Weekend surgery danger – how could different analytics offer new insights?

Few could have failed to be disquieted by the study, released this week from Imperial College London, which showed that the weekend is the most dangerous time of the week to have a routine operation in the NHS. Striking out a call for the NHS to rethink the manner in which they organise their resources, staff and services, this is a very vivid illustration of the potential that data insights could have to improve the workings of the NHS.

With a number of responses calling for further analysis of the data, a more informative option could be to enhance the initial data set. For example, through some work we completed in the US to investigate 30 day readmissions, we uncovered that it was related to the patients care after they left hospital, suggesting the social care system was a potential influential factor. What this shows is that if the data is not correctly correlated against different factors, whether it be post code, surgeon, type of surgery or even issues such as MRSA, we could be missing an opportunity to highlight further observations that could help reach a more evidence based outcome.

The persistent challenge for us as the NHS evolves and public budget spend continues to be constrained is to find new ways to deliver predictive insights from multiple data sets – particularly those that already have algorithms to predict patient likelihood to get MRSA. Pulling the datasets into big data analytics platforms delivers the scope, scale and visualisation capability to explore patterns in the data that will support the transition to a preventative healthcare environment; and save some of the 70+% of NHS budgets invested in chronic care. This report makes a solid start, and with further data set to be reviewed in three years, I wonder if we are missing a major opportunity to make the process more formalised, to draw in further data sets and reviewed consistently (perhaps even yearly) to reveal more timely comparative trends and to demonstrate if the policies adopted now by the NHS bear fruit.

In reaction to this week’s news, some NHS professionals have suggested that it would simply be too expensive to ensure completely consistent quality of service throughout the working week, and that an NHS on a budget should have other priorities. This may be the case, but when it comes to the point of saving patients’ lives it may be that the old adage about prevention being better than cure could hold true in this case – and may provide an alternative route for investment. This is the foundation of Pivotal’s partnership with health and biomedical informatics company Aridhia, that has set out to create a new technology platform capable of revolutionising the management of chronic health conditions through building the data picture of what affects patient’s treatment, healthcare outcomes and how to tailor treatments to improve outcomes.

With healthcare budgets being squeezed, and chronic disease a growing problem in an ageing population across the world, the application of advanced analytics aligned to clinical practice will become increasingly important. In the same way as airlines, transport and utilities exploit their capital investments 24/7, we need to approach the NHS with a similar commercial approach to ensure we make the most of the costly hospital assets and insights hidden within. Applied in this way, the right technology has the potential to assist with the proper targeting of resources, and the effective mitigation of the effects of life threatening illnesses – potentially entirely reshaping the way healthcare is provided.

EMC supports grants for local community programs to preserve cultural information through digitisation

In 2007 EMC founded the Information Heritage Initiative program, with the aim of preserving cultural information globally through digitisation. So far more than $35 million has been donated.

The Heritage Trust Project is a subset of EMC’s Information Heritage Initiative, which was founded in 2007. The Heritage Trust Project recognises smaller local community programs with grants to help digitise their historic or cultural artifacts.

So far EMC has recognised 35 global projects with Heritage Trust grants, helping to advance the conservation of information heritage.

Digitisation for conservation and education

Those that receive grants, be they organisations or individuals, are recognised for the work done to protect and preserve cultural information through the use of digitisation. This important work means that information is readily and easily accessible online for research and education.

This year, 10 countries are eligible to participate: Brazil; Canada; Chile; Great Britain; India; Ireland; Japan; Mexico; South Africa; and United States. Applications will be accepted from May 8—June 14, 2013.

The EMC Heritage Trust Project grant recipients are selected based on the following criteria: potential size of the audience that would benefit from access to the information they are seeking to protect; the at-risk status of the information and why it is urgent to digitise it; and how beneficial the EMC grant would be to the overall success of the project.

For more information on nominations, visit: http://www.emc.com/corporate/sustainability/strengthening-communities/heritage.htm

EMC selected as ‘Official 2014 Development Partner’ of Lotus F1 team

The changes within Formula One take place at a pace to rival the speed of the competing cars, with technological innovations being used by the various race teams to keep ahead of their competitors.

