During this dynamic and changing time, PICTFOR has continued to operate as a forum for discussion between Parliamentarians, industry, academics and other stakeholders on strategic issues facing the tech sector. We’re grateful for your continued interest and support.
As the largest and most active APPG, we have been finding innovative ways to continue to provide a forum for discussion on pressing topics, hosting online events, publishing reports and supporting our community.
Upcoming Event Update
Time/Date: 11:00am, Monday 20 July 2020
We are delighted to announce the date of our Connectivity panel event, with Civil Society and Lords DCMS Minister, Baroness Barran MBE. Following the CEO Forum in June on Investment; this event will focus on connectivity, including the social, economic and geographical importance of keeping the UK connected and ensuring no place, no community and no person is left behind.
The virtual panel event will be chaired by PICTFOR Co-Chair Darren Jones MP and Baroness Barran will be joined by Liz Williams MBE, CEO of FutureDotNow and Dr. Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc (other speakers tbc) at 11am on Monday 20th July 2020. Please join us for this event and RSVP here.
Thank You and Opportunities to Watch Again
Thank you to all the officers, Parliamentarians, industry members and stakeholders who have played an active role in PICTFOR’s activities through the recent months.
- Having put out a call for input from industry stakeholders on how the tech industry can support SMEs, Parliament, Government and the Nation on COVID-19 we published a COVID-19 Stakeholder Input Report, which was shared with Parliamentarians, Government, No. 10 and was covered in national media. Thank you to everyone who took part in the report and everyone who joined the online event we held on this issue in April. The event was chaired by Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG and we were delighted to have contributions from Digital and Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage MP, Shadow Science, Research and Digital Minister, Chi Onwurah and Digital and Technology leader at Zoom, Magnus Falke, numerous Parliamentarians and industry representatives. If you missed this event, you can catch up here.
- In June, we held an online CEO Forum discussion. We were joined for an extended keynote address and discussion about digital infrastructure and the digital recovery following COVID-19, by Minister for Digital and Broadband, and former Co-Chair of PICTFOR, Matt Warman MP. The event was chaired by PICTFOR Industry Chair Simon Blagden CBE with attendance by multiple Parliamentarians and corporate level industry members. Attendees were delighted to have over an hour to ask questions and share priorities with the Minister who reminded PICTFOR members that his door is always open. You can catch up on this event here.
- PICTFOR is proud of its dynamic approach to scheduling events and discussions, getting the most from our programme by aligning events with the legislative and policy agenda and mirroring our officers’ and members’ priorities. With this in mind, we will be waiting until later in the year to hold our Online Harms event to give us a better chance of coinciding with the Online Harms Bill, and therefore having a more productive and impactful discussion. We are therefore delighted to announce the scheduling of our Connectivity panel event, with Civil Society and Lords DCMS Minister, Baroness Barran MBE. This event is scheduled as a sister event to May’s CEO Forum; paralleling the important discussions around connectivity, but focusing on the social, economic and geographical effects of keeping the UK connected and ensuring no place, no community and no person is left behind. Further details are included above.
- We’re currently planning the details of our other upcoming events through the year and would welcome your input and feedback. For more information on our events, to discuss membership or any of the initiatives detailed in this newsletter, email the secretariat at email@example.com.
Updates from Industry Members and Stakeholders
To further enrich and diversity the perspectives represented during our discussion forums, we are always looking to increase the diversity and reach across the internet, communications and technology sectors with new industry, stakeholder, start-up and academic members. We are delighted to have over 31 actively involved industry and stakeholder members so far this year. PICTFOR industry members have all been busy since our last update, and since our COVID-19 Stakeholder Input Report. Please see below for updates from some of our industry members, on developments and activities in relation to their support for their teams, business, Parliament, Government and the nation as we move through this phase of the ‘new normal’. These members have asked the secretariat to share these updates with officers and other Parliamentarians who are actively involved in PICTFOR:
- “We have announced a three-year recruitment and training programmeto provide up to 10,000 people with jobs upgrading the UK’s digital infrastructure to full fibre. The recruitment programme will include the identification and training of thousands of unemployed UK residents as well as new job opportunities for qualified and experienced construction and telecoms workers. Jobs will be created within CityFibre’s growing pool of network construction partners delivering the up to £4bn rollout of full fibre infrastructure to over 100 towns and cities.”
- “Our network build continues at pace, brining transformational full fibre infrastructure to more and more homes and businesses. In the last few months we have announced the start of construction in Leicester, Portsmouth, Doncasterand Inverness.”
- “We have also been supporting the public sector during the crisis through connecting NHS sites and care homes. This month we connected Milton Keynes University Hospital with speeds of five gigabits per second, giving 100+ departments and 5,500 staff the infrastructure and connectivity they need to enjoy efficient and seamless access to systems and hospital-wide Wi-Fi. Crucially, the platform will also make it possible for the hospital to adopt new digital tools that can transform services for all.”
