Network Technologies & City Management: innovations in parallel

25 Jan

Following a week where Judith Rodin’s book The Resilience Dividend coincided with reports from ETSI on great progress in NFV standards development, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d find ourselves musing on their similarities.

Megan Wu - silicon cityscape

For Networks: getting our acts together we found that Megan Wu’s graphic captured a blend of cityscape and silicon.  Network technologists and Community builders –  different disciplines tackling much the same processes.


Unleashing Municipal Enterprise: stimulating economic growth in the digital era

4 Nov

helix websizeA new Groupe Intellex paper urges greater empowerment of UK municipalities to take a stronger role in developing their local digital infrastructures as a foundation for future economic growth and community development.

The graphic selected for the front of this paper shows the double helix representation of DNA – the stuff of life.

The shot was taken from the chapel of the research institute of the hospital of San Raffaele in Milan.

The message is that digitalisation is now deeply embedded in the DNA of modern economies.  The Digital Economy is a term that is now almost redundant; what part of economic activity is not in some way facilitated or enabled by digital networks and technologies?

The paper draws together several threads – calls for devolution, new insights into the efficacy of public investment and demands for smarter attention to local needs – and contrasts the centralised state supervision of the UK with progressive communities across the world.

The topic will be discussed at NextGen 14 Fast Track to the Future conference in Derby (November 11th & 12th).

Unleashing Municipal Enterprise  (3MB PDF download).

Video interview from NextGenTV

Lazarettos needed in Ebola-stricken lands

18 Oct

250px-Ithaki-VathySkippers sailing into Vathi – the deep natural harbour of Ithaca in the Ionian – nowadays steer well clear of the tiny square islet marked on the chart as Lazaretto, and those of us with larger yachts also know that a storage space at the stern is called the lazarrette.

In these times of Ebola, both references remind us that quarantined isolation has traditionally been the last defence against contagious diseases. The name derives from biblical references to Lazarus and the scourge of leprosy.   Another reminder will occur next week in Exeter.

The National Investiture of the Grand Priory of England and Wales – part of the Order of Saint Lazarus – takes place on Saturday 25th October in Exeter cathedral.

The Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the most ancient of the European orders of chivalry from the days of crusader knights but, with the exception of a brief period in the 17th century, it played no military role after 1291. From its foundation in the 12th century, the members of the Order were dedicated to two ideals: providing aid to those suffering from the dreadful disease of Leprosy, and defending the Christian faith.

The event in Exeter reminds us that Leprosy has still not been eliminated – a salutary thought as the world gears up to the challenges of Ebola – and the work goes on, not least in West Bengal amongst the elderly and children of affected families.

Even in Europe, in our lifetime, the Order of St Lazarus was the primary provider of medical and other aid to Eastern Europe and former Soviet Bloc CIS countries – delivering, for example, twice as much as then provided by the German Red Cross which ranked second in EU estimates.

Devotion to this cause is, of course, entirely voluntary and we’re delighted to report that one of our regular contributors will next week receive the Order’s Meritorious Service Medal.

This particular award is quite rare but Dr. Colin Coulson Thomas is well qualified having held one unpaid office or another continuously for 26 years. For 17 years his roles included being a Trustee of the St Lazarus Charitable Trust and he has also chaired the executive committee of the Grand Priory of England and Wales. More recently he has been leading the Order’s International Governance Initiative that is concerned with raising standards of corporate and public sector governance around the world, and particularly where corruption is endemic.

Groupe Intellex congratulates Colin on this recognition of his years of service and commends the Order for its continuing crusades in the 21st century.



Colin’s ongoing work on business governance is featured in our management editorials and will be discussed at the IOD (India) London Global Convention – 28th to 31st October, 2014.

Picture of Vathi courtesy of Wikimedia


The Poetry of Networked People

16 Oct

MATRIX logoFor an organisation devoted to technology and innovation, Northern Ireland’s annual MATRIX poetry competition is a determined attempt to tackle stereotypical distinctions between arts and sciences. 

In a part of the UK with more than its fair share of hard-edged black & white positions, it is worthwhile pointing out that in the design of laptops, tablets and phones, silver-grey with rounded corners is a very stylish choice.

Poetry is, of course, a deal further on from product design but, when innovators launch their new ventures, the value of well-chosen words can never be underestimated.  Every week we enjoy Norman’s Blog – a compendium of historical linkages often triggered by the latest excitements at the NI Science Park – and Norman Apsley’s stories are all the more memorable for the way that he tells them.

My own career in telecoms was, on the surface, a very technological pursuit but one where there were countless opportunities for wordsmiths.  It may not have been what I was paid to do but I now count those years as excellent training in creative writing – and even if my Action Pointer series (totally uncalled-for essays) raised a few senior eyebrows they often served to open minds to new possibilities.

So now, despite carrying a technology-driven label, I cannot deny that I am (and always have been) a writer.  Recognition, even in some minor way, is always satisfying – like tracking if readers crack up at the same embedded chuckle points – and today’s event is priceless. 

Few of us place enough value on words and I’d not rate my own efforts as particularly worthwhile.  For the most part, poetry is a personal and private pre-occupation, rarely shared beyond friends and family, but this day simply cannot pass without expressing my thanks to MATRIX for the honour bestowed on my lines about Linked in and tenuous social media connections.


The full Groupe Intellex archive is at

Full text of the winning entry ‘Linked In?

Harrumph of the week: you cannot be serious?

26 Aug

Yesterday’s news that Amazon is intent on acquiring Twitch Interactive Inc. – a 3 year old venture with a million broadcasters and 55 million visitors per month – for around $970 million in cash, is yet another signal that your correspondent should perhaps wake up and take the games market seriously.

But having just been visited by two young grandchildren (with iPads) on their summer holidays, it is difficult to be serious.

The mind boggles.

Full story featuring the EvilLordPexagon here

Indian business leaders gathering in London will get multi-ministerial support

30 Jul

The 2014 London Global Convention for the Institute of Directors (India) will bring business leaders from across the globe in October.

OfficialBaronessVermaSustainability will be high on the agenda – not least because chair of the convention’s programme committee is Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Sustainability is a high priority on many boardroom agendas and also represents major trade opportunities for the UK – so it’s no surprise to hear that Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, and Trade and Investment Minister, Ian Livingston are also expected to attend the event.

For more information on the Convention and why Sustainability is a key business topic read the Groupe Intellex background commentary.

Can Municipal Enterprise unleash creativity at scale?

20 Jul

thinking_heads smallWhen we published a recent note on Municipal Enterprise we didn’t expect any great rush of readers.

It turned out that the RSA’s City Growth Commission was finalising its report on Connected Cities.

Recommendation 2 of that report (whilst argued specifically for Metro’s) gets very close to the themes of our forthcoming publication with “a substantial risk transfer to those metros able to shoulder it

With regard to infrastructure and connectivity we argue that metros should be responsible for approving and securing finance to develop schemes within their boundaries.

The report also fully supports the lessons gleaned from our Study Tours: “the UK must learn from high-performing international competitors , which typically allow metros much greater flexibility and long-term certainty of funding”.

Catch up with our note (13th July) and links to some of our background thinking.



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