Archive for the 'News and politics' Category

IT businesses rip off UK Government (and therefore UK taxpayers)

In response to a recent high profile news story, I’m handing the blog over for a guest post from Michael Solomon, Founder of Profit Through Ethics, an organisation which is creating a new commerce where relationships between individuals and businesses are founded upon shared values and shared ethics.

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News that the UK government had been spending up to £3,500 per bog standard PC – i.e. as much as 10 times the commercial rate for equipment – made the headlines at the end of July.

British Ten Pound Notes going down DrainA damning report by a committee of MPs found government departments have been ripped off by a "cartel" of big IT firms and implored civil servants to improve their knowledge of IT before negotiating contracts.

There was no naming of names but one assumes it is largely just the Big Boys that can persuade the UK’s largest procurer to choose them to deliver whatever IT ‘solutions’ may be required, on the basis that they are big and expert.

However, given that corporate responsibility information is very prominently published on the websites of these Big Boys, and given that they all make very clear statements about being responsible and being good corporate citizens, one can only assume that none of them were part of the cartel ripping off the UK government and therefore the UK taxpayer.

Well, if I was as naïve and innocent as your average four year old, this may have been a realistic conclusion.

However, I have spent the best part of ten years working in business responsibility. I am hardly innocent. I have seen too many businesses talk about cast iron commitments to ethical ideals and deeply held convictions to values-driven behaviours while doing the very opposite.

But this is not to suggest I am the only cynic. No expertise or qualifications are required to understand that what your average bank, telecoms provider, oil company or utility firm tell you in their TV, magazine or billboard ads is at odds with reality.

Businesses need a good reputation. They need ‘licence to operate’. For the biggest businesses, this is increasingly essential. Yet paradoxically, the pursuit of good reputation has seen business end up less trusted, not more. Too many, for too long, have declared themselves to be ‘good corporate citizens’ or ‘part of the solution’ without adequate justification or proof. In hiding or disguising their negative impacts, overplaying the positives or quietly pursuing practices that are unethical or unjustifiable, businesses further erode public trust.

Tragically, whether businesses are promising value for money, sound social and environmental credentials, or that they will treat us decently and fairly if we are generous enough to give them our custom, more often that not we make the assumption that we are being lied to.

But we do not have to suffer this dysfunction. A new commerce is possible. One where relationships between individuals and businesses are founded upon shared values and ethics.

I know that there are thousands of businesses worldwide, big and small, which have plenty to shout about. Many, however, are struggling to get their voices heard over large scale corporate green wash campaigns and glossy Corporate Social Responsibility reports.

Profit Through Ethics has been created to provide a solution. Profit Through Ethics is developing an identification mark for responsible businesses that will launch in September 2012. It is a collaborative project and we invite any individual and any organisation to join.

By making it possible for anyone to identify and support companies that are open, honest, trustworthy and fair, people power will drive responsibility in business.

If your business – no matter how small – claims to be social, environmental or ethical, and it is happy to prove it (through a useful, simple, flexible, business-friendly process), then it can use this proof as a source of real competitive advantage and should join the Profit Through Ethics project.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more:Michael Soloman

Michael Solomon

Profit Through Ethics

email: michael@ProfitThroughEthics.com
web: www.ProfitThroughEthics.com
follow: www.twitter.com/ProfitThruEthic
like: www.facebook.com/ProfitThroughEthics

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Birmingham South Police – Tweet-a-thon 2

Birmingham South Police Tweet-a-thon 2 PosterIt was in January that I wrote a blog post entitled “It’s All About Communication” that described how my local Police force, Birmingham South Police had been hugely successful in using micro-blogging site Twitter to engage with the local community with the goal of educating on what West Midlands Police were doing to keep the streets safe, and to engage with members of the public who wanted to know more about many aspects of modern Policing.

As a result of the impact of that blog post, I was approached by the Superintendent Tim Godwin and the Community Partnership Team at Birmingham South Police to see if I could help them understand the further opportunities Social Networking can offer the Police for building relationships in the local community.

