X-Box game console controller helps protect our troops

The first ever demonstration of a UK-US unmanned military vehicle convoy has taken place as part of the 'Last Mile' logistics to front-line troops.

Dstl together with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development & Engineering Center (ARDEC) have demonstrated unmanned trucks formed into driverless convoys, unmanned aerial vehicles, and a robotic all-terrain 4x4 steered via a remote tele-operator.

As a result, the Coalition Assured Autonomous Resupply (CAAR) demonstration showed initial capability in unmanned tactical resupply incorporating a combined line-haul convoy, autonomous ‘last-mile’ ground & air capabilities.
Researched Links:

Dstl:  US and UK Armies lead the way in world-first for robotic vehicles

The Future is Technology

Remote investigation

Arnie is ‘back’ and helping the Dstl

Autonomy on the frontline: Last Mile challenge winners announced

Royal Navy tests unmanned fleet of the future

Dragonfire: Laser Directed Energy Weapons

Dstl to develop Active Protection System technology

AI & machine learning for Defence at the D&S Accelerator

MOD and ASV Global sign agreement for unmanned surface vehicle software

Dismounted soldier research requirements


From eduroam to govroam – The secure wifi solution for UK public sector

Anyone who has to travel to different offices and public buildings regularly as part of their job will understand what a pain it can be to swap on to different wifi networks at every new destination.

Thankfully “zero-touch” access to wifi has now become a possibility with the launch of govroam.

Govroam evolved from eduroam – the established wifi service used by the further and higher education and research sector and which runs on the UK’s national research and education network,the Janet Network, supporting the roaming of 1.6 million unique devices each month.

Already in use across both Kent and Yorkshire & Humberside Public Service Networks (PSN), along with parts of London, public sector employees across the UK can now travel between any participating public services’ building and connect to the network, without touching their devices. Once the profile is installed, the connection happens automatically.

Click here to discover more.

Even more important than Global Warming

Good management of antibiotics can half the number of people picking-up drug-resistant infections in hospital, new data suggests.

Research, published in the Lancet, has found antibiotic stewardship programmes can reduce the number of hospital infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria by 51%.  It also shows the number of people experiencing drug-resistant infections decreases further when infection control measures, such as good hand hygiene, are followed.

NICE says healthcare professionals should select the dose, length of treatment & type of administration (for example, tablets or injection) that is right for the person and the infection. This stewardship helps to fight resistance because it preserves the usefulness of antibiotics.
Researched Links:

NICE:  Use antibiotics effectively to reduce drug-resistance

ESRC:  Tackling antibiotic resistance: researchers slash survey costs with satellites

Hospitals are not ‘doing their bit’ to reduce need to use antibiotics

‘Keep Antibiotics Working’

They were used successfully BEFORE antibiotics were developed!

Every little helps

Test children’s urine before prescribing antibiotics for UTIs, says NICE

Saving antibiotics – supporting decisions

Challenge Prize cash supporting GP surgery to fight antibiotic resistance

More care should be taken when prescribing antibiotics for pneumonia

Wales & England to follow, as with plastic bags?

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, can now proceed.

Following the unequivocal backing of the highest court in Scotland – and a referral to the European Court of Justice – the UK Supreme Court has now dismissed an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association & others, ruling that the proposed minimum unit pricing policy is appropriately targeted, lawful and proportionate.

Prior to implementing the policy, Ministers will now conduct a consultation on the proposed 50p per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that is required by Parliament.  The Scottish Government anticipates setting the minimum unit price at 50p per unit, subject to the outcome of the consultation and the refreshed BRIA.
Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Alcohol minimum unit pricing to go ahead

ScotGov:  Minimum Unit Pricing

WAG:  Increase in alcohol-related deaths in Wales – new report shows

IEA:  Decision on minimum alcohol pricing disappointing & will hit poorest the hardest

Alcohol often cheaper than water in shops!

