As the UK faces increasingly complex global threats, our defence and security organisations must work more collaboratively than ever. Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory gives an interview with CSW
The response to the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury – the lab moved into a 24/7 operational footing for weeks with a large number of our people involved. Throughout this we had our challenges with significant, often adverse misleading information circulating online, which impacted on our reputation, public perception and on some of our staff. Of course, our support to the incide nts also impacted on our normal operations as we still needed to meet the ongoing requirements of our customers, but the commitment from our people was fantastic and everyone worked extremely hard to ensure Dstl responded effectively to this unprecedented event. The eyes of the world were on us, and I am incredibly proud of Dstl and the response at pace from across government, both local and national police and the military and the many others involved.
How is your organisation adapting to reflect Britain’s changing place in the world?
Our research is world-class in many areas and so we continue to work closely with many partner nations. We have a focus on the US, European bilateral collaborations (such as recent increasing work with Germany), and are broadening to new emerging areas with Japan and India. NATO and 5EYES (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) remain key intelligence and collaboration partners with multiple joint cyber projects, and this is not expected to change as the UK exits the EU. We continually adapt to seek new opportunities, as demonstrated through the sharing of cyber defence experiences with Estonia, one of our NATO partners.
DSTL also continues to support Britain’s industry and academia through both research funding (approx £270m this year and expected to increase next year) to exploit their ideas, as part of the MoD’s “promote our prosperity” priority. We also licence our intellectual property to SME and large companies that attracts private funding resulting in UK exports and jobs.
What opportunities or innovations are you excited about in the coming years that will help you improve public outcomes?
Information technology is developing very quickly and defence is adapting to fully exploit these new opportunities for Information advantage, with initiatives being led by Dstl and our military customers. We are focused on protecting and exploiting both data and information to maximise their value for decision making and to sustain our advantage in future conflicts. Effort includes exploiting the best signal processing to extract more information from raw sensor data, and techniques like machine learning to exploit large information data sets.
What do you think your role will look like in 20 years’ time?
It’s always going to be a challenge for any organisation to predict the future, but this is where Dstl works best: working out where and when S&T – science and technology – is needed and at what time in the future. I would expect that in 20 years we will still be working, as we are now, to be ahead of the pace of change with S&T, with artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles being the norm and most likely quantum computing seeing real world applications.
About the author : Gary Aitkenhead is chief executive of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) this is from an article in CSW
The Victorians used Arsenic in their Dye process for wallpaper in the homes of many affluent urban middle class settled in Victorian Cities. Due to the smog outside people felt at home with the windows shut and their Victorian fire places burning while slowly inhaling and ingesting the deadly poison.
The Victorian woman was seen as the house maker (Dicken’s even describes the ‘angel of the home’ in Edwin Drood) and Victorian woman increasingly wore corsets that constricted and even damaged the bodies inner organs and made normal breathing confined – this mode of dress appearance soon became championed against by the Rational Dress Society whose members included Constance Wilde (wife of Oscar Wilde). Even today the look of a narrower waist line still persists in fashion.
The Victorian age heralded gas lighting and gas central heating but these inventions were not always fully tested and gas piping often was prone to corrode which saw the emergence of cases of gas poisoning (the many gas companies would promote their utility as ‘natural gas’ and quite harmless, but with the advent of heating boilers and gas cookers that were not proper ventilated being sold as standalone and offering capability for heating water for steam heating these devices became pressure cookers waiting to explode. The Victorians also saw electricity first introduced into the homes – with new lighting the pinnacle of the modern Victorian technological era, but once again without proper safety many homes were destroyed by explosions caused by leaking gas and electrical ignition. It was only until 1923 that Gas Safety Regulations came into force.
One would assume the Victorian nursery would offer safety to the children of the middle class Victorian household, after all new laws came into power over child labour in the Victorian Era and because child mortality was still high (154,000 infants under the age of one year died annually between 1880 and 1890); the children of the Victorian middle classes could surely expect to be cherished, and the new manufacturing of children’s toys and their marketing led to to the new Victorian home consumer culture offering entertainment for children of a household. Toys with any form of level of pigmented colour would often have high levels of metals to create these painted items so white items may have contained lead and many toys had high toxic levels of lead which caused nausea; disorientation and eventually over prolonged use death. Lead was a common ingredient in painted metal toys and even though known as a poisonous metal since Roman times, it was a great preserver of wood. Lead absorption caused development abnormalities in children
The use of lead was so widely used in homes for painting interior walls and wooden surfaces that even in the 1920s when European laws forbid lead use in paints – Britain only finally banned and regulated lead levels in paints in the 1970s! .
