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HP's David Chalmers on using big data to bring the Internet to deprived areas

At HP's Discover conference in Barcelona, ITProPortal spoke to David Chalmers, vice president and chief technologist of the HP Enterprise Group, about how big data and networking technologies are changing the face of government.

We asked Chalmers what HP is doing to help government stay ahead of the technological curve.

"We're having a very productive conversation with the Scottish government," Chalmers told us. "Scotland's an interesting size - it's small, with only 5 million people, but it's geographically quite stretched. If you talk about the major five cities, that's one things, but if you want to go to the Western isles, or Shetland, that's a bit of a bigger challenge to get networking out there."

"We've given the government a lot of advice there, around networking technologies, and they're getting to the point of realising that they can collect all this data, but it's useless unless you can look at it, analyse it, and see what you can do about it."

"They're very interested in kiosk-style technologies. That's because Scotland has a very diverse culture. It has wealthy areas, but also some areas facing very serious deprivation, and the concept of asking people to be online has a very different meaning in areas of deprivation. You have to make the access point very different. It has to be in a public place, like a kiosk."

"Some of the devices we're building for very low cost are PC-style devices for education. That's how you can get communication between someone stuck on an island on the far side of the Western Isles, and someone using high-speed Internet in Edinburgh."

"All governments want to be fair. They want to be even-handed, but that's actually quite difficult. There are a lot of initiatives we're talking about there."

So is government keeping apace of changes in big data analytics?

"All the parts of government I've talked to are trying," Chalmers told us. "Their hearts are in the right place, if I can put it that way. This week we announced a partnership with Norfolk County Council, and that's all around big data. Particularly around sharing data within the council. Like all parts of government, they're stuck in silos, and we're giving them some help to break out of those."

"It's a productive partnership - and I use the word 'partnership' a little hesitantly, as we've abused it as an industry for a long time - but we're helping them with graduate recruitment, we're helping them with training some of their younger staff, we're helping with getting technology into schools. There are all sorts of elements to it. It's not a matter of 'here's our stuff, buy some and good luck'."