- “CyLon continued in its mission to support the creation and growth of innovative cyber security technologies by transitioning to run three fully remote programmes for security start-ups and entrepreneurs.”
- “This included the sixth cohort of their ‘HutZero’ pre-accelerator, a programme run in partnership with DCMS and CSIT which drives the creation of cyber security start-ups by supporting aspiring UK entrepreneurs from academia and industry to take their first steps on their start-up journey. The latest programme is supporting 28 fantastic participants, ranging from an astrophysicist to a CISO.”
- “Helping one million UK SMBs to be Open for Business: Last week we launched our new initiative Open for Business that will provide direct support to a million small businesses across the UK by 2021 and has been designed with a specific focus on helping businesses who rely on in-person interaction – such as pubs, restaurants, shops and hairdressers. The package includes 10,000 hours of free 1:1 support and mentoring; support for small businesses to update their online profiles to help them be found by customers; £25 million in advertising credits for UK businesses, government agencies and NGOs; and free, live, 60-minute webinars to help local businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’. If you would like to host a webinar with small businesses and organisations in your constituency, or for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
- “Keeping children safe online: We are delivering dozens of free virtual Be Internet Legends assemblies at primary schools across the UK each month with Parent Zone, and have launched a new Be Internet Legends parents For more information, or to attend a virtual assembly please contact email@example.com. We have also joined with industry partners to launch ‘Project Protect’ – to step up our fight against online child sexual abuse. Through this work we are sharing cutting edge technologies and funding research to tackle this terrible crime.”
- “Supporting local newspapers: To support local news throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Google News Initiative launched a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for small and medium-sized organisations producing original news content for local communities. In the UK, the Fund has provided £500,000 of emergency relief to 100 local newsrooms so that they can continue their vital reporting. This is part of Google’s broader series of measures for news publishers in the UK to ensure high-quality journalism can continue when it is most needed.
- Jisc’s edtech ‘Step Up’ business initiative continues to enable start up edtechs support the university sector with new innovative products. In collaboration with Emerge, Jisc has published three key reports to help SMEs and Universities navigate challenges, including in employability and assessment and dealing with Covid-19, that can be found here. Jisc delivered an edtech online summit entitled ‘How to deliver your 2030 tech vision in six months’ to help SMEs support senior leaders in Higher Education, to accelerate digital strategies in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
- Jisc has been working with DfE and the Scottish Government to push for cheaper connectivity targeted at disadvantaged students through a combination of zero rating education websites and affordable mobile tariffs building on thisjoint letter from HE sector organisations, to DCMS. Some telecommunications companies in Scotland are positively engaged in these discussions.
- Jisc has a dedicated Coronavirus response webpage providing practical advice, guidance and tools as well as access to online training and community events in the areas most affected by Covid-19.
- Echo by LloydsPharmacy has invested in new facilities to enable it to meet increased demand for online prescriptions with over 200,000 patients now accessing their regular NHS medicines via Echo’s website and app. The service enables patients to conveniently manage their repeat prescriptions and, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is invaluable to some people who are in self-isolation or being shielded due to them being considered the most vulnerable.
- LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor has expanded its sexual health testing services nationwide, and continues to provide services to Sexual Health London (SHL), London’s sexual health e-service that provides free and easy access to sexual health testing via the internet and local venues. The service is a collaboration between Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor and Preventx, and is available to people aged 16 and over who are residents in most London boroughs. This helps people to access STI testing when other routes may not be available due to Covid-19 restrictions.
- LloydsPharmacy and Deliveroo have recently announced a new partnership to deliver a selected range of more than 50 medical essentials from 16 LloydsPharmacy stores across the UK. Customers will be able to order over the counter medicines online for delivery in as little as 30 minutes, offering a new and convenient way to access basic medicines for the treatment of common ailments.
- “Nominet was proud to partner with the Samaritans to launch a new self-help app in May, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. The launch of the app was brought forward in the hope that it will prove a valuable tool for those observing social distancing, facing prolonged isolation or lacking the privacy to make a call to the Samaritans helpline. Further info can be found here.”
- Royal Voluntary Service Partners With SAP Concur Solutions to Support NHS Volunteer Responders During COVID-19 Crisis
- “Volunteers have been drafted to ease the burden on the National Health Service by providing vital non-medical care services to those self-isolating due to Covid-19 across the UK. To better enable the thousands of NHS Volunteer Responders, Royal Voluntary Service has partnered with SAP Concur solutions to automate expense claims, enabling volunteers to be reimbursed quickly and efficiently during this time.”
- “SAP has partnered with Global Citizen, the world’s largest movement of action takers and impact makers dedicated to ending extreme poverty by 2030. The Unite for Our Future campaign calls on citizens, business, government, and the social sector to tackle the enormous injustices the world is facing due to COVID-19 and racial unrest. SAP has pledged its financial support alongside other global corporations to end COVID-19 for all, including support for the development and equitable distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines.”
