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With the aim of improving how residents recycle their waste, one of our council clients is undertaking an education campaign to change behaviours, rather than impose punitive fines.

Incorrect items in the recycling system can cost councils many thousands of pounds. To tackle this issue, our client has equipped its refuse collection drivers with mobile devices so that they can identify the location/properties of those recycling incorrectly. The resident is then targeted with educational materials.

This fits nicely with a new incentive scheme that the government is currently trialling - where households are rewarded with vouchers for good recycling. The council's in-cab reporting system could easily be adapted to the new scheme if found to be successful.

But to make it work, the council needs to receive accurate and timely information.

With our Highlight service, we check continuously that the mobile connections in the lorry cabs are working. When the driver identifies a particular location, Highlight ensures that the information is not lost – it confirms that all supporting infrastructures are working, that the information is delivered and that it is then processed.

From my perspective, I'm all in favour of the incentive scheme. If they can hit a balance between reward and effort on a personal level, I think recycling behaviours will improve dramatically!

We’ll have to wait to see where RBS lays the blame for Monday’s IT crash. Last time a bank’s IT system failed it was due to a scheduling problem with a critical service like batch processing.

At that time, the bank had no warning of the issue. It could have been building over time or it could have been as simple as someone making a change – planned or otherwise. What they didn’t have was visibility of their systems.

From a change perspective, it’s vital to be able to see how key applications are performing – and if a change is made, you need to see the impact it has on the operation of those services.

Regarding this week’s IT disaster, RBS' CEO Ross McEwan said: “"For decades, RBS failed to invest properly in its systems. We need to put our customers' needs at the centre of all we do. It will take time, but we are investing heavily in building IT systems our customers can rely on.”

Whilst under-investment may be a cause, RBS needs to be very cautious about throwing money at new technology, particularly if they are unable to see how that technology is then performing. They may well come up facing the same problems.

 

After all, you can only manage what you can see and understand.

 

With the deadline for infant, junior and primary school applications coming up in January, we’re working with a Council’s head of digital services to ensure that this vital online service is working efficiently.

Choosing first schools can be very stressful - a family doesn’t need to contend with slow or unresponsive websites to add to their anxiety.

We’re helping the Council to ensure that all systems are working properly. We allow the council to check rapidly that the technical infrastructure supporting this digital service is up to the task and that the supporting databases are all connecting and performing properly.

We’re also monitoring this Councils’ website front page, the pages dealing with planning applications and additionally, their consultation portal – an area where residents can submit their views on issues such as flood risks, housing payments, health and wellbeing.

Moving more services to the web and away from the call centre makes good financial sense. And many residents appreciate being able to submit information at any time of day and resolve their issues quickly online.

But councils must ensure excellent performance from these web services or residents will revert to the more expensive and time consuming telephone or face to face meetings.

One in ten internet connections used by small, medium and large enterprises are overloaded to the point where a user’s experience of key applications is likely to be affected, according to a survey by netEvidence. The study looked at the internet usage of 700 organisations over a five day period during normal office hours in February 2013.

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Peter Dubens' talking heads session at Daisy Group's conference last week was fascinating.

As the Executive Chairman of the fast growing Daisy Group telecoms firm, Peter was reminiscing about past successes and failures.

On the upside, he acquired, restructured and consolidated public and private companies, namely 365 Media Group and Pipex Communications.

For the less successful, he talked about his involvement in 2E2 which went bust in January 2013, owing millions to creditors.

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This week's Cisco Live event was a busy one, and we were helping out NetApp by speaking on their stand out on the show floor. It's always an interesting task, talking to an audience which can get up and leave at any moment, and very different from the usual lecture theatre or breakout room. To me the most interesting part came from putting together our presentation, which involved explaining why and how we're moving our Highlight service onto a Virtualised environment with our hosting partners, Claranet. We listed the usual, obvious benefits such as scalability, and resilience - but then got to thinking about Testing.

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