Last month, the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) claimed that unprecedented challenges had pushed the system ‘closer to collapse than ever before’.
Although the 2016 elections and the EU Referendum were successfully delivered, the AEA argued that the framework for electoral administration was becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. Their report – Pushed to the absolute limit: 2016 – the electoral year never to forget – set out 91 recommendations for reform to prevent adverse effects on the UK’s democratic systems.
The latest whitepaper from Idox Elections looks at some of the challenges facing the UK’s electoral administrators and describes the recommendations for improving the delivery of democratic polls.
Vindsubsidies has been nominated for the 2016 FD Gazelle Awards. According to Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), owner of the awards and leading Dutch financial newspaper, Vindsubsidies is one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands.
The FD is a national business authority which presents annual awards to the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands. This involves reviewing an organisation’s financial position as well as the revenue growth which must demonstrate a growth of at least 20% over the past three years.
Vindsubsidies are delighted to be considered for this prestigious award having achieved a growth of circa 60%.
The awards ceremony will take place on the 15th of November.
New service to save time and money for all
Following a commercial tender, Idox were selected by the Scottish Government to provide the connector facility for Scotland’s eBuilding Standards service. This will transfer data into Scottish Local authorities back office systems and contributes to the modern public services envisaged in the Scottish Government’s digital strategy.
Following the successful launch of the new eBuilding Standards service on 24 August, Idox are delighted to announce that since going live, the service has processed over 2100 applications and that 1445 new accounts have been set-up. Idox developed the connector on a new digital platform. This service allows the authority to receive applications for building warrants, completion certificates and other related forms on both individual home improvement projects and for larger commercial developments more quickly and easily.
The eBuilding Standards service enables:
- The electronic submission to local authorities of building warrant applications and completion certificates
- Electronic payment of associated fees directly to the local authority
- Submission of digital copies of supporting documentation, eliminating the need to print and post
Operations Director Paul Beaney, commented “Idox is proud to have worked alongside both central and local Scottish Government to deliver the connector for this exciting new service which hasn’t just simplified the submission process but changed the way applicants and councils interact”.
The eBuilding Stanards service streamlines the application process and provides significant user benefits as it is simple to use, saves applicants time and money and improves the efficiency of the process enabling councils to start considering applications sooner. From the initial uptake it appears that over 50% of Building Standards applications across Scotland will now be submitted online.
EPCs and Owner Operators realise reduced errors, improved margins and lower risks on complex engineering projects with the help of GoCapture, a new solution from Idox.
GoCapture, an Idox solution, launches today, offering a new tool to EPCs and Owner Operators to optimise site inspection, defect management, mechanical completion and handover phases of complex engineering projects. The solution minimises the cost of incidents, reduces errors, improves margins and mitigates risks by standardising and automating processes.
Companies are looking to streamline the recording, turnaround and management of defects in an effort to reduce schedule and budget overruns. GoCapture is the ideal solution for companies to adopt, as costs come under increased scrutiny and more projects are being commissioned on a fixed price basis, leading to greater competition and margin pressures.
The Idox Information Service recently organised the annual Scottish Planning and Environmental Law (SPEL) Conference. Widely regarded as the leading annual planning and environmental law event in Scotland, the SPEL Conference attracted highly experienced practitioners and senior figures from a range of backgrounds.
In this article, Idox’s Rebecca Jackson reports on some of the key presentations and discussions from the event.
Open science, researcher mobility, policy and funding reforms and forthcoming research challenges were just some of the subjects covered at the 2016 Vitae Researcher Development International Conference.
Returning to support this year’s event, the RESEARCHconnect team were on hand to discuss the latest research developments and hear from speakers and delegates as to current and prospective issues impacting the sector.
In our latest blog, Emma Wootton reports back on the key research themes and reflections from 2016, and provides a look ahead to what 2017 might have in store for the research community…
A company’s code of conduct is the guideline for responsible and compliant employee behaviour. These basic principles and how they are presented are of crucial importance. A new whitepaper from Idox Compliance describes what organisations should consider when creating their code of conduct. The whitepaper includes a useful checklist, providing step-by-step guidance. In this short Q&A, Jürgen Krisor, Compliance Partner at Idox Compliance, provides some insights.
Q: What should typically be covered by a code of conduct?
A: The overall aim should always be to encourage lawful and compliant behaviour of an organisation’s employees. The details covered in a code of conduct will vary by organisation.
Q: A lot of larger organisations publish their code of conduct on their websites. Does it make sense to just copy one of them for your own company?
