Why Upgrade Your Telephone System

Why Upgrade Your Current Business Telephone System

There are so many solutions out there when it comes to telephone systems for business, it can sometimes be difficult for businesses to correctly asses the telecommunications market for an effective solution. With leading brands such as Panasonic, NEC, Samsung, Cisco, Avaya, LG, BT, Yealink & much more it can be confusing. Whenever your business considers upgrading the telephone system ask yourself this question. Does the phone system meet your requirements/ expectations?

Signs You Need To Upgrade Your Telephone System

Due to the ever changing nature of telephony & technology, both customer and business requirements are frequently evolving.

✓ Your business phone system is unable to grow alongside your business.
✓ Your business telephone system has a lack of features.
✓ Your enterprise has a system for each facility.
✓ Poor or crackly voice calls.
✓ Can’t cope with large amounts of call volume.
✓ Your telephone system is not compatible with VoIP.
✓ Your system system will not support mobile telecommunications

Things To Consider For A Telephone System Upgrade

✓ How could your current phone system operate in the manner you would like it to.
✓ How can you improve the communications infrastructure in your business.
✓ Does your business require dect or desk based telephones.
✓ Could your business benefit from Cloud, VoIP & SIP future-proofed telephony.
✓ Is there any specific features that your business would like to take advantage of.
✓ If your current telephone system stopped functioning, is it covered by maintenance.
✓ Could your business benefit from Unifying its Communications.

Features & Functionalities To Consider When Upgrading Your Telephone System

✓ Call Recording

Call recording can aid your business to improve & monitor its communications infrastructure, monitor your staffs performance with call recording which will help the training process. Also in-wake of the recent hoax communications Schools & Academies have been receiving, call recording has helped to protect Schools from hoax terrorist threats.

✓ Call Reporting

Call reporting, again can help your business to analyse & improve the current telecommunication infrastructure. Has your business ever missed call? Was that missed call a potential opportunity? With call reporting you can manage your sales staff & in-coming inquiries, i.e. how long does it take for an in-coming inquiry to be answered. Call reporting within the sales environment can help your business identify the efficiency of the person on the telephone.

✓ Computer Telephony Integration

Computer telephony integration refers to a set of technologies which allows your business to incorporate telephony into any given computer. CTI solutions allow businesses to become much more efficient as there is a sense of increased mobility within the workplace, this has been proven within many industries.

✓ Call Conferencing

With call conferencing your business can eliminate the need for face to face meetings/ discussions. By simply communicating through teleconferencing, your business will negate the need of having to make multiple phone calls. Simply make one call and conference all the needed recipients into the call. In many cases it saves time, money and helps businesses avoid situations of miscommunication.

✓ Music On Hold

In some cases 34% of callers who hang up will not call back, or even that 54% of callers believe that a business sounds more professional if there is bespoke professional music & or messaging playing. Music on hold is key for businesses, impress your clients with bespoke music & informative messaging.

How Can My Business Benefit From A Telephone System Upgrade?

We would advise any business to review your communications if the set-up no longer meets your requirements. If the system is dated and no longer meets the needs of the business, it is time to review your communications. We would also advise businesses to consider upgrading their telephone system due to the ISDN & Analogue line switch off set for 2025, all businesses will need to be migrated to Cloud, SIP or VoIP by 2025. You could upgrade your telephone system now & take full advantage of a system that is future-proofed which incorporates the latest features, which in turn helps improve efficiency & productivity of the business.

Humor: Artificial intelligence’s greatest obstacle

It’s been said that the true test of mastering a foreign language is the ability to make a joke in that language. While a sense of humor is usually second nature for most native speakers, it’s surprisingly difficult—if not impossible—to teach. It’s so difficult, in fact, that some reason that the development of a sense of humor will be the ultimate test for artificial intelligence. To understand the difficulty in teaching artificial intelligence to be humorous, consider what goes into making a joke.

What’s in a joke?

On a recent trip to Australia, comedy writer, David Misch observed two manta rays engaged in—shall we say—extracurricular activities. With perfect comedic timing, he quipped “Hey! It’s fifty shades of ray!” The joke led his friend, a former computer programmer interested in artificial intelligence, to think about whether a computer could ever be programmed to make that joke—not merely be programmed to repeat it, but truly generate it were it exposed to the same circumstances that David Misch was.