Since then I’ve been thrilled to be able to work with Birmingham South Police (BSP) as I see it as a real opportunity to help implement positive changes in my local area of Weoley Castle – the area I was raised in, started-up and ran a business in, and still live in today.

Like most, the only interaction I’ve really had with the Police in the past was when something negative had happened to me – it’s the nature of the Police’s work that you’re not going to call them for assistance when everything is alright! But since I’ve been involved with BPS, it’s been a huge eye opener for me to see the work that they do – and the genuine success stories they’ve experienced in effectively partnering with the local community to tackle crime.

But as I spoke about in my original blog post – like many organisations and businesses in the service industry, it’s not enough that the Police do a good job – for people to understand and “feel” happier they need to communicate what they are doing that benefits their “customers”, and why.

Screenshot of Birmingham South Police Twitter feedWhich is why I think Birmingham South Police holding a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon for the second time (or, as it’s being calling – “T2”) is important to raise awareness of the good work that they do to keep people safe and to lower crime rates.

From 7am tomorrow, Thursday 7th July, the Birmingham South Police Twitter feed will be regularly updated in real-time with details the hugely wide ranging jobs Police Officers and teams undertake during a day and night. Trust me when I say it’s a real eye opener – and I’ll bet that like me, you didn’t realise half of the work that the Police do that takes place in a typical day!

You don’t need to be signed-up to Twitter to view the Tweet-a-thon – just visit http://twitter.com/#!/bhamsouthpolice or visit the Birmingham South Police Facebook page for more details.

If you are signed up to Twitter, then you can follow all the action by following Birmingham South Police or using the Twitter Hash-Tag #BST2.

As for me, I’ll be seeing the work the Police do in Birmingham South up close – I’ll be Tweeting from my own twitter account tomorrow live between 3pm and 5pm as I join Sergeant Tim Evans in one of the Birmingham South Police Cars attending call out’s in the area. I hope you can join me on Twitter to see how I fare, and Birmingham South Police to watch their “day in the life of” un-fold!Smile

 

Richard Tubb is an IT Business Consultant who works with ambitious IT companies who want to grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the elected chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Peddle a Poppy Challenge

Whilst attending the Phoenix Networking Lunch in Birmingham yesterday I met Di Lamb of the Royal Air Force Aero medical Evacuation Cell. Di is one of the people who has the tough job of flying from Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham to some of the troubled places you regularly see on the news – Afghanistan for instance – and help care for and bring home injured Armed Forces personnel.

Di is organising an event tomorrow (Saturday 31st October) in Birmingham called “Peddle a Poppy” to help raise funds for The Royal British Legion, so I promised Di I would help promote the event to the Geek Community. 🙂

Full details below – if you aren’t able to attend, why not make a donation at www.bmycharity.com/peddleapoppy – otherwise, get on your bike and take the Peddle a Poppy Challenge!

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Peddle a Poppy Challenge

The poppy is perhaps the most poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by servicemen and women who have fought in wars both recent and long past, and a Brigadier and his medical team will cycle across Birmingham this weekend to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

The cycle ride on 31 October, starting at Birmingham International Airport, will etch an outline of a Poppy around Birmingham and the journey taken by patients to each of the city’s main hospitals at which they might receive care for their injuries, finishing at Selly Oak Hospital.

The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) team based at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham will be led by RCDM Commandant, Brigadier Christopher Parker and will comprise many of the departments instrumental in repatriating casualties from Afghanistan and will be augmented by members of Defence Supply Chain Operations and Movements based at Andover and 2 Group Air Operations based at RAF Brize Norton. Brigadier Parker said: “The Royal British Legion does a tremendous job for service personnel past and present, and this fund-raising cycle ride struck us as being a novel way of supporting the organisation at a time of year when we remember those who have given so much for the nation.”

Local businesses have also given their support by donating very generous gifts to be raffled at a social function that evening. Among others, Fletchers Autostore in Birmingham donated a mountain bike and The Old School Bed and Breakfast in the Cotswolds donated a luxury weekend for two including a spa package and dinner at a local restaurant.

