Monthly archives: July 2010

Open Source Health Informatics (UK) Conference – London 27/10/10 3

This one day Health Informatics conference hosted and organized by the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) and ( will be held on Wednesday 27th October 2010 from around 1000 to 1700 hours at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA (

This bookable event is free and open to all with buffet and refreshments. To book a place please contact Mark Elkins via

The focus of this conference will be around the place that Open Source software should have in UK healthcare and how a coherent community might be established around it. For example would: An NHS version of OpenOffice be a practical proposition?; Could the skillsets that exist within UK healthcare be utilised to create sustainable implementations of Open Source software?; How would the requirements for this be gathered?; Is standardisation via Open Source software a viable aim across the UK healthcare sector?

Time Speaker Institution Topic
10:00 Mark Elkins &
Paul Richardson
healthMotiv Limited
Scene setting
10:15 John Chelsom & Raju Aluwhalia Centre for Health Informatics, City University Open Health Informatics – A Fresh Approach to NHS IT
11:00 Matthew Barker & Zahid Malik Canonical & Fry-IT Case Study: Great Ormond Street Hospital
11:30 Break
11:45 Denise Downs Department of Health Informatics Directorate Establishing an open source ecosystem in UK for health informatics
12:15 Les Hatton Forensic Software Engineering, Kingston University FOSS systems: why do we not use them more ?
13:00 Lunch
13:45 Didier Leibovici and Suchith Anand Centre for Geospatial Science, Nottingham University Open Source and Open Standards in Health Mapping
14:15 Malcolm Newbury Guildfoss Limited Case Study: An open source IHE XDS clinical document repository
14:45 Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton Gnumed: importing HL7 v3 lab data
15:15 Break
15:30 Eckhard Schwarzat ValueDecision Ltd Open Source solutions for the front line
16:15 Ben Tebbs Pentaho Case Study: An open source Business Intelligence suite for NHS Islington
16:45 Paul Richardson &
Mark Elkins
healthMotiv Limited &
17:00 Finish

Presentation details:

Matthew Barker, Canonical Ltd and Zahid Malik, Fry-IT discuss a case study at Great Ormond Street Hospital about using Ubuntu Linux Server Edition and OpenVZ virtualization software

John Chelsom and Raju Aluwhalia – Open Health Informatics – A Fresh Approach to NHS IT

The NHS is just emerging from a decade of wasted opportunity in the development of clinical information systems, particularly Electronic Health Records.

The National Programme for IT was a centralised approach to information sharing that has failed on a number of levels. This has delayed the introduction of new systems, weakened the commercial supplier base and disheartened many IT professionals in the service. The NHS needs a new approach to clinical IT.

Some have called for the use of more open source software, and it is true that open source and open standards can go some way towards providing long term solutions for the NHS.

But just introducing open source software risks repeating many of the mistakes that have dogged the National Programme – lack of involvement of practitioners, protection of the vested interests of product vendors, reliance on large-scale service providers and over-complicated solutions to immediate and very practical problems.

Open Health Informatics introduces two new dimensions to the open standards / open source landscape. Firstly, the use of open interfaces so that every component of a solution can be plugged in and out at will, enabling a ‘best of breed’ approach to open source and eliminating once and for all the product-centric culture that has held back the NHS.

Secondly, the use of open development processes – agile development that involves users and other stakeholders at every step of the way. Agile, open processes also eliminate the pretence that users know exactly what they want at the start of development, or that the solution provider knows exactly how to deliver it.

This presentation outlines the key concepts of Open Health Informatics, its potential benefits and drawbacks, and provides feedback on initial studies and practical implementation undertaken at City University, London.

John Chelsom is a Professor at the Centre for Health Informatics, City University, London and Managing Partner at Eleven Informatics LLP. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD for work on the application of knowledge-based systems in critical care medicine. For fifteen years he headed a software company which developed some of first web-based health records systems in the NHS and played a major part in designing and implementing systems for the National Programme for IT. He accepted the award for ‘SME of the Year’ from the BCS in 2007. At City University he heads a research programme investigating, evaluating and promoting the use of Open Health Informatics for the development of clinical information systems.

Denise Downs, Department of Health Informatics Directorate will talk about a Connecting For Health (CFH) research project with York University on establishing an open source ecosystem in UK for health informatics

Mark Elkins, Chair, OSSG will introduce and chair the conference.

Les Hatton – FOSS systems: why do we not use them more ?

We do not have a very good record in deploying successful large systems in the UK. The health sector is arguably the largest absorber of funding for such systems and as such has come in for a justifiable share of the opprobrium, with numerous difficulties being reported in various systems, notably the flagship Connecting for Health program.

