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All Posts (74)

Gold Level Contributor

IoT technology can help to make homes safer and more comfortable for residents

The two-year project will see sensors fitted into selected empty properties being prepared for new tenants, who will also be supported with energy efficiency advice and guidance.

Renfrewshire Council is set to install Internet of Things (IoT) technology in its social housing stock – a project that aims to improve the lives of tenants while cutting property management and repair costs.

Scottish tech innovator iOpt has secured a tender worth up to £1m to install real-time monitors which will measure temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels in properties, providing early alerts on issues such as problems with ventilation and potential dampness.

Local authority savings

Supported by the Scottish Government, the partnership is thought to be the first of its kind in Europe.

“The technology we have developed is cost-effective, will deliver savings for local authorities at a time of financial uncertainty and help some of the most vulnerable tenants maintain a warm, healthy environment in their own home,” said Dane Ralston, managing director, iOpt.

“More than ever, the world is changing at great pace, and we see remote asset monitoring of this kind as a key addition to any energy efficient home. To date, our studies have shown savings of approximately £190 per year per property. 

He continued: “We believe the contract with Renfrewshire Council has made IoT history and shows that Scotland is a world leader in the field.” 

The two-year project will begin when lockdown restrictions are eased. It will see sensors fitted into selected empty properties being prepared for new tenants, who will also be supported with energy efficiency advice and guidance.

The sensors are small, easy to install and feedback information in real time to a state-of-the-art IT and data management system.

This enables the council to spot potential health problems and take preventative action to protect and improve homes. High humidity and low temperatures could suggest a tenant may not be heating their home efficiently, while high carbon dioxide could point to issues with ventilation.

The initiative secured £150,000 support from the Scottish Government’s ‘CanDo’ innovation challenge fund.

“During these unprecedented times it is hugely encouraging to see Scotland continue its proud tradition of world-leading innovation,” added Ivan McKee, minister for trade, investment and innovation, the Scottish Government.

“iOpt’s pioneering IoT technology, being delivered in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, is a fantastic example of how innovation and collaboration can help people live healthy lives at home, supported by remote monitoring.”

iOpt’s lead investor is Mactaggart & Mickel Investments, the investment arm of one of Scotland’s major house builders. Corporate investors include Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, plus a US IoT technology leader.

iOpt plans to embark on another round of funding to accelerate growth plans, aiming for investors in the property, data and tech sectors which can add value and expertise.

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld news team | June 7, 2020
Smart Cities World

 

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Gold Level Contributor

UK poised to shut the door on Huawei

Image: Shutterstock

The UK government looked set to begin the process of removing Huawei from networks in the country and ban operators from purchasing new equipment, after a review into the vendor found severe security issues, The Sunday Times reported.

It reported a review by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) deemed Huawei’s products unsecure, and ministers are likely to approve policy in the next two weeks which would see a ban on the purchase of new Huawei equipment implemented at the end of the year.

Should the policy come into force, Huawei kit would be removed from existing parts of 5G networks by 2026 or 2027, which would be followed by its 4G and 3G involvement.

Unprecedented
The NCSC’s decision represents a major shift from earlier in the year, when the UK approved operators to use Huawei equipment in non-sensitive parts of their networks, limited to 35 per cent.

However, in May, NCSC confirmed it was conducting a fresh review into the vendor to assess the impact of tightened US sanctions around the use of domestic components in overseas chip production.

The Sunday Times reported the NCSC found the US move “fundamentally changes” the situation, prompting the policy changes, which could be announced officially at the end of this month.

An unnamed government source told The Sunday Times the US sanctions are “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before”.

“Huawei is in a position without any easy fixes or loopholes. This fundamentally changes the calculation. The impacts are so severe that, given the need to give clarity to industry, there will be decision taken and parliament will be notified this month,” the source said.

The shift in stance on Huawei would represent a major victory for both the US, which lobbied for its allies to ban the vendor, and certain MPs within the government, who maintained pressure on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take a harder line on the company.

Huawei has protested its innocence since news of NCSC’s review in May, arguing it posed no security risk and insisting it operates independently from the Chinese government.

Originally published by
Kavit Majithia | July 6, 2020
Mobile World Live

 

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Gold Level Contributor

Analysis examines UK's beach capacity

Bournemouth beach has space for an estimated 78,628 socially-distanced visitors

In view of recent overcrowding following the easing of lockdown, Esri UK has explored how many people could hypothetically fit on some of the country’s most popular beaches using social distancing guidelines.