Time to ‘call time’ on cheap booze

BMJ:  Evidence for the effectiveness of minimum pricing of alcohol

Alcohol Minimum Pricing | Alcohol Focus Scotland

Alcohol Minimum Pricing - Centre for Retail Research, Nottingham UK

Alcohol: minimum pricing - Commons Library briefing - UK Parliament

Minimum unit pricing - IAS - Institute of Alcohol Studies

RTB beyond its ‘sell by’ date?

The LGA is warning that Right to Buy itself is under threat, and that the scheme will grind to a halt if LAs are not given the financial powers to replace sold homes & build additional council houses.

Councils are only allowed to keep a third of all receipts from sold RTB homes and are prevented from borrowing to make up the shortfall.  Further complex rules & restrictions are also hampering the ability of councils to rapidly replace homes.  As a result 12,826 homes were sold off under the scheme in 2016/17, with councils only able to start 4,475 homes in replacement.
Researched Links:

LGA:  Councils forced to sell off enough homes to house Oxford, without ability to borrow-to-build

LGA responds to IPPR report on local authority house-building

LGA responds to Government housing announcement

Right to buy ends in Scotland

NIESR: UK’s obsession with housing wealth could be making the country poorer

CLG:  Sajid Javid's speech on the housing market

CLG:  More homes delivered as government outlines housing vision

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

The UK’s future prosperity is ‘under threat’

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT welcomes the Royal Society report (After the Reboot: Computing Education in UK Schools) - published recently.

The report states that computing education across the UK is patchy & fragile.  Many teachers aren’t confident enough to teach the subject and the number of female pupils opting to take the subject remains very low.

The Institute strongly supports the report’s recommendations that steps must be taken to address these issues which are vital if the UK is going to remain competitive:  In England, all schools need to put in place arrangements to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 4 national curriculum for all pupils.  

Steps must be taken improve gender balance in computing.  Measures also need to be put in place to ensure there is a strong supply of computing teachers entering the profession and to provide support to existing teachers, with and without expertise in computing.
Researched Links:

BCS Welcomes Royal Society Report

Concentrate on positive opportunities, not ‘maybe’ downsides

Much more than one step ahead of the class now

Government backed scheme helps train 2m people in digital skills

Universities & colleges across England to work on 27 new degree apprenticeship development projects

New Terms Starts With Good News For Local Computing Teachers & Students! Consett Academy Announces CAS Master Teacher

Computing A-Level grades are on the rise but the numbers taking subject remain low

National Lottery boost for young digital leaders changing communities

PC&PE:  School teacher shortages worsening, Committee report finds

Computing At School launches new resources to develop computing subject knowledge

Computing Curriculum Tool Kit Launched for School Leaders

Innovative Computing Science resource to reach all NI primary schools

Baffled by geek speak? BCS can help...

BCS calls on Head teachers to ensure their school offers a great computing education

BCS warns that UK must focus on maintaining its place in the European & global scientific & engineering communities post Brexit

Top graduates to get up to £30k to train to teach core subjects

BCS respond to OECD report on technology in schools

We desperately need them!

The NCSC is supporting the next generation of cyber security experts through funding & training.

  • National Cyber Security Centre is nurturing a talent pipeline through funding & training
  • Applications for £4,000 annual CyberFirst bursary for university students closing soon
  • New CyberFirst degree apprenticeship puts school leavers on 3-year GCHQ placement
  • Competitive recruitment process begins after upcoming application deadline
Researched Links:

NCSC:  Tech-savvy students urged to join fight protecting UK from cyber attacks

DCMS:  New online challenge will test teenagers’ cyber security skills

Growing our own’ is essential

With more females than males going to University!

Many more than 23 Apprentices will be required to meet the UK’s need for cyber security experts

Paid to train, no student debt, good employment prospects for both women & men and vital for future UK economic success

And so they should!
Broadband & landline customers will get money back from their providers when things go wrong, without having to claim it, following an Ofcom review.
Researched Links:

Ofcom:  Automatic compensation for broadband & landline users

Citizens Advice responds to Ofcom's automatic compensation scheme for broadband customers

Start them off with good habits
New example menus & recipes have been published to help early years providers plan healthy, tasty meals for young children.
Researched Links:

DfE:  Healthy eating guidance published for the early years sector

As usual, ‘one size does not fit all’

Evidently UK Government has ‘done nothing’ to address these issues and apparently parents have ‘no responsibility’ for the health & welfare of THEIR children!

