cloudThing Are Proud To Be Rebranding As Kerv Digital

Last year, cloudThing joined the Kerv Group to offer our clients even wider services, while allowing our amazing people to remain specialists and focus on what they really enjoy doing, building future.   

 It was a great fit right from the start as Kerv were always happy to challenge the norm and say they do things differently… much as cloudThing always has.  

Exactly like ours, Kerv is made up of practices of experts who are trained to focus on the bigger picture, empowering digital transformations with world-class solutions in a collaborative way, helping organisations get ahead… and then stay there.  

That’s always been, and always will be, the Kerv difference. That’s why we’re excited to announce cloudThing will be rebranding to make it even easier for our clients and partners to get the most from the experts at Kerv.

 cloudThing have always been about collaboration and that’s at the heart of everything Kerv does as well. Nothing is going to be changing around our culture, how we work or who we work with, we will be retiring the cloudThing name to simplify how we communicate with our clients. Whilst cloudThing remains a legal entity, from July 7th 2022 forwards, we will be changing our name and trading as Kerv Digital.  

This represents a tremendous opportunity as we continue to grow as an ethical digital transformation organisation. It has been the highlight of my career to represent cloudThing as CEO, and it will continue to be so as I represent Kerv Digital as CEO. I am incredibly humbled by the amazing work by our staff to help the NonProfit sector, the Membership sector and right across Central Government in making a positive difference to society. 

 In fact, one of the big Kerv differences is that when they make an acquisition, nothing changes.  

They find great organisations and empower them to do better, they don’t come in and try and fix something that isn’t broken.  

Kerv Digital will continue to offer awesome solutions to digital transformations, using cutting edge technology to build custom software for all our clients, new and old… we’ll just be part of a much bigger organisation now, with even more resources to keep improving the sectors we’ve always cared so much about.  

 

Stuart Harper – CEO, Kerv Digital  

 

Rebrand FAQs: 

 

Does this affect any of our contracts or agreements? 

 Not at all, cloudThing Ltd remains the same legal entity so all of our contracts with both clients and customers remain valid and will remain the same.  

 

Is the management structure at Kerv Digital changing? 

 No, our management team remains the same, as does any contacts you currently work with at Kerv Digital.  

 

Does this affect both UK and India? 

 Yes, cloudThing will be changing names in both our UK and India operation. 

 

Are other Kerv practices going to deliver any services to Kerv Digital clients? 

 Whilst we will remain our own entity, part of the opportunity we are now able to leverage is the breadth of services the group can now offer and so we will be talking to our customers about this potential, whilst still delivering excellence through existing channels. 

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Initiatives Underway to Improve Diversity In Environmental Workforce In The UK

Steps are being taken in the UK’s sustainability and environment professions to address the lack of diversity, as it stands less than 5% of professionals in organisations within the sector identify as being from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The steps involve a data drive, asking the UK’s environmental NGOs and charities to annually report on the diversity of their workforce. The data is co-led by Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), Nature Youth Connection and Education, South Asians For Sustainability and Hindu Climate Action. The aim of the data drive is to improve racial diversity within the organisations of the UK’s environmental profession.

Among the organisations providing support is IEMA, and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will be funding all of the main initiative.

The US is already deploying a reporting initiative, called the Green 2.0 scheme, in which 40 US-based not-for-profits and foundations have signed up to, normalising the annual reporting of racial diversity statistics within the profession.

By annually reporting the racial diversity statistics within each sector it is hoped all aspects of the organisation, plus its funders can access and analyse information on how diverse their workforces and boards of trustees are. Having access to this information allows for dialogue to open up about how and what improvements can be made, and allows for peer-to-peer learning on best practices. This initiative is called the Racial Action For The Climate Emergency Report in the UK, or RACE for short.

There’re been more than 30 organisations already committed to submitting data to the RACE Report for its inaugural edition, including Ashden, ClientEarth, Global Action Plan, Greepeace, IEMA, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and The Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The data will be reported each year and there will be a league table element added in 2023 once the ‘benchmark’ inaugural report is published.

As well as the league table element, the following year will see anonymised staff surveys, allowing staff from participating organisations to share lived experiences, and report instances of best practice and poor practice.

The initiative is a long time coming.

In 2017 SOS-UK analysed data from the Office For National Statistics and found that environmental sustainability is the UK’s second-least diverse profession in terms of race and ethnicity, second only to farming.

On the 5th of April, SOS-UK published updated data that showed little had improved since then. Only 4.8% of environment professionals identify as Black, Asian, or from another minority ethnic background. This is well below the UK national average of 12.6% across all professions.

By revealing this data it shows that before people even enter the workforce there is a lack of diversity within universities and colleges, demonstrating a failure of these institutions in attracting and supporting racially diverse student cohorts for environmental courses. For example, it revealed that just 6% of students in biodiversity and nature conservation courses identified as Black, Asian or from another minority ethnic background, even though the average across all higher education courses is 26%.

RACE Report team member Manu Maunganidze said this evidence is “sobering at best”, showing “very modest” progress that “few would say is anywhere near good enough”.

“At the current rate, it would take the sector over 20 years to get to a point of representation matching the reality of racial diversity of other professions.”

“We urgently need transparency on the racial diversity of individual organisations’ trustee boards and staff teams, and we plan to deliver that through the RACE Report. Without comparative data and evidence, the improvements will continue to be incremental and the sector and its funders will continue to fall behind in their stated aims to fight for social and environmental justice.”

RACE Report team member Manu Maunganidze

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    Billions To Be Raised By Health And Social Care Levy, Massive Reforms To Adult Social Care Underway

    COVID backlogs and reforms to adult social care underway with the Health and Social Levy implemented to raise billions.

    The Health and Social Care Levy has commenced from Wednesday 6th April in order to raise the billions needed for the COVID backlog, as well fund reforms to routine services.

    In total, £39billion will be implemented over the next 3 years to put health and social care services back on an even, sustainable footing by funding it with the long-term resources it needs.

    The NHS has not seen a catch up programme like this before, and in the wake of out of control care costs rising exponentially, the levy will see to the end of it.

    The COVID-19 pandemic strained the NHS to its limits, with both capacity and resource used up to treat the unprecedented numbers of patients. As it stands, there are over 6 million people in England waiting for elective care – up from 4.4 million before the pandemic – and this number is expected to rise even higher as up to 10 million people did not come forward for treatment during the pandemic.

    Not only is the levy due to end spiralling care costs, but the plan is also for it to reduce waiting times and deliver millions more scans, tests and operations, and innovating routine services and delivery so the NHS is future proofed against more unprecedented times.

    As a result, there’ll be an increase to £160 billion for the NHS resource budget in 2024 to 2025, including £5.9 billion of capital investment to support diagnostics, technology, and elective recovery.

    The social care system is due to benefit greatly from the levy, with a £5.4 billion backing, not only will it end the rising social care costs, it’ll limit the cost of care for everyone in the adult social care system for the first time, and significantly increase state support.

     

    We must be there for our NHS in the same way that it is there for us. COVID led to the longest waiting lists we’ve ever seen, so we will deliver millions more scans, checks and operations in the biggest catch-up programme in the NHS’s history.

    We know this will not be a quick fix, and we know that we cannot fix waiting lists without fixing social care. Our reforms will end the cruel lottery of spiralling and unpredictable care costs once and for all and bring the NHS and social care closer together. The levy is the necessary, fair and responsible next step, providing our health and care system with the long-term funding it needs as we recover from the pandemic.”

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson

     

     

    “The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on the NHS and is causing the COVID backlogs. This investment will go into tackling those backlogs and will help make sure everyone can get the care and treatment they need.

    We cannot have business as usual, which is why we are rolling out surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres up and down the country to deliver millions more scans, checks and operations.

    This vital funding will ensure the NHS is equipped to not only reduce waiting times but also tackle the big challenges we face – from cancer to heart disease and dementia. We will also reform the adult social care system, invest in the workforce and protect people from catastrophic care costs.”

    Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid

     

    This government will not shy away from the difficult decisions we need to take to fix our social care system and slash NHS waiting times. The Health and Social Care Levy will fund a third more elective care, over 17 million extra diagnostic tests and a cap on the cost of care so people no longer live in fear of losing everything to pay for care.

    The British people deserve the best health care in the world and delivering that is our top priority.”

    Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

    What will the funding deliver?

    • around 30% more elective activity in 3 years’ time than before the pandemic
    • 17 million more diagnostic tests over the next 3 years
    • the expansion of operating theatres and diagnostic centres for cancer and other conditions
    • better control for patients over their care, with more information and access to specialist teams – for example, through the My Planned Care platform, now available to 5.5 million patients to find the average waiting time at their local hospital. In future the service will include advice on stopping smoking, diet and exercise, to help patients get ready for surgery and make sure they recover as quickly as possible. GPs and primary care teams will also be able to access the information, helping them to have more informed conversations with patients
    • a fair cost of care, £1.36 billion will support local authorities in England to move towards paying a fair cost of care to adult social care providers, ensuring market sustainability and preparing markets for reform
    • charging reform – an £86,000 cap on care costs will be put in place in October 2023 so people can have certainty over how much they will need to pay, a measure backed by a further £2.2 billion

     

    Patients will have more information on wait times at the point of referral, should they ask for it. By the end of this year, patients who have been waiting for 18 months or more will have been contacted to discuss whether they would like to change their provider and reduce their wait time.

    Patients will also be supported with travel costs, if required and feasible.

    The, at the moment out of control, care costs will reformed to gain control over them again. Currently, anyone with assets over £23,250 pays their care costs in full. From October 2023, anyone with assets under £20,000 will have their care costs fully covered by the state.

    Under the new system, the levy will put a cap on the cost of care at £86,000, which raises the point at which people meet the full cost of their care from £23,350 to £100,000 – almost 4 times higher than what we have without the levy.

    The adult social care sector in England will receive at least £500 million to improve recruitment, retention, progression and staff wellbeing. To reduce the high turn over rate and improve working conditions overall, the funding will cover investment into continuous professional development budgets, social worker training, and wellbeing and mental health support.

    The plan to increase the number of scans and tests being delivered is well underway, with the goal of 160 community diagnostic centres due to be up and running by 2025 – so far seventy-three centres are already providing more efficient and local care for patients, and there’s another 4 due to open in May.

    New surgical hubs are to open alongside this delivery, adding to a network of hubs reducing wait times for procedures like cataract surgery or hip replacements.

    Initially, national insurance contributions will be the base of the levy, although from 2023 this will be legislatively separate.

    It’s means based, so those who earn more will pay more, with the highest 15% of earners paying over half the revenues.

    Low earners will be shielded from the levy, as the level of which people pay National Insurance on their income will rise to £12, 570, saving on average around £330. This has no affect on the funding for health and social care.

    What it means is, the COVID backlogs will not be cleared by those who need the services the most, it will be funded by those who can bear it and will further protect those who need it, while still providing the NHS with the vital funding it requires.

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      NATO Identifies Emerging And Disruptive Technologies – UK To Headquarter The Defence Innovation Hub

      NATO to implement the DIANA programme to maintain technological advantage: UK and Estonia to partner on the programme.

      Critical technologies will be seeing transatlantic cooperation, as the UK is set to be the host of the European HQ of the Defence Innovation Accelerator (DIANA), a programme set for NATO allies to accelerate, test, evaluate and validate new technologies that address critical defence challenges and contribute to Alliance deterrence, as well as helping NATO work more closely with industry and academia.

      The UK will be contributing an accelerator of its own and is to be twinned with a new accelerator in Tallinn, Estonia to open the channel for knowledge and expertise sharing, the use of virtual sites to trial vehicles, including autonomous ones and test cyber innovations.

      Together, the UK and Estonia will:

      • Support start-up companies with funding, guidance and business expertise through twinned accelerator networks.
      • Offer the use of ‘deep tech’ test centres to assess technological solutions to military problems, utilising the Defence BattleLab.
      • Work with NATO to develop a virtual marketplace to connect start-ups with trusted investors, as well as a rapid acquisition service to connect products to buyers at pace.

       

      “The UK and Estonia are two of the most innovative countries in NATO and our hosting of DIANA will harness that innovation for the benefit of all Allies tackling future military threats.

      The UK has a vibrant tech community, combining the academia, financiers, and high-tech start-ups that make it an ideal place to develop the next generation of military technologies.

      Estonia was the natural partner for the UK given its international leadership in cyber, autonomy and AI, and our close partnership forged through the Enhanced Forward Presence.”

      UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace

      Academia, industry and government will be brought together by Imperial College London, a world ranked university for innovation, and play host to the headquarters of DIANA and a DIANA Accelerator at the Innovation Hub (IHUB) in White City Innovation District. They will share a space with the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), Major Defence Contractors and The US Department of Defence’s Tri-Service Office.

      The plan is to be in full swing by July 2022, with DIANA ensuring that the Alliance is fully capable and developed to defend and deter against existing and future threats, which is essential to the NATO 2030 vision.

      “The goal of DIANA is to support deep technologies companies that contribute to defence. It will bring together talented innovators with new technologies end-users in the area of defence. We are very glad to see that the good cooperation we have with the UK will expand even further and also encompass our universities and private sector more,

      Cooperation between the UK and Estonia is working well on every level because we have a common understanding of defence policy. Good relations with Allies is a cornerstone of Estonian defence policy, and a successful start to this programme for us is a sign that this cornerstone is strong.”

      Estonian Defence Minister, Kalle Laanet

       

      As one of the top STEM-B universities in the world, in one of the most diverse cities, Imperial College London is uniquely placed to power a progressive, responsible and holistic dual-use security and defence technology innovation program by hosting DIANA. Coordinated through our Institute for Security Science and Technology and Business School we’re committed to working on disruptive research and innovation to reduce insecurity and to deal with global threats and challenges.”

      Co-Director, Institute for Security Science and Technology, Imperial College London, Professor Deeph Chana

      As part of the NATO 2030 vision, seven key emerging and disruptive technologies have been identified as the focus for DIANA’s support: artificial intelligence, big-data processing, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology, hypersonics and space.

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        New Bus Scheme Set To Increase Public Transport Use by 10%

        20% to 40% ticket price reduction on Cornish buses backed by £23.5m government grant

        A pilot of cut-fare prices has begun in Cornwall, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy cheaper prices around the far south-west of England.

        The county has benefitted from a ticket price reduction of between 20% and 40% to incentivise more people to use public transport rather than their cars.

        The scheme will run for four years, is government backed, and will measure what impact lower fares have on the number of cars on the road. By reducing fares it’s hoped it’ll make it easier for Cornish people to travel around and encourage tourism to the beaches, moors, towns and attractions by buses rather than by car.

        “The bus fares pilot is a hugely positive step for the people of Cornwall. This will make it easier for young people to access jobs, education and training in towns such as Newquay.

        “It’s important for rural communities to have access to affordable alternatives to the car. It will also benefit tourists this summer and could encourage them to use public transport, rather than going everywhere by car.”

        Louis Gardner, the mayor of Newquay

        Transport for Cornwall aims to increase bus usage by 10%, and is using a £23.5m grant from the Department for Transport to fund the drive.

        The new fares will include:

        £2.50 a day or £10 a week for adults within Cornish towns.

        £5 a day or £20 a week for adults for travel across Cornwall.

        Adult singles from £1.60, and returns from £2.40.

        Family tickets for £10 a day (up to two adults and unlimited children under 16).

         

        “The launch of this excellent scheme across Cornwall is a significant moment in our ambition to level up transport links across the country. We want to place Cornwall at the leading edge of a national bus revolution.”

        Transport Minister, Charlotte Vere

        Cornwall’s largest bus operator, Go-Ahead Group, is leading the scheme under an initiative called “any ticket, any bus” and the cheaper prices will include benefits for customers of all of the main companies.

        Scheduled to run for four years, there’s no guarantee the process will stay at the levels set, and depending on how the services are used they can be changed.

         

        “Cheaper fares are vital in winning passengers back and attracting new ones. Our research has shown that Cornwall’s bus passengers wanted better value for money fares. These plans should drive up passenger satisfaction and encourage more people to give bus a go. We will monitor the impact this has on passengers.”

        David Sidebottom, Director of the watchdog Transport Focus

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          Legal Proceedings Issued After National Lottery Licence Announcement

          For the first time since The National Lottery started, Camelot will not be Preferred Applicant for the National Lottery licence.

           

          A legal battle has been issued by National Lottery operator, Camelot, against the Gambling Commission after it was revealed that Allwyn Entertainment UK was its Preferred Applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence – announced on 15 March.

          This has certainly shaken things up as it means Camelot will lose its licence after 28 years once Allwyn Entertainment UK takes over in 2024. However, since the announcement, the process has been drawn to a halt while all outcomes are considered and feedbacked before more action is taken.

          It was during this legal standstill period that Camelot issued legal proceedings against the Gambling Commission in regard to how the competition was ran.

           

          “We are launching a legal challenge in our capacity as an applicant for the Fourth Licence because we firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong. When we received the result, we were shocked by aspects of the decision.

          “Despite lengthy correspondence, the Commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.

          “Irrespective of Camelot’s dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny. Separately, more than 1,000 Camelot employees work tirelessly to successfully operate The National Lottery under the current licence and, at the very least, they are owed a proper explanation.”

          Nigel Railton, Camelot CEO

           

          The Gambling Commission had this to say in response:

           

          “The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.

          “We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition. We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.

          “Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes. These proceedings will not help that but we trust that Camelot will honour its obligations as the current licensee to cooperate in that transition, and we will continue to use the tools available to us to facilitate that process.”

          The Gambling Commission

           

          The significance of this decision is rooted in the fact that the National Lottery has always been operated by Camelot since its launch in 1994. In those 28 years, players have raised more than £45 billion for 660,000 good causes across the UK, including £1.88bn in the pandemic year of 2020-1.

          The Gambling Commission ran a competition to find the next licensee as the current licence will expire in 2024. There were four applicants, comprising of Allwyn, Sisal Spa, Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd, and The New Lottery Company Ltd – incidentally, they marked the highest number of applicants since the first one in 1994. Camelot was named Reserve Applicant in the process.

          During the announcement of the winner back in March, the Gambling Commission stated Allwyn’s commitment to invest in the National Lottery and deliver growth and innovation across all aspects of the National Lottery’s products and channels, which’ll overall increase contributions to charitable causes, subject to the protection of participants and proprietary.

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            What Is Colocation And Why Are Datacentres Being Built On Sewage Plants?

            Datacentres could be made more environmentally friendly if collocated with sewage treatment plants, suggests Tomorrow Water.

             

            The idea is that heated water from a datacentre can be used to boost wastewater processing, and some of the treated water can then become the cooling water for the datacentre. The arrangement cuts the energy process required in the heating and cooling of the water as well as aiding in the treatment of wastewater.

            In Korea, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between Samsung, Dohwa Engineering, BNZ Partners and Tomorrow Water to cooperatively develop the develop integrated datacentre and sanitation infrastructure solution, named ‘Co-Flow’ by the firm.

            The Co-Flow process is also being evaluated in the US, as Tomorrow Water is partnered with sustainable design and engineering firm Arcadis, with the aim of developing similar colocation datacentres in the US.

            The goal of colocation is to reduce the amount of energy required for both datacentres and sewage treatment, by resourcing the energy, heat, nutrient and water inputs and outputs to create renewable energy generation and a more sustainable and affordable way of reducing climate harm for the global population.

            The firm has already implemented the solution at the Jungnang Water Recycling Centre in Seoul, in which the solution has reduced the plant’s total footprint by 60%, according to Tomorrow Water, and datacentres could be built on the freed-up spaces left behind if the process were to be repeated at other sites.

            Co-Flow also solves the other issue plaguing datacentres – high demand and low real estate availability. By reducing the existing footprint of sewage treatment works and capitalising on that by constructing datacentres within them. It frees up development space and also saves water and energy.

            Datacentre water cooling systems are not the only way this solution can be used, however. Microsoft has partnered with Finland’s largest energy provider to build a datacentre that heats homes as it cools servers. The waste heat given off by the datacentres can be moved via existing water pipe infrastructures to homes and businesses in Espoo Kauniainen, as well as the municipality of Kirkkonummi.

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              39,000 Families To Receive Essential New Housing Services

              1 April 2022 introduced five contracts that will provide essential accommodation services to 39,000 Armed Forces families across the UK.

               

              The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has awarded five contracts which comprise of a new national call centre and enhanced maintenance and repair services to military homes, worth in total £640 million.

              The contracts, awarded last June, make up part of a £3 billion Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) programme, which replaced the previous National Housing Prime contract.

              The new contracts will be turning the tide in how services are delivered to the numerous families who live in military accommodation in the UK and will be a positive change for them.

              Their needs have been considered during the development of the new contracts, as the DIO worked closely with military personnel, their families and the Service Families Federations to achieve a full perspective of what would be required.

              Operated by Pinnacle Group Ltd, the National Service Centre will be the single point of contact for Service families.

              350 jobs are expected to be created or sustained under the £141 million contract which will use modern communications technology to provide more responsive and accessible accommodation services by making service requests trackable in real time and offering more choices when making appointments.

              Four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts, worth almost £500 million together, have also commenced to provide repair and maintenance services to military homes, delivered by Amey in the Northern Region (including Scotland, Northern Ireland and North Wales, and the Central Region which includes Mid and South Wales; and VIVO will deliver services in the South East and South West of England.

              As part of the contracts, suppliers must use recognised industry standards and meet the needs of the customers first. Poor performance will be addressed as part of these stipulations, as well as the introduction of incentives and targets such as ‘first time fixes’ for repairs, and quicker response times for most repairs, combined these should reduce disruption for service families.

              Along with the customer-centric focus, targets for customer satisfaction will be introduced which will impact how much profit the suppliers make. Minimum standards will be set, and rewards for breaking the minimum standards will be given when appropriate to suppliers.

              “These contracts are critical to the delivery of key services to our Armed Forces and Service Personnel.

              They also support hundreds of jobs and community prosperity and will provide a crucial step towards modernising our Defence estates.”

              Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin

               

              “Our Armed Forces and their families have no real choice where they serve, no matter how remote, and when and how frequently they move, so it’s vital we ensure their homes are of the right quality and available for them wherever and whenever they are assigned.

              Their needs must be at the heart of what we do.

              These contracts are designed to be very different. They have been developed with Service Personnel and families firmly in mind to better meet their needs.

              Enhancing customer service will be their focus, with clear customer satisfaction targets for suppliers to meet, financial consequences for falling short and incentives to exceed the minimum standards.”

              Air Commodore James Savage, DIO Head of Accommodation

              Each contract will last for seven years, with the option to extend it by 3 years or terminate it after three years, depending on how the contractor is performing.

              Up to £855 million will go into refurbishment and improvement projects under the RAMS contracts.

              The DIO has spent £350 million over the last two financial years on housing improvements, which will be carried on into this financial year with a planned £171 million worth of upgrades planning to be delivered.

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                UK’s Investment Into Sustainability, Research & Development For The Arctic Region

                Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced the new UK defence strategy to maintain stability in the Arctic Region, and a brief with those participating in COLD RESPONSE 22.

                 

                Plans to protect critical underwater infrastructure have been announced in Norway by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, as the UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North outlined, alongside plans to ensure freedom of navigation through international seas and Exclusive Economic Zones in the Arctic region.

                The UK’s commitments to NATO involve a heightened presence of UK training and operations, with Allies as well as international partners. There’re also plans for the UK to invest in research and development in the area in the aims of future-proofing the Defence capability.

                To achieve this there will be periodic Royal Navy presence in the High North – the goal is to also demonstrate support for the Arctic Allies and maintain the security of the Arctic region.

                 

                “The High North and the impact of climate change affects us all whether we like it or not. The North Atlantic will always be the UK’s ‘home beat’ and so it is vital that we strengthen both our interoperability and our force integration with NATO and non-NATO partners in the region.”

                Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP

                 

                During the time the Defence Secretary met Odd Roger Enoksen, he also met those involved with COLD RESPONSE 22, a Norwegian-led exercise with 35,000 troops from 28 participant nations.

                From the UK, the exercise saw six Royal Navy ships and 2,000 UK personnel carrying out cold-weather training in northern Norway. An important part of training, of course, but it was also another display of the UK’s commitment to Allied forces which must be ready to be deployed and work effectively under any conditions in whatever environment they are needed.

                Norway provides the perfect landscape for NATO Allies to refine their processes and operations in extreme weather and rough terrain. Around 900 Royal Marines have been deployed to the Arctic since January in advance of preparations for COLD RESPONSE 22, so they can fine-tune how to operate in arctic weather.

                Among the personnel being trained, the Defence Secretary met with the crew on board one of the two UK aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales, which has been the prime contribution by the Royal Navy to exercise COLD RESPONSE 22. While there, he was briefed on what its role there was (NATO command platform) and how the ship is ready to respond in order to command and control Allied ships at sea.

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                  Breakthrough For Scalable Quantum Computing

                  Microsoft’s pursuit of a working, scalable quantum computer has hit a breakthrough, according to researchers.

