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Without Some Changes and Awareness, New Technology Could Lead to a Bleak Future

The September edition of Business Technology carried a number of stories of current concern in the world of technology and society in general and business in particular.

One interesting aspect was that all the issues have been foreshadowed in MBF during the past few months. That helps to prove that some issues need radical and urgent addressing by everyone from Government to civil servants to businesses themselves.

E-government Needs Accelerating

In the summer, cabinet office minister Francis Maude said that ‘central government must become a digital organisation’. The slogan ‘digital by default’ sounds promising.

In an age when customers increasingly demand digital services of the highest standard, government must keep up. A new generation of faster mobile broadband is but one step. Things like ePetitions and crowd sourcing are also steps in the right direction.

Auctioning Off the Spectrum: Cash Bonanza for Government Coffers, 29 August 2012
Even the Government Jumps on Crowd Bandwagon, 11 April 2012
You’re Never Alone With a Phone, 1 November 2011

Keeping Secrets

It seems that the more time goes on, the more data breaches clog things up and discredit the whole process and entire companies and organisations. From banks to local authorities, blunders are becoming commonplace to such an extent that they are taken for granted, yet have devastating consequences.

Councils in Islington, Brighton & Hove, Dumfries & Galloway and Midlothian have had to apologise for compromising data, sending secure data to unauthorised people or losing valuable data. And all in the past six months or so.

The breakdown failures of Natwest were of such a scale that the outrage caused by them was dwarfed only by other banking scandals.

Codes for data handling are being tightened, with people getting better training and awareness of responsibilities and legal obligations. No code of conduct, however, can legislate for the idiocies that people do like unofficially taking data home and/or leaving it in a public place.

Another Week, Another Systems Malfunction, 3 July 2012
Technology Is Not the Only Weapon on New Business Battlefields, 29 February 2012
Cyberspace Is the Real Battlefield, 18 October 2011
Cyber-Crime High on People’s Fear Lists, 8 September 2011

Hackers, Malware and Viruses

James Lyne is director of technology strategy at Sophos Labs and he told Business Technology that they see over 200,000 new pieces of malicious code ever day. Every few seconds they find ‘newly infected websites distributing malware’.

Most of these are innocent businesses that have been hacked ‘and are now part of the problem’. It is a major, major headache for everybody who uses the internet.

Cybercriminals are developing ever smarter ways of entry and distribution through other peoples’ systems and putting traditional ways of securing devices and data under intolerable pressure.

Information is not only power, it is the key to wealth today, and it has value beyond measure. Police authorities and government are aware and devoting more and more resources to cyber crime combatting in a war that many people feel they are losing.

People can still take better sensible precautions all round and put in place procedures that are adhered to by all staff, but again, human ingenuity being what it is, they have to stay one step ahead of the baddies, at least.

E-bombs Are Either Really Big Threat Or Just Political Hype, 27 June 2012
Scams Are Out to Get You, Online and Off, 21 May 2012
Human Uniqueness Must Be Key to Security, 25 April 2012
Just How Valuable Is Your Web Data? 14 December 2011
11 Worst Computer Viruses, Worms and Trojans (So Far), 21 November 2011

Digital Inclusiveness

Given that the internet contributes more to our GDP than any other G20 nation and is expected to grow at 11% per year to be worth £221bn by 2016, we are in danger of leaving behind some sections of society.

Keeping up to date is a problem for small and medium sized businesses. Getting online in a way that is meaningful is beyond some older people, although it is a myth that all older people are excluded from the digital world.

One facet of the digital age is that however well designed systems are to make applying, renewing, paying, ordering, cancelling and searching as easy as possible, people will often do the unexpected.

Michael Cross reported in Business Technology an experience of Carolyn Williams head of Electronic Vehicle Licensing at the DVLA. At the point in the online driving licence application when it asks if it can import the applicant’s passport photo onto the driving licence. Thousands cancel at that point.

It turns out that most are 17 year olds after their first driving licence, but unwilling to have their passport photos used, as they may be of them ‘as a spotty 13-year old on a card that they would use to get them into nightclubs’.

The ‘Net Generation’ v ‘Silver Surfers’ Myth, 16 May 2012
Can the Internet Ever Be Really for Everybody? 8 May 2012
Employment and Technology, 8 February 2012

Schools Behind the Times

More than ever, tomorrow’s generation of world leaders, currently in their schools, need to be as well prepared as possible for their world of work. Most commentators reckon our schools are 20 years behind where they should be in ICT and computer programming teaching.

Youngsters are heavy users of technology but are not being equipped by and large to understand, design and build the technology we’ll need in the future.

Computer science and engineering need to be high priorities in schools, but finding adult teachers able to deliver is another tall order.

Schools Not Always in Front Line of Technology Teaching, 4 July 2012
Computer Education in Schools Needs Upgrading, 12 December 2011
Education and New Technology, 1 February 2012
Unblocking the Superhighway, Our Economic Artery, 1 August 2012
Cyber Schools and Universities of Tomorrow, 30 August 2011

Image: Demokraatti