Tag Archives: broadband

2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards: Digital Innovation

24 Aug

 

[This is part 7 of an 8-part series profiling the short-listed Finalists – Ed]

Over the past five years of the Digital Challenge, Innovation has always been a strong theme.   In 2015 the contenders for this award once again demonstrate a diversity of imaginative responses to emergent needs.

NGShortlisthi-resWhen the judging panel buckles down to review the shortlist they will be faced with a three-part submission from each Finalist – detailing each project’s Challenge, Solution and Achievement.

The scale of each Challenge and Achievement is relatively easy to quantify but the judges must also assess each Solution by considering its degree of innovation, and ask how each project is differentiated from the general tide of progress.

The six 2015 Shortlisted Finalists are:

  • British Gas Connected Homes with the My Energy Live – a smartphone application.
  • Dorchester Collection with eShop – adding bitcoin payments to the online shopping experience.
  • DVLA with an Integrated Enquiries Platform (IEP) – the alternative to a Driving Licence paper counterpart – easing, for example, admin for car rentals.
  • Glasgow City Council with their Future Cities Demonstrator project – paving the way to smarter cities.
  • Kemuri with Wellbeing Monitor – a smart power socket with multiple sensors to allow remote activity monitoring for carers.
  • Northamptonshire County Council with Development Infrastructure and Funding for INV-ENT’ (innovation & Enterprise) project.

Which of these projects will be judged to have the potential to make a real difference?

The independent judging panel will review all the shortlisted contenders during September. The winner will be announced at a dinner in the House of Lords following the NextGen 15 event on November 5th.

For details of event sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks ( marith@nextgenevents.co.uk ) or call 07714 325 657

 

 

 

 

 

2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards: Intelligent Communities

20 Aug

 

[This is part 6 of an 8-part series profiling the shortlisted finalists for the 2015 Digital Challenge Awards – Ed.]

This new category for the 2015 Digital Challenge Awards celebrates how some folks are already thinking beyond the much-hyped ‘smart technology’ projects.

NGShortlisthi-resIn part it reflects the convergence of thought leaders both in the UK and North America but it must be said that, in our first introductory year for this award category, the contenders are recognized as contributory projects.

Emulating the vastly experienced global ICF awards would be a very tall order but there is huge scope in future years for UK recognition of more comprehensive ‘whole community’ projects. Meanwhile our contenders all have great relevance in their local impacts – reminding us that good things happen when centralised policy initiatives are made more sense in the context of action on the ground.

The six 2015 Shortlisted Finalists are:

DONATE – a digital platform enabling immediate charitable donations via multiple channels

Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) with My Knowle West App – a channel to a huge range of community activities

Link Group Ltd – so much more than a conventional Digital Inclusion Project

Nottinghamshire County Council with their Digital First project

RunAClub.com – a Digital Infrastructure and Support Platform to overcome the administrative hurdles faced by club leaders.

Tinder Foundation and NHS tackling health inequalities with Widening Digital Participation

All the shortlisted contenders will be reviewed by the independent judging panel during September. The winners will be announced at a dinner in the House of Lords following the NextGen 15 event on November 5th.

For details of event sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks

( marith@nextgenevents.co.uk ) or call David Brunnen via 07714 325 657

 

 

 

 

 

2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards: Urban Networks

17 Aug

[This is part 5 of an 8-part series reviewing the 2015 shortlist – Ed]

Since 2011 the history of the Urban Networks Award illustrates two things: how new connectivity providers have entered the market and how far customer expectations have grown.

NGShortlisthi-resThe 2014 winner was Virtual 1 for their wholesale London network and sharing joint second place were City Fibre and ITS Solutions

This year’ shortlist again highlights connectivity for businesses – where (relative to households) the demands for future proofing are more intense and where shifts in costs (downwards) and revenues (upwards) are transforming investment models.

The five 2015 Shortlisted Finalists are:

CityFibre back again with Peterborough: Gigabit City – a project that has a ‘business first’ plan.

Metronet (UK) Limited – with a wide range of advanced hybrid wired and wireless Internet services for businesses.

MS3 Networks Limited with Fibre to the Business in Hull

Venus with Superconnected Busworks, London

Genesis Technical Systems with faster ‘superfast’ broadband for WarwickNet and its business customers

All the shortlisted contenders will be reviewed by the independent judging panel during September. The winners will be announced at a dinner in the House of Lords following the NextGen 15 event on November 5th.

