Corporate Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award – setting our course for excellence in Armed Forces community engagement

At the end of July Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced the opening of a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs, a hub established to coordinate and drive Government policy on veterans’ mental and physical health, education and employment.

While this is clearly an excellent development, at Sopra Steria we believe that responsibility for helping veterans to access rewarding and gainful employment extends beyond the UK Government and into the private sector. There are initiatives that industry can drive to support the effectiveness of this new office, leveraging technology to bring together the veteran community. 

The Armed Forces community possesses a wealth of qualities that enrich business. In our organisation we have often found that veterans come to us having held posts of phenomenal responsibility, sometimes having managed teams that are much larger and more complex than those that they’ll encounter in the corporate world.

To engage and retain such outstanding individuals, it is important that businesses bear in mind that many veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community (including spouses of serving members, reservists and cadet instructors) have differing professional and personal development needs from their counterparts. The Armed Forces are unique; our conventions and turns of phrase often baffle the uninitiated! Leaving the familial military environment and entering the commercial sphere can be a big step, even for a community known for its grit and agility.

It is for this reason that I and other business leaders at Sopra Steria signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in 2013. Our public commitment signals to veterans that we value the contribution that they can bring to our organisation and offer practical help and support to facilitate their introduction to a domain less familiar. I am delighted that we have now been awarded Bronze status under the Employer Recognition Scheme; an important step that sets out our intention to structure and professionalise our approach to Armed Forces community engagement. Bronze Award is a stepping stone on our journey to best practice, a destination that will rank us employer of choice for these talented people. We will focus new energy on this in the coming months, with the aim to digitally-enable this powerful community.

Vern Davis – Managing Director for Aerospace, Defence and Security

How the Public Make Contact with the Police

Today making the best use of technology is high on the agenda in UK policing. Senior officials are continually looking at ways in improving their use of technology, in order to keep more officers on the streets, aid in their investigations as well as making it easier for the public to report incidents and crime.

We spoke to Mark Burns -Williamson, Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on the use of technology in the reporting and management of crime.

Mark commented:

“People use technology in their everyday lives now and there is an expectation from the public that the police are making the best use of technology.”

The way in which citizens are reporting crime is changing as well as a huge strain felt on the 999 and 101 telephone systems – meaning that police forces across the UK are looking at ways in which they can provide better contact services to citizens through the use of technology.

Much like other service providers with a public contact need, the police must look at more ways in which the public can digitally make contact whether be online, via instant messaging applications or by other means.

This interview is part of our Policing Spotlight series where we explore key issues relating to policing in the UK, with senior law enforcement figures. To view the video interview and follow the series, visit our Policing Spotlight page.

How Technology Helps Incident Room Call Handlers

In an emergency situation police control room call handlers need effective technology solutions to help them respond and deploy the appropriate help to, in many cases, life or death situations.

We spoke to Steve Austin, Regional Account Manager of APD, a partner of Sopra Steria.

SmartContact  is a control room solution jointly provided by Sopra Steria and APD. It enables the public to make contact with the police via various channels for example through web chat or instant messaging. In some cases, the issue can be resolved swiftly through this means of communication.

A call handler is able to track an individual’s call history, through the audit trail of contacts provided by the systems Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capabilities. This crucially provides the call handler context in relation to a particular individual e.g. a vulnerable person who may contact the police in a particular way to report being in danger. This information is made immediately available to the call handler each time the individual makes contact.

Technology can and does help call handlers in police incident rooms manage critical calls more effectively providing increased assistance to the public.

This interview is part of our Policing Spotlight series where we explore key issues relating to policing in the UK, with senior law enforcement figures. To view the video interview and follow the series, visit our Policing Spotlight page.

Policing on the frontline – observations from an evening on patrol

There is no denying that as a society we face many issues, at a macro level we are tackling issues around immigration, organised crime and drugs. Locally, our police forces find themselves dealing with petty criminals, knife crime, drug misuse and domestic violence. Police officers find themselves trying to operate in the face of increasing bureaucracy, stiffer scrutiny, decreasing funding and dwindling officer numbers. 