In the end, it was determined that in order for an artificially intelligent computer to make that joke, it would need to be able to perform numerous, instant calculations. It would need to be able to connect the two very different topics of manta ray intercourse and human S and M, then it would need to be able to access the entirety of pop culture references to human S and M ultimately settling on Fifty Shades of Grey. Then it would need the ability to appreciate the pun, understand the rhyme of “ray” and “grey,” and gauge the audience’s ability to get the joke. Finally, artificial intelligence would need to do all of this in a blink of an eye to achieve good comedic timing (the joke wouldn’t have been funny five minutes later).

The moral of this story is that a lot goes into the making of a good joke and artificial intelligence is still far away from being able to replicate it.

Funny AI

Though artificial intelligence is still a long way away from developing a sense of humor, that hasn’t stopped humans from trying. Apple executives, for instance, were not overly thrilled to learn that those who programmed Siri, the iPhone’s built-in personal assistant, had managed to work in a few jokes. Microsoft’s counterpart, Cortana, is likewise programmed to give humorous responses to certain questions. Of course the major difference is that these artificial intelligences are merely parroting back jokes that they were programmed to say in response to specific questions, not generating their own humor.

The ultimate test

Some have theorized that in order for AI to reach its full potential, humans will need to feel comfortable interacting with it. Developing a sense of humor will certainly need to be a part of that process. Of course, that’s easier said than done. For the time being, we’ll have to be content with Siri’s dry sense of humor that she inherited from computer programmers.

VoIP Phone Systems Buying Guide For Small Businesses

VoIP Phone Buying Guide For Small Businesses

VoIP phones are great for small businesses, if you have not already seen our previous blog article which details 7 reasons why your business should be moving to VoIP phones, Find Out More… Due to the nature of a VoIP phone, they are great for small businesses & offices as they are:

VoIP Phone System For Small Business Benefits

✓ Cost effective
✓ Continuity friendly
✓ Remote working friendly
✓ Scalability friendly
✓ Effective for audio quality
✓ Feature rich

VoIP Phones

We are going to take you through a buying guide. We will detail what you need to consider and how your business should best implement VoIP phones. Of course the requirements are going to be dependent on the size of your business, however choosing a VoIP phone could indeed cost your businesses next to nothing or it could in fact leave your business with unparalleled up front costs. Be sure to Arrange A Call Back, if you are thinking of making to switch to VoIP.

Things To Consider For VoIP Phones

✓ Is your broadband strong – CHECK NOW
✓ Will you need continuity options i.e. power over Ethernet
✓ What telephone will you use for your VoIP solutions – BROWSE NOW
✓ Is it cheaper to go VoIP vs traditional, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK

What You’ll Need For Successful VoIP Phones

✓ Strong broadband access – (This is vital as VoIP is broadband hungry)
✓ A VoIP phone adapter with router (depending on your requirements)
✓ A cordless or corded telephone
✓ A battery backup for power over Ethernet (If you want continuity options)

VoIP Phones For Small Businesses

VoIP phones definitely give small businesses substantial reasons to switch over from a traditional phone system, the benefits are too significant to ignore. You save capital as you are putting voice over internet protocol and your business will also be able to implement a fail safe option. We would suggest that your business does ensure you have strong reliable broadband before considering VoIP phone solutions, if you are not quiet sure give us a call on 03333 66 33 33 and let us check for you.

Consider The Negatives Of Using VoIP Phones

Your business should also consider the negative implications for incorporating VoIP phones. The 1st negative is of course if your internet service is disrupted, naturally so will your VoIP phone service. Another negative to using VoIP phones is, emergency calls can become something of a challenge, they do not use NANP phone numbers so there is no location association, meaning there is no way of emergency services knowing where you are in the event of an emergency if you were outside the office. Also consider the latency and traffic issues, if you don’t have the best broadband connection then your VoIP phone service will suffer with, stutters and latency in services which means poor quality calls. (Do consider that many of the negatives are associated with poor broadband).

Backing Up Files Isn’t Just About Saving Your Work Information

Every responsible business owner knows that backing up files related to your business is not just smart – it’s essential. You may use a thumb drive. You may use the Cloud. You may even have a backup hard drive attached to your computer for just that reason. But if you’re not also backing up photos, emails, music and personal files, you could lose more than you bargained for in the next power outage.

Most of the really terrible stories data storage companies hear happen after the computer crashed. That’s because so many small business owners are diligent about backing up files for their business, but they completely forget about their personal information.