Spatial analysis of 10 of the UK’s most popular beaches by geographic information system (GIS) software and location intelligence specialist, Esri UK, has revealed how many people could hypothetically fit on the sand, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Scenes in Bournemouth

 The analysis follows scenes in Bournemouth, last month, where 500,000 people, reportedly, descended onto the beach. At the specified two metres apart, Esri UK’s analysis found that only an estimated 78,628 people could fit. 

The method used placed one person inside a 2-metre diameter circle but with an additional 2 metres of space between each circle, to represent a hypothetical estimation of beach capacity, allowing some space for people to move around. 

Other beaches surveyed included Brighton (61,723 capacity), Newquay (23,777), Barafundle (3,246) and Luskentyre (24,243).

The figures are released ahead of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality and leisure businesses reopening this weekend in England, when it is expected that many popular destinations like beaches and parks will become extremely busy again.

“We wanted to examine how many people could hypothetically fit on a beach ahead of the main UK holiday season,” said Sam Bark, cartographer at Esri UK. “Spatial analysis can help give local authorities and other organisations a rapid indication of capacity, for a range of different spaces in these unprecedented times, not just beaches, such as green space or even indoors.

Continue Reading

Originally published by
Smart Cities World News Team | July 3, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Bronze Level Contributor

Scooter trials in the UK: the cities; the operators; and the rules.

Scooter startups are very happy bunnies today.

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) will allow cities and local authorities across the country to start running e-scooter trials from this Saturday. 

This is a big deal; until recently, it looked like the UK wouldn’t legalise — or even consider legalising — scooters for years, unlike just about every other country in Europe. In May, the government made a huge U-turn, and fast-tracked plans for scooter trials, which it had originally intended to start in 2021.

For weeks now, dozens of scooter startup operators have been charging up their electric batteries, trying to cosy up to local government decision-makers and hiring top brass, ready to take on the market.

From this weekend onwards, they can finally hit the streets.

Here’s what you need to know about the state of play.

Which scooter operators are in the running?

CoMoUK, a shared transport advocacy group, lists 18 companies which hope to win local government tenders. They include UK-based shared bike operator Beryl (which has recently launched a range of e-scooters too), Swedish scooter startup Voi, Berlin-based scooter company Tier, Amsterdam-based scooter provider Dott and US-based micromobility companies Lime, Bird and Spin.

Tier says it already has 1,000 scooters at the ready in a UK warehouse — and will be shipping over more soon. Lime also says it has “thousands of scooters ready to be rolled out across the UK”.

Voi, meanwhile, says it’s hoping to hit 100,000 rides per day in the UK by the end of the year.

Which cities and local authorities are interested in trials?

Around 45 cities and local authorities are keen to give scooters a go, including Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and Nottingham. Various London boroughs are also interested.

They’re hoping that e-scooters, along with other micromobility solutions, can provide an alternative to both congested public transport and private cars as the country eases out of lockdown.

They have until the end of August to start trials.

Continue reading

Originally published by
Amy Lewin | June 30, 2020
Sifted

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Gold Level Contributor

Vodafone tips 5G to aid UK Covid-19 recovery

Vodafone UK called on the government to prioritise 5G rollout as part of its Covid-19 (coronavirus) recovery plan, as it published a new report predicting the technology could add £158 billion to the economy over the next decade.

The operator stated research for its Levelling up: How 5G can boost productivity across the UK report, which it commissioned in association with consultancy WPI Economics, showed the technology could deliver the economic boost by transforming the way the public access vital services.

Vodafone used the report to mark one year since the launch of its 5G network in the UK, and said investment in 5G could lead to the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, as well as improve the provision of public services.

It calculated the cumulative economic benefits to UK output stand at more than £38 billion in the five years to 2025, and at more than €120 billion from then to 2030.

However, to ensure 5G delivers the maximum financial impact, the operator called on the government to make digital services central to its economic recovery plan by creating the policy, procurement and an investment environment to support faster rollout of the technology.

Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said 5G will play a “vital role” as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is crucial to recognise the role that fast and reliable connectivity will play in unlocking the digital potential that exist in every nation and region across the UK,” he said.

Vodafone’s 5G services are currently available in 44 locations across the UK.