A survey undertaken by the Police Federation earlier this year revealed that smaller numbers of officers were on patrol and in some cases working alone, with nine in ten officers saying they don’t feel there are enough of them to manage demand. Officers find themselves having to be more reactive than proactive, yet continue to work tirelessly, with the resources they have, in order to keep the public safe.

I say this because recently I experienced many of these issues first hand. As a long standing technology provider to South Yorkshire, assisting them in their emergency and crime response, I was interested to experience the realities of being on a patrol shift.  I joined two PCs Simon and Kieron of South Yorkshire Police on an evening patrol shift.

The police continue to do a great job despite depleted resources and increased pressures

During patrol Simon showed me what technology and communications they routinely used.  He was honest about the positive and negative aspects of what technology was delivering both to the front line PC and the command and control staff who support them. The picture is mixed and there is certainly more that technology can do to give front line officers better situational awareness, control of resources and better intelligence on which to base operations. 

After only a short time on patrol, we responded to a shop lifting at a major DIY store. Intrinsically not a serious offence, but dig a little deeper and you find that the perpetrators were part of a wider group of people, which would constitute an organised crime network. 

I was told that groups target various aisles in various stores and steal either to supply themselves or to sell on for the cash. They target large stores and stores with a ‘no challenge’ policy (in place to protect their staff). I can only imagine the cost to business of this endemic problem.

Our patrol decided that these particular culprits should be arrested. By making that decision it meant five officers and three vehicles were needed to arrest the offenders and take them into custody – female officers were required to attend due to some of the offending group being female.

This is a prime example of an issue that affects society at local and macro level, and one that our police officers have to contend with as a part of their day-to-day efforts.  

It’s not as simple as we need more police on the streets

In the example of the patrol shift I was on, what struck me are the systemic issues facing a Police Officer nowadays. After the arrest of the shoplifters, the two officers on patrol then returned to the station to complete paperwork for the remainder of the shift.

In a seven hour shift, the officers I was with were only able to respond to one incident. The rest of the shift was spent doing the required reporting, paperwork and chain of evidence needed to process these three people, all of whom were released later the same day to face charges again at some point in the future.

There are wider systemic and societal issues at play

The criminal justice system can at times exacerbate the issue. In crimes similar to the incident I witnessed, there is a cycle of re-offence, short term incarceration and then release to begin the cycle again.

With no threat of serious consequences, criminals will continue to offend in this way without the threat of their lives being significantly altered. This results in officers time and time again, having to focus their efforts on the arrest of re-offenders and the resource that comes with it.

Huge societal pressures coupled with lack of funding and suboptimal use of technology is making life harder for our police on the ground.

What also struck me is the disrespect shown to the police, and the wider criminal system. Due to changing attitudes and in the knowledge that they will not face severe consequences, some people feel it is OK for police officers to be disrespected, taunted and verbally and physically abused. It isn’t right, and although the police take it in their stride they really should be better protected.

Being on patrol for only a few hours felt like a microcosm of today’s society. With serious organised crime, as well as knife and gang related crime plaguing our local communities, our police officers are under unprecedented pressure to keep the public safe and combat crime, while being subject to abuse themselves.

Technology can help if maximised

My reason for going on patrol with an officer was to gain frontline insight into why we do what we do at Sopra Steria.

We are long term supporters of the public sector and law enforcement in the UK – providing digital transformation and critical technology to our emergency services, including information and communications technology to aid control room and incident response through our SmartSTORM and SmartContact systems. 

Policy changes to keep PCs out of the station and on the streets are a welcome development. However to do this right, officers and their vehicles have to be equipped with the right information and communications technology. For example, cars need to be transformed into true mobile operating units, with high definition screens integrating the full suite of information and communications technology which aid officers in quick and effective response.    

It is easy to cast over-simplified assertions on the realities of how safe our streets are today. My experience on patrol demonstrates a very complex landscape in regards to frontline policing.

In the quest for more proactive preventative policing, maximising current technology, and striving for continued innovation will go a long way towards helping our police forces run more effectively in serving and protecting the public.