                   

                  Current working quantum computers of competitors include a small number of qubits (the current record of qubits is held at 200) and Microsoft, unlike IBM, Honeywell and Google, has researched more in-depth into topological qubits in the hope of improving scalability.

                  The possibility of scaling quantum computing has been an enormous task for researchers to develop due to the highly receptive nature of qubits and the fact they’re sensitive to any and all hardware faults. These faults cause decoherence of quantum entanglement and are quite the barrier for scaling up a quantum computer – it’s thought that you’d need a few thousand qubits for a general-purpose quantum computer to ensure long-term stability.

                  The current theory goes that topological qubits are more stable than traditional ones, such as those created by trapped ion technologies – and this stability is caused by symmetries in the supporting material. Microsoft is experimenting with superconducting wires of a variety of materials since it’s thought that devices with these qubits implemented will be more fault-tolerant. compact and users will see a reduction in loss of performance. Until now, no one had been able to bring these qubits into the real world.

                  However, it appears Microsoft has been able to crack open the required underlying physics.

                  According to a blog post, a team led by Dr Chetan Nayak at Microsoft, the researchers have demonstrated that the groundwork of physics behind topological qubits are sound and that they’ve observed a ‘topological gap’ large enough to prove their point.

                   

                  What is a topological gap?

                  It is a measurement of the stability of a qubit while it is in its topological state and capable of being used for computation. While this sounds simple enough, it’s hard to identify the qubits that are in their topological state (using standard probes) so it’s a major breakthrough for Microsoft to have been able to achieve this identification with superconducting wires, and applying models that simulate common faults in the superconducting materials used to create the qubits.

                  The blog also says:

                  “Our team has measured topological gaps exceeding 30 μeV,”

                  “This is more than triple the noise level in the experiment and larger than the temperature by a similar factor. This shows that it is a robust feature. This is both a landmark scientific advance and a crucial step on the journey to topological quantum computation.”

                  Despite this being a simulated result, and no topological qubit has been produced, the researchers insist that the results remain valid and have been verified by independent consultants.

                  Phase one, the theoretical underpinnings of topological qubits, has been demonstrated so it’s time for researchers to move onto the next phase – creating them in the lab to verify thet do indeed have the stability and speed advantages that the maths predict.

                  the post concludes:

                  “We believe ultimately it will power a fully scalable quantum machine in the future, which will, in turn, enable us to realise the full promise of quantum to solve the most complex and pressing challenges our society faces,”

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                    RAF Completes First Drone Flight Powered By Synthetic Fuel

                    The Royal Air Force has successfully flown a four-metre drone with synthetic fuel, marking a milestone in the international collaboration between UK and US for alternative fuel.

                    The work was done under Project Vermeer and this flight marks a groundbreaking advancement in their work to develop synthetic kerosene: an entirely fossil fuel-free aviation fuel.

                    It is made by mixing raw materials with high sugar levels, such as food waste, with bacteria to create an oil substance that is then converted into aviation fuel using chemicals and heat.

                    Not only is synthetic kerosene entirely fossil fuel-free, it also doesn’t require large infrastructure to create, and the fact it can be made anywhere only adds to the military interest in its development.

                    Sustainability has been a commitment of the RAF and this development solidifies that promise to invest in a sustainable future, as the significantly reduced carbon footprint of synthetic kerosene can be used across all platforms from remotely piloted air systems to fighter jets.

                     

                    “This is an exciting moment for the RAF and British industry as they continue to develop pioneering solutions to help address climate change. These new approaches will maintain our world-class fighting forces whilst reducing our carbon footprint.”

                    Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin

                     

                    “The RAF needs to ensure that we are at the forefront of technology to safeguard our own resilience and operational capability, whilst minimising our damage to the environment. Fuel scarcity and cost will only ever increase in its impact on our operations and synthetic fuels for our aircraft are one potential solution to this situation as we look to secure the objectives of the next generation RAF of tomorrow.”

                    Air Vice Marshal Lincoln Taylor

                    Valuable data has been provided that shows the synthetic fuel performs to a high standard, following the creation of 15 litre of fuel in laboratory conditions and subsequent engine and flight testing, a ground-breaking discovery for British company C3 Biotechnologies and the US Navy.

                     

                    It is exciting and game-changing to work with our allies in the UK to develop a more efficient synthetic aviation fuel.

                    “The U.S. Navy is committed to finding innovative solutions to operational challenges, and the ability to manufacture this fuel without large infrastructure requirements would be ground-breaking for deployed forces.”

                    Chief of US Naval Research Rear Adm Lorin C. Selby

                    The testing isn’t over for the fossil fuel-free fuel, however, as the RAF and partners move on to the next phase of the project which will be to refine the process and develop deployable manufacturing facilities.

                    We can’t forget though that the real big win for the RAF was their title of Guinness World Record holder following a successful flight on synthetic fuel, won only 4 months ago.

                    Project Vermeer followed the Integrated Review and Defence command paper and since summer 2021 Project Vermeer has continued to demonstrate the RAF’s ongoing commitment to invest in emerging technology and sustainability.

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                      UK and Turkey Commit to Sustainability With New Electric Railway Deal

                      The clean transport deal marks the first UK-supported rail transaction in Turkey in over 160 years, bringing boost £1.7 billion boost to UK rail industry

                       

                      Turkey’s high-speed electric railway line forms part of the UK Government’s largest sustainable civil infrastructure deal.

                      The boost comes in the form of a EUR2.1 billion loan from the UK Export Finance to aid in the construction of a 503km high-speed electric railway. In return for the UK support, nine-figure contracts are set to be awarded to UK rail suppliers.

                      Turkey has been striving to meet its COP26 commitments and the climate-friendly projects have been a result of that. The deal to fund the high-speed electric railway line was announced at the UK-Türkiye Green Finance Conference.

                      It’s expected that the new railway line will decarbonise travel, with major contracts being awarded to British and Turkish businesses.

                      The financing will be guaranteed by the UK Export Finance (UKEF) through its Buyer Credit Scheme, with Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered structuring and coordinating banks arranging the EUR2.1 billion transaction.

                      The railway will support its COP26 commitments by providing a faster, lower carbon alternative to current air and road routes between Ankara and Izmir, topping out at 503km.

                      “Turkey is a vital trading partner for the UK. Our shared global outlook on free trade and the environment is the driving force behind economic growth in our two nations.

                      It is fitting that UK Export Finance’s biggest ever civil infrastructure deal is strongly sustainable. This is a proud moment for the UK railway industry, using its industrial roots to reduce emissions in heavily polluted cities.”

                      International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan

                      “Referring to the Bilateral Cooperation Agreement signed between the UK and Türkiye in 1999; we have successfully achieved the closing of the landmark financing of Ankara İzmir High Speed Railway Project under the green loan structure.

                      We have given utmost importance to the environmental and social procedures during this project and as the Ministry of Treasury and Finance we are closely following the improvements of such issues. We also desire to be among the active and important players of the rapidly growing green finance market.

                      We are very glad for the cooperation and strong longstanding relations with UK government and we hope to further strengthen our collaboration.”

                      Treasury and Finance Minister for Türkiye Dr. Nureddin Nebati

                      The trading relationship between Turkey and the UK is an important one for both nations, with the trading relationship having brought in £17.5 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021, increasing by 1.4 billion from the same period in 2020.

                      Following the agreement, major contracts of UK companies of all sizes will be secured in order to deliver the major railway transformation project. ERG International group will be calling on its close ties with the UK supply chain to support construction – which will consist of British-made railway lines, turnouts, point machines, fasteners, material and equipment for signalling, telecommunication and electrification systems, as well as vital insurance and freight services.

                      To ensure the financing of the project is sustainable, the loan has been led by Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered Bank, and it has been ensured it’s been aligned to the Green Loan Principles. The risk to the UK taxpayer has been reduced as reinsurance is being provided by international export credit agencies such as SACE in Italy, SERV in Switzerland and OeKB in Austria

                      “We’re proud to further strengthen our relationship with the Turkish government, providing a loan structured with a clear focus on international social and environmental standards, and working closely with Credit Suisse and UKEF. This support is another in the line of Standard Chartered’s financing in Türkiye to help the government deliver its railway infrastructure plan.”

                      Yoshi Ichikawa, Head of Structured Export Finance for Europe, Standard Chartered Bank

                       

                      “ERG is honored with the achievement and its historic milestone. ERG look forward strengthening ties with UKEF and the Turkish Government in the construction sector and adding value to the economies by making advance engineering and technological solutions available. Like in all our previous projects over the last 50 years, ERG is committed to create sustainable economic added value.

                      ERG’s Turkish and UK based Environmental & Social teams will bring many years of international experience to this important project, in order to ensure that IFC, Equator Principles, and national standards are at all times met. We would like to thank all our partners and stakeholders in the UK, Europe and Turkey to make this dream project come true, which will positively change and enhance the lives of millions of travellers and people living along the alignment.”

                      Murat Dedeoglu, ERG International UK, Group CEO

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                        Energy Bills Increase Could Devastate Households Financially – What’s Being Done To Help?

                        The results of a recent survey by the StepChange charity has shown that nearly half of 25-49 year olds will not be able to pay bills – or at least, they expect not to be able to.

                        More needs to be done to help the most vulnerable, and the debt charity is calling upon the chancellor to use this week’s Spring Statement to address those needs.

                        The debt charity is also calling upon Rishi Sunak to provide more assistance both with energy bills and with increasing welfare benefits.

                        Without these added safety nets in place, there is a risk of people falling into ‘problem debt’ as the charity states.

                        However, Mr Sunak has said that he cannot “fully protect” people from the growing cost of energy bills.

                         

                        What’s to be done?

                        StepChange suggests an (at least) 7% in benefits in April to try coinciding with the rate of rising prices.

                        Additionally, it wants more funding to be allocated to local councils in order to better meet the needs of the community, especially those with vouchers, grants or discretionary payments to cover essential bills.

                        The leading debt charity is also aiming to block energy companies from attempting debt recovery from households who struggle to cover the cost of their bills, as well as calling for the Warm Home Discount to be expanded upon.

                        The calls come following results of StepChange’s survey, polled via YouGov, which showed a worrying one in five people believe they will fall into a debt that they can’t pay back this year.

                        42% of the 1,676 surveyed adults said they might struggle to cope with the rising costs of living in the coming months, including the rising energy bills and council tax.

                        Further modelling by the debt charity has shown that, if energy bills hit £3,000 per year – which isn’t impossible – the most vulnerable households could end up spending £1 In every £6 they earn just on energy costs alone.

                         

                        “I wish government could solve absolutely every problem and that I could fully protect people against all the challenges that lie ahead.

                        I can’t do that, but what I would say is, I will stand by them in the same way that I have done in the past couple of years.”

                        Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

                        The government’s price cap is set to rise next month which is expected to throw millions of households into a sharp turmoil as the energy bills rise.

                        The typical household will be paying 54% more than what they pay now under the higher cap – and a further rise is expected in October.

                        It’s not just energy bills rising – the cost of petrol and diesel has skyrocketed in recent weeks too, resulting in more than 50 conservative MPs calling for a cut in fuel duty to bring the costs back down.

                         

                        “I think household incomes are entering a storm and they are going to be battered from all sides, energy, food, interest rates rising and so there is a role from the Treasury now to try to smooth the effect of this shock.”

                        Robert Jenrick, Former Housing Minister

                        Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank said that cutting fuel duty would provide targeted help for individuals and businesses who buy a lot of motor fuel. He also said that the move was something that the chancellor could afford, however:

                         

                        “I think the problem with cutting fuel duty is that it never turns out to be temporary”.

                        Carl Emmerson, Deputy Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Think-Tank

                        Fuel duty has been frozen for more than 10 years, despite the fact that it is supposed to rise automatically each year.

                        Mr Emmerson added ways the chancellor will have to choose how to help. It could be between broader help, which offers some help to most households, or it could be that more targeted interventions are needed and thus most help will be given to the most vulnerable.

                         

                        “If you go broad, you can only really shield people from a bit of the pain”

                        Carl Emmerson, Deputy Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Think-Tank

                        “Government must pull every lever at its disposal in order to protect those on the lowest incomes from the scars of debt and destitution.

                        “While the initial raft of support announced in February was welcome, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already difficult situation and more action is clearly needed,”

                        Phil Andrew, StepChange Chief Executive

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                          Stop Collecting Children’s Personal Data, Says President Biden

                          President Biden’s State of the Union address urges tech giants to strengthen privacy protections and to stop collecting personal data on children.

                           

                          US president Joe Biden urges Congress to strengthen child safety practices online, such as on social media platforms, by instating new laws that ban digital platforms from displaying certain ads targeted at children.

                          He states it’s time to improve privacy protections, including increasing pressure of tech firms to cease collecting personal information on children.

                          With Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen in attendance, the president said that social media platforms must be held accountable for the ‘national experiment’ they are conducting on children for profit.

                          The mental health crisis amongst young people has been exacerbated by social media platforms and the way their data has been used to keep them clicking, according to the Biden administration, and it’s not without significant repercussions.

                          Biden urged the congress to put pressure on digital platforms, by making them develop products with child safety features in mind from the very beginning and not just something tacked on at the end. This must be a prerequisite to ensure the health and safety of children.

                          “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising at children, and demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children,”

                          US President Joe Biden

                           

                          There are plans for The White House to request specific funding to research and develop ways to improve children’s online safety.

                          President Biden states he will be requesting $5 million in his 2023 budget to increase the research efforts on how social media negatively impacts user’s mental health, as well as the clinical and societal interventions the government may utilise to aid the affected.

                          The Department of Health and Human Services will be launching over the next year a, ‘National Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Illness’, in order to create and distribute new guidelines for how social media use can impact teens.

                          The takeaway from Biden’s statements is that there’s a pushback against the world’s tech giants and their increasingly pervasive products.

                          He’s not the first to speak out against it, as campaigners, parents and lawmakers have been arguing for a long time that social media sites, including platforms like YouTube, are designed to grab and keep attention and the content is fed to young people in order to hook them.

                          Internal papers, released by Haugen last year, revealed that Facebook was not only aware of the fact that up to 3 per cent of teenage girls experience anxiety, depression, or self-harm as a result of using Instagram, but they were still seeking to launch a teen-targeted version of the app despite knowing this.

                          Within the documents was also evidence showing the company was aware that about 12.5 per cent of its users (nearly 360 million people) indulged in compulsive usage of the social media platform, impacting their sleep, work or relationships.

                          A majority of users who’ve been surveyed by Facebook researchers reveal that they feel their compulsive behaviour is worse on Facebook than any other social media platform.

                          The documents showed a number of problems, such as:

                           

                          • loss of productivity when people stop completing tasks in their lives to check Facebook frequently
                          • a loss of sleep when they stay up late scrolling through the app
                          • the degradation of in-person relationships when people replace time together with time online

                          Speaking about Meta’s investment into its virtual metaverse environment, Ms Haugen said that it was “unconscionable” while the firm’s own documents state that “there need to be more resources on very basic safety systems”.

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                            10 Minutes Is Not Enough, Says Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association

                            Two leading medical organisations point out the need for more GP support for treating eating disorders

                             

                            The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) says GPS require more specialist units, and 10 minutes is not enough when working with eating disorder patients.

                            It follows a survey conducted on GP experiences by the charity Beat.

                            Results showed over 92% thought that their GP weren’t trained enough in the area of eating disorders.

                            Almost 1,700 people were asked by Beat Eating Disorders about what their experience was like in order to get a diagnosis from their GP.

                            69% of respondents also felt as though their GP didn’t know how to help them.

                            The survey was released to go alongside with Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

                            Jess Griffiths had an eating disorder between the ages of 11 and 21 and, now in full recovery, she works as a consultant to NHS England and with her local eating disorder service in Dorset.

                            When speaking about her personal experience, she says she wasn’t showing the full picture when she first approached her GP in order to get help.

                             

                            “I was presenting at a low weight and not having periods, so the GP put me on the pill, but I went there hoping he would ask me the questions [about a potential eating disorder]”

                            “But it’s really hard for people with eating disorders to – in a really pressurised situation with a doctor – say how they really feel.”

                            Jess Griffiths

                             

                            For doctors to become a GP they must complete training in mental health, which includes eating disorders, as part of a three-year training plan on top of what’s taught at medical school and the two years of post-graduate foundation training.

                            Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, part of the BMA’s GP committee, has said the results of the survey are ‘deeply saddening’.

                            “People with eating disorders should never feel that GPs are a barrier to accessing care, so it is vital that medical education and training supports doctors to identify eating disorders and support their treatment,”

                            Dr Richard Van Mellaerts

                             

                            However, he does add that there’s ‘poor provision of specialist care’, which has left GPs ‘frustrated up and down the country’.

                            A possible solution, according to The Royal College of GPs’ vice-chairman Dr Gary Howsam, is longer appointments in order to provide the best possible care.

                            “Eating disorders, indeed all mental health conditions, are complex – they may also not be the primary reason a patient has made an appointment to see their GP,”

                            “The standard 10-minute appointment is inadequate for GPs to have the necessary conversations with patients, but offering longer appointments means offering fewer, and patients already report having to wait too long to access GP care.”

                            Dr Gary Howsam, Vice-Chairman of The Royal College of GPs

                             

                            Jess Griffiths agrees:

                            “I think GPs do an incredibly difficult job – they have to know a lot about illnesses, mental health conditions, and they are strapped for time.

                            “The workforce issue means we do struggle to provide that level of care needed in specialist services currently – so I can totally empathise,”

                            Jess Griffiths

                             

                            Jess provides support to the charity Beat. Drawing on her personal and professional experience, she has helped develop a training programme with the aim of guiding GPs who need more eating disorder support.

                            “We’re providing resources to ensure that with the limited time GPs have, they can make an effective assessment and gain all the information they need to then know how to support a person.”

                            Jess Griffiths

                             

                            In order to get enough time together, she says eating disorder patients need double and triple appointment bookings to be made accessible, and GPs need more power to be able to do that.

                            “The difficulty with eating disorder patients is they don’t often present in a crisis, and they are generally not underweight, so it’s not often visible what is going on. You need to get to the thought processes behind the mental illness and that definitely takes longer than 10 minutes,”

                            Jess Griffiths

                             

                            “Eating disorders can be devastating for people living with them, and we want to ensure that everyone has access to the right support.

                            “We are working with partners – including Health Education England – to improve training for GPs, and with the General Medical Council to ensure newly qualified clinicians understand and know how to respond to eating disorders.

                            “We have invested £58 million this financial year to expand adult community mental health services, including those for eating disorders. This is on top of the additional £1 billion we are investing in community mental health care for adults with severe mental illness as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

                            Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson

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                              COVID Recovery Reform Well Underway As 27,000 Additional Nurses Now Working For NHS

                              Milestone 50,000 additional nurses for the NHS well on track to be met by 2024.

                               

                              Over 27,000 more nurses are now working across the NHS, which means that the government is on track to meet its manifesto commitment to deliver 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by 2024.

                              The goal of the extra nurses is to help the NHS through many facets of COVID recovery – such as tackling the COVID backlogs that have built up over the last couple of years, and also ensure world-class care can continue to be provided in the years to come.

                              A progress report, published today, shows that the overall number of nurses in the NHS are now at 327,907, as of December 2021 compared to 300,904 back in September 2019. There’re a planned 351,000 full-time equivalent nurses by March 2024, to provide world-class care across the health service. The same report also states government plans for reaching that target.

                              The focus will be on recruitment and retention to cope with those who are retiring, reducing their hours, or moving on from the NHS.

                              The Health and Social Care Secretary will be delivering a speech later this week, which will cover his plans for long-term healthcare reforms which will support the NHS’s recovery and tackle COVID backlogs.

                               

                              “It’s fantastic to see the progress we have made towards our manifesto commitment of delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024. There are now over 27,000 more nurses providing exceptional care and treatment for patients across the country every day.

                              Nurses are the absolute backbone of our NHS, without whom we would have been lost throughout the pandemic and who will be vital in helping the NHS tackle the COVID backlogs. This government will continue to do everything we can to recruit and retain even more nurses and to support our NHS.”

                              Prime Minister Boris Johnson

                               

                              “We committed to deliver 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by 2024, and we are over halfway to meeting this target with over 27,000 more nurses already in our NHS compared to September 2019.

                              I’m grateful to all our NHS nurses who’ve shown immense commitment during the pandemic, working tirelessly to look after us and our loved ones. It is this dedication that is inspiring the next generation and ensuring the NHS continues to provide world-class healthcare.”

                              Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid

                               

                              The government is outlining how it’ll expand nurse numbers in the NHS, such as where they’ll come from and how they’ll be recruited. This includes:

                              • domestic recruitment, including undergraduates, postgraduates, apprenticeships, nursing associates and assistant practitioners converting to fully qualified nurses
                              • international recruitment
                              • successful retention of existing staff

                              Overall, the 50,000 recruited nurses will offset the numbers of those leaving the NHS, or retiring, in order to deliver a net total of at least 50,000.

                              Overseas recruitment is expected to deliver between 51,000 and 57,000 more nurses while around 68.000 to 75,000 more nurses will be trained in England by 2024.

                              A key element to the reform will also involve retention, expected to contribute between 3,000 and 9,000 nurses to the targeted 50,000, and will address the reasons why staff leave the NHS. The government and the NHS are committed to making the NHS the best place to work through health and wellbeing initiatives, expanding flexible working and putting a greater focus on career development – initiatives which are already helping to retain more exiting numbers.

                              Funding includes £37 million to go towards staff mental health hubs nationwide, which’ll sit alongside a dedicated helpline and a 24/7 text support service.

                               

                              “The NHS is caring for more patients than ever before but, to continue doing so, it is vital that we boost the number of nurses in the NHS and reach the target of 50,000 more nurses by 2024.

                              While there is much more to do, the progress we have made with over 27,000 more nurses now working across the NHS in England than in September 2019, is testament to the tremendous efforts being made to recruit, retain and develop more nurses, and ensure the NHS remains one of the best places in the world to work and receive care.”

                              Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England

                               

                              “Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the numbers of people signing up to our universities to start their education as nurses, with a record number of college and school leavers applying for a nursing degree in 2021. It is brilliant to see so many people who are keen to start a rewarding and challenging career in nursing which is so critical to all areas of the NHS.

                              To continue on track to meet the 50,000 target, we will carry on working with our partners in health, social care and education to support and train new nurses as well all welcoming back people who want to return to the profession and ensuring the existing workforce, who have been so crucial to our pandemic response, are supported and given opportunities to develop in their career.”

                              Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse at Health Education England and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England

                               

                              The plans are set to be responsive to any shortfalls, such as ramping up international recruitment, while maintaining the highest ethical standards and adhering to the code of practice.

                               

                              The overall target is defined as including all full-time equivalent registered nurses working in the NHS England. This covers all NHS providers across acute, community, mental health and ambulance settings, and those in general practice.

                              It doesn’t include non-NHS providers, including social care providers and social enterprises, though these sectors will still benefit indirectly as the number of nurses trained increases overall.

                              Applications have increased overall – applicants to courses at the January deadline increased by 34% in 2022 when compared to 2019 and all eligible students will benefit from a training grant worth at least £5,000 a year, with up to £3,000 extra available for childcare and those studying certain specialisms.

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                                Proposed Amendment Could Undo 10 Years Worth Of Internet Security

                                Browsers like Google Chrome could be forced to trust government-designated third parties without requisite security guarantees, in a proposed amendment to eIDAS.

                                 

                                The proposed amendment to Article 45 in eIDAS would result in a significant, negative impact on web users’ security.

                                EU lawmakers have been urged by leading cyber security experts, advocates and practitioners alike, to not implement the proposed changes for securing online transactions, as there is too much jeopardy involved for the safety of internet users’ security and privacy.

                                In a letter to Members of the European Parliament on 3rd March, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and others suggested that lawmakers reject a proposed amendment to Article 45 in the EU’s Digital Identity Framework (eIDAS). The reason for the rejection is that the amendment would require browsers to accept faulty website certificates, which could bypass the security measures modern browsers use to prevent cyber criminals from intercepting and stealing users’ data.

                                Among the signatories are Alexis Hancock, EFF director of engineering; David Awad, faculty instructional associate of computer science at Georgia Tech; Andrew Ayer of SSLMate; and other security experts from Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.

                                The signatories argue that the proposed changes to Article 45 would result in severely negative security consequences for millions of web users.

                                Google, Firefox and Safari are some of the biggest browsers out there, and they could be forced to trust government-designated third parties without the requisite security guarantees, leaving billions of web users’ vulnerable.

                                Browsers would be required to accept Qualified Website Authentication Certificates (QWACs), a type of EU website certificate which has been criticised in the past for its lack of effectiveness as a way of protecting users, due to implementation issues.

                                QWACs follow the same standards as Extended Validation (EV) certificates. They’re both digital certificates provided to domain owners, with an additional mechanism that verifies the domain owner’s identity – but the onus us squarely on the user. It’s been shown that this approach has been ineffective in the past.