Photo shows the position where the EMC logo will be placed in 2014.

Photo shows the position where the EMC logo will be placed in 2014.

The past few race seasons have seen the introduction of the most transformative and disruptive series of rules changes in the sport’s history, forcing teams to make dramatic changes to the design of their cars. And looking ahead, the new 2014 Formula 1 regulations are widely considered to be the most radical design changes since the introduction of the composite monocoque.

One company in particular is taking a transformative approach to this.  EMC is pleased to announce that it is helping to drive these changes for Lotus F1, as part of the roadmap to be World Champions by 2015.

Lotus is set to completely overhaul its existing IT infrastructure, which will enable the team to better handle and analyse the vast amounts of data collected from the races (in excess of 25 megabytes of data per lap from over 200 sensors!) and qualifying exercises, as well as  weather information from these events.

For an industry that is overwhelmed by data, insights that can help to shave milliseconds off a lap will make the vital difference in the roadmap to becoming World Champions.

EMC is delighted to be part of such a dynamic and ambitious project. The 2014 redesign represents the most significant change in recent Formula 1 racing history, and the ability to collect, make readily available in a cloud-like manner and quickly analyse the massive amounts of Big Data has emerged as a key competitive differentiator.

As discussed by Chris Bridgland, Senior Director, EMC Global Services UK & Ireland at EMC, “Formula One racing is in the midst of the most transformative and disruptive series of rules changes in the sport’s history. These changes introduce radical disruption and equally radical opportunity. The winning teams will be those that adapt by transforming themselves and emerging as the most adept at generating competitive advantage through technology.

“Ladies and gentlemen…watch this space.  The race is on.”

You can read more from Chris on the EMC Pulse blog: http://pulseblog.emc.com/2013/05/29/lotus-f1-teams-with-emc-to-make-racing-history/

Collaboration set to tackle chronic disease management in the UK

Anyone who has been following the development of the big data debate will understand that there is a huge opportunity to gain tangible benefits from the better use of data. One area that is awash with data is the healthcare sector, in particular the NHS. Imagine the opportunity if big data was applied here? But a challenge lies ahead to implement a change in mind-set and action. This could be the vital steps needed to help drive savings of £20bn a year by 2015.

The world Economic Forum highlighted that chronic care for high blood pressure (hypertension), vascular diseases like heart disease and strokes, lung diseases like asthma and COPD and endocrine diseases like diabetes, could cost $47 trillion by 2030. With 80% of healthcare budgets being spent on tackling this, action needs to be taken. One step towards this is the recently announced strategic partnership between health and biomedical informatics company Aridhia and big data analytics expert Pivotal.

The partnership aims to take the lead on big data, creating a new technology platform capable of revolutionising the management of chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This can only be a positive step for the NHS, which has already laid the big data foundations by using analytics within NHS Blood and Transplant to improve patient survival rates.

According to our research of senior business and public sector leaders, to coincide with the launch of an EMC-supported Policy Exchange report, public sector leaders recognise that big data can help make an impact in the area of patient care and outcomes (65%). Therefore, big data industry developments like the Aridhia announcement is a step in the right direction as the collaboration makes its easier for the NHS and private healthcare organisations to maximise big data analytic insights to improve the treatment and outcomes of thousands of people living with chronic disease in the UK.

Chief Technologist Bill McCluggage Talks About a Turning Point in a Public Data Strategy

200px-Stephan_ShakespeareToday EMC was at the launch of Stephan Shakespeare’s report to Government on how the UK could harness the value of Public Sector Information (PSI).   The Government’s transparency and open data drive has got us so far, but, at the launch the Prime Minister’s technology adviser, Rohan Silva, spoke emphatically of a ‘critical turning point’ and ‘new direction’ on the future of data for the UK.