Co-Incidentally, in the Victorian age the use of Laudanum, an opiate often combined with alcohol as a syrup provided to children of poorer families was often sold over the counter as a quieting medicine of young infants and babies who cried due to hunger. The use of such over the counter medicines disguised the growing problem of Victorian child malnourishment.
Another deadly killer arose from the Victorian attitude to modesty in breatfeeding their children and this led to the presumption that alternatives such as bottle feeding as mentioned in Mrs. Beaton’s Good Housekeeping Guide as to it’s application, what was not known in Victorian days even with the urban growth of sewerage being set up nationally was the requirement to properly sterilise bottles – these victorian ‘baby feeders’ were a magnet to bacterial growth on the porous parts of the feeding device often causing severe intestinal and respiratory infion resulting in countless infant mortalities.
The Sprint 18 event – which is coming up on 10 May – will look at how we’ve built this world-leading digital government. And it will look at the work we, both in Government Digital Service and across departments, will be doing next.
Sprint 18, at London’s Southbank Centre, will bring together ministers, colleagues from across government, international visitors, media, and industry figures. It is being organised by GDS, but it will be a chance for everyone involved or interested in digital government to celebrate the progress we’ve made, and to look to the future.
Sprint 18 will focus on three themes:
Sprint 18 will show how these themes drive our work and our purpose – to help government work better for everyone.
For example, we’ll hear from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of International Trade about how they’re using common components to build user-focused services. And we’ll hear from the UK Hydrographic Office about how they’re using innovative technologies to detect previously unknown shipping hazards.
The work we do around EU exit must have a long-term effect and must lead to a transformed government
Oliver Dowden, minister for implementation, will talk about building a government that works for everyone, while apolitical chief executive Robyn Scott will look at what the UK can learn from other governments to remain a global leader in digital.
For me personally, Sprint will provide a welcome opportunity to step back and consider what GDS has achieved during the time I’ve been here. I joined GDS as director general in August 2016, coming up for two years ago. Since then, the organization has delivered a huge amount.
But before I detail these I want to talk about how GDS has become a better place to work. We’ve won awards for diversity and inclusion, including a Business in the Community award as one of the country’s best employers on race.
GDS now has a gender-balanced management team, and 42% of GDS staff declare as female – in the UK technology industry as a whole this figure is 17%.
The things GDS builds and operates are the foundation of government’s digital transformation. And we’ve seen an exponential shift in departments using these things.
There are now more than 242 services using common components like payments platform GOV.UK Pay and notifications platform GOV.UK Notify. By using these components, service teams make it easier for users to make online payments and stay up-to-date about the progress of applications.
In just over five years of live service, there have been more than 14 billion page views on GOV.UK – the single website for government, and the online home of our content and services.
Meanwhile, GOV.UK Verify has been used more than 5.4 million times to access services, while GovWifi is now available in more than 340 locations across the country, including 100 courtrooms, local councils, schools, and hospitals, as well as the UK Border Force’s fleet of boats.
Over the past two years, we’ve also seen a huge increase in collaboration between GDS and departments. This is particularly clear in two areas: controls and procurement.
Working with departments, we’ve updated the Technology Code of Practice so that it provides the best and most relevant guidance to the government. Also working with departments, we’ve streamlined the spend controls process to ensure that it remains rigorous, but isn’t a blocker for departments.
And we’re also taking this collaborative approach to improving procurement.
Percentage of GDS staff who declare as female
Number of common digital, data, and technology job roles defined in the GDS-authored government framework
the approximate number of page views on the GOV.UK site during its five-year lifespan
Amount of money spent through the Digital Marketplace since its launch in 2012
Number of services using GDS Government-as-a-Platform companies, such as Pay, Notify and Verify
The Digital Marketplace is a partnership between GDS and the Crown Commercial Service that is transforming the way government buys technology and digital services by opening the market up to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers.
A total of £3.2bn has been spent through the Digital Marketplace in just under six years. Of that total, 48% is spent with SMEs – that’s £1.43 of every £3.
In fact, the Digital Marketplace has been so successful that we’re now going global with it.
We’re working in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop the Global Digital Marketplace. This aims to help international governments make their procurement more transparent, in order to prevent corruption and to boost their digital, data, and technology sectors.
The Global Digital Marketplace is an example of how the UK is using its status as the world’s number-one digital government to work with and help other countries. We had 71 international government visits to GDS last year, and I am extremely proud of how we’re working with our global colleagues.
I am also extremely proud of our role supporting the rest of the UK government as we prepare for EU exit. GDS is delivering and providing practical support across departments.
The work we do around EU exit must have a long-term effect as well – it must lead to a transformed government. This means several things.
The things GDS builds and operates are the foundation of government’s digital transformation. And we’ve seen an exponential shift in departments using these things.