Originally published by
Kavit Majithia | June 29, 2020
Mobile World Live

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Bronze Level Contributor

Mastercard has joined a coalition working to offer immediate support to digitally and financially excluded people in the UK, focusing on those in poverty hit hardest by the impact of Covid-19.

The payments giant is joined in the 'Leave Nobody in the Dark' campaign by the Good Things Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation social change organisation, The Aple Collective of people with experience of poverty, and Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC.

In the UK, it is estimated that 11.7 million people lack basic digital skills and that there are an estimated 1.9 million households with no internet access.

This digital divide is most pronounced for those living in poverty; almost half of those with an income below £11,500 lack essential digital skills compared to less than 11% of those with an income over £25,000.

Covid-19 is exacerbating the problem: An estimated 6 million people have fallen behind on a household bill due to coronavirus, and data from Citizen's Advice shows that the least digitally engaged are more likely to be paying higher household bills irrespective of income, household or age.

The new coalition is aiming to address this through a new self-help portal for those who have limited digital skills to boost their online confidence and engage with free, trusted online support around money, security, benefits and debt.

The programme is also offering devices, data and digital skills support to people in poverty, and practical money help and improved digital confidence, delivered remotely by Clean Slate and other community partners.

Kelly Devine, divisional president, Mastercard UK & Ireland, says: "To recover from Covid-19 in a long-term, sustainable way, we have to make sure that everyone is included. Helping people access the digital economy, and feel confident in doing so, is a critical part of that."
 
Originally published by
Finextra
June 24, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

The first phase of the screening trial will gather 14,000 participants, including healthcare workers, their households and more. (Getty/RossHelen)

The U.K. government will begin testing a new, swabless coronavirus test, designed to be completed at home on a weekly basis by spitting into a collection tube.

The first phase of the screening trial will gather 14,000 participants—including healthcare workers, their households and more—run by the University of Southampton, the local government and the National Health Service (NHS). Test kits will be delivered and collected every week, with results set to be turned around within 48 hours. 

“Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use swabs,” said the U.K.’s health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock. “This trial will also help us learn if routine, at-home testing could pick up cases of the virus earlier.”

The trial will run for up to four weeks, in addition to ongoing, routine testing of asymptomatic healthcare staff. Any positive COVID-19 results will be shared with the NHS’ contract tracing program, to help isolate cases before they spread.

“We will initially invite Southampton’s 800-strong GP practice workforce and their households to take part, followed by some other essential key workers and some University of Southampton staff and students as we evaluate the logistics needed for regular testing of large population groups,” said Debbie Chase, director of public health for the Southampton City Council.

The saliva test, developed by U.K.-based OptiGene, will use a LAMP assay to detect sequences of the novel coronavirus’s genome. The testing group is also exploring the use of other swabless tests, including from Chronomics, Avacta, MAP Science and Oxford Nanoimaging. 

An additional pilot project will work to validate the LAMP saliva test’s accuracy against the standard nasal swab and PCR tests.

“The health, social and economic impacts of lockdown cannot be underestimated, said Keith Godfrey, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Southampton. “Through this initiative, we believe we can contribute to safely restoring economic activity within the city and region during national relaxation measures, whilst enabling people to regain their lives, work and education.”

Originally published by
Connor Hale | June 22, 2020
Fierce Biotech

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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: istockphoto

The Bank of England will pump an extra £100bn into the UK economy to help fight the “unprecedented” coronavirus-induced downturn.

Bank policymakers voted 8-1 to increase the size of its bond-buying programme.

However, they said there was growing evidence that the hit to the economy would be “less severe” than initially feared.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also kept interest rates at a record low of 0.1%.

The move comes just days after Bank governor Andrew Bailey said policymakers were ready to take action after the economy suffered its biggest monthly contraction on record.

The UK economy shrank by 20.4% in April, while official jobs data showed the number of workers on UK payrolls fell by more than 600,000 between March and May.

The Bank said more recent indicators of economic activity suggested the economy was starting to bounce back.

Minutes from the MPC’s June meeting said: “Payments data are consistent with a recovery in consumer spending in May and June, and housing activity has started to pick up recently.”

However, it warned that the outlook for the economy remained uncertain.

The minutes added: “While recent demand and output data had not been quite as negative as expected, other indicators suggested greater risks around the potential for longer-lasting damage to the economy from the pandemic.”

Back in May, policymakers warned the economy was heading for its sharpest recession on record.

Scenarios drawn up by the Bank suggested the economy could shrink by 25% in the three months to June.