For details of event sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks ( marith@nextgenevents.co.uk )

 

 

 

 

 

Finding your niche: reaching the most remote locations

14 Aug

It is said that the (now leaning slightly less) bell tower in Pisa was used to gain valuable data; news of ships approaching the port – vital news for traders and ship owners who would be affected by the riches on board and, possibly, good news for the families of returning sailors.

The truth of that tale is suspect. Pisa is a fair way up the river Arno and even in the 11th century it was 2.5 km from the coast. But the plausibility of the tour guide’s story rests on our current wonder at how those earlier generations of seafarers managed without reliable communications.

Keeping in touch with very large mobile assets with valuable cargoes en route around the globe has got to be the ultimate broadband challenge. Far more than keeping in touch with crew and passengers, every aspect of shipping operations produces a wealth of data – the engine room’s performance metrics, navigation tracking, cargo conditions and maintenance schedules. Life on board is never dull. Fleet owners and operators (and their insurers) expect to be fully informed.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The international fleet operator Vroon, based in The Netherlands, operates and manages a diverse fleet of around 170 vessels, with more than 400 shore-based staff and around 4,000 marine personnel worldwide.

Their vessels are active in offshore support, offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance, dry cargo, container and other segments, including product/chemical tankers, asphalt/bitumen tankers and car carriers.

That diverse fleet adds up to a megaload of megabytes and the job of keeping Vroon connected to its offshore assets has fallen to Hong Kong based SpeedCast, a leading global satellite telecoms service provider. Their always-on 24×7 broadband platform will support a wide range of services, including Internet, voice and video streaming, with real-time connectivity at sea.

Anyone who has experienced Satcomms on land will be well aware of the challenges. Internet connections via satellite are relatively slow compared to a fully fibred connection – slower even than the hybrid fibre/copper connections that claim to be superfast – and the latency (over half a minute) on a round trip of 70,000km would never be the first choice of games enthusiasts.

But to meet Vroon’s specific requirements SpeedCast have designed solutions for every aspect of the operation with a range of Upload and Download capacities and optimized routing from earth stations to minimize delays. The prize for this design expertise? A multi-year contract for three parts of the Vroon fleet including subsea support ships and Wind Turbine installation & maintenance vessels with up to 110 people on board.

This is a classic example of a technology finding its market niche and ensuring that it has a reliable future – unlike that bell tower in Pisa that took 200 years to install and another 500 years to stop it falling over.

2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards: Digital Inclusion & Skills

13 Aug

This year we have combined the Digital Inclusion and Digital Skills award categories – reflecting how the effort to increase online participation has evolved to embrace a spectrum of skills now considered more essential for living and working in a modern society.

NGShortlisthi-resPrevious winners included projects from the Tinder Foundation – now recognized across the UK for the capabilities of their volunteers to reach disadvantaged sections of society.

Following the 2014 report from the House of Lords, there is now a far greater recognition of digital skills needs across all sectors of the UK economy.

The 2015 Shortlisted Finalists are:

CommunityUK.net Ltd with their project Going All Inclusive

AmicusHorizon with project Get Connected

Commendium Ltd for their BIG Cumbria project

bITjAM with an online platform to support National Youth Debates

Digital Unite with their Digital Champions Network

Hyde Plus with their Housing Initiative amongst social housing communities

Northumberland County Council with their project iNorthumberland

The independent judging panel will review all shortlisted contenders during September and the winners will be announced at a dinner in the House of Lords following the NextGen 15 event on November 5th.

For details of event sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks ( marith@nextgenevents.co.uk ) or call 07734 919 479

Registration is now open for the  NextGen 15 event

 

 

 

 

2015 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards: Rural Networks

10 Aug

 

The Rural Network Award has been part of the Digital Challenge since 2010.

NGShortlisthi-resPrevious winners include B4RN – now recognized across Europe as an exemplar of community investment.

With the launch in September of ICF’s 2016 Connected Countryside campaign we can expect far greater recognition of the massive economic growth contribution that originates in areas beyond the major metros.

The 2015 Shortlisted Finalists are;

Abthorpe Broadband AssociationThe Tove Valleys journey, from Satellite to FTTP, illustrates more than a decade of development. The villages and remote properties are now served partly by fibre directly to their premises or via wireless from village access points.

Gigaclear plcPiddington and Ludgershall ultrafast broadband deployment. These rural communities had one of the fastest ever sign ups with the support and help of the local people.

Lothian Broadband Networks Limited – Providing Fast Broadband in Rural East Central Scotland. Lothian Broadband provides high-speed wireless services via strategically positioned masts to reach 1000s of village properties that would otherwise be on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Satellite Internet – Superfast Satellite for Communities (SS4C) – positioned as a solution for extremely hard-to-reach areas. Using a mix of satellites with different footprints, there is now a range of flexible packages that can deliver a variety of services.