A: No, definitely not. As an example, for a medium-sized company with 500 employees it does not make sense copying the code of conduct of a globally operating corporation. The appropriate basis for a code of conduct are always the organisation’s individual principal values on the one hand and its risk profile on the other. Principal values come from the organisation’s unique history, its strategy and goals as well as its size and structure. In addition, a code of conduct should always address all business-related risks that impose a serious compliance threat. Therefore, organisations should conduct a risk analysis in advance.
Q: How long should a code of conduct be?
A: Nobody really likes to read long documents like this. Ideally, a code of conduct should feature between five to eight pages. It should be easy to comprehend, summarise existing guidelines and provide advice for situations that could be subject to interpretation. Business related, practical case studies support understanding and transfer in employees’ everyday work.
Q: Still, it seems pretty difficult to address all eventualities and uncertainties in only one short document?
A: Quite correct, a code of conduct, however well written, can never address all eventualities. Therefore, it is important that the code of conduct always provides information on where employees can get assistance and support, for example contact details of an individual or a department. Also, employees should be given an opportunity to report illegal behaviour (whistle blowing), which should be referred to in the document.
Q: Who is typically involved in developing a code of conduct?
A: Usually, the person responsible for the compliance management will be the project manager. But it is essential to have top management as project sponsor, because without top management support a code of conduct will always fail! The “Tone from the top”, as it is often called, is crucial not only for the code of conduct alone, but also for the success of the compliance programme and the embedding of a culture of integrity as a whole!
Download the free whitepaper: Your own Code of Conduct: Do’s and Don’ts
Built by Bots: AI and the Building Industry
Building Control could soon be dealing with a whole new ball game if technological advances using drones and robotic bulldozers continue at their current rate. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are already being used to monitor construction projects in the US and Japan from high above. So will the future of Building Control be interacting with robotic workers and monitoring sites through the eyes of AI?
Eyes in the Sky
As part of innovative new technologies being deployed in construction, US start-up business Skycatch is already using drones on some high-profile building projects. Drones can provide useful aerial views of a site, while monitoring progress and spotting any problems that need to be addressed. These could be design changes, or needing to order more construction materials. Everything can be automated and controlled without anyone having to set foot on the site and with digital imagery and cameras, the visual quality of such reports are as good as being present in person.
A Close-up Look
Drones are also being utilised for carrying out building inspections – either for annual check-ups on a building’s condition, or assessing damage caused by age or bad weather. Remedial and renovation work can now be assessed at ground level and a course of action formulated with ease. Information collected by the drone, including dimensions, can also be used to create 3-D maps and models. With limited access to dangerous places such as towers or roofs, what once might have taken hours, with costly scaffolding, lifts and ladders, can now be carried out in a matter of minutes by an experienced controller remotely guiding the aerial camera drone. Companies offering external building inspections via drone are proving particularly useful in areas such as cities, where access isn’t always easy, even at ground level.
Japanese construction machinery company Komatsu is using drones to guide automated bulldozers. Using 3-D mapping techniques and customised, automated machinery, work can be carried out safely with little chance of injury, loss of time to illness or, to an extent, regardless of inclement weather conditions. Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Technology (iMT) was unveiled in 2013 and allows lower-skilled workers to carry out, through remote operation, a higher-skilled task. Komatsu’s SmartConstruction business combines its driverless, automated earth-moving equipment to drone-guided technology to make a fully-automated construction process. In Japan, robotic working perhaps offers a solution to the problem of an ageing workforce.
Looking into the future, new technologies such as drones may seem like ‘pie in the sky’ in terms of practical use. But Building Control making greater use of drones to monitor construction sites is an exciting prospect. With technologies such as iApply – the UK’s first combined Planning and Building Control portal – improving interaction, it’s only a matter of time before there’s even more demand for digital information sharing across multiple platforms. If fluidity and interconnectivity are key, then site visits and inspections may well soon be carried out by drones and linked back to local authority computer systems many miles away. Drones could be used to monitor ongoing work, map progress and quality, and everything would be recorded and available for viewing and discussion afterwards. If technology can be made usable in this everyday way, then the sky truly is the limit.
For further information on iApply and just some of the major advantages of investing in the service, please visit www.iapply.co.uk
Idox is a market-leading developer and provider of a broad range of digital solutions to support public and private sector organisations in managing information and knowledge, documents, content, business processes and workflow.
In this article, Idox’s Steven McGinty considers the significance of gigabit broadband in helping cities remain competitive in a global marketplace.
Following a major tender exercise, Idox has successfully secured a new five year contract from Lichfield District Council under the Crown Commercial Service LASA Framework to provide a range of integrated software suite including: Planning Applications, Building Control, Licensing and Land Charges.
