News in brief

Short takes on this week's news

CIO-Connect CEO to leave in December

After 12 months as CEO of blue chip user group CIO-Connect, Margaret Smith, formerly IT director and board member of Legal & General, leaves at the end of December. Smith said she was leaving to allow the National Computing Centre (which owns CIO-Connect) to achieve its longer-term objectives for the operation within its group. Raza Hussain, managing director of the Impact Programme, takes over on a temporary basis.

Fire and Rescue to adopt Airwave

Fire and Rescue services will be the third of the emergency services to adopt the Airwave digital radio communications network. Firelink, which procured the national communications contract, said O2 Airwave won the bid to equip all Fire and Rescue services throughout England with a resilient and secure voice and data service.

Group to focus on strong authentication

The Liberty Alliance Project, a consortium of companies working on federated identity management standards, has created a group to focus on developing open specifications for interoperable "strong authentication". Strong authentication is based on a user name or password, a hardware token device and biometric information such as fingerprints.

SME IT budgets set to grow, says IDC

Thirty per cent of small and medium sized businesses in Europe plan to increase their IT budgets over the coming months, research by IDC reveals. Companies in the finance and retail sectors are leading the drive to increase spending, with public sector organisations planning more modest increases. IDC predicts much of the increased spending will go on mobile solutions.

VoIP insecurity no barrier to adoption

Forty three per cent of IT directors consider VoIP technology to be inherently insecure, but do not see this as a barrier to adoption, according to new research commissioned by business communications provider Viatel. Of the 100 IT directors surveyed, 66% said they believed VoIP was robust enough to carry voice, a figure that rose to 80% of respondents in the financial services sector.

Councils running shared services to save £140m

Councils can make annual savings of £140m by joining forces to run shared services, a new Audit Commission report has found. High staff turnover, old IT systems, backlogs and the use of temporary staff were identified as high cost factors. The savings that could be achieved far exceed the target of £75m a year over three years set by the government.

OINto share legally safe Linux-based technology

Major IT suppliers have formed a new company to share legally safe Linux-based technologies. IBM, Sony, Philips, Red Hat and Novell have formed the Open Invention Network (OIN). The company aims to protect developers and users from legal action as a result of using patented technology. Until now, many users have been wary about using Linux for fear that its open source development could have relied on other companies' patented technology without their permission, leaving them vulnerable to legal action.

Cisco and Microsoft join forces on VoIP

Microsoft and Cisco Systems have joined forces to make it easier for firms to adopt voice over IP systems. They are working to integrate the Interactive Connectivity Establishment protocol into Microsoft software. This will help VoIP communications on corporate networks to get through network address translators, which can stop VoIP systems from working correctly.

Met Police CIO gets deeper in to strategy

Director of information at the Metropolitan Police Service, Ailsa Beaton, has been elected head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) information management business area (IMBA). The appointment will involve developing a national policing information strategy.

Barclays appoints UBS' Freeborn as new CIO

Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank, has appointed Philip Freeborn as its new managing director and CIO, responsible for the firm's technology function globally. Freeborn has been at UBS for the past 12 years in technology roles, with responsibility for several thousand global IT professionals. He will join Barclays Capital in January 2006.

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