                                The ramifications could be that, after trusting a third party who turns out to be irresponsible or unsecure, user privacy could jeopardised, personal or financial information leaked, or the user could become the target for malware.

                                This decision could impact web users from all over, not just those within the EU, according to the EFF. The approach to require browsers to trust certificates issued by EU government-mandated Certificate Authorities (CAs) would force the incorporation of a security-hindering feature into the web user’s experiences both inside and outside the EU.

                                With the letter, the signatories state that the amendment to Article 45 would undo all the work that has been done during the last decade to strengthen internet security. It would be in everyone’s best interest if it were withdrawn, and instead CAs should be urged to meet security, transparency and incident response criteria.

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                                  Public Consultations Underway To Increase Security Of Telecommunication Firms

                                  Government seeks proposals on how to bolster telecommunication firms in UK

                                   

                                  The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has initiated public consultations on the Electronic Communications (Security Measures) Regulations 2022 and a draft code of practice, to raise cyber security standards for communication service providers (CSPs).

                                  ‘Our proposals will embed the highest security standards in our telecoms industry with heavy fines for any companies failing in their duties,’

                                  Digital Infrastructure Minister

                                   

                                  The new laws are currently being drafted, and the government says they will improve the security and resilience of public telecommunication networks and services and aid them in carrying out legal obligations imposed by the Telecommunications (Security) Act 2021.

                                  The Telecommunications Act became law in November 2021 and furnished the government with new powers to establish codes of practice and new regulations on cyber security. It includes plans to strip out ‘high-risk’ telecoms vendors, such as Huawei, from the UK’s communication networks.

                                  Now, the government aims to use that authority to strengthen the security of the UK’s public telecommunications networks and services.

                                  The Telecommunications (Security) Act 2022 will amend and expand upon the Communications Act 2003 to impose addition obligations upon providers of communications networks and services to identify and mitigate the risk of security breaches, as well as prepare in advance for their occurrence.

                                  The government is seeking informed views from communication regulator Ofcom, service providers and people with relevant expertise in order to enact its public consultation.

                                  Under the proposed laws, telecommunications firms will be legally required to:

                                  • Protect data held by their networks and services, as well as secure the fundamental operations that allow them to be run and controlled.
                                  • Secure the tools they employ for network monitoring and analysis against hostile states
                                  • Monitor public networks for potentially harmful activities and to have a thorough awareness of their security risk, with frequent reporting to internal boards.
                                  • Take account of supply chain risk, as well as understand and manage people who have access to their networks and services functions and can make changes to how networks operate

                                  The consultation also seeks views on the proposal to classify telecommunications providers inro three tiers based on their size and relevance to UK connectivity.

                                  According to the government, this method will guarantee that guiding measures are applied effectively and proportionally based on the type of provider.

                                  Companies that have failed to comply with guidelines could be handed fines of up to 10 percent of their annual revenue, or a penalty of £100,000 per day if there are continual violations happening.

                                  The draft code also shows that the government has scrapped plans for service providers to monitor and retain internet connection records.

                                  The most recent version of the legislation outlines that the 13th-month logging obligation only applies to monitoring ‘security critical functions’ of telecom and ISP networks

                                  “Logs for network equipment in security critical functions shall be fully recorded and made available for audit for 13 months,”

                                  Draft Regulations

                                   

                                  There is a deadline for ISPs to work to, with large ISPs having until 2025 to implement such logging, and smaller companies will have years to get everything in order.

                                  Responses to the consultation are due by 11:45 p.m. on May 10, 2022.

                                  “Broadband and mobile networks are crucial to life in Britain and that makes them a prime target for cybercriminals,”

                                  “Our proposals will embed the highest security standards in our telecoms industry with heavy fines for any companies failing in their duties.”

                                   Digital Infrastructure Minister, Julia Lopez

                                   

                                  The government also launched consultations to find out how to lawfully remove Huawei equipment from its 5G networks by the end of 2027.

                                  These include proposals that request full fibre broadband operators to refrain from installing Huawei equipment that is subject to US penalties.

                                  UK telecommunications companies have already been withdrawing Huawei from the UK’s 5G networks, all following a government statement from July 2020.

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                                    Health Secretary Outlines Ambitious Digital Transformation Plan For NHS

                                    The Health and Social Care Secretary spoke at the HSJ Digital Transformation Summit, outlining plans for digital transformation in the healthcare sector.

                                    The Health and Social Care Secretary has outlined his main objectives which involve focusing on personalised care, levelling up and applying the power of technology breakthroughs to care.

                                    Automation will play a part in the levelling up, as electronic patient records will be rolled out to 90% of trusts by December 2023 which’ll enable NHS staff to access patient information quickly.

                                    The goal is to have 75% of adults in England to be utilising the NHS App by March 2024 and there’re plans to release a digital health plan later this year.

                                    Staff and patients across the country will feel the positive outcomes of a more personalised, more responsive and easily accessible digitally delivered health and care as Sajid Javid delivered his first health technology focused speech since his appointment as Health and Social Care Secretary.

                                    The plan is going to aim for transforming the digital health service int a more inclusive space to drive the era of recovery and reform in a post covid Britain as the power of innovation will be harnessed, as Sajid Javid laid out his plans during the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Digital Transformation Summit.

                                    This focus will place digital transformation at the centre of health and social care reforms and will be the key element in implementation of technologies and processes which will help clear the backlog of cases which have built up during the covid-19 pandemic and result in the reduction of wait lists.

                                    He announced ambitions including:

                                    • By December 2023, 90% of NHS trusts to have electronic patient records in place or to be processing them and for all social care providers to be using a digital social care record – both will save clinicians time, for example up to 23,000 hours of nursing time will be freed up each year to be refocused back into care every year. Electronic treatment plans increase consistency, reduce risk and shorten the length of hospital stays, making care for patients faster and safer.
                                    • For 75% of adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024 and expand functions on estimated wait times and personalised advice. This’ll enable people to take control of their health management by having access to their data, such as their GP health records, as well as making the ordering of repeat prescriptions more accessible, patients can book their appointments online and register preferences for services, such as organ donation, which will in turn save lives.

                                    The Health and Social Care Secretary laid out his proposed targets for the roll out of electronic patient records across both health and social care. He said:

                                     

                                    “We have undeniably seen brilliant progress. But this progress hasn’t always been consistent across the board – for example one in five trusts still do not have electronic patient records.

                                    Electronic patient records are the essential prerequisite for a modern, digital NHS. Without them, we cannot achieve the full potential for reform.

                                    So I want to accelerate the rollout of these vital records, with a new approach so that we hit 90% coverage by the end of next year.

                                    I want to see a particular focus on social care, where around 40% of providers are still grappling entirely with paper-based records. So want to see all social care providers adopt a digital social care record.”

                                    Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

                                    To reach the goal of 75% of all adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024 and embrace a personalised, technological health and care experience, Sajid Javid said:

                                    “Embracing personalised technologies, Sajid Javid will outline his ambition for 75% of the adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024. He said:

                                    To get there, we need to show people the app is for life, not just for COVID, and that it will be a future front door for interacting with the NHS.

                                    The NHS is already working on new features, including how we can show estimated waiting times and the results of blood tests within the app.

                                    The NHS app has shown how people are receptive to having healthcare literally in their hands – and we have the opportunity to use platforms like apps and websites to access diagnostics and therapies, helping them to manage their own conditions.”

                                    Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

                                     

                                    He also has ambitions to utilise NHS data and drive innovation to build upon pioneering work that occurred during the pandemic, to level up diagnostics and treatment for covid-19, which includes the RECOVER trial which led to the discovery of Dexamethasone, the world’s first proven treatment for covid-19 in just 100 days, which has saved at least a million across the world. He said:

                                    “NHS data is making the whole world safer and healthier.

                                    Thanks to this country’s single, national health service, the NHS has a precious resource in the form of data that can offer so much insight to pioneers in the life sciences – including some of the world’s largest genomic datasets.

                                    But we know that there is more to do to build trust in the use of data and reassure the public that the data will be used securely. For instance, making it smoother and safer for researchers to access and use data, through requiring the use of trusted research environments.”

                                    Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

                                    Innovation will be encouraged by the development of a gold-standard security driven environment, which’ll also ensure patient data is protected to the highest standard.

                                    Looking ahead, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced plans to publish a digital health plan later this year which will build on lessons learned during the pandemic and drive digital transformation across the health and social care sector.

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                                      UK And Japan To Collaborate On Research For Cutting-Edge Fighter-Jet Sensor

                                      The UK and Japan have signed a Letter of Arrangement (LOA) to conduct a collaborative project on research and development for a world-leading fighter-jet sensor

                                      Lethal threats will be detected by cutting-edge sensor technology used by partners.

                                      New jobs to be created: 75 UK jobs, including 40 engineering jobs in Scotland.

                                      £2 billion of funding to be given, as part of UK’s Combat Air Strategy.

                                      The Armed Forces will be able to better detect future threats from air, land and sea, with the development of “JAGUAR” – universal radio frequency sensor technology, which works by quickly and accurately locating targets and denying surveillance technology operated by out adversaries.

                                      The creation of 75 jobs across the UK is expected, with 40 highly skilled engineering jobs opening up at Leonardo’s Edinburgh site, once the project commences, scheduled April.

                                       

                                      “We are proud to work ever closer with our partners in Japan to ensure both our Armed Forces remain at the forefront of military innovation.

                                      This crucial relationship will see us acquire truly advanced technology to protect our nations for decades to come whilst creating significant investment and highly-skilled jobs in the UK and Japan.”

                                      Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin

                                      It will take around 5 years to design, build and evaluate the JAGUAR system, which will see input from both Leonardo UK and Japanese industry. National expertise will maximised and enhanced by the sharing of the learning and the work involved in the project, with each country building its own demonstrator, making two overall within the project.

                                       

                                      “As the UK’s combat air electronics champion and a founding member of Tempest, we’re keen to work with our international allies where their industry has similarly advanced capabilities, bringing together the best of both partners.

                                      Japan has a strong and growing combat air industry which is a natural fit for Leonardo. Under JAGUAR, our highly-skilled scientists and engineers based across the UK will work with their Japanese counterparts to advance technology that will benefit both of our nation’s future combat air endeavours.”

                                      Chair and CEO Leonardo UK, Norman Bone

                                      December last year the UK and Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), to enable the pursuit of joint technologies. At the same time, the two countries also announced that they intend to develop the above-mentioned future fighter jet engine demonstrator as part of their partnership.

                                      The UKs approach to combat air is international partnership, as set out in in the Combat Air Strategy published in 2018. Over the next four years the UK is investing more than £2 billion into its major national and international endeavour to design a world-leading Future Combat Air System. The collaboration with Japan is taking place alongside the UK’s growing work to partner with European nations.

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                                        Improvements to Sainsbury’s Data Capability Means Your Substitutions Will Be Based on Customer History, Not Guesswork

                                        AI and ML has ‘endless’ use cases, says retailer’s Group CIO.

                                        Sainsbury’s is pushing for better more informed decision-making by re-building its data ecosystem, and also in an effort to better exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

                                        According to the retailer’s group CIO, Phil Jordan, data at the organisation was previously siloed.

                                         

                                        “We’ve been on a journey for four years to rebuild our data ecosystem,” Jordan began. “We realised a long time ago that our data was very siloed and stuck in legacy areas or under individual brands. So we made big punt to use Snowflake as our enterprise cloud warehouse running on AWS, together with a heavy use of MicroStrategy.

                                        “We’re now a long way into that journey, moving and closing legacy warehouses, rebuilding in the cloud, as part of a programme we call ‘Aspire’. One of the goals is the creation of a single version of truth. So all of our reporting is now revisualised and comes through MicroStrategy.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        The organisation is making a bigger dive into the cloud and will be retiring legacy systems as a part of that effort.

                                        And, while the journey can never be said to be ‘completed’, it is at least had much of the work done, said Jordan.

                                         

                                        “Lots of the heavy lifting is complete. We’re now exploiting the value of having a cloud-based enterprise analytics system. So we can now re-engineer our decisions, with many of them now being taken as automated machine-based decisions.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        The effects of this technical shift have been staggeringly positive.

                                        Take, for example, online order substitutions which are now done by algorithm based on the buyer’s history.

                                         

                                        “If you think about substituting items for online orders where the selected item isn’t available, previously the picker would just choose what they thought was relevant. Now we have algorithmic suggestions based on history and customer reaction. That’s so successful it’s actually driving sales.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        Another example of how ML and AI is helping the retailer is with stock replenishment, where staff restock shelves as customers empty them.

                                         

                                        “When we do replenishment in stores, we have algorithms to tell colleagues the most efficient route to walk the store. And if we can get AI and ML to play in those spaces the use cases are endless.

                                        “For instance we helped our store managers during the pandemic by running algorithms over our data to predict staff absences by area. That really helped managers with resource scheduling.

                                        “We were also the first supermarket to use our data to infer whether someone is elderly, disabled or vulnerable. That allowed us to protect their delivery slots during the pandemic, so we didn’t allow all the slots to be consumed and leave them without options. That work was hugely valuable.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        Automated decision-making is perfect for the retail industry, in Jordan’s opinion, and he intends to utilise the full breadth of benefits that AI and ML has to offer.

                                         

                                        “We will have the opportunity to automate every decision we make on a daily basis. That’s because it’s an intensely transactional business, so it’s perfect for analytics and re-engineered decisions. All of our pricing, the way we look at other retailers, the way we do picking, in all these areas if we can bring much richer data set to the decision-making process we will create massive value. That will work both for driving the business’ top line and taking cost out. It’s a very highly repetitive, highly intensive business, so it’s a strong use case.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        This doesn’t mean that every aspect of the business will be fully automated – recruitment and personalisation is still very much a job for humans.

                                        “We’re very conscious of personalisation and of course of privacy and ethics, so anything needing ethical judgement we wouldn’t leave to a machine. It’s the same when it comes to people; there are lots of things we can do to help with great people management, and that’s still a human activity. What we’re trying to do is to put great tools in the hands of great people.

                                        “We also largely keep automation out of recruitment. We’re still very much reliant, even when moving quickly as we are now, on the judgement of people. So we don’t tend to use AI in that regard.”

                                        Phil Jordan, Sainsbury’s CIO

                                        Previously, Jordan had stated it was harder than ever to recruit for IT.

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                                          DWP At The Helm Of Massive Cross-Departmental Data Sharing Project

                                          Massive cross-government data-sharing project includes DWP, Department for Education, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and HMRC

                                          The project is setting out to respond to changes in the labour market more easily, and more quickly.

                                          The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has commenced a nine-month pilot project with the objective to create a cross-department data store for sharing crucial labour data across a variety of government departments.

                                          Named the Labour Market Data Trust, the pilot is to create a deeper understanding within government departments of changes in the labour market and create a more responsive department in turn.

                                          HM Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund, which encourages government departments to collaborate to tackle difficult policy issues, is funding the project.

                                          The aim of the pilot is to make better decisions and evaluations when it comes to addressing various department’s labour market data demands. Additionally, it aims to make data accessible and discoverable in a way that allows for monitoring and data governance.

                                          The work will be a collaboration with departments such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Education (DfE), and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), meanwhile the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP will be leading. They will work together to improve evidence base and inform interventions that support economic recovery and levelling up.

                                          It builds on data trust and data safe haven work carried out by the Open Data Institute and Alan Turing Institute.

                                          “It’s also the case that other government departments need granular insights into everyday labour market developments, especially those affecting local areas, specific sectors and disadvantaged groups,”

                                          Paul Lodge, chief data officer at DWP

                                          Lodge also said that his department is committed to maximising employment across the country to support the economic recovery post-covid.

                                          The need for data across other department’s include the DfE’s National Skills Fund and the BEIS’ UK Innovation Strategy, which aims to boost productivity across the economy.

                                          The existing data sharing arrangements across departments are currently time consuming to implement and amend, and are resource intensive, Lodge believes.

                                          In line with ‘unlocking the value of data’ as part of Mission 1 of the National Data Strategy, the DWP intends to move away from current batch file data sharing and towards in-place data shares. The purpose of this allows for data to be shared from a single source and reused several times without having to duplicate it.

                                          The National Data Strategy was published by the UK Government in September, with an outlined mission and vision of unlocked power of data which will create new jobs, innovations, and improved public services across the country,

                                          It aims to use data as the centre for covid recovery in the UK, so that government organisations and private companies can boost their performance.

                                          500 data analysts are planned for hire as part of the Strategy, with the analysts planned to be hired by the end of next year. There’s also plans to recruit a new Chief Digital Officer to take charge of a whole-government scheme to transform data use, all to improve public services and drive efficiency.

                                          There’s plans for the Government to launch a new £2.6million project which will innovate the revealing of online threats and address obstacles to data sharing.

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                                            New A&E Opened By Health And Social Care Secretary On Tour Of Health Care Services

                                            Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, has visited North West and West Midlands health and care services to thank staff for their tireless work during the pandemic.

                                            He also opened a £15 million A&E department at Leighton Hospital, Crewe.

                                            These visits make up a week-long national tour which aims to reinforce government commitment to reform, integrate and fund the NHS and social care and level up health around the country.

                                            On Wednesday 16th February, NHS staff at North West and West Midlands health services were thanked for their unshakeable efforts throughout the pandemic by the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.

                                            The visits make up his ‘Road To Recovery’ tour across England and by day 3 has visited:

                                            • Deeplish Community Centre, Rochdale
                                            • Leighton Hospital, Crewe
                                            • Birmingham Heartlands hospital

                                            While there, staff shared experiences of working with the pressure of the pandemic and discussed the government’s plans to reform, integrate and fund the NHS and social care, in a drive to build back better.

                                            The tour has allowed the Health and Social Care Secretary to see first hand how improvements in key sites in the North West and West Midlands are being implemented to improve patient care and outline how a more connected health and care system will mean better care for all, and help tackle imbalances within care.

                                            “It’s been fantastic to visit the health services in the North West and West Midlands to thank staff for their efforts throughout the pandemic and outline our commitment to reform, recovery and funding for our NHS and social care.

                                            We are committed to tackling the COVID-19 backlog and building a health and social care system for the long term that works for everyone.

                                            Our recent Elective Recovery Plan is a vital step in rethinking how our health and care services deliver operations, treatment and checks as we level up services up and down the country.”

                                            Sajid Javid, Health And Social Care Secretary

                                            Sajid Javid joined staff at Deeplish Community Centre in Rochdale for their quarterly equalities team coffee morning, in which they discussed issues facing ethnic minority communities in the area. The issues ranged from language skills, funding for pharmacies, nurse pay and hours and access to face-to-face GP appointments.

                                            He urged the team to respond to the ongoing call for evidence to help shape the government’s 10-Year Cancer Plan for England, he also discussed the upcoming cancer awareness campaign at the centre and stressed its importance in building awareness of screening services to support early diagnosis within the community.

                                            Leighton Hospital in Crewe was next on the list for the Health and Social Care Secretary, to meet staff and officially open their new £15 million A&E department.

                                            The new A&E department began taking patients from Tuesday the 15th of February, with the trust securing the funding as part of the government’s commitment to investing in modern facilities.

                                            Patients will be seen quicker, in a larger and safer environment with these new facilities, as staff will continue their world class care while enabling the hospital to better meet the needs of the people of Cheshire, with the addition of a dedicated paediatric unit, more resuscitation bays and more mental health assessment rooms, it means the community will benefit greatly.

                                            The Health and Social Care Secretary then moved to the Birmingham Heartlands hospital to meet with participants in the cutting-edge PANORAMIC antivirals trial. As part of the trial, patients with pre-existing conditions can benefit from new antiviral treatments for COVID-19 to reduce the need for hospital admission and help them recover quickly.

                                            The new Heartlands Treatment Centre is due to open later this year and Sajid Javid also visited the site on his tour. The Centre is backed by £97.1 million of government funding to provide a modern, spacious environment for patients to receive non-emergency procedures and treatments, including diagnostics, day surgery and outpatient appointments that will help tackle the COVID-19 backlog by treating 5,000,000 patients.

                                            Staff across all the sites visited all stressed the same thing: the government needs to think beyond the pandemic and reform health and social care so the needs of the population can continue to be met.

                                            Initiatives were discussed by the Health and Social Care Secretary, which included the delivery plan to tackle the COVID-19 backlog of elective care, integration white paper and his personal mission to eradicate health disparities, which will include the publication of a health disparities white paper later this year.

                                             

                                            “We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to Leighton today, at a time when we are investing in enhanced hospital services for our local community. The purpose-built A&E ensures a bigger, better and safer environment for both patients and staff. A&E attendance has increased across the country in recent years, so this provides an excellent opportunity to meet the needs of our growing population of 300,000.”

                                            James Sumner, Chief Executive of the Mid Cheshire Trust

                                             

                                            “The NHS has been tested to the maximum by a combination of higher patient attendances, the coronavirus pandemic and the annual winter pressures.

                                            This facility is really exciting for the trust – it has been carefully designed to allow for the clear separation of children and adults in a modern, welcoming environment that will greatly improve the patient experience.”

                                            Dr David Matthews, Clinical Director of Emergency Care at Mid Cheshire Trust

                                             

                                            “We’re proud to have the opportunity to highlight the progress made on the Heartlands Treatment Centre to the Health Secretary today. We are grateful that he also took the time to listen to the experiences of my tremendous colleagues who have been on the front line of the pandemic.

                                            Heartlands Treatment Centre will provide a modern environment for our clinicians to give exceptional standards of care, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and more non-emergency day-case surgery for up to half a million people in our communities – vitally supporting our ability to get back on track and improve waiting lists for patients in the wake of COVID-19.

                                            This new facility is on time and on budget, and it will also bring huge potential for staff development and excellent career opportunities for local people.”

                                            University Hospitals Birmingham Chief Executive, Prof David Rosser, said:

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                                              Tech Giants To Be Held Accountable For Harmful Content

                                              Three new criminal offences added to online safety bill

                                               

                                              Social networks could be fined up to 10% of their global turnover if government’s online safety bill is passed.

                                              The companies will also need to be proactive in removing harmful content, under the new changes.

                                              The bill covers topics like revenge porn, human trafficking, extremism and promoting suicide online.

                                              Websites that host user-generated content, like Facebook and Twitter, will be required to swiftly remove illegal content once it’s reported to them.

                                              But now they’ll have to place proactive measures to stop illegal activity.

                                               

                                              The issue’s become a hot topic with incidents like racist abuse of footballers, revenge porn and cyberflashing, and covid disinformation being highlighted as key safety concerns for social media companies to address.

                                              Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urges for the online platforms to start implementing the changes now rather than later, when the bill is in force.

                                               

                                              “They can start doing what they need to do to remove those harmful algorithms and to remove much of the damage that they do, particularly to young people and to society as a whole.”

                                              Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary

                                               

                                              The minster added that the move would hold social media companies to account for the first time.

                                               

                                              Judy Thomas, whose daughter Frankie took her own life aged 15 in September 2018, said she had access distressing material on her school computer and tablet in the hours and months before her death. Ms Thomas calls for mandatory age verification to protect children online and says all websites should be included in the bill and not just the larger platforms.

                                              “Back in January, February, March [2018] she’d been accessing, at school, horrendous sites. We need to ensure young people simply cannot access online harms, and that if companies do the wrong thing… that there is a real price to pay,”

                                              Judy Thomas

                                               

                                              Ms Thomas also adds that the penalties must not just be financial, as many businesses can absorb fines quite easily, instead the heads of these firms must also be “held to account”.

                                               

                                              When asked about age verification, Ms Dorries said the government was looking into the idea but logistically there was a “downside” to requiring all children to verify their age to access the internet.

                                               

                                              “And young people go on to the internet to go shopping, you know, on clothes. Do we need to ensure that they verify their age when they’re doing that?”

                                              Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary

                                               

                                              The government confirms the added offences which have been added to the list of priority offences, which platforms must remove under the changes, and they’re as follows:

                                              • Revenge porn
                                              • Hate crimes
                                              • Fraud
                                              • The sale of illegal drugs or weapons
                                              • The promotion or facilitation of suicide
                                              • People smuggling
                                              • Sexual exploitation

                                               

                                              Before the changes, companies were only required to take down reported posts – but the changes will force companies to take proactive measures in preventing users from seeing them in the first place.

                                              The government says that by naming these offences it’s enabled Ofcom – the proposed regulator – to take faster action.

                                              The changes were a result of three separate parliamentary committee reports which all warned that the bill required strengthening and more clarity for tech firms.

                                              On top of this, three new criminal offences have been added to the bill.

                                               

                                              The first is sending “genuinely threatening communications” such as a threat to rape, kill or cause financial harm, or coercive and controlling behaviour and online stalking.

                                              Sending “harmful communications”, such as a domestic abuser sending an ex-partner a photograph of their front door to frighten them, is the second. However, offensive content with no intent to cause serious distress would not be illegal.