Vfast Internet – Providing super fast access to some of the hardest to reach communities across Kent. Vfast uses its fibre network to feed local wireless broadband services and now also offers a fixed line service for customers within range of its local cabinets.

The independent judging panel will review all shortlisted contenders during September and the winners will be announced at a dinner in the House of Lords following the NextGen 15 event on November 5th.

For details of event sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks ( marith@nextgenevents.co.uk ) or call 07734 919 479

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Digital Challenge Awards – Open Data

10 Aug

NGShortlisthi-resThis is the 3rd year that The NextGen Digital Challenge has honoured Open Data projects.

Last year’s winner The Driver & Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) highlighted a great step forward in public sector online capabilities.

The shortlisted contenders for 2015 include three from the Public Sector – and they are competing with a Community Project from rural England and a major Utility.

The judging panel’s reactions in September will be interesting as they study the scale of challenges, the novelty of the solutions and evidence of achievement.

DVLA are back – this time pitching their system for allowing Fleet companies to view vehicle records. For companies managing more than 50 vehicles this will enable huge administrative efficiencies.

Cybermoor – based in Alston Moor, high up in the North Pennines – have are enabling a greater understanding of what is going on in rural communities through their Community Data Explorer project.  Making data relevant – drawing on planning and crime stats – it has recently won funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to extend into other parts of Cumbria.

Ordnance Survey are hoping to find a route towards another trophy with their Open Map project – enabling vast swathes of landscape details to be incorporated into other online systems.

British Gas are looking forward to more Connected Homes with their My Energy Application platform – a service that brings together smart metering and Predictive Analytics to transparently communicate to customers on their energy consumption.

And the final contender comes from the Channel Islands: the States of Guernsey with the Electronic Census Project that turns the costs and hassle of census production on its head. Why ask citizens to fill in forms every ten years, when by pulling together a whole range of data already known to government, you can get complete census results at every quarter of the year at a fraction of the cost?

We must wait until 5th November to find out just who will be celebrating at the Awards dinner in the House of Lords – but all of the contenders have great stories that will fuel further adventures in Open Data development.

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For more information on NextGen 15 and the Digital Challenge Awards visit: http://www.nextgenevents.co.uk/events/NextGen15

 

Telecoms Regulator considers tackling the inherent dishonesty of most broadband services

26 Jul

[The saga continues – see previous episodes starting with Ten Eggs – Ed]

We have a responsibility:

for ensuring that consumers of broadband services are appropriately protected and informed”,

and,

transparent information around the speed most likely to be achieved . . . . should also be available to consumers before a contract is entered into.”

UP TO PLACARDWith those brave words the Telecoms Regulator in Ireland reported on a pilot project designed to discover just how difficult it is for broadband customers to be sure what it is they are being sold and what performance they can expect.

There are, of course, umpteen reasons, excuses, conditions, escape clauses and, for sure, a few honourable exceptions where some customers get almost exactly what it says on the tin.

And this was just a limited pilot project – so there’s ample wriggle room around sample sizes, the duration of the exercise, the customers’ own incompetence, the variable load on the system, unreasonable expectations, school holidays and, of course, the weather.

What they found was hardly surprising. What they think they can do about it is altogether more difficult.

So we know that:

  • rural areas are relatively poorly served,
  • some fixed lines work better than wireless (including mobile),
  • upload speeds are important,
  • low latency is increasingly essential, and
  • fully-fibred connections beat super-slow copper and fibre/copper combinations hands down.

More than that we know that we don’t know enough, but, curiously, most customers have come to expect poor service and only between 19 – 23% would say they were not satisfied.  Blessed are they who expected very little.

But what’s to be done?

The Regulator has a 4-point policy plan around:

  • Transparency for Consumers (Business and Household)

Consumers should be able to compare different broadband offers from different providers in order to choose between them – in regulatory-speak, ‘make informed choices’.

  • Consumer Education

Apparently we should all learn more about physics so that when we buy rubbish we know we are buying rubbish – even if the adverts suggest otherwise.

  • Contractual Commitments

Contracts should state how bad the service can be – though minimum service levels should not be set so unreasonably low as to provide an easy get-out clause for slack performers.

  • Market Information

There should be more of it.

And the bottom line?

 We should have great sympathy for any regulator of a market that specialises in services that are not honestly marketable.