Vern Davis, Managing Director, Aersopace, Defence and Security

It’s been emotional

CareerReady 2019 – in the words of the interns

Here’s the story of 5 Career Ready interns and their 4 week internship in the Sopra Steria Edinburgh DigiLab…..

Jack

Hello my name is Jack. I’m 17 years old and my 4-week internship with Sopra Steria is coming to an end. To be completely honest I was originally was just doing this for the money. I mean what 17 year old wouldn’t like £1000? But my mentor Craig took me to the office for a visit before I started, and it seemed like it was going to be a very nice place to work. He explained how useful the internship would be and it made me excited to get started. I really wanted to learn new things and have something extra I can put on my CV. Also, the money is still a pretty big motivator, but don’t tell Stephen that.  

Jackson

Bonjour mon copains, Jackson aged 16 speaking. On the lead up to the internship I’m not going to lie I began to regret making the decision to use up 3 weeks of my Summer working. However, I kept telling myself it would be worth it as I would gain experience of working in an office environment and develop skills such as problem solving, confidence and teamwork as well as independence and self-management. I really wanted the experience to put on my CV as it was looking a bit empty as it was. I’d never heard of Sopra Steria before which at first made me nervous, though as it got closer to the starting date, I visited my mentor at the office and met a few of her colleagues which reassured me that everyone was kind. Also, once Nikki told me what kind of tasks, I would be given I knew that there was a possibility I might have a good time.  

Daniel

Hi anyone who may be reading this, I am aged 17 and have spent 4 weeks doing an internship at Sopra Steria with Career Ready. My predictions were nothing near the reality. I thought it was going to be working at a desk all day following around our mentors and doing everything for them E.g Making him cups of coffee and running to the printer. Not long after I thought that my mentor told me I was going to be more involved with everyone which made me think I’d enjoy it a lot more than I thought I was going to when I first heard about my placement. If I was to be truly honest, I was only in it for the money and the fact of getting a good piece of work experience at the end of it for future jobs. 

Elise

Hi all I’m Elise, I’m 16 and spent my four-week internship in Sopra Steria. Before I started this internship, I thought it was going to be some boring office job you hear about like accounting or writing emails, I didn’t know what we were going to do and that fear of not knowing what it would be like made me really nervous before starting. I was nervous about who I would be working with as although I knew a couple of the interns, I didn’t know everyone, and I didn’t want things to be weird in the team. I will always remember getting on the bus in the morning at rush hour for the first time, I was so nervous about what I was doing and what it would be like, I didn’t want to mess up but I told myself it would be good. Once I started working and got to know who I was working with these nerves and worries all faded away. 

Kaia

Hi there my name is Kaia and I am 17 years old , before starting this internship I was very nervous about what to expect and was really out of my comfort zone I was also anxious to meet everyone including the other interns and people who actually worked in the office and was hoping they would be welcoming and just all round nice people which luckily for me they were. I didn’t fully know what to expect and that can be scary going into a new place and doing something you haven’t experienced before. The first day was a bit awkward with all the interns but that was expected and I think once we all felt a bit more comfortable with being in this new work space with people we didn’t know and realised we were all in the same boat we opened up a lot more. 

Project #1: #DigitalTherapy

This was our first task given to us by Stephen. We were challenged with finding a way to provide further knowledge about office365 and especially teams to people working within Sopra Steria. We created a planner as a team to make sure we were staying on task, always had something to do and were staying organized. As part of #DigitalTherapy we used different research techniques for example we carried out interviews, created personas, created and carried out surveys and researched teams itself. Another way Stephen wanted to get office365 used more in the office was through classes that taught people about a specific topic each time. Therefor we planned classes for different groups of people based on their knowledge of office365 but in the sort time we were there we combined the different strengths for one lesson which Stephen lead the next week. We held a marketing brainstorm which lead to many branding ideas like the advert video which we planned and filmed. 