                                              The final new offence is “knowingly false communications”, which would cover messages deliberately sent to inflict harm”, such as a hoax bomb threat.

                                               

                                              The bill does not prohibit “misinformation”, such as a false coronavirus cure on a social media post, so long as those sharing the post are unaware that what they were spreading is false.

                                              What do the companies think?

                                               

                                              The big technology companies say they welcome the “clarity” that the new online safety bill brings and that they recognise the need for regulation.

                                              In many cases they’ve not waited for governments to step in, and there have been investments into technology such as machine learning in order to identify harmful content at scale.

                                               

                                              While you have many people saying the bill does not go far enough, social media businesses are worried about free speech issues.

                                              It is important for them to ensure the new rules don’t stifle people’s access to information by causing companies to “over-moderate” in order to comply with them.

                                               

                                              Due to the vast scope of the online safety bill, there will always be critics however, experts underline that its introduction will be nothing short of revolutionary in policing the online world, and it’ll be a very different experience for the next generation.

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                                              Wordle Code Good To Play For Seven Years, If Copied

                                              The website of the viral puzzle game, Wordle, can be copied and saved to continue playing for the next seven years, thanks to the code that powers the website.

                                               

                                              Millions of users worldwide have expressed concern that, following the New York Times’ acquisition of the game, it may stop being free-to-play.

                                              The code, written in JavaScript, is tucked away in plain text for those who know how to access it.

                                              There have even been step-by-step instructions published on how to access the code.

                                               

                                              “Effectively you can keep a version of the game as it exists today with enough data to keep you going for a long time,”

                                              Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

                                               

                                              However, Professor Alan Woodward goes on to add:

                                              “As you have the words stored locally it might be tempting to cheat, and where’s the fun in that?”

                                              Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

                                               

                                              With that being said, he added that it wouldn’t be “too difficult” to split the question grid from the answers.

                                               

                                              “You’d need to hold the data in a file that was inaccessible other than to the game. In essence split the data file of words from the functionality you see when playing.”

                                              Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

                                               

                                              To the average person, this may sound like an awful lot of effort for a daily word puzzle game but having risen from a handful of players to millions in just a few months, something about the game means some will be willing to try.

                                               

                                              Josh Wardle, the creator of the trending word game, recently sold it to the New York Times for a seven-figure sum. Originally, he did not want to make money from the game as he created it as a distraction for himself and his partner during lockdown.

                                              But, be aware, copying the code may carry a legal risk.

                                               

                                              “The particular expression of the software code underlying a game like Wordle will be protected as a literary copyright work under UK copyright law,”

                                              “It is not possible to waive UK copyright, and the copyright provided on the Wordle website is not obviously licensed to the general public on a free, perpetual open-source basis.

                                               

                                              “Unless Mr Wardle has provided this type of general licence to the public, he or the New York Times are likely to still retain the right to enforce the copyright as they see fit.”

                                              Nick Allan, Legal Director At Lewis Silkin

                                               

                                              So, at least in the eyes of UK courts, anyone replicating or cloning the game could be liable for copyright infringement.

                                              Mr Allan added, to give a glimmer of hope here, that it might be possible to create a game using different lines of code to achieve the same result.

                                               

                                              “Either way this is a complex area, fraught with legal risk for anyone thinking of using this code to release their own Wordle.”

                                              Prof Alan Woodward

                                               

                                              It is highly likely that the website will undergo a major revamp once the New York Times takes charge.

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                                              Report Warns Tax Electric Cars Or Lose £35 Billion

                                              Motoring taxation needs reform or UK’s future road users will suffer

                                               

                                              The UK is in danger of an under-resourced and congested future unless the government urgently reforms motoring taxation, says MPs on the transport committee.

                                              A miles travelled and vehicle type road pricing system would allow the government to sustain the link between motoring taxation and road usage. In a new report, Road Pricing, the Committee warns it hasn’t seen an alternative to a road charging system based on technology which measures road use.

                                              Two significant sources of Treasury revenue will experience a decline as a result of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. As sales of electric vehicles increase, Treasury revenue from motoring taxation will decrease, as neither fuel duty nor vehicle excise duty are currently levied on electric vehicles. Policies to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 will also have a consequence of zero revenue for the Government from motoring taxation – unless there is a reform. The Committee urges the Government to act now to prevent a potential £35 billion loss to the Exchequer.

                                              The Committee calls for the Government to consider the following to ensure the new charging mechanism:

                                              • entirely replaces fuel duty and vehicle excise duty rather than being added;
                                              • is revenue neutral with most motorists paying the same or less than they do currently;
                                              • considers the impact on vulnerable groups and those in the most rural areas;
                                              • does not undermine progress towards targets on increased active travel and public transport modal shift; and
                                              • ensures that any data capture is subject to rigorous governance and oversight and protects privacy.

                                               

                                              The report signals a need for a shift to an alternative road charging mechanism, as it calls for drivers of electric vehicles to pay to use and maintain the roads they drive on, as is something petrol and diesel drivers currently do. However, in this shift, there must remain incentives for drivers to purchase vehicles with cleaner emissions.

                                              The Treasury and the Department for Transport should join forces, as they’re the departments responsible for managing the public purse and congestion respectively, and so they should look together for solutions and recommendations for a new road charging mechanism by the end of 2022.

                                               

                                              As Departments responsible for managing congestion and maintaining the public purse, the Treasury and Department for Transport should join forces to set up an arm’s length body to examine solutions and recommend a new road charging mechanism by the end of 2022.

                                               

                                              “It’s time for an honest conversation on motoring taxes. The Government’s plans to reach net zero by 2050 are ambitious. Zero emission vehicles are part of that plan. However, the resulting loss of two major sources of motor taxation will leave a £35 billion black hole in finances unless the Government acts now – that’s four per cent of the entire tax-take. Only £7 billion of this goes back to the roads; schools and hospitals could be impacted if motorists don’t continue to pay. We need to talk about road pricing. Innovative technology could deliver a national road-pricing scheme which prices up a journey based on the amount of road, and type of vehicle, used. Just like our current motoring taxes but, by using price as a lever, we can offer better prices at less congested times and have technology compare these directly to public transport alternatives. By offering choice, we can deliver for the driver and for the environment. Road pricing should not cost motorists more, overall, or undermine progress on active travel. Work should begin without delay. The situation is urgent. New taxes, which rely on new technology, take years to introduce. A national scheme would avoid a confusing and potentially unfair and contradictory patchwork of local schemes but would be impossible to deliver if this patchwork becomes too vast.  The countdown to net zero has begun. Net zero emissions should not mean zero tax revenue.”

                                              Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee

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                                              Tech Giants Must Reimburse The Scammed, Says MPs

                                              A lack of regulation has made social media a prime avenue for criminals to scam victims.

                                               

                                              MPs have said social media is too easy a platform for criminals to defraud people, under existing regulations.

                                               

                                              The government have been appealed to by British lawmakers to ensure tech giants are made more accountable and to reimburse people for money lost due to fraudulent advertising on their platforms.

                                               

                                              The argument put forth is that current inadequate regulations are making it all too easy for criminals to defraud people on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

                                               

                                              It’s hoped by the lawmakers that by enforcing this regulation and making sure victims are reimbursed by tech firms like Meta and Google, then it will force their hand in a way and make them take the issue seriously, and work to eliminate fraud in their platforms.

                                               

                                              “The government should look at some kind of arrangement that makes the polluter pay,”

                                              “Online platforms are hosting this stuff, not really putting enough effort into weeding it out, and indeed financially benefiting because they’re getting the advertising revenues,”

                                              Mel Stride, Chairman of the UK parliament’s Cross-Party Treasury Committee

                                               

                                              The Treasury Committee released the finding of a report on economic crime this week, calling for more accountability from Big Tech.

                                               

                                              Cybercrime is an epidemic of its own which needs to be curbed, having only increased throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with UK citizens losing more than £2.3 billion to cyber scams between April 2020 and April 2021 – bear in mind that this is only the reported number. The true number of online fraud could be significantly higher.

                                               

                                              The financial crime watchdog monitor, Action Fraud, reported a staggering 36% increase in fraud last year, with 420,000 identified offences.

                                               

                                              In May, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) stated that a surge in coronavirus-themed cyber-crime since the beginning of the pandemic has led to the agency recording a hefty 15-fold increase in online fraud removal in 2020 when compared to 2019.

                                              Communications regulator Ofcom agrees that scams and data hacking is the top concern for adults accessing the internet.

                                               

                                              A form of online scam that internet users should be aware of is fraudulent advertising, which either features endorsements from celebrities, pushes items for sale on fake websites, or touts schemes that offer early access to pension pots or cryptocurrencies.

                                               

                                              In an April study conducted by consumer group Which?, it was discovered that Facebook and Google were left lacking when it came to removing online scam adverts, despite numerous reports from fraud victims. Which? Found that the process of reporting was often complex or not straightforward, despite tech giants claiming to have improved their reporting functions.

                                               

                                              A criminal case has been launched against Facebook by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, who claims the company has failed to remove scam adverts that’re using his image to promote scam investments.

                                              British lawmakers are also pushing the government to pass legislation immediately requiring financial service providers to refund victims of “push payment scams”, which cost victims £479million last year.

                                              This type of fraud is used by criminals to trick victims into sending money to them

                                              The Treasury Committee’s report recommends that adequate resources are placed into law enforcement to address the scale of the issue. It highlighted that there is a “bewildering” amount of agencies tasks with combating economic crime and fraud and suggests a single body would be more effective.

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                                              NASA Implementing Microsoft’s Azure Quantum Research Into Rocket Ships

                                              NASA have been putting tech inspired by the research of Microsoft’ Azure Quantum into spacecraft communications.

                                               

                                              The team behind it is looking for ways to optimise communication with missions via the Deep Space Network (DSN) – a finite resource which will benefit from scalable quantum computing.

                                              What is the DSN?

                                              It’s a network comprised of large radio antennas spread around the Earth and is used to maintain contact with spacecraft as distant as the Voyagers as well as the James Webb Space Telescope.

                                              Anyone who has had to organise a large group that covers a large, disparate area will understand the problem this causes: the problem of scheduling. All the missions need to communicate, and this results in an influx of “several hundred weekly requests when each spacecraft is visible to the antenna”, according to Microsoft.

                                               

                                              “Quantum computers can naturally represent random distributions as quantum states, and therefore have the potential to provide better solutions than today’s classical optimisation algorithms.”

                                              Microsoft

                                               

                                              As for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), it took a run time of two-hours to produce a schedule when the Microsoft team first started. Azure Quantum took that time down to just 16 minutes, and then a custom solution brought the time down even further, to around 2 minutes. This is resulting in more agile mission planning since JPL can now schedule for multiple candidates at a time.

                                              For now, Azure Quantum remains in preview, and scalable quantum computing remains on the outskirts of being fully realised, but it’s awesome to see that the results of the research are being put into real-world use.

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                                              Microsoft’s Cloud Offering Continues To Grow YoY

                                              Organisations may be returning to the office, but cloud computing remains a HUGE area of growth.

                                              Microsoft saw a big increase in revenue last quarter, thanks to their cloud services, Windows and Office, however, gaming hardware growth was lower.

                                              Microsoft was up 21% year-on-year (YoY) and had a profit of $18.8 billion in the quarter ended 31st December (Q4 ’22), which completely exceeded expectations due to significant growth in cloud

                                              Revenue for the quarter also exceeded analysts’ expectations, at $51.7 billion, up 20 per cent YoY.

                                              Its Azure cloud infrastructure service had a slight stall with a 46 per cent growth, but the previous quarter saw a 48% growth – but over cloud revenue 32 per cent YoY to $22.1 billion.

                                              Like many organisations, Microsoft has benefitted from the pandemic as governments, organisations and other institutions across the globe have increased their use of cloud computing and technologies in order to continue on with their work.

                                              Numerous organisations are now encouraging a return to the office and resumption of normalcy; however, this has been delayed by the Omicron variant.

                                               

                                              “Digital technology is the most malleable resource at the world’s disposal to overcome constraints and reimagine everyday work and life,”

                                              “As tech as a percentage of global GDP continues to increase, we are innovating and investing across diverse and growing markets, with a common underlying technology stack and an operating model that reinforces a common strategy, culture and sense of purpose.”

                                              Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

                                               

                                              Their More Personal Computing segment, comprised of Windows, devices, gaming and advertising, garnered $17.5 billion in revenue.

                                              The Surface laptop drove an 8% increase in in Surface computer sales, and there was a 25% increase in Windows licensing revenue from PC makers.

                                              The likes of Office, Dynamics and LinkedIn, which help make up the Productivity and Business Processes segment, generated $15.9 billion in revenue, up 19% from the same time the previous year.

                                              Overall gaming revenue saw an 8% increase, including a 4% rise in revenue for gaming hardware as a result of continued demand for latest Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.

                                              Speaking of gaming, it’s been revealed that the tech-giant will be acquiring games publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

                                              The acquisition will close in fiscal year 2023, and will mean Microsoft publish titles like Candy Crush, Warcraft, Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch.

                                              The firm expects sales of $48.5 billion to $49.3 billion in the fiscal third quarter (ending March), compared to analyst expectations of $48.1 billion, according to Amy Hood, Microsoft’s finance chief.

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                                              Chinese Gov. Clamps Down On AI Generated Deepfakes

                                              ‘DeepFakes’ face regulation by Chinese government in draft release

                                              Deepfakes will be facing a ‘clamp down’ by the Chinese government, according to a draft of an upcoming law.

                                              ‘Deepfakes’ is the practice of using AI to adapt existing digital content into realistic simulations of humans and has faced scrutiny due to the realistic nature of them.

                                              The Cyberspace Administration of China’s draft emerged last Friday, and it frames the need for regulation if the government is able to achieve its desire of using the internet as a tool for social good.

                                              The explanatory memorandum for the policy states that digitally created voice, video, chatbots, or manipulated faces and gestures will attract criminals and fraudsters. The draft outlines how the use of such fakes for any application that could disrupt social order, infringe individuals’ rights, deliver fake news, or depict sexual activity, should be regulated or ruled out entirely. It suggests implementing a grant of permission for use before it can be employed for legitimate purposes.

                                              Those legitimate uses are not discussed within the draft, but it does go into detail on regulations for how digital assets must be safeguarded to prevent user privacy.

                                              Uses of what China calls ‘Deep Synthesis’ must be clearly labelled as a digital creation to keep the viewer immediately aware of the legitimacy of the media, according to the draft.

                                              The draft also goes on to say that service providers must have excellent security measures in place and to always act in the national interest.

                                              The nation’s big tech companies all received the same message over the weekend, during symposium which had an aim of promoting the healthy and sustainable development of internet companies.

                                              27 ‘heads of’ were in attendance, and all heard Chinese regulators explain their desire for internet platforms to be both innovative a problem-solving as well as being defenders of Chinese values.

                                              ‘Big Tech’ was called on by deputy director of China’s Central Propaganda Department, Zhuang Rongwen, to ensure it both strengthens Chinese society with ‘brilliant’ online services and to also step up its vigilance on keeping Chinese internet free of content that Beijing believes are bad for society.

                                              Leaders from the People’s Daily Online, JD.com, Kuaishou, Xiaomi, and Meituan all shared their views on how this vigilance can be achieved however these comments did not appear in the Administrations release of the event.

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                                              ‘Join Police To Make A Difference’ Advertising Campaign For 20,000 New Police Officers By 2023

                                              The UK Government has entered the next phase of massive recruitment drive with two new adverts featuring serving police officers already serving their communities airing across TV, cinemas, YouTube, Reddit and more.

                                               

                                              The government’s recruitment drive to further protect the public by bolstering its numbers with 20,000 additional police officers entered a new phase on the 10th of January 2022 when it launched a new advertising campaign.

                                               

                                              The drive thus far has been successful, as more than 11,000 people have already joined the police as part of the campaign and have helped cut crime by 14% (excluding fraud and computer misuse), removed 16,000 knives and dangerous weapons from the streets and have tackled the scourge of drugs with the closure of over 1,500 county lines.

                                               

                                              For the first time, adverts will appear on YouTube and Reddit to engage with a younger audience who may be interested in joining, as well as airing on TV and in cinemas.

                                               

                                              Kent Police’s Chief Inspector Matthew Burbeck was part of the team that caught a gang importing millions of pounds of drugs, and Police Constable Lola Giwa from Greater Manchester Police has helped to protect vulnerable people and ensured violent criminals are taken off the streets.

                                              The government is on track to reaching its target of 20,000 new police recruits by 2023, the ads they feature in are all part of a wider, targeted advertising campaign across radio, social media, online, podcasts and digital display banners.

                                              To date, the additional 11, 053 additional officers have contributed to efforts to tackle crime and protect vulnerable people – with bolstered numbers, new units have been able to be set up and support for those who have suffered raped and sexual assault has been increased. They’ve also helped create a more diverse police force, creating greater community support across England and Wales.

                                               

                                              “We were treated with respect and compassion, and the officer was persistent and effective, and I thought, ‘yes, I can do the same thing’ and give back to my community and protect the most vulnerable people in society.

                                              We need representation from every background in the police that will help bridge the gap between police and those communities and I encourage people to join. It is actually the best job you can ever think of, and I’m not sugar coating it.”

                                              Police Constable Lola Giwa, Greater Manchester Police

                                               

                                              “Every single day police officers change someone’s life and there are not many jobs where you can say that. You never know what is around the corner – in the same day you can go from working on a domestic violence case, to attending a violent incident, to working on a drugs bust.

                                              You are dealing with people who are often having the worst day in their lives, so you develop people skills, as well as technical investigation skills.”

                                              Chief Inspector Matthew Burbeck, Kent Police

                                              The government is enacting its Beating Crime Plan, which is the mission to deliver fewer victims, safer neighbourhoods, and a more secure country – with a particular focus on driving down homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime. As part of the plan, the new recruits will play a major part in the delivery of the mission.

                                               

                                              “Two years ago, this government made a promise to the public to put 20,000 extra police officers on our streets – and we are delivering on that pledge with an additional 11,053 police officers already recruited.

                                              Officers like PC Giwa and Chief Inspector Burbeck are already out there making a difference – taking drugs off our streets and protecting victims of awful crimes like domestic abuse, while helping to make our communities safer.

                                              As we continue to deliver on that promise to increase police numbers, anyone with a drive and passion to serve their community and fight crime should consider following their example and joining up as part of this new generation of brave police officers.”

                                              Priti Patel, Home Secretary

                                              The work which has already been done across the country will benefit from these extra numbers, as we’ve seen:

                                              a 14% fall in overall crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) between June 2019 and June 2021

                                              11,053 additional officers hired across England and Wales – 55% of the target of 20,000 extra police officers by March 2023

                                              over 1,500 county lines closed, over 7,400 arrests, £4.3m in drugs seized and more than 4,000 vulnerable people safeguarded, thanks to our investment in shutting down county lines since 2019

                                              Police stop and search confiscating 16,000 knives and other dangerous weapons from the streets last year

                                              Violence Reduction Units reaching 300,000 at risk young people, which have been set up thanks to £105.5 million in funding – also forming part of the £242 million that’s invested since 2019 to zone in on serious violence and homicide hotspots

                                              “This government is fully focused on beating crime and I am proud that these additional officers are helping to keep our families and our communities safe.

                                               

                                              The police workforce is changing – more women are now working as officers in England and Wales than ever before and the number of police officers from ethnic minorities is the highest on record – and we want to see police forces becoming even more representative of the communities they serve.

                                              Becoming a police officer requires bravery – most run towards danger as the public flees – and I would encourage others to join the thousands of hard working, committed officers up and down the country who feel passionately about the job they do.”

                                              Kit Malthouse, Minister For Crime And Policing

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                                              Cyber-Attack on Red Cross Leaves 515,000 People Vulnerable

                                              Hackers have breached The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a cyber-attack, by seizing more than 515,000 extremely vulnerable people’s data – some of whom have fled conflicts.

                                              “A sophisticated cybersecurity attack against computer servers hosting information held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was detected this week. The attack compromised personal data and confidential information on more than 515,000 highly vulnerable people, including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention.”

                                              ICRC Statement

                                              The body has no immediate signs that point to who might have executed the attack.

                                              It’s alleged that the attackers targeted an external company in Switzerland which had been contracted out by the ICRC to store the data. There is no indication that the information gathered has been leaked to the public, so far.

                                              “The most pressing concern is potential risks that come with this breach – including confidential information being shared publicly – for people that the Red Cross and Red Crescent network seeks to protect and assist, as well as their families”.

                                              ICRC Statement

                                               

                                              The data comprises of information from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies around the world.

                                              “An attack on the data of people who are missing makes the anguish and suffering for families even more difficult to endure. We are all appalled and perplexed that this humanitarian information would be targeted and compromised,” said the ICRC director general, Robert Mardini.

                                              “This cyber-attack puts vulnerable people, those already in need of humanitarian services, at further risk.”

                                              Robert Mardini, ICRC Director General

                                               

                                              Mardini also called out the attackers to “do the right thing – do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data”.

                                              “Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering.”

                                              The result of this attack has meant the ICRC have had to shut down the computer systems vital in running its Restoring Family Links programme – designed to reunite family members separated during conflict, disaster or migration.

                                              “We are working as quickly as possible to identify workarounds to continue this vital work.”

                                              ICRC Statement

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                                              600% Increase In GDPR Fines Issued During ‘21

                                              Schrems II is a thorn in the side of EU data transfers, as Google urges EU to ‘speed up’ finding a replacement for Privacy Shield.

                                               

                                              The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is hailed as the most consumer friendly privacy legislation and fines for breaching it have grown by nearly 600% last year to in excess of €1 billion.

                                              Since the 28th of January 2021, data protection authorities in the EU (plus the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) have had to deliver a combined total of nearly €1.1 billion in fines, according to research from law firm DLA Piper. This is a sharp increase from just €158.5 million in 2020.

                                              Compromised firms telling regulators about breaches rose more slowly, 356 breach notifications every day – which is an 8% increase. When judged on a per capita basis, the Netherlands topped the rankings.

                                              Since coming into force in 2018, the GDPR has been forcing companies to declare their legal basis and reasoning for collecting users’ data; it stops them sending that data out to certain regions for processing and they must declare any data breach within 72 hours.

                                              The fine for failure of compliance is as much as 4% of global annual turnover, or €20 million, depending on which is higher.

                                              The highest individual fine last year was given to Amazon, as Luxembourg handed out a €746 million penalty to the e-commerce giant, followed by a €225 million penalty against WhatsApp given by Ireland, and €50 million against Google in December 2020 handed out by France. Luxembourg and Ireland also topped the list of countries issuing the highest aggregate fines, followed by Italy.

                                              The Schrems II judgement in July 2020 continues to be the top data protection compliance challenge for many organisations caught by GDPR, despite the growth in fines, according to DLA Piper. The transfer of personal data outside the EU and UK has strict limitations imposed by both Schrems II and Article V of the GDPR, with Schrems increasing the compliance burden on firms with the Schrems judgement requiring detailed risk assessments.

                                              Google has called on the EU to speed up the process of finding a suitable replacement for Privacy Shield, after Schrems II invalidated it, leaving companies covered with standard contractual clauses (SCCs) in place. Cloud companies like Microsoft and AWS can use SCCs as a legal mechanism for data transfer but other firms cannot, such as Meta, and after Austria’s data protection regulator ruled that Google Analytics breaks GDPR its left with the EU to work to find a replacement.

                                              “The threat of suspension of data transfers is potentially much more damaging and costly than the threat of fines and compensation claims. The focus on transfers and the significant work required to achieve compliance inevitably means that organisations have less time, money and resource to focus on other privacy risks”

                                              Ross McKean, Chair of the UK Data Protection and Security Group at DLA Piper

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                                              400% Increase In Microsoft Teams Usage: Can This Bridge The Gap Between Frontline Workers & Their Managers?

                                              Microsoft recently made changes to its Teams and Viva platforms ahead of the February 1st Cloud For Retail general availability – and published a report alongside the changes which outlines the challenges frontline workers are facing in 2022.

                                              According to Jared Spataro (Microsoft’s CVP for Modern Work), Microsoft defines a frontline work as “folks who were not able to go home and did all their work in person” – which can cover everyone from those staffing production lines to healthcare workers, and to hospitality staff and those working to keep power grids running.

                                              The changes will hopefully bridge the gap between manager and worker in building workplace culture.

                                              Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, had already highlighted the 2 billion (give or take) workers included in that segment which, even prior to the pandemic, would benefit from Microsoft’s tech.

                                              9,600 employees and managers were surveyed, and covered over eight industries across five continents, which formed the report.

                                              The report shows that, while 76% of workers felt bonded to their peers, over 60% felt that communication from higher ups wasn’t great and could be done with improvements made by their employers. On top of that, 51 per cent in non-management positions on the frontline felt less valued.