However, the MPC said more recent evidence suggested the contraction would be less severe.

The extra monetary stimulus – known as quantitative easing (QE) – will raise the size of the Bank’s asset purchase programme to £745bn.

Policymakers said the injection would help to support financial markets and underpin the recovery.

However, Andy Haldane, the Bank’s chief economist, voted against the increase.

He said the recovery was happening “sooner and materially faster” than the Bank expected in May.

Continue reading

Originally published by
Western Capital News | June 18, 2020

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Bronze Level Contributor

In the United Kingdom, and for the payment network giants in the decades-long legal battle over interchange fees — next stop, trial court?

Wednesday, the highest court in the U.K. upheld a 2018 ruling by a lower court, the Court of Appeal, that payments firms Visa and Mastercard had restricted competition for retailers by levying fees on transactions, known as multilateral interchange fees (MIF).

Those retailers — including plaintiffs/respondents (in the latest case) Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Argos and Asda — had alleged that the fees were unlawful restrictions of competition laws in the European Union and the U.K.

The high court’s dismissal of Visa and Mastercard’s appeal paves the way for the retailers to seek compensation. And as reported by Reuters Wednesday (June 17), Morgan Lewis partner Frances Murphy, lead counsel for Sainsbury’s, said the damages could stretch into the billions of pounds.

“Sainsbury’s will now be seeking to recover the full amount of the unlawful charges it has incurred,” Murphy said, in the wake of the ruling.

Mastercard and Visa have said the U.K. ruling on Wednesday was not a final one. Additional hearings may take place next year, Mastercard has said.

Drilling down into the U.K. Supreme Court’s decision, language notes that the MIF is payable by acquirers to issuers on each transaction — expressed either as a  percentage of the transaction value or a flat fee expressed in pence. Different MIFs apply to different transaction types, which can span contactless or card not present payments. MIFs can also vary according to whether acquirers and issuers are based in different regions or states.

The court found that though issuers are acquirers are not required to contract on the basis of the MIF — and are free to enter into bilateral agreements — they do indeed tend to contract on the basis of the MIF.

With a nod to the payment card schemes as operated by Visa and Mastercard, the court detailed the existence of two-sided markets — where on one side, issuers compete with one another for customers to whom they will issue cards, and on the other side of the market, acquirers compete for merchants’ business.

The issue under discussion during the proceedings and rulings of the various courts focused on the effects MIFs have on competition in the acquiring market.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous judgement upheld the earlier judgement by the Court of Appeal, which held that the fees infringe on article 101(1) of the Treaty of Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and restrict competition in the acquiring market. The court also upheld findings that the payments firms had not established that the U.K.-based MIFs had caused benefits to end consumers.

As reported by Bloomberg Wednesday, Mastercard is currently facing “a series of lawsuits” filed by U.K. retailers that could see a leap in claims.

“This case will now provide guidance for the hundreds of other business claimants behind the lead cases,” said Rob Murray, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, who represented Sainsbury’s, as quoted by the newswire.

Originally published
PYMNTS
 

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Bronze Level Contributor

UK challenger Monzo has sealed a £60 million funding round at a valuation of £1.25 billion - a 40% discount on its previous sky high pricetag of £2 billion.

First reported by Business Insider, the downround reflects a waning investor appetite for pouring funds into loss-making fintech startups, particularly in the crowded challenger bank segment.

Monzo remains the fastest growing app-only bank in the UK, with some four million customers on the books. The downgrade on its valuation is likely to be reflected in other fintech Unicorns that rely heavily on large marketing expenditures and discounted pricing to generate growth.

Monzo has been cutting jobs and furloughing staff in an effort to stem the damage from the pandemic. Earlier this month it axed a further 120 jobs, hitting around eight per cent of the UK-based startup's workforce. They are separate from the 295 positions which were furloughed in March and the 165 redundancies associated with the planned closure of a Las Vegas customer support office.

The shake-up has also seen Monzo chief Tom Blomfield make way for banking veteran TS Anil as the firm strives to reach a target of becoming cash-flow positive in 2021.

Investors in the new round, include Swiss fund Reference Capital and Vanderbilt University alongside existing investors Y Combinator, Accel, Thrive Capital, and Passion Capital.
 
Originally published by
Finextra - June 15, 2020
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Gold Level Contributor

Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and the Mortgage Business have been hit with a £64 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority for the unfair treatment of up to a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears.

