Chris is Chair of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) a London 2012 legacy project based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Chris is Chair of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) a London 2012 legacy project based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The GDI Hub is partnered with UCL to promote collaboration between government, academics, entrepreneurs, local communities and NGOs to promote accessibility and inclusion and remove barriers faced by disabled people.
Today, (4th December) the day after the UN International Day of Disabled People, the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, and the new Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton MP, joined GDI Hub at an event in Parliament to launch the Enable Makeathon 2.0. Teams from around the world will come to London to design new disability innovation products and services. The international, collaborative nature of the Makeathon makes it a unique social movement, events are taking place simultaneously in Bangalore and London. This intensive innovation programme will put ideas into action in just 90 days. Co-creation, expert guidance and collaboration will push ideas through the development, refinement and testing phases. The best will then be incubated and the winners given the opportunity to scale up their ideas. The co-creation camp begins on Wednesday 6th December.
Speaking at the launch Chris noted that “inclusion is the parent of innovation” and thanked the GDI Hub team and everyone for working so hard on this and other initiatives.
Tarun Sarwal, Innovation Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross said:
“The first Enable Makeathon held in Bengaluru, India last year led to the establishment of some great new products which Red Cross can now test in the field, helping to meet real need in conflict and post conflict situations. This year we are delighted that the GDI Hub team, with Richard Frost, are going to be running Enable Makeathon 2 in London.’
We are in the midst of a revolution, an industrial revolution, mark 4, with the potential to make the original one appear a mere murmur by comparison. And there is plenty of fear abounding, the bots are coming and our jobs are going, what if it all goes wrong? What if artificial intelligence mean the machines turn on us and Arnie’s Terminator wants so much more than our bike, boots and jacket?
Well, that’s one view and consideration of consequences I would say is always sage. However, with the right level of caveat and caution I suggest that we can step forward with optimism and evidence based positivity.
In this spirit, today I have the pleasure of publishing a report into the opportunity for citizen and state, business and Whitehall, from what is known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), one of the technologies that has arrived with the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Entitled, Distributed Ledger Technologies for Public Good_leadership collaboration and innovation, the report seeks to set out key areas across the public sector where DLT could enable increased safety and security, transparency, traceability and trust, reduce cost and increase service for the citizen.
So what, you may ask (as I did not so long ago), is DLT?
DLTs are typically (but not exclusively) enabled by blockchains. A block is a set of data records, as in a database or spreadsheet, which is cryptographically sealed and linked to the previous block. The sequence of linked blocks (the blockchain) cannot be altered without breaking the chain. Consequently, an unbroken blockchain promotes trust and provides extremely strong evidence that the data has not been altered or tampered with. DLT then provides all parties with the correct rights or permissions and automatically enables all to have a local copy of the register or database.
This means that DLT is good for managing unique identifiers that have to be used consistently across multiple systems and organisations. It ensures data integrity and avoids data fragmentation, allowing far greater integration of new and existing systems and improved organisational effectiveness.
Having worked with experts in the field, in the preparation of this report, I believe that DLT can play a valuable part in enhancing the delivery of government services to the citizens of the UK, in securing the UK’s competitive position as a global leader in technology-based innovation and in protecting the security of government and citizens’ data at a time when both are increasingly under threat. Without claiming any silver bullet status for DLT, it would certainly seem worth investigating some more.
So, where and how can DLT help?
Well, for example, if HM passport office could enable a DLT solution, bye bye fake documents, identity tricksters and the like and Hello to a potential £500M gain for the UK. As any prophet has to say to the sceptic, “time will tell”, but certainly worth further investigation;
In the NHS, currently an estimated 25,000 days are lost, or spent, on doctor identity and pre-employment checks. Vital, of course, but if done via DLT, imagine those 25,000 days, currently a cost, being converted into care.
Some more food for thought, with a DLT solution enabling traceability and transparency in the food supply chain, when it comes to horse in the lasagne, we could say with confidence, nay more;
Cybercrime now accounts for 50% of UK crime. Let’s embark upon our own investigations to establish whether DLT can become our best detective and crime prevention officer.
Just some examples. The report is in no sense claiming that these examples are the best use cases for DLT but that they (and others) are worth further investigation, experimentation and discovery.
The purpose of this report is pretty simple, to re-energise and refocus UK government attention on DLT’s potential so that we can accelerate our own digital maturity, enhance the productive capacity of our businesses and benefit our citizens.
This report is a call to action for all those with the interests of the UK at heart to join in that collaborative effort and the practical steps proposed so that the benefits of DLT can serve as a common good for UK businesses and citizens.
While the report’s focus is on one technology, or more correctly group of technologies, I am fully aware that others – 5G, Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and even Nanotechnology – are all developing as fast and may indeed compete for future time and investment. The report makes the case that DLT has the potential to enable the better exploitation of those technologies, and also as a means of overcoming some of the issues associated with the existence in government as well as in many commercial entities of “legacy” systems developed piecemeal and over time using different software formats and access systems.
