Category Archives: The UK

ZTE’s new Firefox smartphone will only be sold on eBay

ZTE

Mobile manufacturers ZTE are to become the first company to sell a smartphone running the new Firefox operating system in the UK and the US markets. The handset, priced at £59.99, will be available exclusively on e-commerce site eBay.

The ZTE Open runs applications written in the web-based HTML5 language rather than a unique company-owned platform. Mozilla, the creators of the Firefox web browser, says the phone will inspire a “new wave of innovation”.

A spokesman for the Chinese manufacturers ZTE said the handset was aimed at first-time smartphone users. The phone is already on sale in Spain, Colombia and Venezuela, via telecommunications company Telefonica, and ZTE says the Open will be available “soon” on eBay in the UK and the US. It will be not be locked to a specific mobile network operator.

The ZTE Open is one of the first smartphones to rely completely on HTML5 based applications

The Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information

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Time to reflect on an interesting morning, the morning of 15 May at Policy Exchange in London where Stephan Shakespeare, Chair of the Data Strategy Board and CEO of YouGov, launched The Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information, an independent review into how the public sector can open up and make better use of data.

Connected Liverpool was present, and witnessed the first ‘big step’ towards a nation wide big data strategy. Besides Shakespeare, Rohan Silva (Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister), Professor Sir Allan Bradley (Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Kymab), Joe Cohen (Founder and Chairman, Seatwave), John Gibson (Senior Advisor, Number 10), Jonathan Raper (Founder and Director, Placr) and Mary Turner (CEO, AlertMe.com) were also present and part of a panel-discussion to discuss “how the UK can win the next phase of digital evolution?”. Overall, an impressive bunch we would not mind having lunch with.

Picking up on ‘the next phase of digital evolution’, what do they really mean? In short, Phase 1 of the Digital Evolution was about connectivity, bringing together people, organisations and businesses in new ways that increased communications, the channels to information, and the efficiency of operations. Clearly, this refers to the market that America dominated with its innovative and entrepreneurial culture. Google, Ebay, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter and of course Apple are all examples of big winners that clearly dominated the first phase of this evolution. Companies that ‘shaped our lives’ (to some extent) and are all located on the West Coast of America.

But, as Stephan Shakespeare described it, it is now time for the UK to step up and be a leader in Phase 2 of the Digital Evolution, a phase that provides equal potential in the capacity to process and learn from data. Data allows us to adapt and improve public services and businesses and enhance our whole way of life, bringing economic growth, wide-ranging social benefits and improvements in how government operates and judges.

Public Sector Information (PSI) provides the very foundation of this. Britain enjoys significant advantages to become a winner in this space because of the size and coherence of our public sector (think of the size and data of our NHS) combined with government’s strong commitment to develop a visionary open data policy.

So why bother? At the bottom-line of all of this is economic growth. Mastering this digital phase will launch Britain from a low-growth economy to a high growth nation. Public Sector Information is key to achieve this but its potential success is interlinked with the important role of our government to create the infrastructure that enables this. As the Independent Review sates, “Consider the role of government: it exists to decide the rules by which people can act, and to administer them: how much, by what method, and from whom to take resources; and how to re-allocate them. Doing it well enables national success; doing it badly means national failure. Ensuring that the process of government is optimised for progress, and does not corrupt into an obstacle to progress, requires continuous data and the continuous analysis of data.”

As Sir Terry Leahy once stated: “to run an enterprise without data is like driving by night with no headlights”. Additionally, Rohan Silva (Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister) explained that this is what government often does: “It has a strong institutional tendency to proceed by hunch, or prejudice, or by the easy option.” In other words, the new world of data is good for government, good for business, and above all good for citizens as we can use data such as education and health, tax and spending, work and productivity etc. to make informed decisions and to consequently, optimise our quality of life and economic growth.

So what is it that Stephan Shakespeare actually recommended? Here we go…..:

  1. Recognise in all we do that PSI, and the raw data that creates it, was derived from citizens, by their own authority, was paid for by them, and is therefore owned by them. It is not owned by employees of the government.
  2. Have a clear, visible, auditable plan for publishing data as quickly as possible, defined both by bottom-up market demand and by top-down strategic thinking, overcoming institutional and technical obstacles with a twin-track process which combines speed to market with improvement of quality: 1) an ’early even if imperfect’ track that is very broad and very aggressively driven, and 2) a ‘National Core Reference Data’ high-quality track which begins immediately but narrowly.
  3. Drive the implementation of the plan through a single channel more clearly-defined than the current multiplicity of boards, committees and organisations that are distributed both within and beyond departments and wider public sector bodies. It should be highly visible and accessible to influence from the data-community through open feedback mechanisms.
  4. Invest in building capability for this new infrastructure. It is not enough to gather and
    publish data; it must be made useful. We lack data-scientists both within and outside of government, and not enough is being done in our education system at school and
    undergraduate level to foster statistical competence.
  5. Ensure public trust in the confidentiality of individual case data without slowing the pace of maximising its economic and social value. Privacy is of the utmost importance, and so is citizen benefit.