The watchdog found that between April 2011 and December 2015 the banks systems and procedures for gathering information from mortgage customers in payment difficulties or arrears resulted in the banks call handlers not consistently obtaining adequate information to assess customers circumstances and affordability.

The banks also employed a system that set a minimum percentage of a customers contractual monthly payment which a call handler was authorised to accept as a payment arrangement without obtaining further authority from a more senior colleague. However, in practice, the system created a risk of inflexibility in approach, says the FCA, with the result that call handlers may have failed to negotiate appropriate payment arrangements for customers.

These risks were exacerbated when, as part of a simplification programme, the banks lost a large number of personnel with mortgage collections and recoveries expertise, after which point nearly all of their mortgage arrears call handlers were new-to-role.

The poor performance has proved costly for the banks, which have so far paid up to £300 million in redress to customers who were treated shabbily as a result of the mismanagement of their cases.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA says: "Banks are required to treat customers fairly, even when those customers are in financial difficulties or are having trouble meeting their obligations. By not sufficiently understanding their customers circumstances the banks risked treating unfairly more than a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears, over several years. In some cases, customers were treated unfairly, including vulnerable customers.

"Firms should take notice of the action we have taken today to ensure that their own treatment of customers meets our expectations."

The banks agreement to accept the FCAs findings meant they qualified for a 30% discount. Otherwise, the FCA would have imposed a financial penalty of £91,495,400. The £64 million fine is the largest handed down to UK high street bank in five years.
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 11, 2020
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Gold Level Contributor

Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and the Mortgage Business have been hit with a £64 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority for the unfair treatment of up to a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears.

The watchdog found that between April 2011 and December 2015 the banks systems and procedures for gathering information from mortgage customers in payment difficulties or arrears resulted in the banks call handlers not consistently obtaining adequate information to assess customers circumstances and affordability.

The banks also employed a system that set a minimum percentage of a customers contractual monthly payment which a call handler was authorised to accept as a payment arrangement without obtaining further authority from a more senior colleague. However, in practice, the system created a risk of inflexibility in approach, says the FCA, with the result that call handlers may have failed to negotiate appropriate payment arrangements for customers.

These risks were exacerbated when, as part of a simplification programme, the banks lost a large number of personnel with mortgage collections and recoveries expertise, after which point nearly all of their mortgage arrears call handlers were new-to-role.

The poor performance has proved costly for the banks, which have so far paid up to £300 million in redress to customers who were treated shabbily as a result of the mismanagement of their cases.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA says: "Banks are required to treat customers fairly, even when those customers are in financial difficulties or are having trouble meeting their obligations. By not sufficiently understanding their customers circumstances the banks risked treating unfairly more than a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears, over several years. In some cases, customers were treated unfairly, including vulnerable customers.

"Firms should take notice of the action we have taken today to ensure that their own treatment of customers meets our expectations."

The banks agreement to accept the FCAs findings meant they qualified for a 30% discount. Otherwise, the FCA would have imposed a financial penalty of £91,495,400. The £64 million fine is the largest handed down to UK high street bank in five years.
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 11, 2020
Read more…
Gold Level Contributor

Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and the Mortgage Business have been hit with a £64 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority for the unfair treatment of up to a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears.

The watchdog found that between April 2011 and December 2015 the banks systems and procedures for gathering information from mortgage customers in payment difficulties or arrears resulted in the banks call handlers not consistently obtaining adequate information to assess customers circumstances and affordability.

The banks also employed a system that set a minimum percentage of a customers contractual monthly payment which a call handler was authorised to accept as a payment arrangement without obtaining further authority from a more senior colleague. However, in practice, the system created a risk of inflexibility in approach, says the FCA, with the result that call handlers may have failed to negotiate appropriate payment arrangements for customers.

These risks were exacerbated when, as part of a simplification programme, the banks lost a large number of personnel with mortgage collections and recoveries expertise, after which point nearly all of their mortgage arrears call handlers were new-to-role.

The poor performance has proved costly for the banks, which have so far paid up to £300 million in redress to customers who were treated shabbily as a result of the mismanagement of their cases.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA says: "Banks are required to treat customers fairly, even when those customers are in financial difficulties or are having trouble meeting their obligations. By not sufficiently understanding their customers circumstances the banks risked treating unfairly more than a quarter of a million customers in mortgage arrears, over several years. In some cases, customers were treated unfairly, including vulnerable customers.

