jump to navigation

EU Cuts Affect Broadband in Europe February 11, 2013

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, Government, Internet.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

In recent news, politicians in Europe were seen hammering out a deal for the European Union budget. Though some in Europe were keen to see the budget increased, the leaders of countries including the UK and Germany placed enormous pressure on the decision-makers to cut back – reflecting the general health of the European economy.

And cuts were made. But one area that was hit particularly hard was the funding for rural broadband. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) had a target of ensuring that half of Europe’s population could use Internet with a speed of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2020, with the rest of the population on at least 30 Mbps.

With people fearing for their jobs and food banks on the rise, broadband access may seem like a first-world problem, but broadband is the basic infrastructure that underpins the entire digital economy and it is not good enough for it to only be available in major cities alone.

We are moving away from the traditional industrial model of the large cities with suburbs and armies of commuters travelling to the office at 9am each morning. Entire business models can be formulated and delivered online alone – and therefore based anywhere, even remote rural areas.

Considering the entire programme that is being cut was really only a few billion euros – contrasted with the banking system bailouts and quantitative easing that are costing hundreds of billions, it would seem to be a good investment in the future. Why cut back on infrastructure that can drive the future of the digital economy?

96 Maison de Fée

Photo by Nebojsa Mladjenovic licensed under Creative Commons

What will happen to NHS supplier contracts if power is devolved? August 30, 2010

Posted by Mark Hillary in Government, IT Services, Outsourcing.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far
The NHS is under fire once again. This time it’s a familiar story, the need to eliminate the swathes of red tape and middle management that prevent nurses and doctors doing their jobs.

This is a familiar refrain. If may be more shrill now the government is led by the Conservative party, but even the previous administration used to talk of devolving power to the frontline care-givers. Yet, how will that latest proposals affect the NHS and particularly the huge array of technology contracts that had been agreed over the past couple of years?

First, it’s never as easy as just wiping out red tape. Devolving budgets to each individual GP or hospital sounds great in practice, but if a doctor is to spend most of his or her time on the frontline with patients then they actually need some of those administrators – without the admin team, the doctor is going to be poring over spreadsheets all day.

It’s important to identify waste and red tape – nobody can dispute that – but the elimination of administrators can go too far. And the devolvement of budget responsibility could have further implications for centrally controlled programmes.

Connecting for Health may be maligned, but it’s supporters would argue that this is because it is an immense programme of work, creating a communications network between GPs, hospitals, and pharmacies, allowing a truly joined-up health service to operate. That level of complexity does take time to get right, but in a devolved world it would be impossible to plan for such a grand vision of how the NHS could operate.

The NHS currently works with a joint venture firm, NHS Shared Business Services, to offer finance and accounting services back into the primary care trusts. What will happen to ventures like this if the PCTs are abolished?

There is much to applaud in the new government plans to rid the NHS of waste, but there are many areas that could change in a negative way if these plans are not thought through in detail.