Tag: government

UK government’s building software plans stuffed up

urinalsResellers of Building Information Management (BIM) software packages say that the UK government is stuffing up the introduction of such software in the industry, by failing to make sure that the software is compatible.

When the government announced in May last year that BIM software would be made mandatory on all public sector building projects, resellers of the software started to rub their paws eagerly.

However, it turned out that the issue of compatibility in BIM software packages is delaying its wider use in the building services sector.

H&V news  quoted BIM reseller Mintronics’ John Minto, saying that the government’s BIM plans were “largely failing”.

NG Bailey Engineering principal mechanical engineering manager Will Pitt and Interserve Engineering Services head of business development Edward Halford have agreed that while  BIM was set to transform the design and delivery of buildings, the software was being scuppered by inter-operability problems.

Halford said that BIM software was sufficiently developed to allow multi-disciplinary co-ordination at early stages but the transfer of BIM information into a format suitable for manufacture and beyond is still tricky.

Some design and detailing required by the government cannot currently be handled by many of the BIM systems being used by architects and consultants.

Halford’s company recognised how some SMEs can struggle with BIM integration, due to cost, time and resource considerations, but some of it was to do with the lack of compatibility across various software packages, as well as the non-availability of supply chain components appear to be holding a number of small and medium-sized enterprises back.

He wanted more standardisation of software packages, improved compatibility, and better integrated technical libraries from manufacturers and suppliers.

To make matters worse, the use of level 2 BIM will become mandatory within public sector projects by 2016, before many have got the hang of level 1.

E-fags cause regulatory stink

efagThe days when sparking up a fag with a drink in the warmth in public is a misty memory for those who live in the UK.

Instead smokers have had to endure the cold, snow, and often spaces smaller than a battery farm in a bid to get that nicotine hit after a meal at a UK restaurant, in a bar or in a club.

However, it seemed that some smokers’ problems were stubbed out thanks to the E-cigarette, which steam rolled into the market.

Marketed as a lower risk option to smoking and a way to help quit the habit, this new product
also had the added extra of allowing people to “smoke” inside.

The e-cigarette comes in two parts. One end contains the liquid nicotine, while the other has a rechargeable battery and an atomiser.

When the user inhales, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth.

As there is no tobacco in these products, there is no harmful, and potentially lethal tar, and the “smoke” that these emit is mainly water vapour.

According to the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) around 700,000 people in the UK were using e-cigarettes last year, with around 300,000 more predicted to use these this year.

However, new proposals could now see the industry, which has around 100 manufacturing companies, go up in, er,  smoke.

Earlier this year the British Medical Association (BMA) called for more regulation and research around these products, advising  health professionals to use regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy instead to help patients stop smoking.

It is also calling for restrictions to the marketing, sale and promotion of e-cigarettes, and for clear labelling on the contents of cartridges and their safe use.

In an updated online briefing, it pointed out that these battery-operated devices were not licensed as a medicine in the UK and there was a lack of peer-reviewed evidence on their value in helping smokers cut down or stop.

It also said there were concerns that the use of e-cigarettes could threaten the norm of not smoking in public places and workplaces.

BMA director of professional activities Vivienne Nathanson said: ‘It took us many decades and hundreds of thousands of deaths to understand the connection between cigarette smoking and disease. We must not encourage use of a new system of nicotine delivery when we are unsure about its safety, or efficacy as a means of stopping smoking.

‘We are especially concerned that e-cigarettes might reinforce the smoking habit as they are designed to closely mimic smoking actions.’

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is set to report on nicotine product regulation this spring.

Public sector drawing up cloud contracts

cloud (264 x 264)Vendors will find themselves bidding for lucrative European government cloud projects soon.

According to the IDC Government Insights report for Cloud Trends for Western European Government Sector more than 56 percent of local government survey respondents and 42 percent of central government respondents have adopted or are planning to adopt internally hosted private clouds.

More than half of public sector groups are adopting or planning to adopt provider-hosted private clouds. Public clouds come second, with 28 per cent of respondents, and hybrid cloud is a distant third.
Among central governments, citizen Web portals and assembly management are the areas most under consideration.

Silvia Piai, research manager, IDC Government Insights said that the reseach suggests that public and hybrid cloud will gradually replace private clouds.

The study, with the catchy title, “Western Europe Government Sector IT Cloud Computing Trends, 2012–2013 (IDC Government Insights #GIPP12U, January 2013)”, is the third in a series of studies which say more or less the same things.
Not only are central and local governments about to make large cloud investments, but eventually Public clouds will become more important.

No cash cow from dog chips – it’s barking mad

ChihuahuaCompanies hoping to make a few bucks out of new dog chipping legislation could end up disappointed with an analyst pointing out that that there’s not a lot of margins in this industry.

