UK government must improve its use of technology

So concludes the RSA’s Technology in a Cold Climate Report, stating that, “Central government must dramatically improve its use of technology if it is to cut the public sector deficit”.

Given the forthcoming general election and the re-examination of budgets that will happen as a matter of course – who ever wins – the report suggests ways that technology might help the continuing delivery of services across the UK with less money in the pot.

Examples of how government can do this are given as:

* delivering more public services online to reduce costs and environmental impact
* learning from low-cost websites built by both third sector organisations and private companies
* using well-designed platforms to harness the knowledge and experience of large populations to democratically improve service provision.

The report is critical of procurement processes and also of the implementation of technology and innovative ideas:

“The UK considers itself an advanced-knowledge economy, but although it has some excellent innovation policies and mechanisms, it does not seem to have implemented these well, leading to lower levels of R&D investment and a poor record of exploiting knowledge to full advantage.
We suggest that the UK’s position is critically assessed, and that innovation policies are more proactively evaluated throughout their lifetime.”

In addition, the report calls on ministers to ensure that “everyone across the UK will benefit from the next generation of high-speed broadband as a platform for future growth and innovation”.

For anyone interested in economics, public policy, technology and innovation this is worth reading.

Click here to read the report in full.

Recommended reads and links for this week

It may be August, it may be quiet but there have been a few things this week that are worth a read or quick schmooze – oh, and where else will you find viral marketing mentioned on the same page as semiconductors and DNA?

IN ADVERTISING

The Guardian reported this week that the Office of Fair Trading is to investigate targeted ads and pricing online. The investigation is going to cover areas such as price comparison websites and the use of personal data in website advertising, including behavioural targeting technologies.
The results of the investigation could prove significant for the industry, particularly in the light of the European Commission’s proceedings against the UK for failing to uphold privacy laws in line with EU regulations as regards Phorm.

This week Advertising Age also asked: Why Do UK Videos Always Seem to Go Viral? With a headline like that, how can you not go and have a peek?

IN TECHNOLOGY
Wolfram Alpha – the computational engine using semantic technology that should not to be confused with Google or a search engine as this thing likes calculating stuff – have blogged on what they have been doing this summer.
The post can be summarised as: we’ve been busy and reliant on summer being quiet and traffic down so that we can make sure the site works even better in the autumn. But, ignore my cynicism, the insights that Stephen Wolfram gives show how a company can be open regarding it’s product development and give you a little glimpse under the hood.

Another semantic technology company to be aware of is Fluidinfo who launched online this week. The idea for the company started in the UK and the team are now based in Spain. Their first product is FluidDB which they describe as “a new kind of hosted (cloud) database, designed to provide a global metadata and personalization engine – for everyone and everything.” You can read the product overview here.

Note: those interested in semantic technologies should also look at OpenCalais.

Finally, the FT reported that IBM scientists may have discovered a way to use DNA to help construct semiconductor chips. The report explains:

Scientists have suggested that artificial DNA nanostructures and “DNA origami”, in which a long single strand of DNA is folded into a shape using shorter “staple strands”, could be used to provide a template for the self-assembly of other materials into nanoelectronic or nano-optical devices on the surface of the chip.

The crisis in human resources

theelement
“There’s a crisis in human resouces”: that was the central message of Sir Ken Robinson at the London Business Forum today.

Talking to business leaders about his latest book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Sir Ken described how most adults are unaware of what they are capable of and that most believe that work is something that has to be got through, rather than enjoyed. He believes that many people are detached from their talents and sense of purpose. Those who love what they do and have a personal sense of fulfilment are “in their element”.

Continue reading → The crisis in human resources

BBC Innovation Labs 2007

This article originally appeared in March 2007 in NMK, whose server was damaged in a fire last year.

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The BBC Innovation Labs have been much heralded by NMK, but what do we actually know about what happens if you’re lucky enough to go and what happens if your idea gets chosen? Kathryn Corrick spent time at the London Labs and spoke to Paola Kathuria and Frank Wales of Limitless Innovations to find out more.

Continue reading → BBC Innovation Labs 2007