MLF supports open standards: Open Care EcoSystem?

Filed under: Innovation,Outcomes,Standards — lenand @ 7:29 am
Tags: , , ,

Martha Lane Fox understands the case for open standards; from her speech in the lords:

“I am not talking about expensive and costly top down nhs IT projects but instead about better use of data, open standards, more agile development and a more digitally minded culture in our healthcare sector….

 … the Department of Health (DH) believes that at least three million people with long term conditions and/or social care needs could benefit from the use of telehealth and telecare services. Implemented effectively as part of a whole system redesign of care, telehealth and telecare can alleviate pressure on long term NHS costs and improve people’s quality of life through better self-care in the home setting.

The NHS can potentially save so much money, they should consider giving financial support to organisations working on preventative care.  Here’s Quarkside’s idea.

Elderly people living independently could have their homes fitted with activity sensors and wear health monitors eg blood pressure.  Data is collected continuously, via the Internet, and analysed to create an individual’s unique, normal, behaviour pattern.  Deviation from normal patterns, displayed to family members or carers, alerts them of potential health problems and they can provide valuable data for GPs or hospitals.

Early medical intervention could improve outcomes for people with chronic conditions, eg diabetes, loss of cognition eg Alzheimer’s and recently discharged from hospitals.  Each could be worth £billions.

An ecosystem of open standards makes sense.  We need standards for::

  • Home activity sensors, eg smart meters
  • Health monitors, eg heart rate
  • Safety alarms, eg carbon monoxide levels
  • Time series data for all types of home and health monitors
  • Display of analytical information for individuals, families, carers and health professionals
  • Information governance of digital identities and data sharing

Standards like this, developed coherently in the public sector, would encourage innovative SMEs to enter the market and vastly improve health outcomes.  It could be a world leading industry, helping the UK economy.  This open ecosystem should be supported by multiple stakeholders.  It crosses the boundaries of Government departments of Business, Innovation & Skills, Health, Education, Communities & Local Government, Work & Pensions  and Local Authorities with responsibility for Social Care.

Any Government and Trust funding for the development of an Open Care EcoSystem will help the transformation from a reactive public health service to a preventative health culture in private citizens.

Is ten years too ambitious?


Political traction for standards

Filed under: Governance,Standards — lenand @ 10:50 am
Tags: , , ,

Good news stories don’t attract much interest, but there is one unfolding about standards in the public sector.  The Local Government e-Standards Body (LeGSB) has obtained funding for this year from a number of central government departments.  Perhaps Martha Lane Fox’s message has filtered through the political process.

There’s a portfolio of about ten projects.  Some are having a significant impact in the way that central government can and should interoperate with local government ICT.

Quarkside’s main interest is the developing generic model for all public sector service interactions.  The guiding principle is that common language and understanding will enable reuse of data, services and solutions – reducing the resources required to share data more effectively between the Government and other public sector agencies.  It’s all about interoperability between systems.  However, the project cannot be accused of using accessible language in its title, “Upper Ontology for Operational Service Delivery“.  

The highest level for standards is the International Standards Organisation (ISO).  As it happens, ISO 18876 is the International Standard that establishes an architecture, a methodology, and other specifications for integrating industrial data for exchange, access, and sharing.

It supports:

  • data sharing and data integration;
  • specification of mappings between models;
  • and data transformation.

LeGSB is not in the market for creating standards – only for helping organisations to grab the benefits that are on the table.  Perhaps ISO 18876 will find its place in helping to arbitrate in some complex areas of interoperability, eg it provides a logical basis for Identity Management not requiring a Unique Identifier (UID).


Standards Slump

Filed under: Governance,Innovation,Policy,Standards — lenand @ 10:09 am
Tags: ,

I posed this question in a debate yesterday – and similarly at the latest Government ICT conference.

“Would some nationally agreed data sharing frameworks or standards help in:

  • creating better outcomes from shared services
  • speeding up the implementation of shared services
  • improving efficiency of system design and development
  • more accurate matching of data common
  • understanding and mapping of similar words
  • developing a national source of standard reference (aka master data)
  • sharing data with central government
  • joining up data sources for analysis and business intelligence
  • reducing the need for sending data to central government
  • lots more you might think of?