                                              What does this mean? Following the fact that the pandemic is causing workers to decide if they would benefit from a change in employment, (according to the survey, 4.5 million Americans quit their job in November) and growing stresses, it shows a change of culture. 64 per cent of people surveyed reckoned that a pay rise would ease some of their stresses, half of the surveyed felt paid time off would help and a third suggested improvements in technology tools.

                                              Between March 2020 and November 2021, Microsoft saw a 400% rise in Monthly Teams usage and Healthcare and Financial Services led the way at a 560 % and 550% rise respectively.

                                              There is a danger of some employees being left to struggle, however, as older workers (aged 41 and up) had more problems adapting to the new way of working, conversely the younger workers (40 and under) found the workplace tech actually somewhat behind the technology they were used to, according to the survey.

                                              There’s only so much that Microsoft can do of course, and there isn’t much it can do in terms of frontline worker holidays and pay rises etc but what it can do is improve the employee experience online and it’s presented Viva as a way of linking frontline workers with company culture and improving the accessibility of recourses, such as HR. It’s also making the integration of Teams to Zebra Reflexis easier to connect workforce management platforms with Teams’ Shifts application.

                                              “Empowering frontline workers remains essential for digital transformation.”

                                              Emma Williams, a Microsoft Corporate Vice President

                                              The steps to teach and empower through tech are no doubt improving the lives of workers all over the world, however there are still two top ways that will reduce stress in the workplace, according to the survey: pay frontline workers more and give them paid leave.

                                              +

                                              Ukraine Target Of Sustained Hacking: Early Reports Point The Finger At Russia

                                              Cyber Actors threatened citizens with the publication of their private data

                                              A number of government websites in the Ukraine recently came under fire from a sustained hacking attack on the 13th of January, which involved cyber attackers distributing menacing messages which appear to be aimed at intimidating Ukrainian citizens.

                                              A Facebook post by the Ministry of Education and Science confirmed  the attack occurred late Thursday and into the early hours of Friday morning.

                                              During the attack, websites related to the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were inaccessible although the Ukrainian government says it’s now restored many of the affected websites.

                                              The attackers wrote  in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish and threatened to release private data to the public, according to what was left on the websites.

                                              “All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It’s your past, present and future,”

                                              Media Reports on the contents of the threatening messages

                                              Despite the cyber attackers threats, the Ukrainian government denied that any personal data about their citizens had been leaked.

                                              An investigation is currently underway, according to the Energy Ministry and is being conducted by a police unit which specialises in cyber-attacks.

                                              There is, so far, no one officially named as the suspected perpetrator of the DoS attacks and the Ukrainian government says “it’s too early to draw conclusions”.

                                              “…But there is a long history of Russian attacks on Ukraine.”

                                              A Foreign Ministry Spokesperson

                                              The EU’s head of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, has condemned the attack.

                                              “We are going to mobilise all our resources to help Ukraine to tackle this. Sadly, we knew it could happen.”

                                              Josep Borrell, EU Head of Foreign Policy

                                              Unfortunately an attack like this is nothing new for Ukraine, as hacker groups with suspected links to Russian Intelligence have been involved in previous attacks including an attack on the country’s electricity grid in 2015, which left 200,000 people without power, with a similar attack occurring a year later.  The NotPetya ransomware also hit Ukrainian servers (among others) in 2017 and was also attributed to Russia.

                                              So far the country has been the victim of 288,000 cyber-attacks in just the first 10 months of 2021, and 397,000 in 2020.

                                              +

                                              West Mids Transport Chiefs Have Agreed Priorities For A £1.3bn Investment In The Region

                                              A list of preferred priorities and schemes will now be submitted by the combined authority to the Department for Transport for final approval.

                                               

                                              That £1.3bn of investment will be spent on over fifty different transportation improvement projects within the West Midlands, with a full list to be published as soon as the DoT have confirmed final approval.

                                               

                                              Some of the details we do know include a plan for over sixty miles of new, segregated cycle routes, thirty miles of dedicated bus lanes and priority measures, a brand-new railway station at Aldridge and a light rail line for Coventry city centre.

                                              The money will also be used to encourage the use of electric vehicles with a network of 1,600 electric car charging hubs,  ten ultra-rapid charge points to support van and lorry drivers and with continued investment in existing metro systems.

                                               

                                              Funding has also been set aside to help further develop the business case and plan for a more rapid extension of the West Midlands metro along the Hagley Road in Birmingham city centre, as well as the tram depot in Wednesbury.

                                               

                                              The fifty plus schemes, to be developed over the next five years, are being funded from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement, which was awarded to the West Midlands last year by the Department of Transport (DoT) and will be topped up by a small amount of local funding.

                                               

                                              Any scheme which helps promote the decarbonisation of transport within the West Midlands, increases target investment into areas with poor connectivity or the empowerment of inclusive growth have been prioritised within the plan.

                                               

                                              This unprecedented investment will allow us to deliver more than fifty exciting projects as we continue to revolutionise and decarbonise public transport across the West Midlands. From an expanded Metro network and new railway stations, to more cycle routes and better electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the schemes we have agreed will benefit every area, with improved links for communities right across the West Midlands while also tackling the climate change emergency by cutting down our carbon emissions.

                                              Andy Street – Mayor, West Midlands

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                                              UK Government Removes Community Wealth Fund Amendment From Upcoming Bill

                                              The UK Government have just removed an amendment from the upcoming Dormant Assets Bill that would allow for the creation of Community Wealth Funds… however acknowledged  there was a lot of widespread support for the concept.

                                               

                                              The amendment, previously added by the House of Lords, was removed in the House of Commons during its committee stage, meaning funding will no longer be able to be used specifically to support social infrastructure.

                                              In its place, the Government are planning a consultation on the future correct usage of such funds and to determine if community wealth funds will be suitable.

                                               

                                              I acknowledge the support expressed by many in the House for using the English portion of dormant assets funding to support, through community wealth funds, the left-behind communities, which experience high levels of deprivation and low levels of social infrastructure. However, the government wanted to protect the integrity of the consultation process, which offers the most appropriate route to make that a reality. This consultation on how funds in England are used will be launched as soon as possible after Royal Assent and will explicitly include community wealth funds as an option to consider for the English portion.

                                              A 12-week consultation on expanding the causes money to which money can go will begin as early as this summer, with community wealth funds included as a clear option. Should it be determined that the community wealth funds are the best use of some of the English portion, the bill is already designed to provide the most appropriate avenue to make that a reality.

                                              Nigel Huddleston – Minister for Civil Society

                                               

                                              At the moment, money from the dormant assets fund can only be spent on youth, financial inclusion and social investment in England, although the devolved nations have more flexibility on the spending of the fund.

                                               

                                              I am surprised that the government want to remove a measure that empowers communities and surely goes to the heart of the alleged levelling up agenda. There are members on both sides of the committee who represent areas that will benefit from this kind of initiative. The most deprived areas often have the weakest third-sector capacity and infrastructure, which adds to a cycle of disadvantage. Community wealth funds aim to halt that cycle. They are aligned with the aims of the levelling up agenda and have the potential to transform communities and lives.

                                              Jeff Smith – MP, Labour

                                               

                                              I do not believe that the minister is correct in claiming that secondary legislation is the most appropriate mechanism for deciding on the distribution. We all understand that there is limited opportunity for debate on secondary legislation, and there is, of course, no opportunity to amend it. That means parliament’s role will be limited to rubber-stamping the government’s proposals. Were the fund to remain written into the bill, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance could start the process of securing match funding and planning to get money into the most left-behind communities as soon as possible after Royal Assent.

                                              Diana Johnson – MP, Labour

                                              +

                                              Wales Has An Additional Duty To Climate Change Due To Its Coal Mining Past – Conservationist Claims

                                              Leading Welsh NonProfit conservationist claims Wales has a ‘particular responsibility’ to help fight climate change due to its coal mining history.

                                               

                                              Ru Hartwell, director of NonProfit Carbon Link, has recently been quoted as saying Wales ‘invented’ a model for industrial development based almost exclusively on exploiting fossil fuels.

                                               

                                              Carbon Link runs a tree-planting programme in Africa that is funded by the Welsh Government and has, to date, planted around four million trees in the Boré community of Kenya.

                                              The programme has expanded a lot since they started back in 2012, from an initial planting of 1,000 cashew trees to a target of over a million trees planted in 2022, designed to provide food and sustainable lumber to the community, as well as creating vital wildlife habitats and improving biodiversity.

                                               

                                              All of Carbon Links funding comes from either the Welsh Government, NonProfit charity Size of Wales or takings from their climate change charity shops.

                                               

                                              It’s all about helping the local people protect their existing forest and plant new trees to suck down carbon from the atmosphere and improve the climate for everyone. One of the tragic ironies of climate change was poorer nations that had contributed least to the carbon emissions problem were being worst hit by the impacts of rising temperatures and extreme weather.

                                              Wales has a very long history of releasing carbon.

                                              We’ve got one of the longest legacy footprints of any country in the world because of the industrialisation that came with the south Wales coalfield. The model of industrial development based on the exploitation of fossil fuels was invented in south Wales and every other country in the world has gone on to kind of emulate that.

                                              So, because we were the first industrialised nation, we have a particular responsibility to draw back some of that ancient, historical carbon

                                              Ru Hartwell – Director, Carbon Link

                                               

                                              Since its inception, the tree planting project has led to the establishment of the largest tree nursery in Coast Province, Kenya, and now involves over 3,000 farmers as well as 200 local schools.

                                               

                                              The people here have got very small carbon footprints, they don’t drive or fly around all the time like we do in the West but for them climate change is happening right now with crop failures driven by changing weather patterns.

                                              Anna Douglas – Ecologist, Volunteer at Carbon Link and Ru Hartwells daughter

                                               

                                              The available Welsh funding has also led to the planting of a further fifteen million trees in Uganda over the past decade by other NonProfit’s, with a the Welsh Government aiming for twenty-five million trees planted by 2025.

                                              +

                                              What Happens Once the Small Charities Coalition Closes Its Doors For Good?

                                              A breakdown of what the closure of the membership body means for the more than 16,000 organisations it serves, and what the sector needs to consider following its impact.

                                              Small Charities Coalition announced in December that lack of funds has meant it will close in spring.

                                               

                                              [We have] exhausted all possibilities to secure funding that would have put the charity on a secure, sustainable financial footing

                                              Statement made by Small Charities Coalition

                                               

                                              The umbrella body was founded in 2008 by Directory of Social Change chief executive Debra Allcock Tyler.

                                               

                                              There was nowhere for small charities to go, no one place that was just for them – up until that point, I think all of us genuinely cared about small charities and most organisations offered services for them, but it wasn’t dedicated

                                              Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive at Directory of Social Change

                                               

                                              The SCC was small but mighty, much like the many charities it spent the last 14 years representing, and it will close with just three members of staff and more than 16,000 members on its books.

                                              The work that the SCC has done, the support it has provided and the representation it has given, will leave a lasting imprint on the charity sector as a whole.

                                               

                                              I think the SCC can certainly leave with its heads held high. It’s done two things: provided a service, particularly for smaller, volunteer-led charities, but more generally it has shone a spotlight on small charities.

                                              A few years ago, the bigger infrastructure bodies didn’t really know what a small charity was and didn’t really have much interest in them, whereas now the infrastructure bodies all have much better understanding and are making sure they’re speaking up for them rather than defaulting to talking about large charities.

                                              Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy, Communications and Research at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

                                               

                                              Small charities are on the agenda in a way they weren’t before and I don’t think you can undo that

                                              Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive at Directory of Social Change

                                               

                                              She also goes on to say that a dedicated voice to amplify the message of small charities to the government and sector is necessary, and the SCC will be sorely missed.

                                              Despite being an avenue for small charities to get funding where it cannot get it elsewhere, the SCC was no exception to financial pressures.

                                              In order to serve some of the most hard-pressed organisations in the sector, the SCC kept its membership free of charge, as Shrubsole points out – membership fees are one of the key sources of funding that umbrella bodies can use in order to gain financial stability.

                                               

                                              Trustees have taken the responsible decision when they look at the financial situation going forward, and should be praised for their foresight. It means that they can do an orderly wind-up, which is always to the good, rather than things coming to a head and then having to suddenly shut the doors, which has happened in the charity sector in the past.

                                              Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy, Communications and Research at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

                                               

                                              So, what happens now? Once the SCC closes its doors, what will happen with the void it leaves behind?

                                              The SCC, and other infrastructure bodies like the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, LBFEW, the DSC and others have been ruminating the very same question.

                                               

                                              The organisation is starting work on a comprehensive evaluation and learning process.

                                              In time we look forward to sharing what we’ve learned about supporting small charities since 2008 and working with other infrastructure groups, funders and civil society to support them to embed this learning and secure a thriving future for small charities for decades to come

                                              SCC Spokesman

                                               

                                              The vital work that the SCC did was practical support through its helpline, on hand when charities needed them most – starting out, expanding or closing down.

                                               

                                              Practically, it was a really important set of activities, support and resources they were building and were custodian of,” she says. “That work will need to be picked up elsewhere.

                                              We’re thinking about how we can understand more who the SCC have been working with, and think about how we step into that space, what capacity and resources will be needed to do that.

                                              There are many that will fall to Navca members because they’re the obvious point of call. But for some it will be the national bodies who can also step in and pick some of that up.

                                              Maddy Desforges, Chief Executive of Navca

                                               

                                              Following SCC’s closure, Shrubsole poses the question about why smaller organisations were looking to SCC for support.

                                               

                                              Some of this is about content of help and some of it is about tone and culture

                                              Some people from small charities are ringing SCC because they feel ‘They understand us – the clue’s in the name’, but is the help they are getting similar to what they could get from somewhere else?

                                              It could be that some of the bigger organisations need to think about how to tailor their existing services to small charities, or simply make more of an effort to promote themselves to that market, so smaller organisations are more aware of them as a source of support

                                              Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy, Communications and Research at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

                                               

                                              Regulatory organisations such as the Charity Commission may have a role in picking up some of the pieces that will be left behind.

                                               

                                              So if people who are doing accounts are being told to call the SCC even though it’s the Charity Commission’s own rules and guidance that they need help with, there’s certainly something that needs pursuing about what the commission’s role and responsibility is,” Shrubsole says – although he adds that it’s not yet clear how prevalent this issue is.

                                              It will be a few more weeks before the complete picture emerges and it becomes clear whether there are any gaps that cannot be filled

                                              Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy, Communications and Research at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

                                               

                                              And, while the coronavirus may have forced the decision to close due to surmounting the financial pressures, like a double-edged sword it may have also created the best possible outcome for its closure.

                                              The network between infrastructure bodies have been opened and strengthened to an unprecedented degree, and both Desforges and Shrubsole state that important conversations about the legacy of SCC have happened far more quickly and easily than they would have done pre-Covid.

                                              But, as Shrubsole says, finding funding for infrastructure bodies is no easy feat and as such, those involved are nervous about taking on SCC’s full workload, on limited resources, without giving it a proper think.

                                               

                                              There’s always pushback about how many infrastructure bodies we really need, but I think there is also a strength in the specialisms of those we have – they were set up for a reason, they have specific purposes and meet specific needs

                                              We all need to step back and recognise the value of infrastructure support. It is the catalyst that allows other organisations to have their impact. If we lose these bodies, the impact won’t be immediate, it won’t be this month or the month after, but it will be incremental and it will be significant.

                                              Maddy Desforges, Chief Executive of Navca

                                               

                                              She also goes on to say that this coming financial year is key for the NonProfit sector as it needs to come up with a longer-term plan for recovery from the pandemic, which has been brutalising charity organisations for almost two years.

                                               

                                              For infrastructure bodies, particularly, we need to think about what’s our plan, what’s our strategy – not as individuals, but as a sector

                                              It’s about the [part] an organisation plays in society – you can’t call on civil society in a pandemic if it’s not there in the first place, so [you] can’t just fund it in a pandemic, you have to do it long term

                                              Maddy Desforges, Chief Executive of Navca

                                              +

                                              IBM Cloud Suffers Global Scale “Provisioning Issues” One Week Into 2022

                                              IBM Cloud’s services went down in the early hours – bad omen or bad luck?

                                              IBM Cloud’s start to 2022 wasn’t all Prosecco and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – a prolonged duration of “provisioning issues” hit IBM Cloud on a global scale in the wee hours of Thursday 6th of January 2022.

                                              The company’s status page shows that the troubles began at 0546 UTC and continued throughout the morning, until the issues were marked as resolved at 1212 UTC.

                                              Users may experience issues with provisioning and other resource management actions in IBM Cloud services.

                                              IBM Cloud

                                              Affected locations were Washington DC, Osaka, São Paulo, London, Dallas, Seoul, Sydney, Chennai, Toronto, Tokyo, and Frankfurt.

                                              Big Blue’s “provisioning issues” followed after two days of other IBM issues, with the Load Balancer component for the Virtual Private Cloud and the Virtual Private Cloud itself, which spent an hour of the 4th of January 2022 in a state of difficulty. Dallas’ infrastructure had some woes of its own on the 3rd of January 2022 with multiple SAN virtual servers going read-only as well as the Code Engine and Block Storage for the Virtual Private Cloud struggling.

                                              IBM Cloud’s Twitter profile states it is “Hybrid. Open. Resilient,” so the struggling servers is not a great look for a company trying to compete with industry giants.

                                              Although, IBM Cloud is not the only cloud service provider to have run into issues – Amazon Web Services has struggled in recent months.

                                              +

                                              Japan and Europe’s New Submarine Cable Planned to Take Traffic by 2025

                                              Network latency between Europe and Asia will hopefully be a thing of the past

                                              European traders seeking Asia in the 15th century faced numerous obstacles: first of all, the journey took years by land or sea, and there were lethal perils. So, the dream of the “Northwest Passage” – a route that goes across the Atlantic, then over the top of North America, before trailing down to Japan.

                                              Unfortunately, it remained a dream as the Northwest Passage saw ice, ice in Canada, and… ice. Navigating the passage was impossible for hundreds of years, and the route was not commercially viable due to, well, all the perilous ice.

                                              The problems of the long, in some places impossible to navigate journey from Europe to Asia have followed Europeans into the 21st century, in the form of an uncomfortably long network latency between northern Europe and Asia.

                                              And in the spirit of 1920 intrepid explorers, Finnish company Cinia and US telco infrastructure company Far North Digital have united to build a submarine cable named the Far North Fiber which will traverse the route.

                                              At one of the cable, there’ll be Japan. It’ll go on to touch Alaska and the Canadian Arctic before ending in Norway, Finland and Ireland. The route is as follows:

                                               

                                              Pan-Arctic Fibre Cable Route

                                              One of the factors for the latency is the fact there is complexity within the existing cables. Europe and Asia are already connected via the FLAG and SEA-ME-WE3 cables, which pass through the Suez Canal and other finicky areas which are vulnerable to sabotage if someone were to be determined enough (and, you know, there are lots of determined people out there.) The other routes require cross-connection and thus, we’ve ended up with a complicated connection which has slowed down the network significantly.

                                              Far North Fiber will solve that problem by being a shorter trip and an alternative route – kind of like a slip road.

                                              We can see (thanks to submarinecablemap.com) that while cables are already operating in Arctic climes, some further north than this one would need to pass, they are rare. It is therefore super exciting to see this feat of engineering, should the memorandum of understanding signed by Cinia and Far North Digital come to fruition.

                                              There plan would see the cable taking network traffic from as soon as 2025, which is achieved, would beat Russia’s Polar Express cable to market by a year. However, the Polar Express will only land in Russia after using northern waters to travel from Asia to Europe.

                                              It is worth noting that the sea ice that once plagued the Northern Passage has dwindled over the years, opening up the route to more frequent shipping routes. Cinia and Far North Digital hope that the conditions will make their construction efforts easier.

                                              +

                                              Question Asked: How Safe For Children is the Oculus VR Headset?

                                              Talks have been prompted due to concerns over multiple instances of child harrasment on VRChat

                                              Meta could face a fine of up to four per cent its annual global turnover if the Oculus headset is breaking child safety rules.

                                              The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be seeking clarification on whether the device is compliant with the Children’s Code and will be seeking this clarification from Meta directly by asking about the parental control features on the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.

                                              The clarification comes about due to warnings from child safety campaigners who have pointed out how the £300 device lacks parental controls, which puts it in violation of the new protection code.

                                              The campaign group Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found numerous cases of abuse on  VRChat, Oculus’ popular social tool.

                                              CCDH found that one of these cases involved two heavily breathing men following around a young person’s avatar. Another case had a man joke joked in front of an under-18 that he was a “convicted sex offender.”

                                              The creator of the Children’s Code herself, Baroness Beeban Kidron, states her concern over the safety of children on the Oculus platform, as it has been made too easy for children to be exposed to abuse, harassment, and sexual content.

                                              Meta has its own age barriers in place – VR users must use their Facebook account which has a minimum age requirement of 13, but this doesn’t mean Meta is implementing the Code’s age checks, according to Kidron. All a child has to do do, hypothetically, is simply tick a check box to say they’re old enough and then they’re granted access to potentially harmful VR chatrooms.

                                              The ICO wants answers from Meta about whether their VR headsets and services have enough measures in place to protect children’s privacy and data.

                                              Online services and products that use personal data and are likely to be accessed by children are required to comply with the standards of our children’s code,”

                                              We are planning further discussions with Meta on its children’s privacy and data-protection-by-design approaches to Oculus products and virtual reality services. Parents and children who have concerns about how their data is being handled can complain to us at the ICO.

                                              ICO spokesperson

                                               

                                              What is the Children’s Code?

                                              The UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code (aka the ‘Children Code’) is a set of regulations written into law as part of the 2018 Data Protection Act. Although it came into force in September 2020, organisations were given a 12-month grace period in order to audit themselves for compliance.

                                              The Children’s Code contains 15 standards that companies must implement in any digital services used by children: from social media sites and apps to online games, connected toys, and even educational and news websites.

                                              If Meta has violated the code then Meta could face an onslaught of penalties.

                                              The penalties given by officials could be anywhere from a warning being issued, a fixed financial penalty of £17.5 million being imposed, or they could face a fine up to four per cent of global turnover.

                                              A Meta representative issued a statement and told The Guardian that the company is confident the VR technology complies with the Code’s requirements, and they are committed to honouring the rules established by the ICO.

                                              The spokesperson then goes on to emphasise that children under the age of 13 precluded from its products under the terms and services, however the statement does not address the concerns over how easy it is for minors to circumvent the policy.

                                              Meta is committed to a $50 million (about £37 million) initiative, which it says is to establish the metaverse’s development’s compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

                                              +

                                              UK Invests £2bn In A Future Combat Air System With Japan

                                              UK and Japan to develop fighter jet engine demonstrator

                                               

                                              The UK Government, as part of the UK’s Combat Air strategy, has just announced that they’ll be developing a joint jet engine demonstrator with Japan.

                                              A memorandum of Cooperation has also been signed to enable future development opportunities.

                                               

                                              Work on the jet engine demonstrator will start early next year, with an initial investment by the UK of £30m to be used in planning, digital designs, and innovative manufacturing developments.

                                              A further £200m will then be spent by the UK Government on developing a full scale demonstrator power system which will support hundreds of highly skilled jobs here in the UK, including many at Rolls-Royce’s plant in Bristol.

                                              Then, over the next four years, over £4bn will be invested into major national and international National Security endeavours to design a world-leading, bleeding-edge, Future Combat Air System.

                                              At the same time, Japan will be developing a future fighter aircraft through its F-X programme to replace the F-2 aircraft.

                                               

                                              Strengthening our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific is a strategic priority and this commitment with Japan, one of our closest security partners in Asia, is a clear example of that. Designing a brand-new combat air system with a fighter aircraft at its heart is a highly ambitious project so working with like-minded nations is vital. Building on the technological and industrial strengths of our two countries, we will be exploring a wide-ranging partnership across next-generation combat air technologies.

                                              Ben Wallace – UK Defence Secretary

                                               

                                              This all came about last summer when UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met with Japan’s Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi in Tokyo to discuss the future of air combat systems.

                                               

                                              As I have seen at first hand our partners in Japan have made enormous progress on technologies that can complement our own advanced skills and could help ensure both our Armed Forces remain at the forefront of military innovation.

                                              We look forward to the continued partnership with a formidable power and close ally.

                                              Jeremey Quinn – UK Defence Procurement Minister

                                              +

                                              Free Public Transport To Reduce Air Pollution?

                                              A motion has been floated by Belfast’s Green Party Councillors to give all young people free public transport to help reduce the city’s air pollution.

                                               

                                              A motion has been tabled by Belfast City Council that could see all young people within the city receive free public transport in a move designed to combat rising levels of air pollution in the city.

                                              Current research suggests one in twenty-four deaths in Belfast are linked to air pollution.

                                               

                                              If successful, the council motion would call on Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Translink to create a free public transport pilot scheme for all young people in Belfast.