What is the role of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) in all this ? It is usually greeted by suspicion and yet much of the world’s IT infrastructure depends on it.

This talk highlights some of the less obvious benefits of open source. Yes its free, but consider the following:

  • Many of its significant projects are astonishingly reliable when compared with their commercial equivalents. The Linux kernel is now by a number of measures the most reliable complex application the human race has managed to construct so far.
  • Its evolutionary aspects are much more suited to the shifting sands of requirements inherent
    in the successful deployment of major systems.
  • The unusually high quality of its amateur researchers has solved many of the world’s knottier IT problems, for example, FOSS contributors in Bayesian and other forms of filtering have effectively conquered spam. If you get spam its because of the ignorance of
    your ISP and not because of the lack of a sophisticated solution.
  • Its informal support is in my experience far better than support from big suppliers. How many levels of telephone menu can you take ?

I will give a number of examples to support these and other points including a comparative assessment of the Welsh equivalent of the Connecting for Health program.

The bottom line is that its relatively straight-forward to build high-quality scalable systems at a modest price. All you have to do is to heed important historical lessons about engineering, most of which have evolved naturally in FOSS systems.

Les Hatton MA, MSc, LLM, PhD, C.Eng is managing director of Oakwood Computing Associates Ltd. and holds the Chair of Forensic Software Engineering at the Kingston University, London. He received a number of international prizes for geophysics in the 1970s and 1980s before becoming interested in software reliability and switching careers in the 1990s. Although he has spent most of his working life in industry, he was formerly a Professor of Geophysics at the University of Delft, the Netherlands and prior to that an Industrial Fellow in Geophysics at Wolfson College Oxford.
He has published many technical papers and his 1995 book “Safer C” helped promote the use of safer language subsets in embedded control systems and paved the way for the automotive industry’s widely­used MISRA C standard. He has designed, implemented and/or managed the production of successful government and commercial IT systems, from 50,000 source lines up to the world’s first portable seismic data processing package, SKS, eventually comprising some 2,000,000 source lines.

His primary interests in computing science are forensic engineering, information security, legal liability and the theory of large systems evolution.  In mathematics, he is active in signal processing, medical image processing, sports biomechanics and modelling the effects of high frequency sound on marine mammals.

He is the guitarist and harmonica player with the Juniper Hill Blues Band.

Didier Leibovici and Suchith Anand – Open Source and Open Standards in Health Mapping

Centre for Geospatial Science, University of Nottingham

Open source geospatial software tools offer new opportunities for developers to create health mapping applications more quickly and at lower cost. The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. OSGeo also serves as an outreach and advocacy organization for the open source geospatial community, and provides a common forum and shared infrastructure for improving cross-project collaboration. The foundation’s projects are all freely available and usable under an OSI certified open source licence.  The development of standards for geospatial domain has been spearheaded by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) – a group of over 400 private, public and academic organisations. The OGC aims to facilitate interoperability between geospatial technologies through education, standards and other initiatives.

This presentation will cover the key concepts of Open Source and Open Standards in Health mapping and epidemiological studies based on initial research undertaken at Centre for Geospatial Science at the University of Nottingham. The presentation will also cover (i) different user perspectives, e.g. public and community, research, health professionals and (ii) different interaction levels, e.g. simple data “mashups” (overlay), use of web processing services (WPS) etc.

Didier G. Leibovici, is a Research Fellow in geospatial modelling and analysis, with previous posts as statistician in epidemiological/medical imaging research and as geomatician for landscape changes in agro- ecology. Research Interests include interoperability and conflation models for cross-scales for integrated modelling applications within an interoperable framework chaining web services.

Suchith Anand is Ordnance Survey Research Fellow at the Centre for Geospatial Science, University of Nottingham. He is founder and co-Chair of both the ICA working group on Open Source

Geospatial Technologies and the Open Source GIS UK conference series. His research interests are in Open Source GIS, optimization techniques, data conflation and automated generalization.

More details at

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton – gnumed importing HL7 v3 lab data

Malcolm Newbury, Guildfoss Limited – Case Study: An open source IHE XDS clinical document repository. This talk will include covering XDS and its open source componentry covering where to use openesb and muralon.

Malcolm is an experienced programme and consulting manager with an extensive track record of delivery in open source healthcare integration and collaboration services. At Sun Microsytem’s he managed integration services to over 100 NHS accounts including Spine, delivered Sun ‘s implementation of Choose and Book at key London Trusts and went on to devise and promote Sun’s open source strategy for healthcare worldwide. At PA Consulting he delivered some key phases of some important data sharing initiatives such as GP2GP and the NHS Data Dictionary. He is also supplier co-chair of IHE-UK.