These principles ought to be adopted by the government when it will start to create a detailed nationwide Data Strategy. Even though no time frame was given for the production of this strategy, Stephan Shakespeare’s recommended principles seem both straightforward and essential. It is now up to the government to push this agenda forward and to do it quickly so Britain’s opportunity to become a ‘first-mover’ will not be wasted….

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Connected Liverpool @ Innovate UK

Last week, Connected Liverpool exhibited at InnovateUK 2013, the UK’s
leading multi-sector innovation & trade event for business. Recognised by the Technology
Strategy Board as one of the top 25 most innovative companies in the UK, Connected
Liverpool got invited to showcase its work at the event.

Innovate UK 2013 was a joint venture from the Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade
& Investment. Innovate UK brought together 4,000 people from UK and international
business, Government and academia, with the aim of accelerating UK economic growth
by stimulating business-led innovation and opening up international trade opportunities.
The program of keynote presentations given by Government ministers, business leaders
and industry specialists provided some great insights into the future products and
processes that are in development.

The three days (11-13 March) covered the following topics:
Day 1: Research for Growth: Commercialising the UK’s research base
Day 2: Market and Technology Opportunities
Day 3: Global Growth: starting up and scaling up

The event offered multiple seminars and talks focused on their daily topic. During day 1, the collaboration between the public sector and academics, and between the private sector and academics was a popular topic. The University of Strathclyde from Glasgow was an impressive benchmark in cross-sector collaboration as it attracted the first Fraunhofer investment in the UK after the city of Glasgow became home to the first foreign HQ of the Fraunhofer research centre. Additionally, it hosts the TSB Health Catapult, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and the Future Cities Demonstrator project. Overall, an impressive list.

The Emerging Technology and Industry programme (ET&I), which was set up in 2010, explained its key investment areas and work over the years between 2010 and 2012 within the spaces of Synthetic Biology, Energy Efficient Computing and Energy Harvesting. For the near future, it will focus on identifying the ‘next’ technologies to feed the pipeline of innovation.

Besides the seminars, the Connected Liverpool stand was a popular place during the event allowing the team to establish great connections with people from all over England and abroad in different sectors. Overall, WE LOVED IT!

 

4G to affect TV reception in two million homes

Filters will be provided for Freeview televisions which experience reception problems following the roll out of 4G later this year. Ofcom estimates that the TV viewing in up to 2.3 million British households could be affected by 4G but only 40% of them have Freeview. Satellite receivers will not be affected, the watchdog claims.

A fund provided by the 4G auction winners will be used to pay for filters for those who need them. At the moment only mobile operator EE is able to offer customers the 4G service, which provides faster mobile internet connections. The other operators are currently bidding for licences in an auction run by telecoms watchdog Ofcom. Up to £180m from the auction will be used to fund the filters, a spokesperson from Ofcom said.

However, around 1% of affected Freeview households will be unable to use them and will be offered an alternative instead. Ofcom estimates there may be fewer than 1000 homes in the UK who will not be able to access those alternatives either and will be left without television services. A not-for-profit organisation called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) has been created to tackle the problem.

“I look forward to working closely with broadcasters and mobile network operators to ensure everyone continues to be able to receive their current TV service,” said newly appointed chief executive Simon Beresford-Wiley.

“DMSL plans to preempt the majority of potential interference issues caused by 4G at 800 MHz and existing TV services. We’re focused on being able to provide anyone who may be affected with the information and equipment they’ll need to ensure they continue to receive free-to-air TV.”

Last month Freeview homes in South Wales had to re-tune their TVs and boxes following technical changes to a transmitter in order to make way for 4G.

General Electric embarks on internet of things UK recruitment drive

Energy giant General Electric (GE) is set to recruit hundreds of UK software engineers and data scientists in the coming months, as part of its “internet of things” strategy drive. The internet of things is not a new concept but the buzzword is becoming more frequent in the IT industry as the likes of IBM, Intel and Cisco spearhead projects aimed at connecting billions of machines capable of communicating without human involvement.

GE has a three-year strategy and a fund of $1.5bn to build out such projects, which it terms the “Industrial Internet”. William Ruh, GE software research vice president, is overseeing the investment, which includes the hiring of hundreds and possibly thousands of software engineers worldwide.

In an interview with V3, Ruh explained how GE is now developing its industrial internet strategy in the UK.

“This year we are working to expand our strategy and get the plans set. At the moment we are working on how to build out capability in the UK as it’s one of our largest bases,” said Ruh.

Ruh declined to comment on the exact number of UK staff GE would be recruiting but said the number would be “hundreds and hundreds”.

Read full article here: http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2237727/general-electric-embarks-on-internet-of-things-uk-recruitment-drive