                                               

                                              The motion has been tabled by Green councillor Brian Smyth and reads…

                                               

                                              This council supports the promotion and expansion of sustainable transport in Belfast as a critical step to averting climate change, address the significant levels of air pollution, reduce congestion and improve public health. Extending and improving uptake of sustainable transport is key to our city playing its part in averting climate breakdown. In order to create a societal shift in how people access public transport, this council therefore calls upon the Minister for Infrastructure and Translink to introduce a pilot of free public transport for young people in Belfast.

                                               

                                              Last November Nichola Mallon was quoted as saying she was open to exploring the idea of congestion charges within the city of Belfast to help reduce emissions and move people away from a reliance on cars for transport.

                                               

                                              I think we are going to have to look at incentivising people out of their cars and I am mindful that, in other places, they are looking at issues like parking charges and congestion charges. That would be an issue that would have to be brought to the Executive, but certainly I am open to considering a range of things. We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and we need to be bold in our thinking.

                                               

                                              Stormont’s Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs has also been consulting on a Clean Air Strategy, with two Climate Change Bills currently making their way through the Assembly.

                                              +

                                              Heads Up: Your Dynamics NAV 2017 Is Being Removed From Mainstream Support

                                              Hopefully you’ll already be aware but if your organisation is using Dynamics NAV 2017 (what was Navision, now widely replace with Business Central) then it’s about to be removed from mainstream support by Microsoft… on the 11th of January this year.

                                               

                                              Although Dynamics NAV isn’t available for new customers anymore there are still some older versions out there that Microsoft are withdrawing support for one by one and the 11th Jan, 2022 is when Dynamics NAV 2017 becomes unsupported (for mainstream support).

                                               

                                              That does raise the question however… what should users be doing with their NAV 2017 systems?

                                              Extended support… for security updates only… will still be available for another five years but it means your NAV 2017 won’t be receiving any more of those awesome and regular feature updates, which, in a constantly changing world, is quickly going to make your systems legacy.

                                               

                                              There are easy options however and if you’re worried about the path your organisation needs to take now then cloudThing will be happy to discuss how Business Central can step into the gap and help.

                                               

                                              Not thought about Digital Transformation before? Maybe now’s the time?

                                              Get in touch below to speak with one of our experts to discuss replacing legacy systems that might prove to be an anchor on your progress through 2022.

                                              +

                                              Rail Commuters Face Long Delays With 25% Staff Shortages… Thanks To COVID

                                              With rising cases of Covid across the UK, passengers are facing more rail disruptions due to high volumes of covid related staff absences.

                                              The Rail Delivery Group said almost one in 10 rail workers were off.

                                               

                                              There are reduced timetables announced by rail companies ScotRail, CrossCountry and LNER, and passengers have been made aware of potential cancellations.

                                              Hundreds of staff are off work due to covid or having to isolate, according to Alex Hynes of ScotRail when speaking about the company.

                                              He went on to say that, while ScotRail usually operates 2,000 services a day, it would be reducing this by 160 (8%) from Tuesday.

                                               

                                              Over the last few weeks because of record numbers of Covid cases we have been cancelling too many trains so we have decided to proactively put this revised timetable in to give our customers greater certainty on the service we can offer

                                              We have said we will offer this timetable until the end of the month but of course one of the lessons we have learnt from Covid is that we would be foolish to predict the future,

                                              There will be a few twists and turn in this Covid tale until it’s over.

                                              Alex Hynes, Managing Director of ScotRail

                                               

                                              The reduced timetable will “prove to be a robust service for customers in the coming weeks”, according to Mr Hynes who said the operator was “pretty confident” in the changes.

                                              Industries where people are unable to work from home are greatly impacted by self-isolation, and the rising cases of Covid have left swathes of the rail work-force self-isolating.

                                              The operator CrossCountry has said more than one in ten staff are absent, and it’s “worsening each day.”

                                              The Rail Delivery Group estimates that more than 6,000 staff, which includes crews and drivers, were currently absent.

                                              The industry body advises anyone travelling to check timetables ahead of time as there would be “some short notice cancellations.”

                                               

                                              We are working hard to provide the most reliable service possible and so that passengers can travel with confidence when fewer rail staff can work, a number of operators are introducing amended timetables

                                              The Rail Delivery Group

                                               

                                              Transport for Wales showed a staggering 49 cancellations on Monday, TransPennine Express cancelled 37 and Avanti West Coast cancelled 25.

                                              Even major commuter stations, like London Victoria, have been negatively affected, with Southern stating it will not be putting on any direct services there until next Monday.

                                              Ministers have been tasked with developing “robust contingency plans” in order to cope with the rising cases of worker absences – as Covid case numbers rise, we could see up to a quarter of staff of work.

                                              Keep in mind, the transport sector is not the only sector hit by worker shortages, as the retail and hospitality industries are also affected by surging cases and self-isolation.

                                              The Cabinet Office has asked public sector leaders to prepare for a worst case scenarios of 10%, 20% and 25% absence rates.

                                              +

                                              Comic Relief Are Making Red Nose Day An Annual Event

                                              Sport Relief is set to become all-year-round campaign after years of being held alternatively with Red Nose Day.

                                              Red Nose Day will now be held every 12 months and the details of how Sport Relief will be operated are to be announced in the following months.

                                              Sport Relief has always alternated with Red Nose Day since it’s debut campaign in 2002, but has always raised less money than Red Nose Day.

                                              And, after a “Difficult Sport Relief 2020”, according to Comic Relief’s latest annual accounts, despite being severely affected by the pandemic it still raised £2.3m more than the previous event in 2018, and so it plans to evolve the once biennial event into all seasons format.

                                              Making Red Nose Day an annual event would create income stability for the charity, and also open the door to new opportunities.

                                               

                                              For the first time in 20 years we’re changing from alternating Sport Relief and Red Nose Day campaigns to Red Nose Day becoming annual and returning every March, and Sport Relief evolving into a year-round brand from 2022.

                                              Sport Relief is set to partner with major events, sports projects and sports stars, with more details set to be announced in the new year.

                                              This is happening at a time where Comic Relief is focusing on fundraising and using pop culture and sport for social change all year round.

                                              Alex Botha, Chief Operating Officer at Comic Relief

                                               

                                              The accounts, for the year to the end of March, also show that its annual income was down by almost £4m year on year to £74.1m, partly because its income in 2019/20 was boosted by the one-off Big Night In Campaign held to raise funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

                                              Despite this, the charity recorded a deficit of £12.1m, as it spent £86.2m – down from £105.6m from the previous year.

                                              This was achieved by a “continued acceleration of the allocation of funds raised in prior years to ensure that we have delivered the maximum impact in challenging times”, according to the charity.

                                              To adapt to the growing pressures of the pandemic, Comic Relief reduced staff costs by more than £3m to £10.8m in 2021.

                                              Following a 2013 criticism of the charity, in which it was discovered it held investments in arms, alcohol and tobacco, states all its investments were ethical and it has not invested in fossil fuel extraction companies since 2017.

                                              It also reiterates its commitment to modernise and update appeal films, by producing films from Kenya, India and South Africa using local crews, and local people leading the films in front of the camera.

                                              +

                                              Scotland & Wales’ Vaccine Roll Out Gets A Boost From Armed Forces

                                              In Scotland and Wales, the vaccine rollout has been accelerated in response to new waves of Omicron infections across the country. The number of personnel from the Armed Forces supporting the effort in Scotland is now 221, and in Wales it’s 98.

                                              The effort has been ongoing since early October 2021, with 121 Armed Forces members leading the charge, however the increased numbers of those on task is due to last until the end of February 2022.

                                              The Armed Forces are on hand to provide more serves alongside the vaccination roll-out, as 114 personnel are driving ambulances to support the Scottish Ambulance service – a supporting service which will be going on until the end of March, however 96 personnel will remain on task to provide ongoing support to the life changing service.

                                              Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

                                              Our Armed Forces continue to tirelessly support the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Scotland to give people and communities vital protection against this virus.

                                              This uplift in support will help to get more vaccines into arms faster, working shoulder to shoulder with the dedicated health services.

                                               

                                              Who are the people 221 supporting the Scottish vaccine programme?

                                              Amongst the Armed Forces, personnel are made up of health care professionals and general duties personnel who will work in support of NHS Scotland and NHS Wales staff and volunteers, and the tasks involve administering vaccines and providing planning expertise. Personnel will deploy to all seven Health Boards in Wales, with two teams assigned to each board, and have been assisting with tasks in Wales since the pandemic began including community testing and PPE delivery.

                                              They come from units across the three services – Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

                                              Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said:

                                              Once again our fantastic British Armed Forces are stepping up in times of need to help tackle Covid-19 in Scotland and across the UK and I pay tribute to them.

                                              The deployment of a further 100 personnel will make a significant contribution to getting people vaccinated in Scotland. As the festive season approaches, when we want to spend time with loved ones, it’s more important than ever to be protected. I urge everyone to book their jabs as soon as they are eligible.

                                              The defence’s work to support the UK’s pandemic response has been given the operational name of “Operation Rescript” and has involved making 398 personnel available for tasks in Scotland.

                                              All support that is being provided goes through the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) process, and since March 2020, there have been over 430 MACA requests across the UK.

                                              Brigadier Ben Wrench, Commander Joint Military Command Scotland said:

                                              Whether it be responding to the impacts of storms or national health crises, the members of our Armed Forces are always prepared to deploy at short notice to support the nation and our communities.

                                              I commend the dedication of all those serving and supporting this effort, many of whom will find themselves away from their families and loved ones this Christmas and Hogmanay.

                                              Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

                                              We are now supporting this national priority Covid-19 vaccination programme in Wales, Scotland and England.

                                              Our Armed Forces are supporting our world class health services to accelerate the vaccine rollout and provide essential protection for people and communities. I urge anyone eligible to take up the offer of a vaccine.

                                              Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:

                                              It is critical that as many people as possible receive the vaccine in our fight against Covid-19 and I’m hugely grateful to the UK’s Armed Forces for supporting this effort in Wales as well as continuing to support the work of the Welsh Ambulance Service.

                                              Since the beginning of the pandemic, the military has stepped up to support health services across Wales with the distribution of PPE, construction of a temporary hospital in Cardiff and assisting community testing in the South Wales valleys, demonstrating the UK Government’s commitment to meet the needs of the whole of the United Kingdom.

                                              The Armed Forces are on hand to support communities, devolved nations and civil authorities as requested, if they meet MACA principles. This includes short notice support to places like Aberdeenshire Council in order to conduct welfare checks on vulnerable people and isolated communities impacted by Storm Arwen.

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                                              Leaked Internal Facebook Documents Reveal Their Plan To Ignore EU Privacy Laws

                                              Political News outlet Politico have released leaked exchanges between Facebooks lawyers which they claim show Facebooks intent to ignore judgements by the European Court of Justice that state US privacy laws don’t offer enough protection to allow the free transfer of personal data from the EU to the US.

                                               

                                              Facebook’s lawyers (or Meta’s lawyers as we should now call them) intend to argue that because Meta uses ‘standard contractual clauses’ (SCC’s) as the legal mechanism of the transfer of personal information and data, then the ECJ’s judgement about US Privacy laws won’t apply to them.

                                              They’re basing this argument on the Schrems II case in which the ECJ ruled the EU-US data sharing agreement Privacy Shield was no longer fit for purpose but that SCC’s were IF additional security (where necessary) was implemented to prevent excessive access to the transferred personal data by the recipient third country.

                                               

                                              Meta’s lawyers also referred to the fact (in the leaked documents) that the UK was granted data adequacy by the EU last June, this, despite the fact that the ECJ had found mass surveillance activities by the UK Government to be illegal.

                                              In the exchange between Meta’s lawyers the idea was also floated that they could argue that the US Federal Trade Commission was “carrying out its role as a data protection agency with unprecedented force and vigour,” meaning they could make the case the US, in terms of data protection, was not that different from the UK.

                                               

                                              It is clear that in some important respects, the UK regime, which the Commission has assessed to be adequate under Article 45 GDPR, takes a similar approach to the US in relation to limitations on data protection rights in the context of interception of communications.

                                              Leaked Meta Communications

                                               

                                              That being said however, the adequacy granted to the UK for data transfer between the UK and EU countries is only limited to four years, with many MEP’s objecting to it at all and negotiations are ongoing even now, meaning any argument based on purely on that could face a lot of pushback.

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                                              UK’s National Crime Agency Has Discovered 225m Unexposed Passwords

                                              It’s come to light that the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and National Cyber Crime Unit have recently uncovered a whole host of stolen passwords.

                                              This was after Troy Hunt of ‘Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), fame announced he’d been handed them to add to his service which allows anyone to check if any of their credentials have been exposed.

                                              Apparently, 585,570,857 passwords were shared by the NCA, with over 225,665,425 being passwords that HIBP had never seen before.

                                              That takes the number of credentials that people can now check with HIBP to over 840 million (847,223,402 to be exact).

                                               

                                              During recent NCA operational activity, the NCCU’s [email protected] team were able to identify a huge amount of potentially compromised credentials (emails and associated passwords) in a compromised cloud storage facility. Through analysis, it became clear that these credentials were an accumulation of breached datasets known and unknown. The fact that they had been placed on a UK business’s cloud storage facility by unknown criminal actors meant the credentials now existed in the public domain and could be accessed by other 3rd parties to commit further fraud or cyber offences.

                                              National Crime Agency statement

                                               

                                              The NCA haven’t revealed were these passwords came from or how they came to light (outside of their above statement).

                                               

                                              Before today’s announcement, there were already 613 million passwords in the live Pwned Passwords service… so the NCA’s corpus represents a significant increase in size. Working in collaboration with the NCA, I imported and parsed out the data set against the existing passwords, I found 225,665,425 completely new instances out of a total set of 585,570,857. As such, this whole set (along with other sources I’d been accumulating since November last year) has all been rolled into a final version of the manually released Pwned Passwords data.

                                              Troy Hunt – HIBP Founder

                                               

                                              HIBP have also confirmed they’ve added a new ingestion pipeline which allows law enforcement agencies around the globe to mass upload compromised passwords, with agencices such as the FBI already availing themselves of the service.

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                                              Over 66% Of Welsh Councils Will Be Enhancing Their Telecare Services Soon

                                              A report, commissioned by TEC Cymru and conducted by FarrPoint, has been released with in-depth information as to the telecare landscape of Wales.

                                              Funded by the Welsh Government, TEC Cymru are responsible for supporting the shift to tech led care in Wales, with this report being a ‘state of current play’ for them.

                                               

                                              A Telecare service is a remote service provided to care for citizens who are less physically mobile, able to provide reassurance, help and guidance via the phone or other assistive technologies like pendants or lifeline alarm units.

                                               

                                              The research was conducted through a variety of data analysis and direct consultations and estimates there are currently over 77,000 telecare users in Wales, with over 91% of that figure aged over 65 and over 33% aged over 85.

                                              However, the take up pf telecare varies across Wales, being delivered by Wales twenty-two councils, alongside numerous Housing Associations, with only 67% of respondents using 2025’s move from analogue to digital lines as an opportunity for digital transformation.

                                               

                                              The report did highlight that the main driver for transformation across all Councils was a desire to improve and extend their services to a wider demographic, such as introducing proactive care or a full telehealth service with better interoperability between health and social care bodies.

                                               

                                              As the switch over to digital approaches though a lot of support and investment will be needed to support telecare services into the new infrastructure.

                                              Currently, only three out of twenty-two Welsh councils are using digital telecare tech and only 19% of a plan on how to manage the transition.

                                              90% of councils have stated they feel unsupported during the transition with over 66% stating they have concerns around the migration.

                                               

                                              Technology advances mean individuals can be supported in every stage of life. Telecare is an extremely positive way in which we can support the most vulnerable in society, allowing them to continue to live independent lives, often from the comfort of their own home. The digital switchover will be a hurdle for many of the telecare providers across Wales but it is one that they absolutely must overcome. As a result, more residents will be able to benefit from these types of services, providing the support and peace of mind to allow them to live independently in their own homes.

                                              Richard Parkinson – Director, FarrPoint

                                               

                                              This report provides the first analysis into the current state of the sector in Wales and will be crucial to reshaping services with the citizen in mind. It also highlights the disparity between the access, cost and type of services that citizens have depending upon where they live.  FarrPoint has previously done similar work in Scotland and England, which brought a valuable perspective on the rollout of digital telecare from across the UK. TEC has the potential to help huge numbers of people continue to live independently, and we’re committed to improving services across Wales, helping as many people as possible access the care they need.

                                              Aaron Edwards – TEC Cymru

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                                              £116m Fund Announced By UK Gov. For Green Tech

                                              The UK Government has just announced a £116m green ‘tech fund’ that will be distributed between direct air capture, greenhouse gas removal, SME tech innovations and business development support services, with the aim to boost job creation whilst also delivering on carbon net zero goals.

                                               

                                              This £116m government investment will support businesses across the nation to turn their green ideas into reality and to develop ground-breaking projects that save energy, slash utility bills and tackle pollution. British businesses and entrepreneurs are already leading the world with innovative solutions to tackling climate change. This is not only good for the planet but will bring new jobs and investment across the UK.

                                              Greg Hands – Energy and Climate Change Minister

                                               

                                              The biggest part of the fund – £64m – will be spent on Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal technologies.

                                              It’s hoped this funding will help attract further private investment, with interest in direct air capture and other forms of negative emissions tech growing.

                                              A further £30m will be awarded through the Energy Entrepreneurs fund to 58 SME’s to help deliver better energy efficiency, storage and clean power.

                                               

                                              The final share of the £116m will see £22.8m go to business development support services for SME’s developing green tech. Technical support will also be offered through the Technical Third Party Support project, which offers expertise in tech coordination, social research, carbon control and storage, generation and distribution to key projects.

                                               

                                               

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                                              Virtual Events Generated Over £39m In Donations During 2021

                                              Virtual fundraising events continued to grow during 2021 according to an updated report released by mass participation agency Massive, in conjunction with JustGiving.

                                              The report continues on the work done last year, collating information about virtual fundraising during a pandemic. Both reports combined information from JustGiving as well as data from 150 other virtual events that raised over £39m in 202, whilst comparing the amounts to 2020 figures.

                                               

                                              The report focused on peer-2-peer virtual fundraising activities, including campaigns from Diabetes UK, Breast Cancer Now, Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s Society.

                                               

                                              • 54% of the events data was collated for were new for 2021
                                              • 29% of the events were a repeat from 2020
                                              • 17% were pivots of existing events that went virtual for 2021 (down from 38% during the pandemic).

                                               

                                              Overall, the report concludes that virtual events raised more in 2021 than the previous year, with over half of those surveyed raising over £100k and the number of virtual events to raise over £1m doubling YoY.

                                               

                                              “We’re seeing more people taking part in virtual events but not seeing any significant growth in levels of fundraising, so the growth we’re seeing appears to be driven by volume as opposed to value and we’ve seen a corresponding increase in marketing spend to drive that volume. In 2022 we expect to see continued success for both virtual and physical events. As ever the most successful campaigns will be the ones that adapt their offer to the changing expectations and attitudes of their audience to offer something new, regardless of whether that’s online, in real life or a mix of both.”

                                              John Tasker, partner at Massive

                                               

                                              The report echoes what we’ve seen on JustGiving this year – virtual events are no longer simply the understudy for physical events and have unique value in attracting new and diverse audiences to good causes. This time next year we expect to see a continued growth in charities blending their events portfolios on JustGiving, with a balance of virtual and physical experiences developed to suit the needs of their supporters.”

                                              Sally Falvey – Head of Retention Marketing, JustGiving

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                                              cloudThing’s powerUP For The Membership Sector Coming SOON

                                              Membership organisations that are already using payment schedules and adjustment managers completely in-house by way of their CRM have reduced third-party processing costs, increased data input and processing efficiency and generally just streamlined all their processes.

                                              They’ve achieved this by following a model of reliable and repeatable methods of data classification, that is… automated process and cloud migration have made the data something that can be accessed and analysed by all those who have permissions.

                                              Overall, their people have a reduced manual effort, less room for human error and increased collection of revenue on time, leaving more room for their members to get the most out of the organisation!

                                              As this technology is already being implemented in membership organisations the world over – automated processing is nothing new – it means you’re not experimenting. You’re ensuring business continuity by #buildingFuture and creating a culture of resilience among your organisations.

                                              The good news is that cloudThing is making this technology available for membership organisations to provide easy to implement solutions to all the common problems that the membership sector faces!

                                              What can you do with the powerUps?

                                              Well, basically everything! The automated processing schedule checks billing profiles for payments due, the direct integration with BACS means you can process payment and deliver responses and automatic notification of payments received, and it updates the billing profiles – all which will allow you to maintain that customer relationship.

                                              Data Mill is part of cloudThing’s wider membership powerUp, which has been designed to provide immediate solutions to common problems that the membership sector faces. Sign up here to receive more information about our powerUps and its benefits.

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                                              NonProfit Sector Still Needs To Move Past ‘Tokenism’

                                              Fundraisers have heard that much of the NonProfit sector is struggling to move beyond tokenistic gestures when it comes to highlighting the voices of marginalised groups and the communities it works with.

                                              Jaden Osei-Bonsu, programme manager at the leadership development community interest company the Centre for Knowledge Equity, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention that the sector needed to shift power to the communities it supported, rather than telling them how to solve their problems.

                                              Speaking at the online convention during an event focusing on how to be an ally to marginalised groups, Osei-Bonsu called for larger charities to think about how they could work in genuine partnership with grassroots organisations which allowed them to lead programmes, rather than simply advising.

                                               

                                              Historically with the charity sector, fundraising usually puts communities in a position where they are being researched or people are trying to tell them what is going to solve their problems –

                                              Jaden Osei-Bonsu – Programme Manager, Centre for Knowledge Equity

                                               

                                              Osei-Bonsu adds that the conversation should be about shifting power to communities with direct experience of the issues being addressed, as the majority of the sector is struggling to move past tokenistic gestures.

                                              Drawing on her experience in youthwork, fellow panellist Yolanda Copes-Stepney, founder of Speak & Do, said that when engaging with marginalised communities, organisations needed to make a conscious effort to ask what results the communities wanted to see from the engagement.

                                              She also said that, too often the young people she spoke to believed nothing would come from their involvement and that they would not be listened to.

                                              She also said that organisations and individuals need to remember that allyship and supporting marginalised groups was ‘going to be a constant process of learning’.

                                              It’s about asking lots of questions, and never assuming anything for them.

                                               

                                               

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                                              cloudThing Named Launch Partner For Microsoft Cloud For NonProfits

                                              cloudThing are honoured to have been named a launch partner for Microsoft cloud For NonProfits.

                                               

                                              For years, cloudThing have provided bleeding-edge software solutions to NonProfit’s in both the UK and globally, helping them digitally transform whilst donating IP to take them to the ‘next level’.

                                              That’s why we’re so proud to have been named Launch Partner by Microsoft for their Cloud for NonProfit.

                                               

                                              Microsoft Cloud For NonProfit takes Microsoft’s already awesome technology and aligns it to the NonProfit sector, considering the challenges they face daily and adapting their solutions to answer them.

                                              Microsoft Cloud for NonProfits has been specially designed for fundraisers, Volunteer Managers & volunteer management systems, programme managers and many other unique roles and concerns specific to NonProfits.

                                               

                                              Microsoft Cloud For NonProfit utilises Dynamics 365, the entire Power Platform, Azure and LinkedIn to help create a whole suite of NonProfit solutions, all underpinned by the Dataverse.

                                              However, Microsoft Cloud for NonProfit’s will also come with advanced training for users as well tech support for the various solutions and software.

                                               

                                              As part of the announcement, Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact team has been highlighting where Cloud for NonProfits can have the most benefit:

                                               

                                              • Know your donors and supporters
                                              • Deliver effective programming
                                              • Accelerate mission outcomes
                                              • Secure donor and programme participant data

                                               

                                              cloudThing are honoured to have been named a launch partner for Microsoft cloud For NonProfits.

                                              The NonProfit sector is central to cloudThing’s core identity and empowering NonProfit’s with tech for social impact was one of cloudThing’s founding principles.

                                              cloudThing have worked with dozens of NonProfit’s over the years and can’t wait to introduce them to Microsoft’s Cloud for NonProfits. – Robert Meehan – CMO, cloudThing

                                               

                                              The NonProfit sector faces many challenges beyond just achieving their stated mission, and often feels a burden of responsibility to invest any money directly into their cause, rather than on organisational improvements.

                                              This can lead to outdated processes and technology creeping into daily use, causing a slowdown in efficiency, as well as large data and skill silos between departments, volunteers, staff and supporters.

                                              cloudThing can assist by firstly, understanding a NonProfit’s ambitions as an organisation, then helping by using technology to address challenges such as supporter engagement, personalisation of services, as well as ensuring business support staff and volunteers are productive and make use of the technology available.

                                              Through a focus on continuous improvement, we can help supercharge your processes, and deliver digital experiences across your NonProfit, even integrating into current systems.