"Firms should take notice of the action we have taken today to ensure that their own treatment of customers meets our expectations."

The banks agreement to accept the FCAs findings meant they qualified for a 30% discount. Otherwise, the FCA would have imposed a financial penalty of £91,495,400. The £64 million fine is the largest handed down to UK high street bank in five years.
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 11, 2020
Read more…
Gold Level Contributor

Vodafone UK issues Huawei 5G warning

Vodafone UK reportedly argued the country would lose the progress made on 5G if operators were forced to rip out Huawei equipment from networks, as pressure grows on the government to ban the Chinese vendor.

Speaking to Financial Times (FT), Vodafone CTO Scott Petty said “the UK’s leadership in 5G will be lost”, if mobile operators are made to spend time and money replacing existing equipment with gear from other vendors.

His comments come as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces increasing pressure from the US and his own MPs to ban Huawei due to security concerns.

The Telegraph reported members of the UK government are pushing Johnson to set a fixed date within two months for all Huawei equipment to be removed from 5G networks.

UK shift

Huawei was cleared to supply up to 35 per cent of equipment in non-sensitive parts of 5G networks by Johnson in January.

However, after the US tightened sanctions in mid-May, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre commenced a review of the potential impact of the new restrictions on UK 5G networks.

While Petty’s claim the UK had established “leadership” in 5G is questionable, the fact remains all four of the country’s main operators have launched next-generation networks, with BT’s EE, Vodafone and 3 UK all using Huawei gear.

FT said the three companies had been upgrading their network with Huawei equipment in recent weeks, following the decision in January. Unless government policy changes, the operators are tied into the agreements.

Petty argued the government should focus on “expanding 5G coverage and developing 5G capabilities for the UK industry” rather than pushing for the removal of Huawei.

However, the company is also taking steps to plan for the future. Petty said Vodafone was working with Swedish vendor Ericsson and other suppliers to trial 5G equipment. “We are not tied to one supplier, but it is import to understand the extent of what is at stake here.”

Petty’s comments will no doubt provide a boost to Huawei, which this week commenced a media campaign defending itself against the criticism in the UK.

Originally published by
Kavit Majithia | June 10, 2020
Mobile World Live



Read more…
Gold Level Contributor

Image: Shutterstock

Huawei made a vehement public defence against criticism levelled against it in the UK, as authorities faced continued pressure to reverse a decision to allow the company to supply 5G kit to the country’s operators.

During a media call, Huawei global VP Victor Zhang said the vendor wanted to correct misinformation, including questions around its ownership, noting it is “independent from any government, including the Chinese government”.

He expressed confidence the UK would continue to take an “evidence-based approach” to its policies on operator supply chains.

Zhang pointed to Huawei as a “very transparent company” and noted the need for collaboration to mitigate general cybersecurity risks.

He also noted UK government goals of achieving improvements in fibre were already behind due to Covid-19 delays and must now be accelerated, adding full fibre and 5G would “enable economic recovery and industrial revolution”.

Alongside defending its credentials on the call, Huawei took out full-page advertisements in UK newspapers highlighting its role in operator builds of 3G and 4G networks, alongside a commitment to helping achieve government gigabit broadband goals.

The advert, positioned as a letter to the public, read: “For nearly 20 years, we’ve supplied the UK’s mobile and broadband companies with 3G and 4G. But some now question our role in helping Britain lead the way in 5G. We want you to know we are as committed as ever to providing your network operator with the best equipment so you can share photos, stream movies, get together online and much more.”

UK fight


Huawei’s public offensive comes as pressure continues to mount on the UK government to reverse a decision to allow operators to deploy Huawei equipment in non-sensitive parts of their 5G networks, subject to a 35 per cent limit.

Since then, pressure from the US for a complete ban on the vendor on security grounds continued unabated, with a number of UK politicians also wading into the issue to call for a government u-turn.

Following the announcement of tighter US restrictions on Huawei last month, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre began a fresh review into the vendor.

UK authorities are also reportedly mulling an alliance with nine other countries to pool resources to develop 5G equipment, reducing reliance on Chinese technology.

Originally published by
Chris Donkin | June 8, 2020
Mobile World Live

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Gold Level Contributor

The map colour codes the width of London's pavements

To help public sector and other organisations respond to government guidelines, Esri UK has made new map data available for free as part of its Covid-19 response programme.