Stephan Shakespeare, founder of YouGov and a tech entrepreneur in his own right, was tasked by Business, Innovation and Skills and Cabinet Office ministers to outline how to exploit the UK’s public sector data, which he says ‘sits at the very heart of a new phase in the digital revolution’.  The UK holds the largest public data sets in the world, and is in the front rank of scientific and engineering excellence.  But it is failing to recoup the growth opportunities to the UK economy, as China, the US and smaller states like Finland start overtaking us. Stephan set out punchy ideas on how Government could reap the wider value with ‘a true National Data Strategy for economic growth’ including investment in data science, ensuring data security with safe havens and sandbox technologies and a new standard for National Core Reference Data – the most important data held by Government.

It is hard to argue with any of these recommendations, but do they go far enough? In our submission EMC called for ‘a strategic vision for a UK Big Data industry’. Deloitte quantifies the benefit of PSI as being in excess of £6bn, but Policy Exchange’s 2012 report on the Big Data Opportunity, supported by EMC, sets the size of the prize for the public sector alone at £16-33bn.  Also, the opportunities of unstructured data and the Internet of Things are overlooked in the report.   A critically important range of NHS health data could transform preventative healthcare, but benefits could be lost to emerging economies without a coherent Government strategy to exploit it and ambitious and assertive.  With Rohan Silva soon to be moving on from No 10, Ministers Francis Maude and Matthew Hancock will be left to drive that ambition and ultimately will need the cooperation of more conservative Government officials.

Finally, Shakespeare calls on Government to ‘recognise in all we do that PSI….was derived from citizens, by their own authority, was paid for by them, and is therefore owned by them.’ As such all decisions should relate to ‘getting the greatest value back to citizens.’  Whilst resistance to data sharing by public bodies might be dismissed by visionaries as frustrating, addressing citizen’s concerns with strong ethics and integrity will be more critical as will measures to secure sensitive of personal data.  This is why EMC is supporting Policy Exchange’s call for a Government Code for Responsible Analytics.


RSA’s Rashmi Knowles on BB2’s Newsnight

Last week, RSA’s Rashmi Knowles contributed to a BBC Newsnight feature on cyber security, discussing the UK’s cyber-security policies with Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban. During the programme, you can also see Rashmi demonstrate the use of RSA security analytics to forensically examine data exfiltration attempts, isolating the key vulnerabilities and potential perpetrators.

Commenting on the UK government’s cyber-security strategy, Knowles said:

“In three years the threat landscape has changed a lot. Now we’re dealing with advanced threats, which are highly targeted, well-funded carried out by operatives who know exactly what they want, and will target an organisation with that specific objective in mind. Typically this is intellectual property, which may offer the opportunity to gain competitive advantage in the corporate sphere, or to compromise national security or defence.”

Although the show is no longer available iPlayer, it can still be seen on BBC News Online, and you can also read more of Rashmi’s comments in Mark Urban’s written accompaniment to the feature.

As Rashmi outlined on the programme, RSA’s approach to security within the UK’s policy framework revolves around six key points

  • Encouraging information sharing. The cyber criminals are, in the main, better at sharing information about attack vectors and breaches than we are as a community. RSA’s NetWitness programme is a key vehicle in helping to change this, as well as RSA’s Cybercrime Intelligence Service.
  • Assessing and identifying ‘Advanced Persistent Threats.’ Noticing a persistent attempt to steal information or breach systems can make finding a needle in a haystack look trivial. Security analytics plays a key role here in identifying signals in the noise and alerting analysts to live threats.
  • Security and fraud analytics: We help the majority of the UK’s high street banks and increasingly the retail sector to identify attempts at fraud and mitigate them. Fraud continues to be a major issue in retail, payments, financial services as well as the public sector and a key vector criminals use to target businesses today.
  • Anti-Fraud Command Centre: Our anti-fraud operations centre continues to be a source of global and UK-based market insight into the scale and mechanics for fraud attempts. As social media changes the ‘attack surface’ these attacks will get more and more sophisticated.
  • Helping to manage security responses: Every major UK business is attacked hundreds or even thousands of times a day. The traditional approach of ‘shutting the gates’ is no longer viable.

