So what are people angry at? That MPs are getting new tech such as tablets to replace existing tech or that money is being spent on iPads?
Consider the scenario that MPs might already be using tablets but they are funded personally and purchased via the high street at full price and then claimed back? They use tech as part of their job so why not? Surely the tech should be procured in the most cost effective way if it is going to be purchased anyway?
And then consider whether these devices are going to have a bit more control over them than some attempt at BYOD by MPs? I would rather see Govt IT having some oversight of the config of these than a half-baked setup with no consideration for data protection.
Perhaps we might even be able to see the remit behind it all, the processes and how MPs are expected to use the tech and then translate it to how staff can use it in schools?
I know from chatting with a number of folk in the office (who are not geeks) that tablets make a significant difference to how people work especially compared to using laptops and lots of paper.
Just a few thoughts.
What I'm angry about is that MPs can already claim for an IT allowance. Their IT equipment is already supplied and if they somehow urgently need an iPad there's a budget for it. There's already a parliamentary network and there's a parliamentary IT support team (who are no doubt going to be thrilled with this).
No, this is the same 'Oooh, shiny, make the taxpayer pay for it' that the EU parliament did. It's IT-illiterate twits deciding they want a free shiny and thinking they can pretend it's for 'work purposes'. Yeah right, just like that duck house was.
But how do you know the iPads were bought on a whim and not pre-planned? I don't see any mention of them "suddenly" being demanded by MPs, for all we know they could have been procured months in advance.
And we have to remember, the slate market hasn't been in the public's mind very long. It is a strange product in that consumers view it as a fad and a luxury item whilst businesses have a work purpose for it that you wouldn't know about until you use one.
Knowing recent government contracts I bet they end up paying £34,000 for each iPad, never take delivery and pay a middle man 20 million for brokering the deal.
It is so funny to see the whole "tablets are new and are just a fad", when they are neither new nor a fad. Businesses have been using tablets for years, usually in niche markets where it fits the right processes. They have been used in education around the globe already in Spain, US, Canada and yes ... the UK. Even if you go back to the XO-1 design for OLPC the ideal of using it as a tablet is there. The clever folk are looking at the mistakes and successes in those areas to see where it can be done better this time round. The key thing is to use them where appropriate. If an MP can do what they need to do on a tablet and can swap their existing laptop to move over to it then surely that is a good thing?
As for iPads ... well, Android tablets are not quite there corporately yet and Windows 8 is not out. Go back to XP Tablet edition? (Actually, not too bad an idea to be honest ... )
Most still seemed to prefer Blackberry and Windows Mobile on the phones, but they are still trying to look at the models by which they traditionally locked things ... whereas the consumer drive (rightly or wrongly) is forcing a rethink to consider what is locked and what is a bit more flexible to give *some* personal use.
The same was said by the major vendors about Linux servers, which now make up the majority of mainframes and a good 20% of business systems.
The remote management tools do ensure passwords security, device encryption, block cameras, remote wipe, automatic lock etc.
If this project kickstarts again the wider look by Govt IT on mobile devices then that is a good thing ... whilst iOS devices are getting a name for themselves most folk realise that the concepts behind how they are used are going to be pretty transferable and so the next wave have a better chance of including a wider range of devices. It also depends on the relationship Google have with the public sector, not just the hardware vendors. Hopefully that will improve as other countries make use of Android too.
If MPs are already using personal iOS devices then this could be viewed as a bit of damage limitation and getting some of the control back to the parliamentary IT group ... which will help in future years when further changes get made.
I totally agree that a tablet could be a great aid. I am, however, extremely sceptical that this is why they are being bought. No proof, just a gut feeling.
They could get a Playbook for a lot less, which (I am led to believe) may well be a better "corporate" choice. Even if they need 3G and so a Blackberry phone, I bet RIM would love to be the "official supplier of tablets and phones" to the British Government and would cut them a sweet deal. But no, iPads are what everyone wants...
All these questions are important, most of the answers are completely unknown, and all of the answers have costs.
MPs write vast numbers of emails to their constituents and other MPs. Is a tablet the best way to write large amounts of text? Not in my experience. IMO it's slower and clunkier than a conventional keyboard. So will this boost productivity, or will it make a bunch of out-of-touch technical illiterates feel like they're living in the 21st century?
Obviously it's nice to read the views of the handful of people who think that Parliament can deliver a government-managed IT project efficiently and cost-effectively. I remember feeling the same way about a decade ago.
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