Learning: Personas with Fionn

We talked to Fionn who works in service design. We started off with an ice breaker as it was our first day, and Fionn talked about what he did. We did an activity where Fionn had lots of photos of someone’s day, and we had to arrange them in order from the start of their day to the end. We then created a persona for who we thought this person was and designed a prototype for an app which would help them change a career. Stephen tested this app as we observed him and got feedback. 

Leaning: Customer Research with Anna

We talked to Anna from user research. She told her about her job and explained how when creating a product, you must think about the user and not yourself. She taught us different techniques how to gather information on how a user uses your product. She set us an activity to observe people who worked in the building using the card operated gates at reception.  

Learning: Agile Methodology with Valerie

We talked to Valerie who is an agile methodology coach. She taught us what agile methodology is and helped us implement that into our own work planner which was overflowing with big tasks. 

Learning: User Experience (UX) with James

We talked to James who is from User Experience. He told us what user experience means and does. He taught us about low and high-fidelity prototypes and iterative processes and helped us in an activity to build a website for #DigitalTherapy. 

Learning: Website Prototypes with Bryce

We attended the design teams ‘feedback Friday’ where Bryce presented the site, he had coded which allows you to create high-fidelity prototypes of websites. 

Learning: LinkedIN with Lauren

We met Lauren who talked us through creating a LinkedIN account and the importance of the network. She gave us advice on preparing for interviews and getting a job. So look us up!

Project #2: DigiHacks

Stephen with help from Brian Wall had set us the task to create DigiHacks. Short videos to teach people shortcuts on their laptops to make their work lives more efficient, for example Windows L locks your screen. To start we planned what a hack was and how to make the videos short and catchy but informative. The next step was to split into two teams, one focused on branding and the other on beginning to film the hacks. We then had a meeting with Brian Wall where he clarified what he wanted, and he approved the filmed hacks. From there we designed a DigiHack intro to put at the beginning at each hack. We had finished the rest of the hacks in our back-log and added the intro to them. 

Project #3: Office Re-design

As our third task we were presented with the challenge by Nikki to create a presentation with ideas on how the Sopra Steria office could be improved to meet the needs of the staff. To gather feedback on what the staff thought was lacking in the office we created a survey on forms to e-mail around the office. Feedback gathered from said survey was added to our power point presentation. Also, on the power point we added laws about office layouts in order to stay within the boundaries of the law when re-designing the office. Using both the feedback and the laws we began to re-design the office, picking out new furniture to go with the design. With all this information in our power point, we were able to come together to present our ideas as a team to a small group of people. 

Project #4: Mortgages

After we finished these projects, we were all split up and given different projects. The issue for the project was mortgages and was done by Elise, it was about how the mortgage companies where taking advantage of customers making them unhappy, how customers where jumping from mortgage company to mortgage company to get the best rate and large percentages of people who couldn’t get mortgages due to their lifestyle. So, I was tasked in finding emotional case studies about people who were dealing or dealt with these issues, what banks in the UK are trying to solve these issues and if they haven’t why can’t they solve them. Then I started researching and what I found shocked me. I found issues on 3 of the six issues and the information found on three of the issues was very little with only a couple of case studies for one issue. So, I sent off the research and talked about how the lack of information shows how much an issue these issues are. 

Project #5: Smart office

The project Daniel did was working with OpenHAB. Daniel had to burn Linux Ubuntu 19.04 (a new operating system) onto a DVD, then had to wipe the computer to install the disk. Daniel then had to dive into the computers terminal and use commands to be able to install OpenHAB. Once installed you need to go to paperUI through OpenHAB and find the bindings to install the Phillips hue binding to then create a bridge between all the lights and connect the motions sensors to the lights so then Daniel got HABpannel to create an interface with Light switches, colour picker, showing the date and time etc. 

Project #6: Funded Innovation

Jack and Jackson worked on the Funded Innovation project which is the idea of companies and organisations providing funding to solve problems/issues innovatively and competatively.

We used Excell to bring all of the previous competitions and prizes together in a report which we presented to Dan Broomham who is Director of Digital.