RSA’s Art Coviello praises UK at briefing on e-crime

Art Coviello 2

Art Coviello giving evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. Image courtesy of The Parliamentary Recording Unit.”

Cyber security has long been a priority for CIOs, CTOs, and others in working in technology. But following a number of high profile attacks, and as IT becomes increasingly integral to everyday life, cyber is becoming a mainstream issue of concern, not just across the across the whole of the c-suite, but also among policy makers and wider society. New research released by the UK government last week found that 87% of small firms and 93% of large enterprises had experienced security breaches last year, with some attacks causing more than £1 million of damage.

Like many other countries, the UK has responded to the increasing cyber threat by developing a comprehensive national cyber security policy programme. The £650million, 4-year agenda includes actions to strengthen Britain’s cyber intelligence, defensive, and offensive capabilities; boost skills; and increase resilience in the private sector.

Given this level of activity and investment, British Members of Parliament have been keen to scrutinise the government’s actions, and seek expert views on the progress the UK is making compared to that in other countries. As part of this, members of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee have been holding a number of hearings on Britain’s response to the cyber crime threat. Last week the MPs invited RSA’s Executive Chairman Art Coviello to share his 30+ years of experience at the forefront of the security industry as part of a panel of leading private sector representatives.

Among the many interesting issues discussed during the hour-long session, the committee chair Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP began by asking Art whether the “war” against online criminals was being won or lost? Art responded:

I do not think the war has been lost, but we are not winning it either…obviously, we have to keep in mind the threat environment—but what people sometimes overlook is what I call the expansion of the attack surface. We have now developed so many web applications, we have so many remote access devices, mobile devices, we have so many points of entry into our enterprise, and now we starting to outsource a lot of our infrastructure and applications to the cloud, that we have expanded the attack surface and made it literally easier for the attackers to take advantage of us. But having said that, I am a technologist, so I am an optimist, and I believe we can win the war, but we are not winning it yet.

The importance of information sharing to combating the cyber threat arose during an exchange between Art and committee member Nicola Blackwood MP on the new Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership that the government had created to provide a trusted environment for companies and other organisations to gather and share cyber threat information:

Nicola Blackwood: Why do you think [The Cyber Security Information Partnership] will be helpful?

Art Coviello: Because any opportunity [to] timely share information about attacks, as long as you disseminate the information broadly… means that all potentially affected companies can be on the lookout for a similar-type attack, whether it is the IP addresses from which the attack has been launched or the particular malware itself.

Another vital element, Art added, was to adopt an advanced security approach in today’s hyper-extended, “bring your own device” world in which traditional, perimeter defence products like anti-virus and firewalls were becoming less and less effective:

In an age where the attack surface has broadened… in an age where there is no discernible perimeter, perimeter-oriented defences are less and less effective. So, the game shifts from outright prevention of breaches to early detection and response to breaches. The model that we advocate is one where you have technology that can detect these breaches in a far more timely fashion. To do that, you have to have a lot of data. You have to be able to see the faint signal from the attacker that anomalous behaviour or an anomalous flow or use of data is occurring. To do that requires a substantial capability to correlate and analyse vast streams of data at very fast speeds.

Art concluded by praising the UK government’s cyber security policies, in particular around information sharing and working with the private sector, comparing them favourably with the situation in the United States:

In the US we have been talking about public/private partnerships since 2003, and we have got nowhere. Quite frankly, it is an extreme frustration… in general the outline of [the UK] strategy is far more coherent than anything that is being done in the US… you are [also] on the right track around information sharing. Unfortunately, in the US we have not been able to get a Bill passed to facilitate information sharing, which to me is quite a pity…. [in a world where] breaches are probable, if not inevitable, then having intelligence sooner as opposed to later is fundamental to building out a new model of security so that we can shrink the window of vulnerability from all attacks.

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee last week heard that the UK government is pursuing a very active and comprehensive agenda to boost the nation’s cyber defences. Although still early days, good progress is being made, and RSA will continue to share its knowledge and expertise to support this important work.