This event will also serve to thank University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust staff, military personnel and Birmingham Emergency Services for the endless care they so diligently provide in support of casualties and their families at such a difficult time.

The aim of the event is to boost funds for the valuable work carried out by the Royal British Legion in support of Armed Forces personnel and their families. You can help us to remember those that have given so much by making a poppy pledge online at: www.bmycharity.com/peddleapoppy

It is quick, secure and attracts an additional 28% tax relief for UK taxpayers.

For further information, please contact Squadron Leader Di Lamb on 0121 627 8386

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Google Demolishes Church

Noted DataCenter p0rn addict aficionado Andy Parkes drew my attention to the above sensational headline published on the Green Data Centre blog yesterday, giving details of a Church being demolished to make way for a new Google Data Center in Iowa.

Hold on! What about Google’s motto – "Do No Evil". Doesn’t wrestling The Almighty in his own backyard and then razing his house in an act of spite count as evil?

Well thankfully Rich Miller dug a little deeper to find the actual facts of the story.

"The church actually sold the property years ago to a local developer, who in turn sold to the local economic development corporation – all before Google was in the picture".

Phew!

What with the near End of the World happening last week, and the "if it’s true, it must be one of the signs of the Apocalypse" fact of my team Aston Villa being in the top six of the Premiership, I was beginning to worry that Darth Google smashing Churches beneath it’s Imperial boot may have just prompted the Almighty to press CTRL-ALT-DEL on us all. 😉

Did the Earth move for you Dear?

I woke up suddenly around 0100 last night to the strangest sensation – the bedroom felt as though it was shaking. I sat up in bed to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, but the wardrobe doors rattling loudly confirmed my suspicions… the end of the world was happening!

The GG slept soundly next to me, despite the room shaking around her. I called her name, gently at first, then loudly whilst trying to wake her – still she slept on. Then the room shaking stopped, the end of the world was seemingly postponed, and soon after I drifted back to sleep –  the GG undisturbed in the slightest by the whole event.

We woke this morning to find that the biggest Earthquake to hit the UK in almost 25 years shook homes across large parts of England last night, and the GG’s response to not waking up during this seeming Ragnarok – "It’s nothing compared to your usual snoring".

<Sigh>

Of course, all our client’s IT systems are protected by UPS back-up’s so not one server suffered any downtime during the power outages that occurred as a result of the Earthquake. So there you have it – Netlink IT Managed Services, protecting your critical systems from everything from user error to natural disasters. 😉

Fat German Rabbits to Feed Poor

Now I’m always teasing the GG about her pet Rabbit getting too porky, but really, what I’ve just read does put that debate into context.

A German man is breeding Rabbits the size of… Dogs.

If that story itself weren’t enough – he’s now been approached by the North Korean government to setup farms breeding Giant Rabbit to help feed the poor in the country.

I for one welcome our new Giant Rabbit overlords.

Edwards No 8 Burns Down

Well it’s not often I go to a nightclub which is so hot!

My brother and I arrived home in the early hours of this morning after going out to celebrate a friends birthday, with bad throats, smelling of smoke and both having lost our coats.

A standard night out, you might say! Except it was because we were partying at Edwards No. 8, one of the oldest nightclubs in Birmingham, which burnt to the ground overnight!

BBC News covers the story here.

The fire alarms went off around 0130, we were herded outside (ironically we left by walking past the Gents Toilets, where the fire started) where we saw from the amount of smoke that was billowing from the building that this wasn’t a drill.

Fire Engine after Fire Engine then arrived, and they are apparantly still trying to deal with the fire this morning. Nobody was seriously hurt although a number of people were suffering from smoke inhalation.

My friends and I have been visiting Edwards No. 8 since we were teenagers. I guess we can say we were there to it’s very end!

Anyway, I’m off to recover. The smoke seems to have given me a pounding headache, dry throat, and a feeling of nausea. Yes, that’ll be the smoke…

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