Delicious food can also be healthy

Ways to highlight problem

Self-care is more ‘affordable’ care
Engaging & empowering people to look after their own health better is the theme of this year’s Self Care Week which launched recently.
Researched Links:

NHS England:  Encouraging people to embrace self-care for life

NHS England:  Thousands of people set to access diabetes & obesity prevention services through the touch of a button

Trouble is many of us stopped living healthily in middle-age!

We won’t be able to afford the NHS unless we ‘solve’ this problem

Longer independent living is vital for the NHS funding ‘crisis

At some point ‘infirmities’ mean we cannot self-care
First Secretary Damian Green has announced that the government will publish a Green paper on Care & Support for older people by summer 2018.
Researched Links:

CO:  Government to set out proposals to reform care & support

LGA responds to Independent Age report on social care funding

LGA - Almost 60p in every £1 of council tax could be spent on social care by 2020

The size of the problem will increase

Helping to make care affordable

Who helps the ‘helpers’?

It’s not only service users who experience emotional distress which can lead to feelings of helplessness & frustration but also the staff supporting them.  PIE considers the needs of both.

Research “Going further back: Earlier action on multiple needs to prevent homelessness” published last month, illustrates once again the role of psychological trauma in homelessness & states. “Peoples motivation and ability to engage with services are heavily impacted by experiences of trauma in childhood and beyond.”

Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) offer a practical framework for working with individuals who have experienced complex trauma. A service which intentionally considers “…the thinking, emotions, personalities and experience of its participants,” in its delivery & design can be described as a PIE.
Researched Links:

Homeless Link:  PIE - a practical framework to support people through trauma

Won’t ‘satisfy’ national objectors

Communities near sites, approved for the safe & clean extraction of shale gas, will benefit from a share of the proceeds through a new ‘Shale Wealth Fund’.

Local communities across the country will choose how they spend up to £1bn of additional funding on local projects, under proposals unveiled recently.  Those living in the North & the Midlands – where there are significant shale gas reserves – are set to benefit first.  The fund, which will provide up to £10m for each local community, will empower local decision making. 
Researched Links:

HM Treasury:  Communities to decide how to spend shale cash windfall

What have we missed?

The Supplier Standard, currently in beta, describes what government expects from the digital & technology companies we work with and, equally, what they should expect from government.

As part of the development of the Supplier Standard, in partnership with Crown Commercial Service (CCS), we ran a consultation from September to December last year.  GDS will now be running a series of workshops as part of a second round of consultations.  They will focus on how the ideas that came up during the first round can be put into practice.
Researched Links:

GDS:  We’re iterating the Supplier Standard

Explains why Brexit ‘Remoaners’ only communicate possible ‘Downsides’ and not solutions / benefits

People's responses to risk are shaped by the way that such risks are communicated.

Communicating risks effectively can defuse concerns, mitigate disaster situations and build trust with public institutions & organisations.  This POSTnote defines the often misunderstood concepts of risk, uncertainty & hazard and describes the key stakeholders communicating it.  It examines the factors that shape how people perceive & respond to such risks and summarises evidence on effective risk communication strategies.
Researched Links:

POST:  Communicating Risk

Just what we need for post-Brexit

A new online platform to promote & enable university-business collaboration, konfer, has been officially launched.

Including well over a million pieces of data including research, researchers, facilities, equipment, funding & support, the online tool has been designed to help businesses find opportunities for collaboration.
Researched Links:

HEFCE:  New web tool launched to promote university-business collaboration

Part of our industrial history

Work has this week started on English Heritage's major conservation project to save the Iron Bridge.

Built in 1779 over the River Severn in Shropshire, the Iron Bridge was the first single span arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron.  It was a turning point in British engineering and the predecessor of today's railways & skyscrapers.