Spatial analysis by geographic information system (GIS) software and location intelligence specialist Esri UK has revealed that most pavements around the UK (70 per cent) are less than three metres wide, making it difficult for pedestrians to social distance at the specified two metres apart.

As councils adapt their infrastructure to make walking safer for the public, Esri has released the new map data for free to help the public sector and other organisations respond to government guidelines. It claims more than 30 local authorities are using the new pavement map to date and these include Glasgow City Council, Stirling Council and East Dunbartonshire Council.

Disaster response

Esri used measurements from Ordnance Survey to create the map of all pavement widths, which shows that only 30 per cent of Great Britain’s pavements are at least three metres wide, 36 per cent are between two to three metres and 34 per cent are less than two metres wide.

The map is part of Esri UK’s Covid-19 Disaster Response Programme, created to provide organisations with new mapping and analytical capabilities for free, to help manage their response to the pandemic.

Local authorities are using Esri’s mapping and analysis tools to help adjust their service provision, map vulnerable communities, deploy volunteers and communicate with citizens.

“Easy access to current pavement width data will help all councils make faster decisions with greater certainty and ensure walking is as safe as possible”

“The pavement map is designed to help local authorities and related organisations prioritise their efforts, to ensure the safety of the public, as lockdown restrictions are being gradually eased,” said Paul Clarke, head of Esri UK’s government practice. “By giving them an instant view of the situation they’re faced with, the map reduces the time needed to manually measure pavements and not rely on records which may be out of date.

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Originally published
by SmartCitiesWorld news team | June 5, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Bronze Level Contributor

UK looks to Huawei rivals for 5G tech

The UK government held talks with NEC about supplying 5G equipment for mobile networks, as part of a wider push to reduce the nation’s reliance on Chinese technology, Bloomberg reported.

NEC reportedly spoke to UK officials last month, with Samsung Electronics also being considered, Bloomberg wrote, citing a source.

The talks with NEC centered on introducing the Japanese company’s technology into the UK 5G market, which could commence with a trial programme dubbed 5G Create.

Samsung, which does not currently have a 5G infrastructure presence in the UK, will be invited for talks “soon”, added the source.

The UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been handed a £200 million kitty to work on 5G trial programmes to develop mobile infrastructure.

Removing Huawei

The UK’s move to diversify its suppliers comes as it appears to have shifted its position on Huawei, five months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson cleared the Chinese vendor to supply a limited amount of 5G gear in non-sensitive parts of networks.

However, the decision led to opposition within his own party, as well as from the US, which banned the vendor from its networks on security grounds.

It also recently moved to cut off Huawei’s access to components produced overseas using domestic software and technology.

The UK government last month revealed it was reviewing Huawei’s position in light of the tightened US sanctions.

Bloomberg said the government is looking at ways to phase out Huawei in UK networks by 2023, while also exploring a range of alternative suppliers to diversify its supply chain.

In the last week, the UK government and the US Republican Senator Tom Cotton have raised the idea of establishing a coalition with allied nations to develop 5G equipment as an alternative to Chinese technology.

Huawei hit back at the fresh scrutiny, stating there was no evidence it poses a threat to security, while adding it welcomes competition in the market.

Originally published by
Kavit Majithia | June 4, 2020
Mobile World Live

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Silver Level Contributor

A Premier League ball is sprayed with disinfectant at Wolves’ training complex. Photograph: Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/Getty Images

 

Project Restart has shrunk the sport to an elite pursuit within a sterile bubble, throwing up questions no one can answer

Well done, everyone: we did it. They said it wasn’t possible. They said it wasn’t safe. They said it would be tactless to start up one of the world’s most lucrative sports leagues while thousands are dying. They said it wouldn’t be a fair competition. They may still be right about all of this, of course. More on that in a moment.

But for now, football is back. Watch it. Drink it in. Lose yourself in a pure six-week football bender: 92 Premier League fixtures, spread across every day of the week and every conceivable time slot, all of it live on television, much of it free to air. Take that, null-and-voiders; dry your tears, PPG; up yours, Troy Deeney. Football is back and all it took was the spectre of financial catastrophe and the sight of Germany handling things far more adeptly.

The first point to make is that football is hardly striking out alone. Snooker and horse racing are planning to begin behind closed doors on Monday. Professional golf, cricket and rugby league will be back by August. The resumption of the 2019-20 season was probably a foregone conclusion from the moment the prime minister offered his backing this month and heaven knows the government would be grateful of a little popular distraction right now.