                                               

                                               

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                                              Chinese Quantum Computer Beats Out Google’s 55-Qubit Sycamore

                                              Google’s Sycamore quantum computer falls short of Chinese research team’s Zuchongzhi 2.1 quantum computer.

                                               

                                              A team of Chinese researchers have claimed to have created two different types of quantum computers that can perform calculations that would be completely impossible for non-quantum computers, and that can outperform other competitors in terms of speed.

                                              You might be thinking, “what the heck is a quantum computer?”

                                              Fundamentally they work differently to what we’d consider ‘classic’ computers. They use ‘qubits’ (quantum bits) which work by storing a combination of binary digits (bits – ‘0 1’) through superposition.

                                              The team, helmed by Pan Jianwei, a quantum physicist from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), state they’ve designed a quantum computer that’s a 66-qubit superconductor, making it 10 million times faster than the world’s fastest digital supercomputer, and a million times more powerful than Google’s 55-qubit Sycamore quantum processor.

                                              It has been named ‘Zuchongzhi 2.1’ after the noted 5th century Chinese mathematician and astronomer.

                                              The 62-qubit superconducting prototype, Zuchongzhi, was unveiled by Chinese researchers in May, making the 2.1 an upgraded version.

                                              Zuchongzhi 2.1 isn’t the only quantum computer floating around, however, in 2019 Google’s Sycamore processor achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ for the first time, which far exceeded the performance of domestic computer systems. Google says that Sycamore performed a specific task in 200 seconds – a task that apparently it would take the world’s best supercomputer nearly 10,000 years to complete.

                                              The Zuchongzhi 2.1 research team also lays claim to having built a novel light-based photonic quantum computer, named  ‘Jiuzhang 2.0’ which is said to perform tasks and calculations up to 100 trillion times faster than the world’s fastest existing supercomputer, and large-scale Gaussian boson sampling (GBS) 1 septillion times faster.

                                              The experiments that the researchers ran Zuchongzhi 2.1 and Jiuzhang 2.0 involved things like calculating the probability that a specific input configuration may lead to a particular output configuration.

                                              These are simply not possible for conventional devices.

                                              Jiuzhang 2.0 can, according to the researchers, sample the output of 1,043 possible outcomes 1,024 times faster than a ‘standard’ supercomputer.

                                              They also noted that a sampling calculation using Zuchongzhi 2.1 is about 1,000 times more difficult to perform on a classical computer.

                                              This indicates that our research has entered its second stage to start realising fault-tolerating quantum computing and near-term applications such as quantum machine learning and quantum chemistry. – Zhu Xiaobo – Study’s Co-Author

                                               

                                               

                                              +

                                              Green Routes & Network Expansions – What Liverpool’s £710M Funding Will Do For Transport Infrastructure

                                              Despite vows of invigoration and interoperability, fears remain that thousands of city residents will be excluded from new transport initiatives.

                                               

                                              £710m of funding could be the answer to the east of Liverpool’s connectivity, as it has long been cut off from a rail network.

                                              It comes after Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram vowed at the Labour party conference in September to create a transport system that was ‘better than they’ve got in London.’

                                              An announcement was made earlier this week that the funding had been secured from the government and it seems the mayor’s vow to invest in new infrastructure for transports were not hollow promises.

                                              The will help launch the ‘transport revolution’ which will include new train stations, green bus routes and improved walking and cycling facilities.

                                              The lofty vision of besting London’s transport system may still be in the infancy stages but the massive cash injection is setting the precedent for achieving the goals, acting as the first track being laid down.

                                              The Merseyrail network will be extended to meet the needs of the previously hard to reach communities, such as Skelmersdale, and it is people of places with limited network services who will have been keeping an eye on the details.

                                              Merseyrail is one of the best performing rail franchises in the country.

                                              Down to the geography of the city, amongst other reasons, it has the luxury of full access to the rail network it operates on which results in fewer delays, since unlike competing franchises it doesn’t need to vie for precious platform space.

                                              However, much of the east of the city is basically untouched – beyond the northern line it skips places like Ormskirk, Southport and Kirkby to as far as Hunts Cross.

                                              The areas of West Derby, Knotty Ash, Croxteth, Norris Green, Tuebrook and Stoneycroft remain without a direct line to the city’s rail network which means a population of up to 70,000 are unable to enjoy interoperability of travel and instead have to rely on car use and bus travel.

                                              The scale of the challenge of creating an infrastructure to rival London’s must be taken seriously into consideration and the focus must be clear, in order to create the level of connectivity throughout the entire city that London enjoys.

                                              West Derby MP Ian Byrne feels as though network for his constituency has devolved.

                                              For me, Steve Rotherham and his team have done a magnificent job securing the funding. It’s a fantastic advancement. I fully support the plans for an integrated London style transport system. But it’s not London yet. London has fantastic connectivity. At the moment we’re far far from that. For me, it’s a case of looking at the gaps. 60 years ago we had far better connectivity. We’ve actually gone back. Hopefully now there is an opportunity with the Metro Mayor to revisit all areas of Liverpool which it desperately needs. West Derby has huge gaps. Train connectivity is something that is unbelievably lacking. It would make a huge difference to the infrastructure in east Liverpool if we had connectivity. – Ian Byrne – West Derby MP

                                               

                                              City Council cabinet member and Cllr for the ward Harry Doyle, a vocal supporter of improving the city region’s interconnectivity has pointed out that while road connections are good, there has been a lack of consideration in travel time that needs addressing directly and improved upon.

                                              Knotty Ash is slightly further south than West Derby and it faces a whole slew of connection issues.

                                              Firstly, it doesn’t have a train station.

                                              It takes around the same time to get the bus from the Greyhound pub in Knotty Ash into town as it would to get the train from Chester into town. And that’s just not acceptable. For added context, Knotty Ash is six miles from Liverpool city centre. A bus journey could be between 45 minutes and an hour depending on traffic. Formby is 12 miles from Liverpool city centre. A train journey takes 30 minutes. It would take me less than half the time with a car. We have a good bus network across the city, but the travel time is not acceptable. Not when we’re trying to encourage more people to use public transport. – Harry Doyle – City Council Cabinet Member

                                               

                                              ‘Green corridors’ will be a core focus for the funding secured for transport reinvigoration.

                                              It includes zero-emission hydrogen-powered double-decker buses and ‘green bus routes’ which are designed with prioritisations of travel and journey time through a combination of priority lanes, traffic signal upgrades, remodelled junctions and upgraded, accessible passenger facilities.

                                              The most frequented and busiest bus in the region, the 10A, will be the first of the planned green routes to serve the area – it runs from St Helens to Liverpool city centre through areas like Knotty Ash and Stoneycroft.

                                              So who are the residents in danger of being left out?

                                              In the Northeast of the city, the people of Croxteth who are old enough will only remember, before it closed, of West Derby as the area’s nearest working train station.

                                              The centre of Croxteth is 2 miles away from Fazakerly, which makes that area its nearest connection to the Merseyrail line.

                                              Because of this, areas like Croxteth and Norris Green are more reliant than most on the bus services – 80% of journeys in the City Region are in fact taken by bus.

                                              +

                                              Cancer Diagnosing & Decision Making AI Approved For Use In UK

                                              A massive game-changer for cancer diagnosis and decision making is said to be as accurate lab-testing – with results found in minutes.

                                               

                                              Diagnosis of routine cancer samples has been sped up due to a ground-breaking AI-based test that predicts the most effective form of treatment from images of routine cancer samples, which also cuts costs and saves time on lab-testing – and it’s now approved for use in the UK and EU.

                                              It’s called the PANProfiler, developed by Cambridge-based company Panakeia, and it works by analysing digital images of routine breast tumour samples that normally require being observed under a microscope by a trained pathologist to judge the best course of action.

                                              After the pathologist has checked the sample, a further sample is sent off to discover the next steps that need to be taken, with the wait time being days or weeks for results, and costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

                                              But the PANProfiler Breast Test removes all that wait time and costing. It can scan and analyse the digital image of the sample and predict whether it contains ER or PR receptors, which then categorises patients as needing hormone therapy, or HER2 which is treated by the drug Herceptin.

                                              The test far exceeds existing tests in terms of time and cost efficiency and the accuracy is comparable to lab testing, and it’s able to do all of this in mere minutes just from a digital image. Time, in these instances, is the most precious resource for both patients and doctors. Having the patient journey significantly reduced means the time from diagnosis to treatment is cut tremendously, but also the burden on busy laboratory services is reduced – COVID-19 has undeniably created a backlog on cancer diagnosis during the pandemic and the new AI-based testing method will go a long way to freeing up those services.

                                              As of 13th October, the test now has UKCA and CE approval for clinical use by health services in the UK and EU. It seamlessly integrates into current digital procedures being employed in cancer pathology, and is being trialled in hospitals around the UK, with expansion plans for Europe, North America and Asia.

                                              So how did Panakeia’s innovative technology come to be?

                                              Co-founders Pahini Pandya, a former cancer scientist at the University of Cambridge, and AI researcher Pandu Raharja-Liu found in their research that there were almost imperceptibly small differences in the appearance of cancer cells – so small in fact, that they require a computer to see – and these differences reveal the best treatment options due to the information gleaned from their molecular state.

                                              The Panakeia team is now developing similar tests for other tumour types, in the wake of the PANProfiler Breast test’s release.

                                              The company’s mission is to speed-up the decision-making in cancer diagnosis and treatment, spawned by Pandya’s lived experienced of waiting and waiting for the results of tests for blood cancer – a disease she sadly lost her childhood best friend to – but fortunately the results of Pandya’s blood tests came back negative.

                                              I know first-hand the anxiety of waiting for your test results. Due to the pressure on labs, even in the best healthcare systems, diagnosis and treatment decisions can take weeks – an unacceptable and stressful delay when dealing with a fast-growing cancer. We’re excited to be rolling out PANProfiler to hospitals here in the UK and around the world to speed up access to treatment and help save lives. – Pahini Pandya – Panakeia Co-Founder

                                               

                                              Raharja-Liu, who has unfortunately lost family members to the disease, adds:

                                              This is a golden opportunity to transform cancer diagnosis. We can now do something that nobody has achieved before – to see more from every tumour sample, gathering rich information about what these cells are like and how best to treat them. – Raharja-Liu – Panakeia Co-Founder

                                              This exciting technology has the potential to save laboratory resources and also to improve turnaround time for biomarker results for patients with invasive breast cancer. – Professor Sarah Pinder – Chair of Breast Pathology at King’s College London & Lead Breast Pathologist at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals

                                               

                                               

                                              +

                                              Government Answers Calls To Teach More About Black History, Cultural Change & Migration

                                              Government plans to widen conversations of diversity with publication of new model history curriculum.

                                              Plans for a model history curriculum have been confirmed by schools minister Robin Walker, with plans to enrich learning about “migration, cultural change and the contributions made by different communities”.

                                              Subject expert Christine Counsell has helped developed the curriculum, after Nick Gibb – Walker’s predecessor – made plans to build a curriculum around diversity.

                                              There have been calls for schools to teach more about black history, and so the government’s plans to take steps to develop such a curriculum have followed.

                                              Walker told a debate organised to mark Black History Month:

                                              We will work with history curriculum experts, historians and school leaders to develop a model history curriculum that will stand as an exemplar of a knowledge-rich, coherent approach to teaching history. – Robin Walker – Schools Minister

                                              This isn’t the first of such curriculums to be published, as earlier this year the government released a similar non-statutory model curriculum for music.

                                              Diversity would be an important aspect of the model history curriculum, as we demonstrate how the content, themes and eras of the national curriculum can be brought to life by teaching them in an interconnected form throughout key stages. A diverse history can be taught because history is diverse. As so many members have said today: black history is British history. The curriculum would equip teachers and leaders to teach migration, cultural change and the contributions made by different communities to science, art, culture and society We will announce further details in due course, but I am pleased to show our commitment to high quality teaching in this debate. – Robin Walker, Schools Minister

                                               

                                               

                                              +

                                              NHS To Prescribe E-Cigarettes In A World First – UK To Be Smoke Free By 2030!

                                              The NHS hope to prescribe E-cigarettes to reduce smoking rates in the UK.

                                              The NHS could soon be prescribing e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking.

                                              The medical regulator is currently working with e-cigarette manufacturers in a move fully supported by the Government with the goal of making the UK smoke-free by 2030.

                                               

                                              MHRA (the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) will be publishing updated guidelines to pave the way to a smoke-free UK by 2030 through medical licensed e-cigarettes to smokers.

                                              Manufacturers of e-cigarettes are now being encouraged to contact the MHRA and submit their products for evaluation and approval through the same regulatory process that other medicines and equipment must go through before being used by the NHS.

                                              If any e-cigarettes pass the process, it will make England the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers.

                                               

                                              Once an e-cigarette receives approval from the MHRA, it will be down to individual clinicians and health practitioners as to whether they’re prescribed to a particular patient or not to help them quit smoking.

                                              NHS advice hasn’t changed that non-smokers and children are strongly advised against the use of an e-cigarette as they do still contain nicotine and aren’t risk free… though expert clinicians in both the US and UK have stated they are much safer than smoking is.

                                               

                                              Smoking remains the leading cause of premature death and, whilst rates are at a record low in the UK, there are still over six million smokers in England alone.

                                              There are also huge variations across the country, with smoking rates over 20% in some areas but below 10% in others.

                                              This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our COVID-19 vaccine roll-out saving lives or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness. Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background. – Sajid Javid – Health and Social Care Secretary

                                              2019 figures show that almost 64,000 people die in England from smoking or smoking-related issues which is why the OHID (Office for Health Improvement) is also throwing their weight behind this project to support it.

                                              Reducing health disparities across different regions in the UK, including smoking rates, and keeping people generally health has wide ranging effects on the individual, their wider family and society and the economy as a whole.

                                              To help empower goals that support that, the OHID will be working at a national, regional and local level with the NHS, academia, NonProfit’s, scientist and researchers to ensure they receive the help they need.

                                               

                                               

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                                              UK Justice System Gets Largest Funding Increase In A Decade

                                              It will be victims, courts and prisons that benefit from the MOJ’s new funding increase.

                                              The MOJ (Ministry of Justice) will be pumping an additional £11.5bn into their budget by the end of the current parliament, a 12% boost year on year to help drive recovery across the UK.

                                              An additional £2.2bn will be spent on the courts, prisons and probation service; £550 million will go to cutting reoffending rates and an additional £185 million will go as a boost to victim support services.

                                              The new spending comes with a commitment to cut crime and restore the publics trust in the UK’s justice system.

                                               

                                              Another £1bn has been ear marked to boost capacity post COVID and accelerate the recovery after the pandemic. That includes £447 million to deliver a swifter access to justice by improving waiting times and reducing court backlogs.

                                               

                                              The additional £185 million to be spent on victim support services will fund an additional 1,000 independent sexual and domestic violence advisors by the end of 2023/25 and a 24/7 crisis helpline for victims.

                                               

                                              18,000 additional prison places will use up a further £3.5bn, the biggest prison-building program for more than a century, with an additional £250m being spent on 2,000 temporary prison places in the meantime.

                                              The pandemic created unprecedented challenges but this settlement is the largest increase in more than a decade for the justice system. That means we can focus on building a better, more efficient, justice system for all. The extra investment will help us protect the public by bringing criminals to justice quicker, reducing stubborn reoffending rates and supporting victims better than ever before. – Dominic Raab – MP, Justice Secretary & Deputy Prime Minister

                                              Finally, £324 million will be spent over a three-year period to increase efficiency and timeliness in civil and family court and the threshold and eligibility of legal aid will be increased in civil cases and family court, benefitting millions annually.

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                                              Crackdown On Multination Firms’ Tax Avoidance

                                              World leaders in agreement over global tax reform for tech giants.

                                              A new global tax deal has been agreed by the likes of the UK, US, France, Italy, Austria and Spain, in a decision to move away from national DSTs.

                                              A new DST-credit system will ease the transition between the UK’s current DST and the beginning of the global tax system coming into effect in 2023.

                                              An agreement of a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent on multinational firms has been met this month by 136 countries.

                                              So who do the rules apply to?

                                              The new global tax deal will apply to global companies with at least a 10 per cent profit margin and will see 25 per cent of any profit above the 10 per cent margin reallocated and then subjected to tax in the countries they operate.

                                              The aim of the changes is to crack down on multinational firms who operate mostly digitally, who circumvent taxes by only paying where they have headquarters and not where they operate. The agreement also seeks to deter tax avoidance by filing profits in low-tax-rate countries like Ireland and Luxembourg.

                                              It was found in June, according to the Fair Tax Foundation, that the biggest US tech firms paid almost $100 billion less in taxes over the past decade than stated in their annual reports.

                                              They also state that the ‘Silicon Six’ (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix and Google’s owner Alphabet) have a severe discrepancy in their income taxes and their revenue. For example, they paid nearly $219 billion in income taxes from 2011 to 2020: about 3.6 per cent of their more than $6 trillion in combined revenue.

                                              You might be wondering who the biggest tax avoiders are.

                                              According to the report, Amazon and Facebook are the biggest avoiders: the researchers claimed that Amazon paid $5.9 billion in taxes between 2011 and 2020, on reported profit of $60.5 billion and revenues of $1.6 trillion.

                                               

                                              Since its introduction in April 2020, the DST has netted the Treasury £300 million in the 2020/21 financial year. It charged a 2 per cent on the gross revenues of social media companies, search engines, and online marketplaces.

                                              The revenue that the DST raised will be kept until the new system, ‘Pillar One’, comes into effect. At that point, companies will be allowed to claim back credit against future bills, the difference they paid in tax under DST and what would have been paid under ‘Pillar One’, effective January 2022.

                                              Talks on how the new tax system will be implemented are ongoing in the coming months, with world leaders working out how it’ll be done.

                                               

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                                              New Cultural Change Tool Unveiled For NHS

                                              The NonProfit organisation ‘Skills for Health’, has unveiled its new Custom Rostering System designed with an NHS workforce in mind

                                              A new eRostering solution provided to the NHS by Skills for Health to aid workforce planning and development processes has been fully designed with the complexity of the NHS in mind; customisable, flexible and integrated.

                                              The Custom Rostering System developed by the not-for-profit organisation Skills for Health, has been designed as a tool for culture change, and will transform planning roles within the NHS from data entry to data intelligence.

                                              The CRS provides a top-down view of the workforce, allowing for seamless management of any staff group and creating more efficient rosters for patient care.

                                              Skills for Health have a long history of working in the health sector supporting the workforce, including providing rostering systems,
                                              This unique expertise has helped them build CRS, designed to support healthcare organisations maintain compliant staff schedules and improve patient care delivery.
                                              The team have truly understood the challenges of the sector, and the complexities of managing shifts across different and complex workforce needs and contracts. Subsequently, CRS will readily create and manage short and long-term staff rosters for any staff group, maintaining compliant staffing levels, and making sure teams are crucially in the right place, at the right time. – Niamh McKenna – Skills for Health Trustee & CIO, NHS Resolution

                                              The CRS will allow integration with multiple management systems, meaning its interoperability will allow more people to make informed decisions and reduces reliance on administrative planning work and locum staff and agencies.

                                              CRS can integrate with numerous other systems, which means it’s a perfect tool to integrate seamlessly into any organisation, supporting digital transformation. I have been struck by the level of care and attention that Skills for Health has put into this development, building a product that exactly meets the specific needs of the health sector, and I am looking forward to seeing it in action in a wide range of settings. – Niamh McKenna – Skills for Health Trustee & CIO, NHS Resolution

                                              Its ‘your system, your way’ ethos means it’s built on two core principles; every staff member deserves a system that works in line with their own individual contract and terms of employment; while every organisation needs to be able to manage staff in line with their unique ways of working, CRS fully customises workforce schedules for the specific needs of each NHS staff role, in any organisation.

                                              Every staff member on the CRS has a contract associated with them, and it is through these contracts that the workforce can then be effectively and safely deployed. With its robust reporting, and by meeting the evolving and ever-changing contractual needs for all staff, proven to be so critical throughout COVID-19, CRS will enable trusts, departments and teams to continue to deliver effective rosters that allow staff to have more time to focus on patient care. – Dr Sara Munro – Skills for Health Trustee & CEO, Leeds & York Partnership NHS Trust

                                              The CRS isn’t there just to make the administrative work easier, though. A consistently managed rota ensures the improvement of the workforce’s work-life balance and improves care for patients in turn.

                                              I’m so excited for this much-awaited launch of CRS, Combining the deep market knowledge and insight Skills for Health brings across the sector with an innovative application of technology, this solution helps organisations and teams of all sizes to manage the most important asset of all, their people.

                                              The focus on security, compliance and customisation for a range of unique settings make this a leading offering for any provider. The fact that it has been built with the NHS workforce in mind means trusts can feel confident when they make an investment in CRS.

                                              Reap the benefits of all that comes from Skills for Health’s deep local knowledge, proven capability and continued engagement, while also supporting their not-for-profit mission, by finding out more about CRS today, and vitally, enable the continued development deserved by your healthcare workforce. – Daniel Langton – Skills for Health Trustee & Strategy Director and Chief of Staff, Microsoft UK.

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                                              New Unit Launched As Part of MoD’s Ongoing Data Reform

                                              DASA launches a new unit to discover Emerging Innovations and Rapid Impact technologies within the MoD.

                                              There’s an information reform going on in the UK military, in which it aims to use data and technology to provide an advantage to UK defence forces.

                                              Which is why it’s exciting that the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched a new unit named Military Systems Information Assurance (MSIA), as part of its new Innovation Focus Area (IFA).

                                              This follows the publication of the government’s integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy in March – and will be funded under such. Highlighted within the policy was the need for resilience, and the heightened capability of tackling cyber threats.

                                              The new unit will cover a number of duties under the proposal; from accounting for distinct and hostile demands placed on military information systems, to seeking approaches and technologies that may be an alternative to cryptology, the most common way of ensuring the safety of information.

                                              The different ways this can be assured include novel methods of authentication and the different ways you can store information securely in a cloud environment and at rest.

                                              The unit will also have to seek solutions to ensure that information is not interrupted by wobbly bandwidth and intermittent communications.

                                              Funding for the MSIA will be based on technical readiness level (TRL).

                                              Lower-level proposals will be considered an Emerging Innovation. A proof of concept will be asked to be provided within a six-month contract and can secure funding up to £150,000, on DASA’s advice.

                                              Higher-level TRL proposals will be considered as a Rapid Impact. Within a 12th month contract, a concept demonstrator will be required, and a bid could win up to £350,000 in funding.

                                              Submission for applications will close on the 5th of January 2022.

                                              This announcement by DASA follows the launch of another IFA in August which aimed to reduce the MoD’s systems exposure to cyber-attacks.

                                              The technologies aimed to be developed included a programmed in which the MoD paid bounties to white hat hackers for discovering security bugs in its computer networks, to raise security across its networks and devices.

                                               

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                                              Schools Pushing Back Against Virtual Heads Over Vulnerable Children

                                              Experts warn councils are failing their duty of In Loco Parentis.

                                              Virtual School Heads are failing in their duty as they lack the power to get children in care the education they need as schools have been ‘pushing back’, MP’s have been warned.

                                              Patrick Ward, chair of the National Association of Virtual School Heads, told the education committee last week that local councils were “failing as a corporate parent” because they far too often weren’t using their statutory powers to secure more school places for vulnerable and at-risk children.

                                              What Are Virtual School Heads?

                                              Virtual School Heads (VSH’s) have a Central Government mandated duty to promote and empower the educational achievement of children in care within the Local Authority (LA) they’re employed by.

                                              They’re also responsible for managing their pupil premium funding and for its allocation to schools and alternative provision (AP) settings.

                                              VSH’s also manage the early years pupil premium (EYPP) and allocating it out to early years providers that take care of ‘looked-after-children (children in the care of the LA) who are entitled to free early education.

                                               

                                              Legally, schools should be prioritising looked-after-children for their admissions with some councils resorting to ‘forcing’ schools to take these admissions. However, whilst a council can force this issue, not all councils have delegated that power to their VSH’s.

                                               

                                              A survey conducted in March of this year showed that councils had been forced to initiate the process directly, with around 30% being forced to do so once or more very year.

                                              When you try and place a young person in a mainstream school, a vulnerable young person, you get a lot of pushback. Schools essentially do not want to take these young people because they believe there will be a negative impact then on their outcomes. – Patrick Ward – Chair, National Association of Virtual School Heads

                                              Ward also went on to warn the Government that there wasn’t enough data being collected on looked-after-children missing out on education, which fed back into a lack of accountability for both local councils and Virtual School Heads.

                                              No one holds a director of children’s services or a local authority to account, or a virtual school for that matter, over how many of their children are missing in education or in unregulated provision. The department doesn’t know. The stats aren’t held anywhere. – Calvin Kipling, Virtual School Head, Darlington

                                              A Department for Education spokesperson said they were “taking steps to build on the success” of virtual heads and “further raise educational standards” which included a new £3 million pilot for better support in post-16 education.

