citizen interactions or experiences across contact points, the survey finds. For instance, 82% are unable to track citizen journeys from start to finish, making it difficult to recognise discontinuities across touchpoints and reduce abandonment. The findings also highlight a need for long-term planning for digital transformation: 64% of organisations surveyed do not have a channel shift strategy in place today and only 16% have assessed potential take-up of new service delivery methods through digital touchpoints. "When citizens go across digital touchpoints or if a service journey involves multiple steps, they often have to repeat context or figure out answers from inconsistent service," said Mark Fenna, Head of Public Sector at eGain. "A unified citizen engagement hub, powered by consistent knowledge, will enable connected, relevant and fruitful journeys and help win their trust."
iGov Delivering inclusive services survey 2014: www.igovsurvey.com/surveys/view/28
Age UK and Breezie to help older people connect to internet
Age UK, the charity for older people, has teamed up with technology company Breezie to offer a tablet computer that helps people who are less familiar with technology to use the internet. Breezie is supplied with a Samsung tablet and works by simplifying apps such as Facebook or Skype to make it easy for users to get online. The system is customised at purchase with settings based on the individual's interests and gives a nominated trusted relative or friend the ability to sign-in remotely, set-up accounts and add contacts via Breezie's support service. Breezie also suggests which apps the customer might like then adds more features as they become more familiar with the system. It is built on the Android platform. Helena King, Head of Affinity and Development at Age UK said: "Breezie differs from most other desktop computers and tablets in that it tackles the two main barriers to internet adoption: over-complication and lack of relevance. It is set up to meet the individual needs of the customer and evolves with them so as the customer grows more confident and becomes more comfortable with the device." Breezie is available to buy through the Age UK website and can be ordered by telephone from February 2014 including one year's support.
Age UK Breezie: www.ageuk.org.uk/breezie