It means continuing our work to build and maintain digital capability across government, through the expanding GDS Academy. The GDS Academy will have trained 10,000 students by October, and we’re expanding the curriculum to take in new subjects such as artificial intelligence.
And to give us an overview of digital capability across government, we’ve launched the first national framework of Digital, Data, and Technology (DDaT) job roles. This has created a structure of 37 common job roles across government.
And it means that GDS will be the place where new innovations for government digital are identified and tested. In the immediate term, we’re running the GovTech Catalyst scheme, to help private-sector innovators solve public-sector challenges.
GDS is tackling a broad range of work, but we have a set of core principles and a core mission.
We will show what good looks like, we will solve the hardest problems, we will help government transform, and we will reflect the society we serve. And by doing this we will help government work better for everyone.
About the author
Kevin Cunnington (pictured above) is director general of the Government Digital Service
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the priorities for nuclear research and technologies.
In 2011 the Committee investigated whether the UK’s research and development (R&D) capabilities were sufficient to meet our nuclear energy needs in the future, ensuring a safe and secure supply of nuclear energy up to 2050.
This inquiry will now revisit some of the conclusions and recommendations of that report and investigate whether the Government’s actions in response have improved the UK’s nuclear R&D capabilities. It will also explore what more needs to be done to ensure the UK can meet its future nuclear energy requirements.
The Committee will look specifically at the upcoming decision by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on a small modular reactor (SMR) design for the UK; whether the roles and remit of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) are appropriate; and if the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) was successful.
The Committee invites submissions, with practical examples where possible, on topics including those mentioned below.
Chair of the Committee, Lord Selborne, said:
“It has been over 5 years since the Committee’s report into the future of nuclear energy which found that the Government was too complacent about the UK’s nuclear R&D capabilities.
Since its publication, the Government has accepted and acted on a number of the recommendations of the Committee, which saw the creation of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board.
This inquiry gives the Committee the opportunity to assess who should have responsibility for ensuring the UK has a coherent and consistent long term policy for civil nuclear activities.
We are keen to hear from people or organisations who can inform the Committee on the role and remit of the National Nuclear Laboratory or offer insight into how SMR’s will benefit the UK and what is needed to support the civil nuclear sector”.
The Committee is inviting written evidence on the issue, to be received by Friday 24 February 2017, and will start taking oral evidence on the inquiry in February.
Intel® Shooting Star Drone Display. A press release from Intel 03/11/2016
The Intel® Shooting Star drone is the company’s first drone created for entertainment light shows. The drone is designed with safety and creativity in mind with a super light-weight structure and virtually limitless color combinations. We’ve also worked with the FAA to receive a Part 107 Waiver to fly these drones as a fleet with one pilot at night in the U.S. This means we can now create beautifully choreographed images in the nighttime sky quickly and easily in the U.S. We are looking forward to using this new fleet of Intel Shooting Star drones publicly soon. Find more information on the Intel Shooting Star fact sheet.
MAVinci GmbH Acquisition
We believe drones are an important computing platform for the future and we are continuing to invest in technologies and companies that will enable us to provide the best compute, sensor, communications and software integration for the growing drone ecosystem. To this point, we have acquired MAVinci GmbH, a drone company based in Germany that offers best-in-class flight planning software.
With this transaction, we are gaining expertise in flight planning software algorithms and also fixed-wing drone design capabilities that complement the technology and knowledge Intel previously acquired from Ascending Technologies. This new acquisition will play a key role in providing solutions for industries such as agriculture, insurance, construction, mining and more.
These announcements represent a string of progress we’ve made in the drone space. In August, we introduced the developer-focused Intel Aero Platform and the Intel Aero Ready to Fly* Drone that will be available by end of the year. And prior to that, we collaborated with Yuneec, to launch the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense Technology that provides industry leading collision avoidance features.
As we build new capabilities and enable products and solutions in the drone space, we will continue to demonstrate how far and how fast this exciting technology can advance.
This week Microsoft unveiled it’s new plans to package a holographic headset to accompany it’s new operating system soon to be released, Windows 10.
The “Hololens” as it’s known, will be shipped with the new operating along with it’s voice activated software “Cortana” which is already available on it’s phones. The holograph headset, will allow users to wirelessly view holograms and both have a due date when they will be available it’s expected later in
(Image : Mashable.com)
It’s also expected that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users during it’s first year. Those who don’t upgrade or are not Windows 7 Vista users and upward operating system users will have to buy the product in full. Currently it’s not known how much this will be as there is confusion on pricing but it’s expected that Microsoft will charge a one off licence fee and not move to having to subscribe to it.
Microsofts new CEO, Satya Nadella said of his hopes for Windows in the future “We want to move from people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows, that is our goal.”