Even so many have been surprised by the speed and bombast which the game has managed to coalesce around the terms of its return. Crisis has a marvellous way of focusing minds. Envy, too. Stung not just by the urgency of the balance sheet but the largely frictionless resumption of the Bundesliga and the resolute noises coming out of Spain and Italy, the 20 Premier League clubs managed to set aside their trademark factionalism for just long enough to approve the contours of Project Restart.

Full contact training was unanimously approved on Tuesday. Thursday brought a provisional schedule, beginning on 17 June with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. On Friday came the announcement of a rescheduled FA Cup final on 1 August. It’s fine to be straightforwardly delighted about this. This, after all, is what we’re here for: the spectacle, the moment, the Barclays.

Read more here

 

Originally posted by:
Jonathan Liew
The Guardian
May 30th, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

The electric refuse collection vehicles will start operating in Manchester in the autumn

The city council is aiming to halve its direct carbon emissions by 2025 as part of a wider drive to make Manchester zero carbon by 2038 at the latest in response to the climate change emergency.

Manchester City Council is to replace almost half of its refuse collection vehicles with emission-free electric alternatives.

Biffa, which holds the contract for waste collection and street cleaning in the UK city, has placed an order for 27 new electric refuse collection vehicles (e-RCVs) to replace diesel wagons which have reached the end of their natural lifespans.

It follows an agreement on funding with the council.

Zero carbon action plan

The move is a step towards delivering the council’s zero carbon action plan. It is aiming to halve its direct carbon emissions by 2025 as part of a wider drive to make Manchester zero carbon by 2038 at the latest in response to the climate change emergency.

"As a council we’ve said all along that we will have to do things very differently to realise our ambition to dramatically cut carbon emissions,” said councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods.

"We’re proud, together with Biffa, that our waste collection service is in the forefront of the forward-thinking response to the climate change challenge and we hope it will inspire others to follow suit.

"The only difference to the new service that residents should notice is that the new vehicles are quieter and cleaner."

The new vehicles will arrive and start operating in the autumn. The order is being placed with Blackburn-based manufacturer Electra. It follows an 18-month trial project in which a fully electric Electra vehicle did the same job as its diesel equivalent with no compromise on payload or operation with the benefit of zero tailpipe emissions.

"As a council we’ve said all along that we will have to do things very differently to realise our ambition to dramatically cut carbon emissions”

The switch to electric eRCVs will reportedly save around 900 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, cutting around four per cent of the council’s current direct annual emissions.

The commitment will cost the council £9.79m. This is marginally more than it would have cost for a like-for-like replacement with diesel vehicles but the difference will be largely offset by energy savings and the availability of grants over the new vehicles’ expected 10-year lifespan

"This major investment in new electric bin lorries is a great example of the council’s commitment to playing its full part in tackling climate change and will also contribute to better air quality,” said councillor Angeliki Stogia, executive member for environment. "We’ve seen during the coronavirus lockdown how less pollution and better air quality benefits everyone.

"Climate change is an urgent challenge which we are getting on with addressing."

The council and Biffa were supported and advised on the purchase by the Energy Saving Trust. The overall cost of the vehicles is being reduced through government plug-in grants designed to encourage a switch to electric vehicles.

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld news team | June 3, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Bronze Level Contributor

U.K. finance minister Rishi Sunak talks with a seller at Tachbrook Market in Pimlico, London HM Treasury

 

Britain took its biggest step yet out of lockdown on Monday with outdoor markets and car showrooms back open and primary schools bringing children back in.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak visited a London street market and enjoyed a falafel symbolic of the new freedoms while telling traders business would pick up soon.

England follows the U.S. where every state has taken steps to reopen their economies.

The steps are England’s most significant towards ending the lockdown which has been in place since March 23.

“From today, outdoor markets selling flowers, books, crafts, and fashion can start trading again,” Sunak said, “the next steps will be to reopen nonessential retail in mid-June, and then hospitality and leisure in early July, so these sectors can start trading once again.”

Nonessential retail outlets are expected to open on June 15.

Around half of the children eligible to head back to school on Monday would stay home over safety concerns, the National Foundation for Educational Research estimates. This would mean one million children from four to 10 years old returning for the first time since March.

Meanwhile friends and families across England enjoyed the new easing of social restrictions, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, permitting barbecues and garden parties of up to six socially distanced people.

Originally published by
Archie Mitchell | June 1, 2020
MarketWatch

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