Overall opinions – questions and answers 

Opinions: Elise

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

I found these tasks challenging, at the start they really felt like rather big tasks that would be hard to achieve but once we started getting into the swing of the work and started getting things completed, I started feeling like the projects were achievable. You can only do the best you can, and we definitely done the best we could do in these projects. There were tasks within the projects that I had difficulties with but overcame and overcoming them is such a great feeling, a lot of these difficult tasks I overcame with my teammates.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

I think I’ve took away a lot from my internship, I have really learnt a lot being here every task we done and members of the workforce who came to talk to us. I’ve gained so much more confidence from this experience but also learnt when to step back and let others contribute their thoughts and ideas. I’ve learned what it is like to be in and work in a very diverse work space that is very open and collaborative, I definitely wasn’t expecting the internship to be so collaborative. I’ve also learned to cope with long work hours for a period of time which took a bit to get used too. I feel more self-confident than I was before I started and know its ok to ask for help when its needed. 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

Hmm, I can’t say it’s changed what I want to do but it’s given me more ideas of what I can do in the future and paths I can take, it’s definitely taking me think more about where I want to go career wise. 

Were there any challenges?  

Yes, there were many challenges, within the work there was challenges that we all overcame as we worked through our projects. I think it also challenged us to go out our comfort zones quite a few times. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

I was lucky in that I knew a couple of the interns before we went in but meeting the other interns, I didn’t know was lovely. As we all got to know each other we started to really enjoy one another’s company, have a good laugh and work very well together as a team. As well as the interns we met many members of the work force and they were all really lovely people to talk to and are always happy to help you out. 

Was it worth it? 

Yes, it was absolutely worth it, I spent four weeks having a laugh with a lovely group of people, learning and improving many skills, and getting paid for it. 

Opinion: Jackson 

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

Overall the tasks we were given were engaging and interesting. Although, from time to time there was little to do and the tasks became a bit repetitive, there was never a dull moment working in a team and free to use the DigiLab benefits. 

What did you take away from your internship? 

I really feel that I have honestly taken a lot from my internship. Whether its experience to put on my CV or the overall feeling of gaining a lot of independence and responsibility. Also the money isn’t too bad 😉  

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

One of my key reasons for being a part of career ready and taking on this internship was to try and clarify what it was I felt like doing in the future. This experience has defiantly shown me that I enjoy the office environment and I would defiantly be open to working in a similar environment in the future. 

Were there any challenges?  

I feel like one of the biggest challenges of the internship was just starting and not knowing what to expect and the fear of not fitting in with the other inters. A part from that, the only other big challenge was speaking in presentations and going around the office talking to different Sopra Steria employees. However, it is good to be pushed out of your comfort zone and I feel that this experience has really improved my confidence. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

I have genuinely had a great time and have felt that the other interns have been well matched by the Career Ready team and they have all been so easy to get on with. The Sopra Steria employees have been so welcoming and have made me feel so comfortable.  

Was it worth it? 

Definitely. I had nothing to lose, without the internship I would probably be getting up at 12 and spent my holiday inside. As well as getting paid, working at Sopra Steria has improve my work experience dramatically. 

Opinion: Jack 

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

I really enjoyed all the tasks I was given. They kept me engaged and I was never bored. I was surprised at how practical all the tasks were as I was expecting to just be sat at a desk all day. I think working in the DigiLab really helped with this.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

Ehh… besides the £1000? All joking aside I have learned so much about what its like to work in the world. Its taught me how different the hours are and how it’s a lot less stressful than school (most of the time) 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

It hasn’t changed what I want to do but it has made me realise what I need to do in order to get there. After being taught about linked in and how to right a cv it’s made me realise that it’s not that hard to start working. 

Were there any challenges?  

I think the main challenge was keeping my brain switched on. In school I’m used to getting a five minute break between periods and then finishing at 3, but working here was much harder as there was never a moment with nothing to do. I had to stay focused and get the tasks done. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

Everyone in the office was very friendly and welcoming and I felt like part of the office from the first day. My fellow career ready interns were all so easy to work with and have a laugh with. I have made new friends and hope to make more people like the career ready crew in the future.  

