Guest blog: The future of shared communications for the public sector

The future of shared communications for the public sector

The complexity of services provided by the public sector has grown substantially and with it, so too has the requirement to safeguard sensitive citizen information that may need to be shared across services.

The local governments of the future will be lean, agile and data-driven. Siloed services will be replaced with multi-agency teams that form around specific local challenges. Joined up services will require interactive platforms that connect users and enable the seamless, secure sharing of data from any location, on any device. However, trust relies on the implicit belief that information shared is secure and the plethora of consumer grade apps that have found their way into common usage, such as WhatsApp, can’t provide this assurance.

 

Not all applications are created equally

Social media apps that were intended to be used for personal messaging between friends and family have infiltrated the workplace by stealth with employees now using them for business communications. The overriding issue with WhatsApp and any other free social media app is that there will always be a question over where data is held and who has access to it. It is totally out of the control of the user.

Following the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into force on 25 May 2018, organisations can find themselves implicated in data losses caused by apps despite not sanctioning their usage. GDPR governs how every organisation treats the personal information it has collated and how it is processed, shared and stored. Any security breaches resulting in a data leak could incur a fine and reputational damage and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has shown that it is willing to sanction public sector organisations as well as businesses.

 

Collaboration is the future

Collaboration across public sector agencies holds the key to enhancing productivity, saving money and delivering better outcomes for local residents and communities. To enable this, employees need the right tools to do the job.

For any sensitive, official or team communications free social media apps should never be used. Instead, trusted groups of users should be able to communicate with each other via a pan-public-sector platform where the content remains confidential and secure. At the same time, the solution should be easy to use, with security baked in, removing the security burden from the user and ensuring that information is not put at risk.

Solutions like this are already in use by Central Government and are being piloted by some police forces and NHS Trusts. The cloud-based secure communications platform enables groups of white-listed users to talk to trusted colleagues, use chat groups and exchange attachments, conduct video conferences, make calls to and from desk-phones, and business applications such as Skype for Business. A pan-police community is already being built, similar to one in existence for central Government departments. The police forces, NHS

Trusts and government departments taking part, are able to use the same modern everyday communications features that users have come to expect, but from a much more secure footing, with better control of the data and meta data.

- Andy Lilly, Director and co-founder of Armour Communications.

 

About Andy Lilly

Andy Lilly is Director and Co-Founder of Armour Communications. He has a proven track record of delivering challenging, leading-edge research and development solutions into global markets, having held leadership positions at multi-national organisations as well as VC-funded start-ups. Andy has been instrumental in delivering military-grade secure communications systems as well as solutions suitable for use in commercial environments for over 25 years.

For more information about secure collaboration platforms from Armour Comms visit: www.armourcomms.com, call: +44 (0)20 36 37 38 01, email: sales@armourcomms.com

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