                                              They added statutory guidance is “clear” on virtual heads duties, with councils “held to account” through Ofsted.

                                               

                                              However, Paul Whiteman leader of the National Association of Head Teachers pushed back to say:

                                              Sufficient support needs to be available to support each child’s needs. If children are placed in schools that can’t meet their needs effectively and support them fully to be able to learn, then that is not a good place for the child. – Paul Whiteman –NAHT

                                               

                                               

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                                              Next Gen AI That Can ‘Think Of Itself’ Being Developed By Facebook

                                              Current AI’s are terrible at understanding a first-person point of view… Facebook’s next gen AI will change all of that.

                                               

                                              Despite popular opinion, AI software has no sense of ‘self’ and is unlikely to do so any time in the near future. However…

                                              Facebook have just announced that they are hoping to build an AI system capable of taking an ‘egocentric’ view of the world.

                                               

                                              The plan is for future AI programs to be capable of taking a more ‘human’ view of the world by learning from more first-person shot imagery and video that centres the cameras view firmly in, well, the centre.

                                              As simple as that may sound, Facebook hope it will unlock unthought of potential to enhance AR (augmented reality) tools alongside wearable tech… For instance, your glasses could scan a room and find your car keys if you can’t see them.

                                               

                                              Facebook are working on exactly that in conjunction with thirteen other universities and labs across nine countries on Ego4D, a long-term project they are funding without any outside help. So far Project Ego4D has collated over 2,200 hours of first-person video from over 700 participants just going about their daily lives.

                                              Project Ego4D has been tasked with five developmental benchmarks for developing the next gen of AI:

                                               

                                              • Episodic memory: What happened when? (e.g., “Where did I leave my keys?“)
                                              • Forecasting: What am I likely to do next? (e.g., “Wait, you’ve already got your keys“)
                                              • Hand and object manipulation: What am I doing? (e.g., “Putting the keys in the car“)
                                              • Audio-visual diarisation: Who said what when? (e.g., “What was the main topic during class?”)
                                              • Social interaction: Who is interacting with whom? (e.g., “Help me better hear the person talking to me at this noisy restaurant”)

                                               

                                              All of the above play right into the rumours that Facebook, owners of Oculus VR, are planning on launching their own branded smart glasses soon.

                                              We expect that to the extent companies use this dataset and benchmark to develop commercial applications, they will develop safeguards for such applications. For example, before AR glasses can enhance someone’s voice, there could be a protocol in place that they follow to ask someone else’s glasses for permission, or they could limit the range of the device so it can only pick up sounds from the people with whom I am already having a conversation or who are in my immediate vicinity. – Facebook Spokesperson

                                               

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                                              LinkedIn Finally Says That’s Enough To China

                                              LinkedIn is withdrawing from Chine due to mounting challenges.

                                              LinkedIn, the last of the social media giants still operating in China has finally pulled out, citing ‘significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements’.

                                              LinkedIn now joins Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and others in either leaving or being banned from the Chinese market.

                                               

                                              Microsoft, the owners of LinkedIn, have faced huge criticism over their continued presence in China over the last few years from both campaigners and US politicians over what was seen as their continued ‘appeasement’ of the country, agreeing to censor certain groups and block others… including activists and journalists.

                                              The platform will be replaced by a stripped-down version called InJobs, a job only site with zero social feeds or interactions.

                                               

                                              Before the closure, Microsoft claimed 54 million Chinese users used their platform but in recent years they’d been ‘walking a tightrope’ to stay compliant with increasingly stringent demands from the Chinese government.

                                              While we’ve found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed. We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. – Mohak Shroff – Senior Vice-President, LinkedIn

                                              This exit from the Chinese market has been a long time coming for LinkedIn:

                                               

                                              • March ’21 – LinkedIn were forced to restrict new signups to their platform after Chinese authorities insisted they censor sensitive content.
                                              • September ’21 – LinkedIn had to stop Chinese users of their platform viewing content published by several US journalists, academics and activists who were highly critical of Beijing.

                                               

                                              Finally, someone at LinkedIn said enough was enough and the platform cut its losses, withdrawing from China completely.

                                              LinkedIn’s replacement, InJobs, is unlikely to be able to compete with more local competition but it’s though Microsoft will want to keep a foothold in China should things change in the future.

                                               

                                              That just leaves Bing, as the only major foreign-owned search engine currently operating in China… and Bing is only hanging in there by censoring its results, blocking certain searches completely (for example Tiananmen Square).

                                               

                                               

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                                              Reshuffle Causes Confusion Over Future Of Charities Minister Position

                                              After Baroness Barran was moved to the Department for Education, there’s now an empty spot for the charities minister.

                                               

                                              Since July 2020, Baroness Barran had been minister for civil society and loneliness, and will now work as minister for the school system, of which Nadhim Zahawi is the new education secretary.

                                              The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been asked to confirm whether the department will continue to host the Office for Civil Society and when the minister responsible will be named.

                                              Great honour to be appointed to @educationgovuk ministerial team. Excited to get to work but first….HUGE THANKS to @DCMS Civil Society and Youth team for all your support. Also to all the charities, social enterprises for all the work you do – especially during the past 18 months.

                                              It has been the most difficult time and you have stepped up and delivered for our communities. Supported of course by brilliant volunteers whose generosity has been extraordinary. Thanks too to all the funders and philanthropists who have partnered with us in the past year. – Baroness Barran, Minister for the School System

                                               

                                              There has seen an outpouring of gratitude and best wishes from senior leaders, as Barran was well respected in the charity sector.

                                              Who is at DCMS?

                                              On Wednesday it was announced that Nadine Dorries would be culture secretary, and only one DCMS minister has kept their job – Nigel Huddleston who is responsible for sport and tourism.

                                              Julia Lopez and Chris Philp have been appointed to the department as minister of state and parliamentary undersecretary respectively. Lopez joins from the Cabinet Office and Philp from the Home Office.

                                              There is not yet a DCMS representative in the House of Lords.

                                              The reason for the confusion for who is charities minister is because, during reshuffles, department heads hand out ministerial portfolios after the prime minister has appointed individuals to departments.

                                              Other Appointments

                                              The voluntary sector has seen a number of key appointments confirmed in the Treasury, Foreign Office and newly rebranded Department for Levelling Up.

                                              Treasury

                                              Helen Whately became the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, which will give her responsibility for charity tax issues.

                                              She has been an MP since 2015, and previously held roles such as deputy chair of the Conservative party, roles within DCMS, and was minister for social care until last week.

                                              On her website it says: “Helen has worked with several charities as a volunteer and adviser and has also been a school governor.”

                                              Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

                                              The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is the rebrand of up the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which is now headed by Michael Gove as of last week.

                                              The department also sees the prime minister’s previous levelling up adviser join ranks. Neil O’Brien is the co-founder of the think tank, Onward, which set out a series of reforms for volunteering and Gift Aid last year.

                                              Elsewhere, Andy Haldane has been appointed to head up a levelling up taskforce.

                                              Kemi Badenoch, who had been exchequer secretary at the Treasury, has also joined this department and will continue as minister for equalities.

                                              Foreign Office

                                              The foreign secretary role now includes oversight of international aid programmes and is now held by Liz Truss.

                                              This year has hit home the need for global cooperation to deal with climate change, the rise in extreme poverty, and ongoing humanitarian crises. But this work, undoubtedly, has been made harder by the cuts to UK aid.

                                              It is critical that the new foreign secretary uses the upcoming international development strategy to ensure UK aid remains poverty-focused, and that the whole portfolio of the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, delivers long-term, sustainable development for the most marginalised communities, whilst protecting human rights and civil society space globally. – Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond

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                                              Climate-Change Deniers To Be Barred From Google Ads

                                              Climate-change deniers will be restricted from monetisation or displaying ads, according to Google’s new policy.

                                              The new policy prohibits the advertisement and monetisation of content that argues against the scientific consensus to do with climate-change’s existence.

                                              The prohibition will cover all their platforms, most notably YouTube.

                                              The policy announcement comes in a support document where it is also stated that the content or videos that appear to promote false or inaccurate information about climate-change has sparked concern among Google advertising partners.

                                              Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. That’s why today, we’re announcing a new monetisation policy for Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators that will prohibit ads for, and monetisation of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change. – Google’s Ads Team

                                              It goes the other way too, with content creators refusing to have ads promoting unscientific claims appear next to their videos or webpages.

                                              The restrictions cover any references to climate change being a hoax or scam; denial of long-term observations of climate-change; and any attempts to refute that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption and other Earth-damaging human activities have and continue to contribute to climate-change.

                                              The review process to enforce the new policy will include both automated processes and human processes.

                                              Context will play an important part in the review process to discern if the misinformation is being presented as fact, or if it is simply being discussed or disputed, and Google will ensure that the automated tools and human reviews will look closely at what is being stated within the content.

                                              Ads and monetisation won’t be restricted on the various other climate-related topics, as the aim isn’t to stifle discussion. Debates on climate policy, impacts of climate-change, and new or burgeoning research, etc, will still be allowed to have ads or be monetised.

                                              The guideline of the policy includes consultation from experts who contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports.

                                              It also follows as Google’s second big misinformation policy change in less than a month, making up a wider crackdown of ‘fake news’ and the misinformation that is easily spread on the internet.

                                              Last month, content surrounding anti-vaccine misinformation was blocked by Youtube. Misinformation such as claims that flu shots cause infertility or persistent claims that vaccines cause autism are such examples of the content that is blocked on Google’s platforms. The updated policy will now cover any misinformation surrounding the substances that make up a vaccine.

                                              There is insurmountable pressure on tech giants like Google to address the spread of misinformation on their platforms, even Facebook has invested a $1 million grant into fact-checking false climate claims.

                                              There have also been a number of climate-awareness products launched by Google to help against climate-change, such as a Google Maps setting which finds the most eco-friendly route for users.

                                              Currently, the Biden administration is attempting to pass the Build Back Better Act, which includes a $3.5 trillion spending package, with the intention of tackling climate change. The legislation includes a tax on methane gas, expanding tax credits for renewables and electric vehicles, and pushing utilities to use more clean energy.

                                              These measures could reduce the US’ greenhouse gas emissions up to 936 million tonnes by 2030, according to research firm Rhodium Group.

                                              +

                                              NC3RS Seeks To End Animal Testing With £2.7M Prize Fund

                                              NC3Rs announces challenge which aims to end the bioscience sector’s dependence on using animals for testing.

                                              The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) has announced a ‘Virtual Second Species’ challenge with a £2.7m prize for anyone who can devise a solution to the use of animals, particularly drug testing dogs, in R&D.

                                              This competition is part of the CRACK IT Challenges competition to discover a solution that will replace the need animal testing within the science community.

                                              Participants in the NC3Rs are encouraged to create virtual models of dogs based off of existing dog study data from previous experiments, with the aim of improving animal welfare, increasing efficiency, and of course lowering costs.

                                              Several years ago, the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) created a platform called konfer, in which the NC3Rs will use to reach over 150,000 academics from universities around the world.

                                              The challenge set out by NC3Rs is for tech innovators to create digital dogs to predict the negative effects of drugs before they go to human trials.

                                              The collaborative effort to revise the need for animal testing in the bioscience sector forms a part of NC3Rs wider ‘CRACK IT Challenge’ with the laudable goal of eliminating animal testing completely.

                                              This competition has been put together by NC3Rs, in collaboration with eTransafe and Simomics, with sponsorship from Bayer AG, Eli Lilly and Company, Genentech Inc., Gilead Sciences Inc., GSK, Merck Healthcare KGaA and Roche.

                                              It’s hoped anyone entering the competition will develop models using advanced mathematical modelling and machine learning combined with years of previous testing data to help predict unexpected side effects of drugs without the need to test on animals.

                                              As it stands, two species are required to test for negative reactions: a rodent and a non-rodent. Last year, 2,082 experiments used dogs, and NC3Rs hopes to reduce that figure.

                                              Even worse, the current method of using two animals doesn’t always even reveal adverse effect that could affect a human, leading to an unnecessary waste of animal life.

                                              It’s hoped the competition will reduce the cost of drug testing and increase the speed of which new drugs can reach the market safely, and of course save thousands of animals’ lives.

                                              We are excited to be using konfer to connect with the UK’s leading innovators and academics. As we seek to shift the paradigm of the use of dogs in drug testing, we’re keen to make use of the large amounts of dog study data within pharmaceutical companies to create a virtual dog to determine drug toxicities. Konfer’s smart-matching technology offers a speedy, cost-effective route to collaboration, and we look forward to working alongside the UK’s brightest minds to tackle an acute issue in drug development. – Dr Anthony Holmes, Director of Science and Technology at the NC3Rs

                                              It is hoped that by making these solution opportunities more accessible, then the UK will become a global hub for innovation by 2035:

                                              As the government pursue their vision of making the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035, it is important that we simplify collaboration between universities and businesses. The NC3Rs ‘Virtual Second Species’ Challenge is a prime example of meaningful and game-changing innovation, addressing the major matter of animal testing that continues to persist even today.

                                              It is our hope that by making it easier for organisations such as the NC3Rs and academics to find each other, we can facilitate the creation of productive, innovative and of course, meaningful coalitions that will improve lives. – Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive Officer at NCUB

                                               

                                               

                                              +

                                              Intel Says No Due To Brexit

                                              Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger, says the new European chip factory will only be considered for EU member states.

                                              He goes on to say that before Brexit, the UK would have been considered but due to the decision to leave, it is not a part of Intel’s £70 billion expansion plans.

                                              There are currently 70 proposals across 10 different countries, and an agreement will hopefully be made by the new year on which of the EU member states wins the proposal.

                                              Intel plans to boost its export from the US and has a 10-year plan of investing £70 billion into opening and upgrading semiconductor plants over Europe.

                                              Intel is considering multiple factors for the proposals. The European site must be able to support up to eight fabs on 1,000 acres of land, and a decent talent pool must be accessible.

                                              Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands are in the running, among others, and it’ll be announced by the new year which sites will be host to the new factories. There are plans for at least one manufacturing and one advanced packaging factory in Europe.

                                              This follows other direct consequences of the Brexit vote, such as mass shortages of healthcare staff, care workers, and HGV drivers, and now a high-skill manufacturing investment being taken out of the running completely.

                                              The pre-Brexit Britain was a prime location for US and Asian firms to use as an entry into the rest of Europe, and the access to international shipping ports like Tilbury, Felixstowe and Liverpool, as well as the highly technical and skilled talent pool for firms like Intel to take advantage of means the UK would have been a smart choice for a new silicone wafer plant to serve the rest of Europe.

                                              However, supply chains need to be reliable. The Brexit vote means the UK can no longer guarantee cheap, easy and robust cross-border trade, which has led to the nation being passed over for EU member states like Ireland and Germany.

                                              Intel’s expansion in the EU comes as a solution to the global semiconductor shortage affecting supply chains of numerous goods, from cars to computers.

                                              September 2021 saw Toyota slash global production targets by 40%, with other manufacturers like General Motors, Nissan, Ford, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover also being forced to slow or stop production at various plants in 2021.

                                              The chip shortage has resulted in the cost of any goods where microchips are a vital part of it, which could last until Christmas and is unlikely to stabilise until 2023.

                                              There is some possibility that there may be a few IOUs under the Christmas trees around the world this year.

                                              Just everything is short right now. And even as I and my peers in the industry are working like crazy to catch up, it’s going to be a while.Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO

                                              As it stands currently, Taiwan and South Korea produce around 70% of the world’s supply of chips, so Intel is hoping for government subsidies in the US and Europe to address the global reliance on Asia for the supply of chips.

                                              +

                                              UK Has One Of The Highest Rates Of Infection Of Covid In Europe

                                              As winter begins to encroach on our heating bills, how worried should we be about Covid?

                                              You may not have noticed, but the UK has one of the highest rates of infection of Covid in Europe.

                                              Compared with the big nations in Western Europe, the UK unfortunately holds the mantle with the highest numbers of infections.

                                              But what are the contributing factors? England was the first European country to unlock, with all (bar a couple) social distancing and Covid measures being lifted on July 19th, 2021. The next country after that was Denmark in late August.

                                              This step has only been taken in recent weeks by nations like Norway. Many other nations have kept most of their measures in place, for example, Italy and German still have restrictions on large gatherings.

                                              So, with England having led the charge by weeks on the lifting of social distancing, it comes as no surprise that a virus that is passed via close proximity of humans has taken off ahead of the rest of Europe.

                                              Vaccine uptake has also slowed down which has allowed for nations such as Spain, Portugal and France to take the throne of administering more doses of the vaccine than there is population of citizens.

                                              This is in part due to the UK only just starting their vaccination of under-16s, a little behind schedule to a lot of other countries.

                                              But has the link between catching Covid and becoming seriously ill from it been broken?

                                              The vaccine uptake between those with serious illnesses and older people in the UK is similar to the rest of Europe, which grants a higher level of protection to the more vulnerable.

                                              Simply put, the gap in numbers dying is similar.

                                              Current trend shows just over 100 Covid related deaths a day in the UK, which is similar to what happens in a blad flu season for months on end.

                                              However, death is not the only measure. The effects of ‘long Covid’ are still just as present among those who have not been seriously affect by Covid. While these effects are still being learned about it is argued that spread should be better contained.

                                              Some experts, such as Prof Mike Tildesley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, are now questioning if there is an “acceptable” level of Covid, otherwise we will become reliant on extra measures long-term.

                                              Covid is here to stay – we need to discuss what we are willing to live with. – Professor Mike Tildesley

                                              Another thing to consider is that there has been a variety of approaches throughout Europe so there isn’t really a control to look at, so where we’re heading is just as important a measure as where we’ve been.

                                              For example, in early Spring the UK had one of the lowest rates in Europe because we’d already had our Alpha wave, whereas Europe’s was in full swing.

                                              Covid is one of those situations that can change at an unprecedented rate, whether positive or negative. The UK death rate is falling, even in a society with little to no social distancing happening and mask-wearing is not mandatory. It suggests the virus has been brought under some control, in the sense that those rapid surges of the early days should be behind us as the wider population has immunity.

                                              As it stands, the high rates are apparent among teenagers – particularly those under 16 who haven’t had a chance over the summer to get their vaccination unlike those in the same age group in other parts of Europe.

                                              The concern is, and always has been, that the younger population could spread the infection into the older populations, as children are the lowest at risk of becoming seriously ill off of the virus.

                                              But there are initial indications that suggest this isn’t happening, furthermore, the rise in children may have already peaked. It shows we may be able to maintain a level of cautious optimism.

                                              So, as winter approaches, we may actually see a continued fall in infections once the wave in teenagers comes to pass.

                                              And this was the argument provided by the UK government and its senior scientists – Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Valance – when the decision to reopen was being floated, that we needed an ‘exit wave’ before the throes of winter fully arrived.

                                              The problem, really, is that the NHS doesn’t have much room for even a tiny surge.

                                              This winter, it will not just be a surge in Covid that strains the NHS.

                                              With all the lockdowns and social distancing, the regular, common colds and flus that we encounter in daily life, especially wintertime, were largely absent, so there is less immunity among society.

                                              For example, the beginnings of an outbreak of RSV – a virus which can cause up to 30,000 under-fives to be admitted to hospital every winter, which is six times what that age group has seen of Covid, can already be tracked and it is circulating at very high levels.

                                              On top of that, flu season is about to begin.

                                              How much room does the NHS have?

                                               

                                               

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                                              NonProfit Sector Still Needs To Move Past Tokenism

                                              Delegates at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention told that power needs to be shifted to the communities.

                                              Fundraisers have heard that much of the NonProfit sector is struggling to move beyond tokenistic gestures when it comes to highlighting the voices of marginalised groups and the communities it works with.

                                              Jaden Osei-Bonsu, programme manager at the leadership development community interest company the Centre for Knowledge Equity, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention that the sector needed to shift power to the communities it supported, rather than telling them how to solve their problems.

                                              Speaking at the online convention during an event focusing on how to be an ally to marginalised groups, Osei-Bonsu called for larger charities to think about how they could work in genuine partnership with grassroots organisations which allowed them to lead programmes, rather than simply advising.

                                              Historically with the charity sector, fundraising usually puts communities in a position where they are being researched or people are trying to tell them what is going to solve their problems.Jaden Osei-Bonsu – Programme Manager, Centre for Knowledge Equity

                                              Osei-Bonsu adds that the conversation should be about shifting power to communities with direct experience of the issues being addressed, as the majority of the sector is struggling to move past tokenistic gestures.

                                              Drawing on her experience in youthwork, fellow panellist Yolanda Copes-Stepney, founder of Speak & Do, said that when engaging with marginalised communities, organisations needed to make a conscious effort to ask what results the communities wanted to see from the engagement.

                                              She also said that, too often the young people she spoke to believed nothing would come from their involvement and that they would not be listened to.

                                              She also said that organisations and individuals need to remember that allyship and supporting marginalised groups was ‘going to be a constant process of learning’.

                                              It’s about asking lots of questions, and never assuming anything for them.

                                               

                                               

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                                              Facebook Back Tracks On Instagram Plans For Kids

                                              Facebook halts its plans for an ‘Instagram for Kids’ – aimed at ages 10 to 12 – after being accused of ignoring its own research into the harm to children’s wellbeing caused by Instagram.

                                               

                                              An article reported by the Wall Street Journal accuses Facebook of ignoring and covering up evidence of the harm caused to teenagers, particularly girls, by Instagram. Further on in the article, it reports that an internal Facebook presentation noted that among teenage social media users who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue back to Instagram.

                                              Another presentation from 2019 said, “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” while a later slide deck added: “Thirty-two per cent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse”.

                                              Facebook has spoken out against the allegations, stating the article deliberately mischaracterises them, and “conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees.”

                                              The article increased the scrutiny on the dark side of social media at a time when Facebook is facing criticism from many angles.

                                              It even caught the attention of US politicians who outright called for the company to abandon Instagram for Kids.

                                              Bowing to pressure, on Monday Facebook said in a statement that it would ‘re-evaluate’ the project:

                                              While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens. – Statement Issued by Facebook

                                               

                                              Children under the age of 13 are not supposed to use Instagram, although this is easily circumventing by many by lying about their age. The planned new product, known informally as ‘Instagram for Kids’, would be aimed at the ages 10 to 12 demographic with parents having some control over their usage.

                                              The problem with this is that a similar Facebook product called Messenger Kids was found to be open to abuse by strangers who were able to enter chatrooms.

                                              The plans have been steadily pulled back as more and more advocacy groups, parents, and lawmakers have lined up to take aim at the proposed product plan.

                                              In April, advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying Instagram for Kids would create “challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing”.

                                              Us Representative Lori Trahan and Senator Richard Blumenthal welcomed the announcement that Facebook would be delaying Instagram for Kids but said in a statement it should go further and ditch the project as a whole.

                                              “We are pleased that Facebook has heeded our calls to stop ploughing ahead with its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children. A ‘pause’ is insufficient, however.

                                              Facebook has completely forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting young people online and it must completely abandon this project.”

                                               

                                               

                                               

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                                              Proud To Be Named ‘Devops Company of the Year’

                                              We are delighted to announce that our DevOps team has been recognised for their knowledge, hard-work and dedication to projects, as they have been named winner of DevOps Company of the Year and finalists for DevOps Project of the Year at the Computing DevOps Excellence Awards 2019!

                                               

                                               

                                              We attended the Computing DevOps Excellence Awards in London on Wednesday 20th March and were proud to have been shortlisted as finalists at such an event, alongside many prestigious companies. Although we arrived with belief in the work we do as a company, we were honoured to even be listed amongst other great DevOps organisations. We are absolutely ecstatic to come away as winners of the ‘DevOps Company of the Year’ award!

                                              We were named DevOps Company of the Year thanks to the culture of collaboration and deep partnership with our customers to deliver true continuous optimisation of their services. Our DevOps always strive to deliver the best projects we can, and treat clients with the respect to challenge their approach when appropriate. As a result of this, we now have a client base who are fully supportive and trust in our work and processes. We were able to invite Pete Jones from Ellis Whittam, and Peter Adams from De Pinna to come to the event with us as satisfied clients to share in the success. DevOps is integral to the delivery of most of our services, so our pure Development, Design and Dynamics teams all received a shout out. We’re proud to be recognised by our peers as a company that goes the extra mile when it comes to developing software and ensuring that it is future-proof and able to withstand the challenges it may face later down the line. This award just confirms and shows that we are heading in the right direction as we continue to grow.

                                              Winning ‘DevOps Company of the Year’ is a true testament to our hardworking team and every employee has contributed across cloudThing in order to achieve this, as well as the support from our clients. We can’t thank you all enough and look forward to seeing what the future holds for cloudThing- DevOps Company of the Year! It’s onwards and upwards and we’re excited to strive even further to deliver the projects and work we receive to the highest of quality and durability!

                                              But first, it’s time for that glass of champagne… Cheers!

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