Was it worth it? 

100%. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Sopra Steria office, and it will forever be a memory I hold. Its taught me so much and is given me a big boost into the working world. On top of all of that it has taken a lot of worries out of my mind. I would do the whole thing again if I could.  

Opinion: Daniel

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

The different projects were great I really enjoyed them all. We were always so practical doing everything, never ran out of work to be doing. There was a lot of challenging parts but also some easy that I could cope with well.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

I’m taking away with me all the knowledge I had learned throughout the 4 weeks. I will continue to be more confident in things as I have always been one to be shy all the time. I will take away knowing what it’s like in the world of work a real job in the office. 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

It hasn’t changed my views on the future I still want to continue with IT as I already did before. But It has changed my views on how I’ll be writing my CV’s in the future and it has made me want to start using linkedin for looking at job adverts 

Were there any challenges?  

There were lots of challenges to begin with as I had always felt so anxious but I do feel like my confidence level has risen and hopefully I can keep it that way. There were a few other little challenges here and there but were easily over come. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

The people I have been working with are all such lovely people such as the other career ready interns and all the staff are so friendly always smiling and saying hello as you walk by them. Stephen really showed to care about us individually always making sure we’re all ok. 

Was it worth it? 

Yes it was worth it. I now know what it is like working in the real world and getting to meet so many nice people. Apart from getting the money at the end it was also worth learning new skills and knowing what to put on CV’s and most importantly it gives us further work experience for our futures’ 

From all the career ready 2019 team, Thanks for reading! 

Technology and the fight against child abuse

Technology has a critical role to play in the fight against the abuse of children and minors.

It enables law enforcement in identifying offenders online and assisting in the investigation of criminality relating to child abuse – including grooming of minors online, the distribution of indecent imagery and serious organised crime networks involving child trafficking.

Yet technology is also part of the problem, and as it advances so does the ability to facilitate abuse. Organised child abuse is now a pertinent issue internationally due to the ease in which perpetrators can access and facilitate materials and networks through web applications and other devices. 

We spoke to Chief Constable Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and NPCC lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations.

Simon comments:

“Technology is enabling me to lead the fight against this criminality however technology is also being used to facilitate abuse”.

Simon highlights that the public should always bring any concerns of child abuse to the attention of the police. There is a question around vigilante groups and their motives in the safeguarding of the children at the centre of abuse. Ultimately the only way to protect and safeguard children is to contact the police as soon as any wrongdoing or abuse is suspected.

This interview is part of our Policing Spotlight series where we explore key issues relating to policing in the UK, with senior law enforcement figures. To view the video interview and follow the series, visit our Policing Spotlight page.

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #3)

Connecting dots. Jumping curves.

So how do we connect up all these rich pools of learning? DigiLabs is the Sopra Steria hothouse for innovation, uniquely straddling our global spheres of expertise. The way we’re structured helps us bring together insight from across our eco-system to answer the critical challenges faced by our customers, with unrivalled vision and leadership.

Sopra Steria has 11 businesses lines, spanning Aerospace, Automotive, Insurance, Banking, Defense, Security, Government, Energy, Transport, Telecoms and Media. Each has an elected Digital Champion – as do each of our 5 technology streams which focus on Digital Interaction, IoT, Smart Machines, Data Science and Blockchain. These Digital Champions work as a single network, highly connected and charged with constantly sifting for innovation nuggets in their sector, helping us ‘jump the curve’ by anticipating the next big thing that will help turbo-boost digital transformation. Some Sopra Steria business lines have also created their own ‘Vertical Labs’ as a way to conduct sector-specific solution experiments, train experts, identify talents and share achievements both internally and externally.

Alongside regularly engaging with these Digital Champions, we:

  • Proactively reach out to start-up incubators to identify new technology partnerships
  • Stay closely connected to research centres, universities engineering schools
  • Enjoy close ties with high calibre strategic partners from Apple, Amazon, Google and HP to, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and Samsung — keeping us in the heart-beat of global innovation
  • Harvest insight and learning from different countries