This Regulator notes, “it has powers with respect to transparency and in relation to contracts and minimum quality of service and will consider how best to use those powers to achieve the best outcome for consumers.”

We should marvel at such restrained tolerance.

Meanwhile, like most comms regulators, the banner of Technology Neutrality is held high.  Well it sounds sort of fair, doesn’t it?

Surely ‘tis only reasonable to ensure a continuing freedom for connectivity providers to under-deliver in the profitable cause of sweating the assets they inherited from the pre-digital dark ages?

In any other sector, governments would intervene in their national interest.  Advertising Standards bodies would see red.  Trading Inspectors would rule against such local economic blight and outlaw such short-term get-rich fixes.

Why do we suffer this tendency of the telephonic tribe to serve up technological cul-de-sacs?

Why countenance their demands for subsidies from the public purse?

Do they, do we, imagine there is no alternative?

But, hey guys, that’s the market hand these regulatory bodies have been dealt.

And, if it’s not their job, who now will shift the infrastructure into 21st Century gear?

 

Smart Thinking: thought leaders showing signs of convergence

27 Jun

History is littered with examples of folks letting go of things they hadn’t fully grasped.

Idea When the penny finally drops they find themselves trailing way behind those who were a bit quicker on the uptake – or in common parlance those who ‘got it’.  Their prompt perception gains them the accolade of Thought Leadership.

 

The difference between a leader and a follower is that they didn’t just ‘get it’.  They picked up the ball and ran with it – which is why several hundred of us flocked to Toronto this month to listen to the experiences of what are reckoned to be the world’s most ‘Intelligent Communities’.

 Intelligent Communities?

The question of definition, hangs in the air.  Take this year’s winner. What’s so special about Columbus Ohio? Why so much more deserving of this accolade than, say, Ipswich Australia, New Taipei City, Taiwan or Mitchell, South Dakota?

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has been honing its analytics for eight years – a good deal longer than most of us have been thinking about smart cities. While the applause in Toronto was echoing around the globe, other smart thinkers were beginning to come to the same sort of conclusions.  It’s not so much to do with the technology as what folks choose to do with it – and what these Intelligent Communities have done is to radically transform their local economies and the lifestyles of their citizens.

In nearly all cases FTTx is the foundation on which these enterprising leaders have developed programmes that:

  • deliver digital inclusion,
  • boost the capacity for innovation,
  • ensure that expertise is available for new ventures, and
  • exploit those positions through advocacy that brings new investment and jobs to their communities.

Below those top-level drivers there are many sub-themes but very little of the old sector approach that dominates in conventional silo-bound economies. The ICF thought leaders embrace ‘Open Data’, seek a ‘Resilience Dividend’, welcome the ‘Sharing Economy’ and invest in ‘Municipal Enterprise’.

Those who come to a Smart City agenda from the technology market perspectives of, say, an Internet of Things or ‘Smart Meters’ or a renewed Maker Economy’ are, if we read the signs correctly, gradually converging around the ICF notion that the higher purpose is economic and social well-being.

Professor Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT – evidence-led thought leader for sure – put his name to an ‘Open Letter on the Digital Economy’ this month urging policy influencers to ‘get it’.  Here in the UK it was duly feted as ‘Wow! Vital Reading!’ – an evangelisation that reveals the astonishing need for management education even within the ICT industry.

Common sense is clearly not so common. Anyone reading stories to children will appreciate the value of repetition. It’s a long haul but someone’s got to do it and Erik’s just the sort of chap that lots of industry folks will listen to again and again.

Even the UK’s Nesta produced a report last week that to some extent put smart city technology back in its box whilst trying to explain that people are not peripherals.

To paraphrase Chief Executive Geoff Mulgan, “Over the last two decades the label ‘smart city’ has been applied to a family of technologies that can speed up the flow of things around the city and reduce the physical frustrations of urban life.

Many of these innovations are obviously useful. But some of the smart city ideas took a wrong turn, too often emphasising expensive hardware rather than cheaper solutions; too often showcasing technologically interesting ideas rather than responding to citizen’s real needs ; and too often making over– inflated promises that couldn’t be supported by hard evidence.

“That’s why the smart city movement is now turning in a rather different direction. It’s combining the best of new generations of technology . . . . . while also involving citizens much more closely in shaping how cities can work

Both of these siren voices, (MIT and Nesta) coming from a technology viewpoint, are mobilising to articulate their newfound perspectives and appeal to audiences that need to hear them.