We understand why, too. Many business owners use a specific computer for personal use, and one for their business. But we’re willing to bet that you use your home computer for work, too. So while you always remember to backup your hard drive at work, you probably forget to do so at home. That means you’re not backing up photos, e-cards or important documentation that you could lose through file corruption after a storm.

Another Backup Hard Drive Can Make All the Difference

Pretend for a moment that the computer crashed, and you’ve just turned it back on. Suddenly, you see the BSOD – or the Blue Screen of death, as it’s commonly called by college students and techies. You try entering through safe mode; you try working with the screen commands before Windows even opens. But try as you might, you can’t access the information on your computer – and you forgot to plug in your backup hard drive. Sure, it reminds you that backing up files at home is important – but are you fully aware of what you may have lost?

• Pictures: Graduations, holidays, weddings, a honeymoon – all gone. If you’re not backing up your photos every time you upload them, you risk losing them for good.
• Receipts: Do you shop online? Do you save all of your receipts in your email? If you don’t, now is a good time to start. Those receipts will stay in the Cloud even after your computer crashed, so you can access them for returns, exchanges or tax purposes later.
• Bills: So many people pay their bills online now, and you may have that service run directly through your bank. But if you save questionable bills, utility cancellations or your credit information in a separate file on the computer, you could lose your records.
• Homework: If you’re taking classes online or if you have kids who use the computer, chances are that you’re backing up files through your word processing software. But once the computer crashed, those files were at risk of corruption – or deletion. The same goes for backing up photos used for science projects, book reports or even Power Point presentations. And teachers don’t like “the computer ate my homework” any more than the old story about the dog. A backup hard drive is an excellent way to save documents from disappearing into the great beyond.

So don’t forget that backing up files goes beyond saving your work-related information. You should get into the habit of backing up photos, receipts and other personal documentation as well. It might save you a lot of heartache in the end.

How To Select The Best Printer For Your Needs

There are a couple of things you need to first understand before you purchase a printer. They include;

1. Whether it is LaserJet or Inkjet.
Both LaserJet and Inkjet printers have advantages and disadvantages.

Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy than LaserJet printers. They also have very good quality print outs. However, the cost of maintaining an Inkjet printer is very high. Also, Inkjet printers make a lot of noise while printing and are slower than LaserJet printers.

LaserJet printers are expensive when buying but very cheap to maintain. Their print quality is very high and they make less noise when printing. They print faster than Inkjet printers.
2. All-In-One or Print-only.
The next thing you need to consider is whether you just want a print-only device or you need to scan copy fax and print.

Print-only printers are cheaper than All-In-One printers. However, they have limited functionality.

On the other hand, All-In-One printers have scanners, copiers and printers all put in one device. They are a little bit more expensive but very handy especially in an office setting. All-In-One printers also save space as they contain three different devices in one.

Some All-In-One printers have fax. When getting an All-In-One, always confirm if it has fax as not all of them have fax. In most cases All-In-Ones that have fax are more expensive.
3. Print Or Scan Quality.
Various aspects of print and scan qualities can be compared between different models. Print resolution is usually measured in dots per inch (DPI). The higher the number of dots per inch the better the printer.

Inexpensive inkjet models usually generate black-only prints at least as high as 600×600 DPI. Color models, meanwhile usually start as high as 4800×1200. Laser jets, meanwhile, typically produce
1200×1200 DPI or better black-only prints and 1200×600 or better color prints.

Scan quality is measured using both bit-rate and DPI measurements. If scanning is an important feature,
seek an all-in-one device that offers optical scan resolutions of at least 600×1200 DPI and at least a 24-
bit scan rate. Again, higher numbers are better (a scanner that boasts 36- or 48-bit technology will
produce even higher-quality scans).
Be sure to consider the differences between an inline scanner, in which 8.5-inch x 11-inch pages are
easily scanned by passing them through a sheet feeder, and a flat-bed scanner, in which odd-size
documents can be easily scanned just by placing them on the glass. In environments where multiplepage documents will frequently be scanned, ensure you select a model that boasts an automatic feed
tray.
4. Network Capabilities.
The days where parallel cables where used to connect printers to computers are long gone. In fact, most laptops nowadays do not even have parallel ports. Most printers nowadays are connected to computers via USB cables.

Many printers now boast integrated wireless LAN connectivity. Other models feature embedded network interface cards, making it possible to connect printers to a local area network via a
standard wired Ethernet cable, and thereby usable by multiple PCs simultaneously. Still others feature integrated Bluetooth support, which makes it possible for laptop users (among others) with Bluetooth functionality to print wirelessly without the requirement that a local area network even be present.

