emergency services
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Salvatore Sinno, Global Chief Security Architect at Unisys speaks to Open Access Government about digital transformation in the NHS, including why Brits are calling for a rapid shake-up in the way they interact with the emergency services

Currently, the emergency services receive millions of calls every year. However, around 30 million calls a year do not follow the usual pattern, with no one speaking on the call – though many are accidental, callers may have intentionally dialled 999 but talking out aloud will put them or someone else in danger. Although ‘Silent Solutions’ is in place for such circumstances, awareness is low, and the solution isn’t fail-proof, following numerous high-profile cases.

A call for change in how Brits interact with the emergency services

Brits are calling for a rapid shake-up in the way they interact with emergency services, the new 2018 Unisys Security Index found.

Over eight in 10 of Brits are calling for an emergency button on their smartphones, enabling them to share their location with the police in times of need. The same number of people are willing to share their tracking and monitoring data from medical devices, to immediately transmit significant changes to their doctors. Despite Brits being more resistant than ever to share data, there is a clear appetite to do so when it’s a matter of life or death.

Interacting with the emergency services – time for a change?

In this interview, Global Chief Security Architect at Unisys, Salvatore Sinno tells us why Brits are calling for a rapid shake-up in the way they interact with emergency services. He notes that people understand the benefits when it comes to the digital transformation and the value of sharing information and trust.

“A clear flow of data means intelligence and therefore, an improvement in the service provided, so sharing information with the health service, the police and the emergency services is important. People are now used to accessing services online, such as banking, Facebook and therefore, they expect to be able to interact with the emergency services in the same way.”

The integration of technology into the NHS

From a health perspective, the Department of Health and Social Care recently published its policy paper, ‘The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care’, which laid out how tech may be integrated into the NHS, including the widespread adoption of health-tracking apps and wearables. There is a clear demand for this, Salvatore underlines, indeed, this policy will help to improve the quality of healthcare in the future.

“The new element in this policy paper which is important from my point of view is the definition of standards so that the new service provider can be considered as a part of the ecosystem of health solutions. This is very important because it drives in a very clear sense, the public sector, the private sector and innovators to leverage this aspect of digital transformation. Everyone has to agree on that because the way we see our health services is that they are improving and moving towards being world-class by adopting technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) as a way to integrate the different communication data flow between the different parts of the services.

“One of the challenges when you define a vision, or a strategy is to make that consequential to ensure that the public sector, the private sectors and the players can action that in a way that is not ambiguous. Part of that is standards – we have a definition of what the API should look like and what kind of integration we want.”

Concerns about identity theft

The conversation then moves to the concerns the 2018 Unisys Security Index™ reveals about identity theft. Salvatore says that the same concern was present for the survey in 2017, but one aspect of the research concerned people’s finances in the future, in that identity becomes essential because there is another element at play here, that is lack of control. Salvatore explains more about this in his own words.

“People are concerned about what is happening in their financial space in the future, and the other element is the lack of control and even understanding what can be done in having a preventative effect, and then respond if you have evidence that identity has been compromised.

“On this point, I think that we can probably do more. By that, I mean the private sector, including corporates such as Unisys, big giants like Facebook in social media and the government can do more to educate people. It comes down to ‘education, education and education’, so it’s not that you need to have a super advanced knowledge of security technology but what you do need is common sense – so don’t open any email that says you have won a lottery that you haven’t even taken part in.

“On the content of such emails, it is difficult to believe that someone can fall for that, but it does happen. The concern is that the most vulnerable people are the ones who fall for this kind of scam, so this is why it is very important that more needs to be done to reassure the people.

“Unisys Security Index 2018 survey suggests that people are now more aware of these issues and they are concerned: this is a positive element in my view.

Another important element emerging from the study is that they no longer use the companies that misuse their personal data. Incidents on websites such as Facebook are no longer acceptable, so people will move their business elsewhere because they know that companies can and must do more to protect personal data.”

The UK’s appetite for emergency help apps

The survey notes that an appetite for emergency help apps that are triggered manually by the user or automatically was exceptionally high during 2017. He notes that while we are all interconnected today, people realise that the response time really makes the difference between life and death, therefore, emergency help apps can assist in a number of ways such as identifying your location. Salvatore details this point further, which includes an emphasis on the control element in this vein, he explains.

“There is one element across the themes of the 2018 Unisys Security Index which is the control element, in that people are clearly telling us that they want to maintain control over their personal data in terms of how it is shared between organisations and they want to place trust in the emergency services, that is the NHS. This is very good news and we should be proud of this country that people can see the great work that the NHS does in this way. At the same time, people want to be the ones who press the button and ask for help, but less than 30% were keen for the police to have access when it comes to privacy.

Closing thoughts on the 2018 Unisys

Security Index

Salvatore then adds his concluding thoughts on what else the survey reveals, noting that one interesting aspect is that people are concerned about the police or the government having access to their personal data without the individual’s consent.

“However, people are less concerned about this when it comes to using social media to post information which can sometimes be quite sensitive. For example, people will say on social media that they are going on holiday next week and, therefore, their house will be empty. They may say they are in a fantastic restaurant and share a photo of their food, so this is telling the world not only what you do and don’t like in terms of food, but you are giving away where you are when you are away from your normal routine.

“Many people don’t realise the amount of information that is freely available on social media and can be collected and analysed. This can create a picture of the individual, so there is a lack of understanding of what can be gathered from social media. The reason for this is that you still feel there is a difference between your digital world and your real life: however, we live in an era when the difference between these is blurring. Identity is central to that because something that is committed online has a long-lasting effect on your financial situation.”


Salvatore Sinno

Global Chief Security Architect





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