- “We’ve opened our analytics and feedback mechanisms with some prepackaged elements focused on employee health and well-being (plus rolling this out for remote learners and healthcare workers and as a COVID risk/diagnosis and geolocation risk management solution for any health authority that needs it). Over 7,600 companies around the world used the SAP solution to help employees manage COVID-19 stress.”
“Millions of customers across the UK rely on Sky in their daily lives, and though the Covid-19 pandemic more so than ever before. As well as maintaining our networks and services in order to keep our customers connected, informed and entertained, we have:
- Pledged to support our vulnerable customers, and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from Covid-19 through signing up to a set of cross-industry commitments, not least a promise to work with customers who might find it difficult to pay their bill to ensure they are treated fairly and supported appropriately.”
- “Responded positively and expeditiously to a number of Government requests including in assisting the NHS with connectivity requirements; free data, texts and calls for NHS staff; upgrades to broadband speeds for clinicians and care homes; and zero-rating a number of websites to make sure our customers continue to have access to a whole range of vital services during this time.”
- “Given back to the communities we live and work in including our CEO donating his salary in full to Covid-19 related charities for a minimum of 9 months; separate and substantial monetary donations to support creative industry workers and freelancers affected by Covid-19, and DCMS backed DevicesDotNow campaign; the delivery of 15,000+ care and food packages to vulnerable people across the country by Sky engineers, extra volunteering days for all Sky staff and a £2.5 million fund for tv advertising for SMEs.”
- “techUK mobilised quickly to support the frontline fight against COVID-19, working closely with Government and our members. In the initial response phase of the crisis we facilitated over hundreds of offers of support to the NHS and Government, ensuring those best place to help were connected with those most in need, whilst also ensuring continued digital connectivity and resilience amidst unprecedent demand. Among these offers of support are the donation of digital devices to key workers and vulnerable people, hundreds of thousands of meals, and new online portals to help the efficient distribution of PPE.”
- “Following the rapid launch of our COVID bulletins and COVID-support hubwe have been working with members and the wider tech sector to help them adapt to the ‘New Normal’ and manage the business impact of COVID-19, sharing the latest Government guidance and feeding back industry insights so that existing financial support reflected industry need, and additional sector-specific measures could be drawn up.”
- “We now look forward to the economic recovery. As one of the fastest growing parts of the economy the tech sector should be at the vanguard of the recovery, particularly as businesses continue to digitise. techUK continues to work with members and Government to think about consider how we can incentivise and ensure an inclusive recovery that both capitalises on the momentum of greater digital use to increase productivity and boost growth, and helps end digital exclusion.”
- “In March we introduced a COVID19 Hub on TikTok to promote factual information to UK citizens.”
- “We donated £5M to the Royal College of Nursing which was the largest private sector donation during the pandemic.”
- “We introduced several new policies including medical misinformation to minimise the prevalence of misinformation and conspiracy theories from appearing on TikTok.”
Internet Association are pleased to share their White Paper detailing the key digital provisions that we believe should be part of any UK-U.S. trade agreement.
The internet is a vital part of both the UK and U.S. economies. IA believes that a ‘best-in-class’ digital chapter has the potential to boost the benefits of both digital economies.
The White Paper shows the close and growing digital trade relationship between the U.S. and the UK and what is at stake in the negotiations. The U.S. now exports $48.8 trillion (£39 trillion) in digital services to the UK, an increase of 52 percent from 2006 to 2018. Similarly, the UK now exports $34.8 trillion (£27.8 trillion) to the U.S., an increase of 56 percent from 2006 to 2017.
Internet companies propose that any future UK-U.S.free trade agreement include the following provisions:
1. The free flow of information across borders and protecting privacy.
2. Nondiscriminatory treatment of digital services.
3. Intermediary liability protections.
4. Innovation oriented copyright.
5. Customs and trade facilitation for small e-commerce sellers.
6. Prohibition on disclosure of encryption, source code, or digital customs duties.
Further detail is set out in the White Paper.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), the bicameral body that bridges research and policy, produces peer-reviewed briefings which are designed to make scientific research accessible to the UK Parliament. POST have recently published a note on Cloud Computing, with input from numerous PICTFOR industry members and other organisations. The document describes the different types of cloud computing before outlining issues relating to security, regulation, energy use and barriers to the adoption of this technology. POST have asked PICTFOR to share this with all Officers, Parliamentarians who are actively involved in the APPG, industry members and stakeholders through this newsletter and please don’t hesitate to contact POST should you have any further questions on their report.
In line with APPG financial reporting guidelines, you can find the most recent financial accounts on our website here along with minutes regarding related meetings.
Thank you and best wishes
Thanks to all who have played an active role in PICTFOR through the past few months. We have many more discussion forums planned for the remainder of the year and look forward to hearing your views during these sessions.
Please note: This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All- Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this report are those of the group.