When reviewing a printer or multifunction device purchase, be sure to consider your organization’s needs. If multiple users will need to access the printer or all-in-one’s scanning functions, network-equipped models can eliminate the need to purchase multiple units or configure a single PC to host print services for other systems. If many users access the
local area network wirelessly, be sure to consider a printer model that also includes WLAN connectivity.

How’s all this Technology working for YOU?

Do you feel better because you are always “plugged in” or have more stress because you are?
When was the last time you;
Arranged a meeting outside your office
Picked up the phone to talk to someone instead of sending an email
Gave your fingers a “rest” from texting
Hand wrote a letter
Turned off the Smart Phone on the weekend
Took time out for your-self to recharge
Exercised, did yoga, meditated or read a book?

Yes using technology is a necessity for survival and economic growth in today’s world without borders. The challenge as Jerry Bridge of LifeWorks Education said is:

“…to learn how to use the technology we have invented rather than allow it to use us, so that it improves our human connections and does not replace them.”

Remember those human connections when we used to shake hands and meet people, talk on the phone, write letters, go to trade shows and conventions – today it is all about being LinkedIn, Blogged, Tweeted, Meeting On Line, Skypeing, and being tied to the Internet! I yearn for the days when phone calls were private –now everywhere I go I am bombarded with people’s conversations on their blue tooth enabled phone that I have no interest in hearing and topics that should not be shared in public. Put them behind the wheel of a car, and now you have a one-handed driver distracted by a phone conversation, when they should be focused on the road and drivers around them.

Today’s generation has evolved to have the fastest fingers on a mini key board, but they are challenged when it comes to composing a letter or holding a conversation! As a Father of Gen X children, I am a prisoner of unanswered phone calls, but text messages keep me in-touch with loved ones through their chosen communication medium. Although this fills my glass half full, I miss the sound of their voices. Texts and emails can be so bland and one dimensional, while in a conversation you can detect subtleties, emotions and laugh together – replacing them with LOL and OMG is just not the same!

The same applies to business, where the email has become the standard with its own lexicography and rules. Be careful not to CAPITALIZE words though or you could be unintentionally (or intentionally) sending a message you would think second about doing in person. The thoughtful writer puts that difficult email into their Draft folder, and reviews it the next day to make sure it communicates the desired message. Unless it is critical it can wait 24 hours, because as we all know once you push the Send button you cannot pull it back! Some of the most admired and successful companies today – SouthWest Airlines is the first one that comes to mind- have instilled a culture that combines the various techno mediums with human touch to make the individual feel special and valued. If you really want to “WOW someone”, send them a hand written note to say Thank You for their time, hospitality or business, and renew that human connection!

So share with us when was the last time you;
Arranged a meeting outside your office
Picked up the phone to talk to someone instead of sending an email
Gave your fingers a “rest” from texting
Hand wrote a letter
Turned off the Smart Phone on the weekend
Took time out for your-self to recharge
Exercised, did yoga, meditated or read a book?

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Gatekeeper Business Solutions, Inc., nor Peter Dehlinger, accepts liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

There’s an awful lot of discussion about the benefits of cloud computing – and not a whole lot about what it is, exactly. So how can you know if cloud computing technology is something that will actually be useful to you, if the very definition of cloud computing is as nebulous as its namesake?

If you’ve ever asked yourself “What is the cloud” or “How does cloud computing work,” then this is your lucky day. The following information was compiled to help readers understand the most basic elements of Microsoft cloud computing, and the advantages of taking to the Cloud.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing technology is one you’re already familiar with if you use Gmail, Yahoo or AOL for your email. The cloud is a term used to describe the online networks where you work and play. In other words, the cloud is the place that holds all of your stuff – things like calendars, pictures, music – so that you can access it at any time. If you use social networking sites, you’ve already discovered the benefits of cloud computing for personal pleasure.

How Does Cloud Computing Work?

Actually, it’s pretty simple. A computer user subscribes to a cloud-based storage company, and then “sends” the information to that company. So instead of saving anything on your own personal computer, you’d save it on the online network run by the storage company. (One the benefits of cloud computing is that your own computer stays uncluttered, because all of your information is stored somewhere else.) Then, when you wish to retrieve that information – as in, you wanted to listen to your music or look at pictures, or you needed a particular spreadsheet or document – you’d either A) have the information sent to you from the storage company, or B) access the information on the network yourself.