Now English Heritage has begun a major project to clean, conserve & repair the 378 ton masterpiece.  But the charity needs your help and has teamed up with Crowdfunder to raise the final funds needed.  A €1m donation from the Hermann Reemtsma Foundation has helped start the fundraising appeal, but the charity is now calling on the public to help raise the final funds needed to complete the work.
Researched Links:

English Heritage:  Call for Public Support to help save the Iron Bridge

Can one really sleep safely at night?

Almost 40% of battery-powered smoke alarms failed to activate in residential fires in England in the past year, prompting a warning.

LGA:  Safety warning amid worrying smoke alarm 'failure rate'

A simple ‘push’ of a finger could save your family’s life

Toys, not monsters under the bed!

A NCSC has welcomed a report published by Which? that reported vulnerabilities with the I-Que Intelligent Robot, Toy-fi Teddy, Furby & CloudPets cuddly toys.

NCSC welcomes report into security of connected toys
Enabling retention of gas for power generation, cooking & heating?

The burning of natural gas for heating contributes 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Decarbonising, or reducing the carbon content of the UK gas supply is one option for reducing the emissions from heating. This POSTnote looks at the contribution that two alternative gases, hydrogen and biomethane, in achieving this goal.
Researched Links:

POST:  Decarbonising the Gas Network

Did you have to pay for industrial justice?
All those eligible for employment tribunal fee refunds can apply now, following a successful opening phase of the scheme.
Researched Links:

MOJ:  Applications open for employment tribunal fee refunds as scheme rolls out

Opening stage of employment tribunal fee refund scheme launched

IEA:  Employment tribunal fees effective in saving unnecessary costs

Record numbers of working people bringing employment disputes

Access to justice damaged by courts & tribunals fees changes

3 in 4 working mothers say they’ve experienced pregnancy & maternity discrimination

TUC: PM must agree stronger workers’ rights to restore lost trust


 More contributions to the Brexit process

Still a ‘hot topic’, with widely spread views, for those who put fingers to keyboard in order to ‘share their views’:

Researched Links:

Brexit microsite

DExEU:  David Davis' closing remarks at the end of EU exit negotiations on 9-10 November

EU News:  Article 50 negotiations with the UK

DExEU:  New Bill to implement Withdrawal Agreement

DExEU:  David Davis' speech at UBS

10DS:  PM meeting with European business organisations

BUSINESSEUROPE and CBI comment on No10 meeting

10DS:  PM speech to the Lord Mayor's Banquet 2017

10DS:  PM meetings with EC President Tusk and President Macron of France

FCO:  Defence Minister reaffirms UK commitment to European security

DIT:  U.S.-UK Trade & Investment Working Group Statement

NAO:  A Short Guide to DExEU

PC&PE:  'Catastrophic' if viable customs system not in place at Brexit

PC&PE:  'Inappropriate powers' in Sanctions Bill says Lords Committee

IFG:  Response to statement on EU negotiations

ScotGov:  Brexit negotiations

TUC: PM must agree stronger workers’ rights to restore lost trust

CJEU: A non-EU national may benefit from a right of residence of an EU citizen family member

Defence: EC welcomes steps towards Permanent Structured Cooperation


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:
It was the Mind Media Awards on Monday night and the network made it onto the shortlist in the publication category. A big thanks to all who have written for us about mental health and given us suggested ideas. Mental health is a big area of interest so do get in touch with sarah.johnson@theguardian.com if you think there's something we should be covering.
New on the network
'I feel better for singing': the choir tackling mental health stigma

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Choir members, including people with mental health problems, say their wellbeing and connectedness have improved since singing together

'We are a force to be reckoned with': voices of newly qualified nurses

'We are a force to be reckoned with': voices of newly qualified nurses
Those entering nursing now are faced with increased responsibility in a challenging NHS environment. Here’s what they think

'I deserve more than to be thought of as crazy': a journey through mental illness

'I deserve more than to be thought of as crazy': a journey through mental illness
In this candid extract from her posthumous memoirs, Sophie Reilly describes the reality of living with multiple mental health issues

What we’re reading
The real saboteurs are the Tory Brexiters destroying the NHS – Guardian
If we can beat Ebola, why not sleeping sickness too? – Mosaic