1) To produce well-researched, peer reviewed proposals and implementation plans on technology related issues for consideration by those responsible for policy formation
2) To produce briefs, including possible parliamentary questions for use by our parliamentary members, which help the coalition government to join up current policy implementation across departmental and other fault lines
The remit is to address technologies and related issues which are not covered by other groups affiliated to the party and/or as requested by those responsible for party policy. Where there is overlap we aim to work in co-operation with other relevant groups
To identity those areas of interest to members (parliamentary and non-parliamentary) and assemble teams to:
collate authoritative material on problems and possible solutions
identify those best able to comment on the practicality of implementing politically acceptable solutions
draft analyses and recommendations for peer review and
summarise the results in publishable studies
To identify those willing and able to help parliamentary members respond to technology related problems raised by their constituents and to provide feedback on report those which raise policy issues.
To identify potential speakers for constituency and other party events and bloggers for on-line forums who are capable of explaining issues in plain English and putting them into political context.
The “Vision” - Helping reduce the pain of transition from Steam Age Nation State to Internet Age Hub in the Global Village
Medium term (to 2020) - to assist economic recovery and growth by removing obstacles to investment in world class, globally competitive, socially and geographically inclusive, resilient and secure, 21st Century infrastructures, including for the delivery of public services.
Long Term (2020 and beyond) to make the UK a location of choice for globally trusted, high value added, products and services, (including support, skills, creative content and precision manufacture) for an increasingly on-line world.
Success requires that we recognise that national planning and regulatory silos, created to deliver a “land fit for heroes” (after World War 1) and updated for the Radio Age (after World War 2) are not well suited for the Internet Age, where the vision required is more likely to be local or global than national and the only constant is change.
We also need to accept that the state of public finances and of voter mistrust (of technology as much as of politicians) puts a premium on avoiding the trauma and uncertainty caused when pressures for change and innovation are bottled up by red and blue tape to protect vested interests, for the convenience of officials, regulators and politicians regulators or channelled into consultant planned “big bang” projects.
Study Streams and Themes
1) 21st Century Energy Infrastructures for an evolving, lower carbon, world
1.1) How could/should investment in smart meters be encouraged and used to empower and enable customers (business as well as consumer) to manage their own energy usage and costs as well improving national energy efficiency?
This is follow up to previous study.
1.2) How could/should investment in smart grids (local, regional and national) be encouraged and used to deliver choice to customers (business as well as consumer) and support a world of increasingly diverse (including customer and community generation) energy supplies?
This study is nearly ready for publication.
1.3) How could/should investment in smart, clean, generating capacity (local, regional and national) be encouraged and used to ensure affordable, secure and resilient supply to meet foreseeable demand?
Business models for community (from isolated hamlets to major business and science parks) generation projects and managed services
Funding models (including mutual, municipal, project and advance contracts) to draw in long-term finance from those who could invest anywhere in the world, alongside current and potential customers, equipment suppliers and existing generators and distributers.
2) 21st Century Digital Infrastructures for a world of customer choice
How could/should we use market forces to deliver world class, inter-operable, UK digital infrastructures: moving from fragile fixed and mobile broadband to resilient, ubiquitous, evolving, technology neutral grids, supporting world class, socially and geographically inclusive access and services, in a world that is critically dependant on an increasingly vulnerable Internet?
funding, choice, competition and regulation with regard to fixed and mobile broadband using
inter-operability standards (technical, operational, management and business) to ensure
open markets, net neutrality and
evolution (e.g. bringing forward and smoothing the transition to IPV6),
security and resilience [see 6 below]
3) How do we rebuild “Trust” in the On-line World?
There is no privacy in the global “village”. The social contract behind the Internet is broken. Major players treat us as commodities whose personal information and on-line footprints are “monetised” in return for service. Regulation is fragmented across geographic, technology or industry boundaries, embedding contradictions (e.g. privacy v. surveillance, retention v. deletion) and uncertainties which penalise those attempting to follow good practice. How do we make the UK a location of choice for trustworthy services which give customers and citizens genuine and informed choice between evolving business models that reflect their changing needs and priorities?
rights, liabilities and accountability frameworks (public sector, corporate and regulatory) covering
privacy (not just data protection), surveillance, identity, libel and
protection of the vulnerable (including small firms, children, silver surfers and those most dependent on on-line services)
consumer choice, protection, informed consent, rights of redress and enforcement and
positioning the UK at the heart of “Global On-line Governance”, as London is at the heart of analogue/physical trade, providing trusted arbitrage between competing processes and jurisdictions.
4) How do we prepare the school-leavers and those already in the workforce for a world of just-in-time training and retraining
That entails a focus on the ability to acquire new skills at all levels (unskilled, technical, graduate and post graduate) to live, work and prosper in an evolving and uncertain world, where demand for basic abilities, aptitudes and attitudes changes slowly, if at all, while demand for staff trained to use specific technologies, products and services, may emerge and die within months, not even years.
making it more attractive for employers to retrain existing staff or recruit trainees than import skills or export jobs
enabling lifelong learning, when, where and how the learner wants
ensuring local access to world class learning and training: school, college and university, through under- and post- graduate apprenticeship to continuous professional development
student and employee centric careers advice and guidance at all levels for a world in which employer planned career structures are the exception rather than the norm
5) 21st Century Public Service Infrastructures for a world of citizen power
5.1) How do we reform planning and procurement processes and rebuild the skills of Central and Local Government for a world of integrated service delivery (using partnerships between agencies, municipal enterprise, mutuals, co-operatives, charities and the private sector – large and small) to meet local needs, with performance monitored by those receiving and paying (including via taxes) for them?
the organisation, governance and accountability of outsourced services, quangos and partnerships which cut across organisational boundaries
mechanisms (e.g. open and inter-operable modular procurement standards) for managing incremental change from centralised procurement, silo accountability and contract-driven outsourcing to devolved responsibility involving multiple partners
career paths and reward mechanisms for those responsible for delivering success: from Northcote Trevelyan, through Haldane and Fulton to ???
5.2) How should we better use technology to help deliver integrated health care and welfare for an aging population at affordable cost?
the use of secure and resilient mobile devices (from smart phones to alarms and monitors) to support the devolution of locally intregated care and treatment to front line practitioners in recipients homes and neighbourhood facilities
funding and business models for remote diagnosis, telemedicine and telecare
impact of technology in changing the economics of centralised emergency and inpatient care
6) 21st Century Investment Infrastructures
Why is there no British Google? Why is it so hard to fund long-term intra-UK projects, including for householders and landlords to invest in those (e.g. community broadband) that would increase the value of their properties? Why is it so hard for UK investors to help fund local enterprise?
the taxation and regulation of business angels and venture capitalists
local enterprise exchanges, mutuals, crowd-sourcing and other alternative funding mechanisms
enabling investor choice and innovation while maintaining effective protection
7) Securing the cyberworld against predators and enemies
Society is now critically dependent on an increasingly vulnerable Internet over which we face a tsunami of computer assisted crime, fraud and abuse. How could/should we organise the response, balancing effective protection with civil liberties?
accountability, governance and funding of community policing, operational and strategic
co-operation between law enforcement and industry ( local, national and international)
the organisation and governance of co-operation between industry and law enforcement in the use of big data analytics and other technologies for fraud detection and asset recovery across both public and private sectors
terms and conditions of services for reservist, specialist support and civil defence programmes: military, law enforcement and infrastructure failure (fire, flood, digititis etc.)