Are there economic benefits of cloud computing?

Absolutely. The economic benefits of cloud computing are especially clear for business owners, because it can almost completely eliminate the cost of software. Owners who use computers not only have to purchase the actual physical machines, but also the software programs that run on those computers. With cloud computing technology, an owner can use the network to run applications that normally have to be purchased. This can save an owner thousands of dollars, while allowing for additional choices in terms of providers.

What Can Cloud Computing Technology Do for Me.

Internet of things for home automation.

 

In a word? EVERYTHING. The basic tenet of Microsoft cloud computing is that multiple networks are faster, stronger and better protected than the average computer. And one of the great benefits of cloud computing is automatic backup. Cloud computing technology ensures much larger areas for data storage, so anything you save on the cloud will be saved in multiple spaces, guaranteeing that you’ll always have it around.

So does that mean you should never save anything on your physical computer? No – important things should be saved whenever and wherever they can. But now you can keep them safe and access them wherever you are. It’s kind of like taking your computer with you wherever you go, without the hassle of actually lugging around the desk top.

Microsoft cloud computing has revolutionized the way we think about data storage, the way we treat our information – the way we work and play online. When people ask “How does cloud computing work for me,” they’re usually not thinking about the massive changes it’s caused in both the public and private sector. Some of the benefits of cloud computing are so subtle that we don’t even notice them – like improving the efficiency of IT responsiveness while lowering the cost. So whether you’re a business owner or a college student, there’s an application through Microsoft cloud computing that will save you time and money every time you use it.

 

The increasing use of internet in the modern era.

Health And Safety Advice For Printing Businesses

Health and safety is very important for all kinds of businesses, but especially in the printing industry with all of its associated risks and hazards. So, if you run a printing business or even if you have a dedicated printing department within your company, you need to pay attention to a few health and safety basics.

Risk Assessment

Every printing business must carry out a risk assessment, to find out what is unhealthy or unsafe in the workplace. Risks must be placed in priority order and steps must be taken to reduce or remove them. The kind of action you may need to take could include implementing new training for staff, removing dangerous obstacles, ordering new safety equipment and fixing any safety issues.

Access

It is very important for your employees to be able to access all parts of the workplace safely. This is why you need to:

  • Clear walkways of printer paper stock, ink and toner cartridges, waste materials and storage equipment
  • Clean up spillage, excess product and waste materials right away
  • Ensure there is enough storage space for all supplies and stock, so that work areas are kept clear
  • Provide enough lighting to illuminate all work areas
  • Carry out regular inspections of work areas to identify hazards and risks

Electrical issues

There are many things you need to do to ensure your electrical systems are safe to use. Measures include installing emergency stop buttons on machinery, using portable safety switches and using only licensed electricians for electrical work.

Employees

You need to do all you can to protect your employees from harm whilst at work. This is why you need to train them properly on everything from how to correctly use colour laser printers to how to operate heavy machinery.

Hazardous substances

Printing businesses are more likely than others to use chemicals and hazardous substances. To make the working environment safe, you need to:

  • Dispose of waste products (i.e. used inkjet cartridges) properly
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the workplace
  • Store toner and other chemicals in a safe and fireproof storage solution
  • Label all substances properly

Cost-Effective Video Matrix Switch Installations

Matrix switches, sometimes called crosspoint switches or crossbar switches, are a special category of switches that allow many different inputs to be routed independently to any of a number of outputs. Each input can go to one output or be split to multiple outputs simultaneously.

Video matrix switches, as the name implies, switch video signals between several sources (such as cameras, computers, DVD players, and cable boxes) and displays (monitors, TVs, or projectors). This type of switch is in use almost anywhere multiple video feeds are shown – auditoriums, trade shows, military command centers, airport terminals, sports bars, security surveillance control rooms, etc.

There are many different video signal formats – composite video, S-video, YPbPr component video, VGA, etc. – that are not directly compatible with each other. While there are some very expensive matrix switches on the market today that use proprietary modules to translate between these different formats, most customer applications use only a single format and do not require this added complexity and cost. A well-designed, inexpensive matrix switch that supports multiple video formats, but will not convert them is a cost-effective yet versatile solution for switching inputs and outputs with the same video format.