Paul Richardson on scene setting with general vision and practical steps. Paul has recently created which is an expression/discussion focal point on the adoption of Open Source by the NHS.

Eckhard Schwarzat – Open Source solutions for the front line

  • NHS provider organisations current status and capacity for change
  • Macro level: Reorganisation of the NHS, cuts, cuts, cuts
  • Meta level: Change and inertia
  • Micro level: Open Source message is received by what type of organisation exactly?
  • Dental Open ERP
  • The intended primary user group: Salaried Dental Services
  • The needs and requirements
  • Agile development
  • Business Analysis and End-User involvement
  • Open Standards
  • The benefits
  • Thoughts on support of Open Source on the macro level

Eckhard is an experienced project and programme manager who has worked for one of the ‘big four’ as a consulting manager. He has worked mainly on Business Intelligence and Performance Management projects and programmes throughout Europe. A postgraduate degree in Public Management and Administration as well as a Master of Research in Informatics from the University of Constance, Germany and the University of Manchester in addition with a special interest in Decision Analysis are his academic foundation.Promoting, using and implementing Open Source solutions since the last five years in various sectors, Eckhard is also a trained Paramedic (Nothing to be concerned about, the last ambulance shift was more than ten years ago).

Ben Tebbs, Pentaho Case Study: An open source Business Intelligence suite for NHS Islington. A graduate of Sheffield and Coventry Universities, Ben joined Pentaho in October 2009 to drive forward the UK & Ireland business. With 17 years in the enterprise software business with ITSM, BPM and BI players Metastorm and Datawatch, amongst others, Ben manages key UK Pentaho NHS customers such as Islington PCT and the NHS Information Centre as well as being responsible for new business. He brings a strong track record in BI to bear alongside a deep knowledge of the NHS marketplace.

Public Funds in the UK: Open Source for Document and Content Management re-visited – Manchester 07/10/10

Triggered by an article in the Guardian, the BCS Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) sponsored a conference earlier this year on 07/01/10 to explore the application of open source tools for content and document management in the public sector. This talk by Graham Oakes the principal organizer of the conference earlier this year on 07/01/10 will summarise some of the conclusions of that conference at a combined event held by OSSG and BCS Manchester on 07/10/10 from around 1815 hours in John Dalton Building, Chester Street/Oxford Road Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester M15 6BH

Is Open Source a viable way for the public sector to contain its IT costs?  Government policy is gradually becoming more favourable to open source (  Many commentators identify open source as a way to contain spiralling project costs (e.g.

For further details please visit:

Open Source Health Informatics – London 30/09/10 1

Paul Richardson will give a talk for the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) around his recently created which is an expression/discussion focal point on the adoption of Open Source by the NHS.

This  event is free and open to all and will be held at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA ( on Thursday 30th September 2010. It will start immediately after the OSSG AGM at 1800 and is expected to finish around 2030.

Free buffet and refreshments available on the night.

To book a place to attend this event please contact Mark Elkins via

Paul’s objective of this meeting is to act as a rallying cry to those who are already convinced (or perhaps still slightly sceptical) of the place that Open Source software should have in UK healthcare, so that a coherent community can be established that can be empowered to spread the word, deal with the objections to open source (genuine or otherwise), and can support each other in projects and deployments.

First, as a scene-setting exercise, Paul will cover the following topics:

·         his assessment of the state of readiness of open source to be applied to the UK healthcare market

·         the willingness of key stakeholders to adopt open source

·         dealing with objections to open source

·         his proposed ‘top 10 projects’

·         progress on his own open source project, an ITK (Interoperability Tool Kit) compliant  middleware solution based on OpenESB

However, as this is intended to be a community building exercise, a significant proportion of the time will be spent facilitating and gaining consensus on issues such as:

·         agreeing priorities

·         how should we organise ourselves and communicate

·         activities

·         what representations we would like to make to the Department of Health

OSSG AGM 2010 – London 30/09/10

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be held on Thursday 30th September 2010 from 1800 hours at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA.

The procedure governing the AGM is set out in the OSSG Constitution at

An event on Open Source Health Informatics is due to commence immediately after the business of the AGM has been concluded.

Free buffet and refreshments available.

For further information please contact Cornelia Boldyreff, OSSG Secretary via

Open Source Enterprise Architecture Toolkits – London 21/09/10

This presentation will discuss the development of a free-of-charge, open source, multi-user Enterprise Architecture (EA) toolkit. It will discuss its development, how it encapsulates the many years’ experience of EA consultants and reflects their exposure to a number of the major commercial EA toolkits, and its adoption across organizations of varying sizes across the world. The talk will also explain why it was decided to create an open source EA toolkit and how it compares with other similar toolkits.