If the answer to many of these is yes, then why doesn’t the Government CIO financially support the establishment derivation and communication of such standards?”

Answer 1:  Standards had been an industry and the Government is spending more on deprecating old standards than developing new ones.

Answer 2: “The risk with standards are that they would either be very superficial (to cover all circumstances) and this could make them vague. Or they would be very detailed (and therefore complex and expensive to draft) but perhaps not cover the needs of every situation.”

I was not surprised at either of these answers.  The UK standards culture in ICT is to ignore them. We are seeing the results of this culture in our inability to share data and adapt to reducing budgets.

How does this tally with Martha Lane Fox’s demand for standards? Perhaps even she cannot penetrate the cultural barriers.


Pasc 8: Standards, standards, standards

The eighth of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) 12 questions, asks:

8. What infrastructure, data or other assets does government need to own, or to control directly, in order to make effective use of IT?

Ownership of processors, data stores and communication networks is not a major issue. They are commodity products and most are not core government assets. They should be procured and operated at the lowest cost to the public purse. If a Government Cloud is trusted, secure and economical, then it should be used.

Control of data is a core custodianship function and must not be relinquished. Data is best regarded as a triumvirate of Operational, Reference and Derived data. Public services may use any or all of these.

  • Operational data is front-line, perhaps with high transaction volumes, eg school attendance or DVLA registration. Nobody would contemplate providing this type of service without IT.
  • Reference data, commonly shared between many systems, is of variable quality, such as addresses. The reason is often that different operational systems have different versions and incompatible formats. Interoperability between systems is impossible without adoption of data standards. The public sector, as a whole, does not have a functioning standards body, or the power to enforce them.
  • Derived data is combined or abstracted from several sources. It is the basis of planning and performance measurement systems. It may reside in data warehouses or complex spreadsheets. Systems may collect data from operational, reference or other derived data sets.

What make it more complex is that the quality not only depends on knowledge of standards, but also the context and timeliness of the source data. Martha Lane Fox seems to understand the need for standards. That’s what Government leadership should control.

By standards, don’t assume the detailed documentation published by BSI or ISO.  Standards can also be the accepted frameworks and governance structures that form best practice.  But somebody independent should assess that they are being followed and avoiding prima donna assertions.  Above all it needs IT functional leadership.


Xeno – Phobic response from Big Society

Filed under: Education,Outcomes,Technology — lenand @ 12:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

Digital Inclusion is high on the political agenda – and Martha Lane Fox is continuing to keep it in the news.  Whether it gets any local authority staff input is separate issue.  It is not high in the priorities for spending next year.  At least that emerged in this week’s SOCITM Futures meeting.

Here is a personal example of the misfit between Vision and Delivery in trying to solve the problems of inclusion.  A big social problem is children excluded from school. Many children are disconnected from normal schooling. Although there is uncertainty in the statistics, the following, excluding truancy, give the scale of the problem:

  • Permanent exclusion (over 9000 per year)
  • Temporary exclusion (over 350,000 incidents per year)
  • Parental choice, (possibly 50,000)
  • Gypsy and Traveller children (12,000 of secondary age are not registered at school)
  • Children looked after by their local authorities (60,300)

Schools and local authorities struggle to maintain levels of achievement with these groups.  Research recommends catch-up support and individual learning opportunities out of school.  Independence of schools from Local Authorities will not make the job any easier.

The South East Grid for Learning invested in a virtual learning environment (Xeno) for such children – providing them with electronic resources that are available to others. An attractive user interface was designed, suitable resources were added, such as Angel Boy.  Take up has been disappointing.

The root cause is the lack of capacity of teachers with the skills to show excluded children how to gain benefit from current Internet technology.  An attempt was made to attract students to mentor teachers in the uses of Xeno, but there were no volunteers.

This could be an early warning to the advocates of Big Society:  Big vision, Little delivery.

Blog at WordPress.com.