For more extensive installations requiring a large number of inputs and outputs, keeping all of the sources and displays in close proximity to the switch becomes less practical. The most common and cost-efficient method of long distance video transmission is over twisted pair cable, such as CAT5. In this configuration a specialized video extender is connected to each video source, which transmits the video (and optionally audio and other signals) up to 1000’ away. Likewise, a mating receiver is connected at every display device to reconvert the signal back into a standard format. Using a compatible video matrix switch in between, the components of the system can be spread out and tailored to the installation site.

There are several advantages for using a switch with CAT5 cable over coaxial cable, like RG-6: the cable itself is less expensive; it is thinner and more flexible, which is easier to install; and the jacks for the modular RJ45 connectors can be more tightly spaced, reducing the necessary enclosure height for a given size matrix switch.

Network Technologies Inc’s newest VEEMUX® Audio/Video Matrix Switch, the SM-16Xn-C5AV-1000, is designed to route A/V signals distributed by NTI’s 600’ and 1000’ video extenders. The switch allows connections from any transmitter unit to any receiver unit of compatible type. When used with NTI’s latest EDID-capable extenders, it can also transfer plug-and-play information about the display device to the transmitter unit from a single receiver unit, a composite of multiple receiver units, or a default value table.

This latest addition to the VEEMUX family is available in matrix sizes of 16×16, 16×32, 16×48, and 16×64. Of the 16 inputs, one port (port 16) is also capable of using a direct VGA and stereo audio local connection, selectable via DIP switch. For every bank of 16 outputs, one port (ports 16, 32, 48, and 64) splits its signal to a local VGA and stereo audio output. As a result of an innovative design, each NTI switch uses the least amount of rack space for its matrix size compared to other switches in the industry, saving cost when rack space is at a premium. For example, NTI’s largest switch, the 16×64, is only 3RU, while the other switches on the market with the same number of inputs and outputs are as large as 16RU.

The SM-16Xn-C5AV-1000 matrix switch can be controlled from the front panel keypad, optional infrared remote control, RS232 port, 10/100 Ethernet port, or USB console port. The front panel has a backlit LCD, which allows the user to see switch connections, system settings, and a digital VU-meter for audio level (right and left channels) of the currently selected port. A built-in web server provides a graphical interface for port switching, settings, and DDC information accessible from any connected computer’s browser.

NTI’s VEEMUX SM-16Xn-C5AV-1000 is a cost-effective and space-saving video matrix switch that will prove to be invaluable in most installations requiring a large number of inputs and outputs with long distance video transmission.

The importance of data security during IT disposal in the NHS

On the back of countless stories in the news, the issue of data security is a hot topic at the moment. In the UK’s public sector, the need for organisations to tighten up on their policies is particularly pressing. In the course of the past few months the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been clamping down heavily on breaches of sensitive data, resulting in some significant fines being levied against offenders.

In light of these developments, the ICO has issued guidance that organisations should have a policy in place for the disposal of their IT equipment. The wording states that organisations should be careful that they “don’t overlook asset disposal – if you use a contractor to erase data and dispose of or recycle your IT equipment, make sure they do it adequately. You may be held responsible if personal data gathered by you is extracted from your old IT equipment when it is resold.”

One area of the public sector that has to cope with the aforementioned adverse publicity lately has been the NHS. The most recent example of this is the case of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, who have been served with a record fine of £325,000 by the ICO. This was a consequence of sensitive data on hard drives not being securely destroyed, with hard drives containing this information being sold to the general public on an internet auction site.

It’s a difficult time for NHS IT Directors, with average predicted IT spending cuts of 10% in 2012, rising to 12% each year after until 2015. Against this background, it is vital that NHS Trusts put into place firm policies which will help them avoid significant ICO fines that they can scarcely afford to pay. Stringent policies are mostly already in place for how NHS bodies handle sensitive data while their IT equipment is in use, and applying the same strict procedures to data when disposing of old computers should be common practice.

Where NHS organisations lack the expertise to destroy data in-house – with reducing IT budgets this will likely become the norm – it is crucial they seek to employ the services of a trusted third party. Often these companies will be able to perform data destruction services onsite, thus eliminating any concerns over what happens when old hard drives leave NHS premises. These companies should also provide full certification of the process with details of hard drives destroyed by serial number.

Inaction on data destruction is no longer an option, and a shift towards stronger policies will not only help NHS Trusts comply with ICO guidelines, but also serve to protect the confidential details of patients falling into the wrong hands.