Idox will also implement its Enterprise Dashboard solution to help deliver greater information management and more efficient processes, and is supplying the integrated Exacom system for managing the Council's CILs and Section 106s.
Under this new agreement, Idox will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day management, maintenance and upgrading of the applications and systems.
Every project has volumes of documents and data shared across teams, systems and sites. Engineers working on projects need to quickly search and find relevant content and be able to access it from remote sites – but accessing information becomes almost irrelevant if they do not have trust in the document to begin with.
Wasted time, money and effort are obvious risks of maintaining documents and content that are out-of-date or incorrect. The heart of the matter is trust – having the confidence that the document you are working from and the content it contains reflect the actual asset conditions, and the approved standard(s) for which it was engineered, procured and constructed.
Accountability is key to modern business success. Whether it’s making sure of your staff’s health and safety or legal rights, to compliance and other regulatory legislation, you must be aware of what’s happening at all levels of your company. Idox Compliance assists organisations to comply with laws, regulations and guidelines and helps to protect the organisations values, reputation and competitive advantage. In this article, Steven McGinty reports on a new corporate offence, which could see company boards held liable for failing to prevent money laundering, false accounting, and fraud.
Rolsch Assetmanagement, a client of Vindsubsidies, won a top SME grant for a study on an intelligent drain system for local governments. Through this project, local governments will save millions of euro’s on their drain management. Rolsch developed a plan for improving drain management through the gathering of smart data involving the drains system in the Netherlands, and bringing this information together in one database. The company plans to roll out the super drain system to organisations in other European countries, including Great Britain.
Local governments conduct ongoing research into the condition of drains to ensure that repairs can be carried out in a timely manner. Until now, this information has not been publically shared. Rolsch Assetmanagement aims to develop a management system for governments that makes it possible to share this data in the future. The grant for this project was requested by Vindsubsidies and received attention in the national and regional media.
Significant cost reductions
Rolsch Assetmanagement excels at developing software that can run analyzes of the drinking water and drain networks on behalf of governments and water management companies. These inspections provide useful data on the status of the drain network such as cracks, ground water in the pipes, barriers and gotten land. This smart software for drain management can generate significant cost savings, which can amount to millions.
Until now, this innovative company has focused solely on the Dutch market. Ronald Laverman, director of Rolsch Assetmanagement commented “We will be releasing our software in other European countries, as well as the United States and Canada’’.
This top grant win was generated through Vindsubsidies consultancy team’s focus on a special grant programme that is part of the Dutch government’s top sectors policy. This programme encourages pioneering projects from ambitious SME’s that match the objectives of the leading business sectors in The Netherlands.
Idox is a market-leading developer and provider of a broad range of digital solutions to support public and private sector organisations in managing information and knowledge, documents, content, business processes and workflow. In this article, Steven McGinty reports from a recent gathering of policymakers, and practitioners to discuss development of smart cities in Scotland.
In August 2016, Sir Eric Pickles MP published the findings of his year-long investigation into electoral fraud in the UK.
The investigation was partially triggered by events in Tower Hamlets, which saw the Borough’s Mayor, Lutfur Rahman charged with electoral fraud, and the Election Commissioner upholding a number of allegations from voters.
The latest paper from Idox Elections:
- notes the recommendations of the Pickles review;
- takes a look at some of the criticisms that the review has received;
- examines why trust and scrutiny are key parts of successful elections management.
Download whitepaper: Idox Elections: Securing the Ballot
According to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), engineers spend 40 to 60 percent of their time looking for information and validating it.
A new whitepaper from McLaren Software, an Idox company, explores change management of plant documentation, and how critical decision-making begins with having trusted documents and data available to engineers at all times, from all locations.
The whitepaper explains how:
- Quality control and reuse of plant documentation affect the success of your turnaround project
- Plant turnarounds can be accelerated by reducing re-work, contractual disputes and ensuring regulatory compliance
- Asset information and engineering content can be made available to all, throughout projects
- Multiple users can access the most up-to-date information, regardless of format or source.
To learn more, download your copy of the whitepaper here.
LEONI is one of the leading companies for cable technology in Europe today, having around 75,000 highly-qualified employees in 31 countries. The company embraces a systematic approach to compliance. Idox Compliance supports LEONI with a range of e-learning resources. The e-learning programs, most of which have been individually customised for LEONI, are provided by Idox Compliance as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) via an e-learning platform. This allows employees around the world to complete the relevant compliance training online, anytime, anywhere.