No one has a monopoly on wisdom but, by virtue of real world experience, the Intelligent Community Forum (and its ranks of mayors, civic leaders, policy influencers, international jurors and academic assessors) have a great deal of value to share with communities and their leaders.  Shared Thinking is the thing – ‘Intellectual Property’ in this arena is almost oxymoronic – properties not shared are hardly intellectualised.

And the lessons for leaders (and indirectly for systems designers, infrastructure providers and ICT sales managers) are very simple.

Those successful communities identified by ICF have been fortunate to (a) have leaders who last longer than the next election and (b) have grasped and held onto the simple truth that they increasingly live in a digitally-mediated era and every aspect of the way they, their local economy, their communities and culture work must be adapted for this time.  But these, now acknowledged, community leaders did that 10-20 years ago whilst most others were still wondering where the next year might take them.

You might say, ‘if only’; if only we had the infrastructure, if only the schools taught coding, if only, if only . . . but these places have seized their destiny and made all that, and more, happen.

So it is that within the next two years every single property in Mitchell, South Dakota will have access to future-proofed symmetric Gigabit fibre and many already have a choice of three distinct networks – fibre, cable and ADSL.

No one in Mitchell needed to bet on which technology would ‘win’ – no one said that they knew what was good enough for you or your pocket. People and Employers decide according to their needs – but vitally they have that choice.

And whole communities have a choice.

They can choose leaders who can steer their local economies to meet local needs – and they can do that regardless of some distant policy guru in a state or national capital.  That is the essence of municipal enterprise – an empowerment for growth.  And it’s good news that technology ‘Thought Leaders’ around the world are beginning to get that message – people are not peripheral.

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The experiences of the ICF Summit will inform the agenda and thrust of NextGen 15 in London on November 5th.  For further information and sponsorship opportunities contact Marit Hendriks at NG Event Ltd (marith@nextgenevents.co.uk )

For more information on Municipal Enterprise search on this site (top of page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICF Global Summit Perspectives: the growth impacts of policy polarisation

15 Jun

TorontoReflecting on a stimulating week of powerfully concentrated insights and great inspirations, delegates at the 2015 Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Global Summit might well have spotted the irony of making hard choices between the competing Urban and Rural study streams.

In this gathering last week in Toronto, Mayors, Civic Leaders, Economic Developers and Policy Influencers from around the world would represent both intensely Urban and some more Rural environments. In plenary ‘Community Accelerator’ sessions these camps would come together – united in their understanding of actionable attitudes to local growth and development – and yet, in choosing to engage in either the Urban or Rural Master Classes, delegates indirectly accepted that supposedly ‘normal’ polarisation.

For sure, there were some crossover delegates but for the most part the Urban stream was the better attended. From way beyond the bigger (supposedly brighter and more-urgent) connectivity conflict zones, delegates were treated to myth-busting moments showing that, even if it is harder to resolve, disregarding 50% of your economy does not add up to a sustainable growth strategy.

The universal over-arching growth perspective is what so often gets lost in the demands for policy attention from increasingly pressured places with claims for ‘economies of scale’ and the massively complex infrastructure needs of metro-dwelling citizens.

Above and beyond urging stronger advocacy from less-favoured places, or even the creation of ‘Virtual Metros’ to notionally level the playing field, surely policies to provide future-proofed digital infrastructures (and the stimulus that they enable) should everywhere be rooted in the drive for the economic and social well-being of local citizens and enterprises.

In the race to be recognised as the Intelligent Community of 2015, the surviving Top 7 communities (whether large, small, urban or rural) understood long ago that long-term (10 – 30 year) commitments to their economic well-being needed a consistent strategic approach with evolving local leadership and attention to local needs. These local issues are largely beyond the macro interventions of national governments and Party politics.

It is ironic that such an approach can be described as ‘Revolutionary’. Surely that tag is an indication of the extent to which folks and their communities now need to reassert control of their local direction.

So much more can be said of this ICF Global Summit, the underlying international quest for community recognition and the intensity of the associated Study Tour experiences.

Horseshoe FallsThe urgent rush for change, the inevitable need to adapt our communities to the utility of a digitally mediated world, was no less impressive than the forces of nature we experienced at the nearby Niagara Falls.

 

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NextGen 15 – the UK’s 8th annual networking event to inform local government policy and provide a platform for the broader broadband sector will be held on November 5th in central London.

NextGen Events (an ICF Partner) and director Marit Hendriks is an international juror for the assessment of the Intelligent Community of the Year – awarded this year to Columbus, Ohio.

David Brunnen’s contribution to the 2015 Global Summit was based on the Groupe Intellex paper ‘Global Trade Development Outwith the Metros: not beyond belief’.