I call on Government to seize this moment. The great news is this is not about money but leadership, collaboration and connection, experimentation, empowerment and, crucially, implementation to enable Britain to be at the forefront and realize all the benefits of the Fourth industrial revolution for us all. Carpe DLT should certainly be part of this.
Today (15th November 2017) Chris asked the Government what cross-Whitehall work they are undertaking to maximize opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution; particularly in terms of digital skills, artificial intelligence, machine learning and distributed ledger technology.
The question was intentionally broad and included a range of technologies and priorities as Chris hoped to highlight that the Government must grasp the ‘everythingness’ of this new technology.
As Chris wrote in Politics Home: “the 4IR is already well underway and it will make the first industrial revolution sound a mild murmur by comparison… There is no separate world of digital. It won’t be possible to focus on, for example, health, education or defence and leave others to “do the digital”. Crucially, the 4IR is inevitable, not optional and whilst I welcome the inclusion of digital in DCMS I seek reassurance that the scale of the challenge and the necessity for a cross-governmental approach is understood and acted upon.
The technology may be complex – who really knows what goes on inside the black box at Deep Mind or appreciates the finer details of the cryptograph hash function of Bitcoin. But this is not about the tech per se it is about the potential, the solutions which can be realized and what will be required from Government, from all of us, for such realization to become reality.”
Second reading of Chris’s Private Members Bill to prohibit unpaid work experience: text of debate, 27th October 2017, House of Lords
An overwhelming majority of the British public support Chris’s private members bill which would introduce a legal ban on unpaid internships lasting four weeks or more. New polling data, released by the Social Mobility Commission today (Monday 23rd October), has found that 72 per cent of the public back a change in the law – with 42 per cent ‘strongly supporting’ a ban.
The YouGov polling of nearly 5,000 people has been released ahead of the second reading of Chris’s private members bill in the House of Lords this Friday (October 27th) which proposes a ban on unpaid work experience or internships lasting more than four weeks.
The survey also reveals that 80 per cent of people want companies to be required to openly advertise internships and work experience opportunities, rather than organise them informally.
The Social Mobility Commission, a Government-sponsored independent body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for a ban in its successive State of the Nation reports to parliament.
A broad consensus of support for a ban has emerged in recent years, including:
· The All Party Parliament Group into Social Mobility has called for a ban on unpaid internships over 4 weeks after hearing evidence on barriers to social mobility.
· In April, the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report which provided new evidence that internships have increased to around 70,000 a year and also recommended a ban after 4 weeks. Many times this number – up to half – are locked out of these opportunities because they are unpaid and/or restricted to networks.
· Leading businesses and trade bodies support a four week limit. The Institute of Student Employers, Arts Council,
UK Music, Creative Skillset, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Business in the Community, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and Trust for London all oppose long term unpaid internships.
· The Matthew Taylor review into employment practices recently concluded: “It is clear to us that unpaid internships are an abuse of power by employers and extremely damaging to social mobility.”
· A four week limit is supported by two-thirds of businesses, with only one-in-eight opposing the legislation (YouGov 2014).
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end. Internships are the new rung on the career ladder. They have become a route to a good professional job. But access to them tends to depend on who not what you know and young people from low income backgrounds are excluded because they are unpaid.
They miss out on a great career opportunity and employers miss out from a wider pool of talent. Unpaid internships are damaging for social mobility. It is time to consign them to history.”
Chris welcomed the findings saying: “I’m delighted that the vast majority of the public support this straightforward and sensible change to the law. Unpaid internships leave young people in a Catch 22 situation; unable to get a job because they haven’t got experience and unable to get experience because they can’t afford to work for free. The practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creativity and competitiveness and holds individuals and our country back. It’s time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens.” #payinterns
Chris is delighted to join an impressive list of individuals receiving honorary degrees from the University of Wolverhampton. The University awards honorary degrees to people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise. Chris will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “Each year the University of Wolverhampton awards honorary degrees to people who have made a significant contribution to their area of expertise. As people who have achieved notable success in their chosen field, they provide inspiration for our students, graduates and staff.
“We are proud to recognise the achievements of people across a broad range of specialisms, and look forward to welcoming them all to our graduation ceremonies in September.”
Based in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the GDI Hub is part of the 2012 Paralympic legacy programme. Over two days (13th and 14th July) linked to the World Para Championships, the Disability Innovation Summit, provided an opportunity to bring together disabled and non-disabled experts from around the world to share expertise and ideas to inspire and shape the future of disability innovation.
Technology is shifting the disability landscape. Advances in prosthetics, wheelchairs, wearable tech and bionics are changing the lives of disabled people and the potential is huge. The summit aimed to nurture and encourage those working at the forefront of engineering, computing, robotics, sport and art to come together, share knowledge and push the boundaries of design.
The summit included keynote speeches, workshops and panel discussions:
- The latest technologies and research
- Disability dance, fashion and art
- Global projects and innovations
- Assistive technology
- Built environment and inclusive design
- Sport and community
- Workplace and employment