Download the full case study: LEONI AG embraces systematic approach to compliance, supported by Idox Compliance
The high-quality information solutions delivered by Idox have seen the company win the title of ‘Best Public Sector Software Company – UK’ in this year’s Technology Innovator Awards.
The 2016 Awards highlighted the individuals and organisations behind ground-breaking technological developments, aiming to showcase those who are enhancing the way that people use technology for the better.
From instant communication through to advances in product and service offerings, almost every aspect of the modern business market has been influenced by technology. As such the Technology Innovator Awards were designed to recognise and reward the individuals, departments and firms behind the software and services revolutionising how organisations do business.
Commenting on Idox’s latest success, Operations Director Paul Beaney said: “Idox is a highly regarded company with market leading positions in many segments of the public sector software market in the United Kingdom and Europe. We’re proud to be commended with a leading industry award – not least in the area of innovative technology provision – which recognises Idox’s strong relationships and focus on customer service.
“Innovation is a key ingredient for Idox’s growth and success and we look forward to building on our achievement in collaboration with the public sector during the exciting years ahead.”
Further information on the Technology Innovator Awards 2016 is available here.
Statistically, women now account for 60% of undergraduates and 47% of PhD graduates in the EU and – according to the National Science Foundation (NSF) – they earn about half the doctorates in science and engineering in the United States. On paper, these figures suggest that the battle against gender inequality in research is well on the way to being won.
However, whilst the pool of highly-qualified women is larger than ever before, the statistics show that the presence of women in (predominantly STEM-based) research has not advanced at the same rate as the number of women attaining PhDs. Stakeholders argue that this has meant that the research sector is not yet fully benefitting from the wealth of female knowledge and innovation available.
The latest RESEARCHconnect whitepaper examines:
- the most recent statistics relating to gender equality in research;
- the reasons why women 'drop off' the research radar;
- what is currently being done to tackle the issue of gender equality in research worldwide; and
- what could be done to improve the percentage of women in research in the future.
A digital copy of the paper is available to request here.
Compliance management refers to how a company ensures adherence to laws as well as company guidelines. For several years, companies have been required to comply with international standards certifications and over the last ten years, various standards for implementing and operating a compliance management system (CMS) have been developed.
By publishing the international ISO 19600 standard (in December 2014), the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) brought together the insights from previous standards and other reference works. The aim was to create a standard that can be used worldwide, spanning multiple jurisdictions across all types of organisations regardless of size or industry.
ISO 19600 certification option
Some CMS standards can be used to audit or certify compliance management systems. This involves putting the CMS through an evaluation procedure. An impartial third party checks and confirms in writing that the CMS meets the requirements of the respective standard.
ISO 19600 is a type B management system standard that only serves as a guideline. It gives recommendations but does not set any binding requirements. However, it is still possible to be certified in accordance with ISO 19600. Any person or company with a test plan that they have developed based on the recommendations of the standard can certify that they have a CMS that meets the recommendations of the standard according to the assessment of the auditor.
Advantages of ISO 19600 certification
- The structure of a certified management system is based on a well-known, tried-and-tested system. A third party can get an overview of the compliance management system and assess its quality.
- A company can demonstrate to business partners that it can fulfil its contractual compliance obligations.
- An independent audit can identify vulnerabilities and allow companies to overcome operational blind spots. Enabling the CMS to be continuously optimised.
- A CMS certified in accordance with ISO 19600 can give a competitive advantage if it makes a company stand out during a call for bids.
- Certification can convey important information that can determine the success of a company. A certificate allows investors, who are in the middle of an M&A transaction or forming new business partnerships, to estimate and minimise potential risks more effectively.
- A company’s decision to be certified and to commission an auditor represents a serious commitment to compliance and also leads to positive effects within the company.
Things you need to know about certification
It is important to determine who is suitable to serve as the auditor, depending on the standard.The certificate should have a certain level of recognition in the market (if the company making the claim is reputable and accredited by a regulatory body, then this third-party compliance proclamation would have a lot more weight than a self-proclamation would have). The certificate should have a certain level of recognition or acceptance in the market as well.
You should also determine which parts of the company and functional areas are to be covered by the certificate. Certification should only take place once there is an established CMS in definable company or regulatory areas. It is advisable when implementing a CMS to also think about certification as a long-term goal.
Limits of certification
Legal experts in particular have advised that a standardised or even certified CMS does not automatically mean that management bodies of a corporation fulfil their obligations. This means that if there are compliance violations, they may be held liable. A (certified) CMS can at best serve as a good indicator that the company and the responsible people make great efforts to take compliance and integrity very seriously.