Malcolm Penn, an analyst at Future Horizons, has also advised chip companies looking to be favoured by the government to put away those expensive bottles of whisky, with favouritism illegal in this country.

The comments come as an anticipated announcement by the government is expected to order that all dogs are microchipped by 2016.

It is thought the moves will help owners reunite with lost or stolen pets, relieving the burden placed on local authorities and animal charities by stray dogs. It will also mean it will be easier to track the owners of dangerous dogs.

The chips will contain an electronic record of their owners’ name and addresses, as well as a unique identity number, which will be stored on a database in case the details are needed.

According to the Dogs Trust, more than four million dogs and cats in the UK have been fitted, with up to 8,000 new registrations every week.

However, prices on this process are varied. The Dogs Trust suggests that owners are looking at around £20-£30 to chip their dogs, while others claim that the cost could be as little as £5.

Malcom Penn pointed out that the cost would be far lower.

“These chips are not so complex, maybe five cents a pop for the IC manufacturer, and pet quantities are not that great – around 8 million dogs and cats – with a ‘renewal rate’ of say 1 million per year, assuming an average eight years life . So, US$5 million per year ongoing plus the one off surge.”

He also pointed out that although Infineon is the world market leader here, the UK  is unlikely to have a favoured supplier, as it’s illegal under EU regulations.

Foreign companies set up local clouds for UK

cloudForeign cloud vendors are waking up to the fact that European companies need data stored locally.

Already there has been concerns within the EU that some of the larger multinational cloud vendors are trying to score lucrative contracts in Europe.

The problem is that many foreign countries have laws which require their companies to turn over any data to their intelligence agencies.
In the US the Patriot Act requires all US companies to hand over data if the Government wants it. That means that if EU data crosses the pond it can become US government property.

UK customers of Megaupload found that out the hard way when their data was seized as part of a copyright dispute between the US government and the company..

Similar problems exist with companies that connect to Indian outsourcers which have cloud operations. Although it has not happened yet, data can be seized by Indian spooks under their terrorism acts.

The EU has been issuing warnings to companies that they could be in trouble if their data levels the boundaries of the trade bloc.

Last year, Sophia In’t Veld, a member of the Parliament’s civil liberties committee complained that the way it was worded US Patriot Act effectively overrules the EU Directive on Data Protection. She called for the Commission to remedy this situation.

Now it seems that the foreign vendors are starting to listen and are getting around the problem by setting up local clouds in the EU.

The latest idea has come from the ResellerClub, one of the world’s largest providers of Web Presence Products. It is now offering its resellers Hosting and Shared Hosting on Servers located in the UK.

Under the deal resellers can assure their customers Shared Hosting as well as Reseller Hosting on server locations are based in the UK.

Bhavin Turakhia, Founder of ResellerClub said hosting meant that website owners can reduce latency and benefit from better local search engine rankings.

Turakhia said that since the UK is one of ResellerClub’s biggest markets and resellers were warning that the content had to be kept local.

Earlier this year another cloud supplier saw a hole in the market and created a cloud platform that could manage the different levels of infrastructure and service required in a highly-secure cloud environment.

The company pointed out that “there’s a lot of concern around data security, particularly in Europe where there’s a great deal of anxiety about the Patriot Act, we felt that increasing our focus on security could offer an interesting and important opportunity for us,” a company spokesman said.

One of the company’s selling points is that its customers know and can control where their data is based and where that data is being accessed from.

It can be expected that as the EU looks closer at Data Protection then more such regional cloud packages will be required.

US security company looks to UK encoders

mi5logo While there are fears that the UK government might be turning over its security to evil Chinese companies, it seems that there is less stress when it comes to using security outfits from the US.

US security company Insight is hoping to win shedloads of British government contracts by partnering with a UK data encryption company called DESlock.

Insight has been around since 1988 and provides hardware, software and services solutions to business and public sector organisations across the pond.

According to Luke Ambrose, UK Product Manager – Security Software, at Insight, his company is working hard to increase its channel on this side of the Atlantic.

Working with companies like DESlock gives Insight inroads into the lucrative UK government contracts as well as home grown products.

DESlock’s flagship data encryption product is Deslock+ which was launched in 2006. Desklock+ allows secure collaboration across complex workgroups and teams.

Kevin Percy, UK Business Development Manager for DESlock said that Insight can be very selective about its vendors and does not tend to pick any old riff raff.

He said it mades sense for Insight to be able to offer encryption as part of its portfolio, and give customers a fully integrated service.

There are a lot of advantages for the smaller British companies too. Insight has a fairly complicated business model which includes more services, expert technical resources, and a long supply chain which can give them access to services and products they might not normally get their paws on.

Insight made $5.3 billion in revenue last year and operated in 23 countries, serving clients in 191 countries worldwide.