This  event is free and open to all and will be held at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA ( on Tuesday 21sr September 2010. It will start immediately after the BCS Enterprise Architecture Specialist Group AGM at 1800.

To book a place at this event please visit:

The presentation will be given by Alex Mayall who is the Managing Director and Senior Consulting Partner of Enterprise Architecture Solutions Ltd (EAS Ltd), a leading independent enterprise architecture consultancy. For over 20 years Alex has worked at a senior executive level with multinational companies spanning a wide range of commercial and industrial sectors. His consulting experience covered all aspects of business change from competitive strategy through to organizational behaviour and programme management, although his speciality lay in helping organizations improve their performance through the alignment of information technology with business strategy. Prior to 1990, Alex worked in the international chemicals industry in a variety of IT professional and management roles. He has been a Member of the British Computer Society since the mid-1960s.

Open Source articles in ITNow (2010, July, pp.06-25) 1

Dear OSSG member

Just received my July 2010 edition of ITNow and note that there are many pages devoted to Open Source. Unfortunately the BCS Open Source SG (OSSG) were not made aware that ITNow would be covering Open Source.

Therefore I would be interested to know your thoughts on the articles in the July edition of ITNow be they good, bad, or indifferent.

Mark Elkins

Comments received

“First, it was great to see such a focus. However, the articles are quite light-weight but they do make many key points relating to the generic advantages and considerations of embracing open source. Overall they provide a reasonable introduction to the topic however there are clearly many specific topics relating to the exploitation of open source in relation to virtualisation, cloud, satellite server, licensing, support etc that would probably be of much more interest and value to the typical reader.



“I did not find the articles particularly informative, bit of a wasted opportunity in my view.

“A Quiet Revolution”? There’s not much that is quiet about Richard Stallman, or any other FOSS advocate, in fact its hard to shut them up! The quiet revolution was not Open Source, it was Closed Source, some time around the late ’70s to early ’80s. Before then everyone shared code.

Not one mention of the ideological and political reasons for using FOSS. Those are major motivators behind many uses of FOSS. “I like Linux because it is not Microsoft”, how many times have you heard that? Any discussion about the adoption of FOSS is incomplete without it.

Worse was the article on Open Source Software Licenses, clearly Rachel Burnett does not have a clue. It contains phrases like “the OSS license”, as if there is only one! There was not much detail, but it appeared that the GPL was the target license of the article, although that did not get named (the fact that there are several GPL versions is probably over her head). How many OSS licenses are there? Over 300? I have lost track.

Open Source licenses are a minefield, and I would have liked to have seen an informed comparison. I know that the FSF do a comparison, but they tend to be rather biased towards GPL”.


“It is always good to publish the news regarding opensource. that is very much helpful.

Best regards”


“Haven’t received mine yet, but I’ll feed back to you when I do. I have to say I don’t have a lot of hope that it will be inspired articles”.

“When I got home I did read the latest IT Now.  I would prefer to be positive about the issue, but find it hard to be so.
The front page sets the tone.  “Open Source – Now is the time to investigate alternative software solutions” That’s at least 10 years out of date.
The articles have been covered pretty well in other comments, particularly the Securiy one.  Steve Smith seems to have done a bit of a Gerald Ratner for his company – who will use him as a security consultant now?
I felt there was a missed opportunity here.  There were no real life examples.  Open Source is being used extensively today and has been for many years.  Who would run an HTTP server other than Apache?
I was quite excited when I saw the comment “There’s a huge difference between open source and free software…” But there was no explanation after that.  I assume the “free” is free as in beer and “open source” free as in speech, but that never came out.
Over all it makes the BCS look like a bunch of people who can talk business, but wouldn’t know a computer if it hit them in the face and are living sometime in the 1980s or 90s.


“I had intended on commenting via the membership LinkedIn group that I thought the BCS magazine was particularly vacuous this month. The OSS articles I felt were extremely shallow and although they put the case for OSS adoption there was no real analysis or justification. To be perfectly honest July’s ITNow looks more like a glossy brochure for private dental care than a computer society’s members magazine”.


“My thoughts were, is there any open source software that BCS could usefully be using?”


“Did the BCS put any effort at all into contacting the OSSG membership about the latest issue of IT-NOW?

No. Thought not.

I’m not sure I’ll renew my membership. Not happy!

Best wishes”


H made a comment with regard to the article “Can Open Source Be Secure” that appeared on pages 18-19 of the July edition of ITNow and also at :

“I wondered if the OSSG was approached to comment on this article?

Working with OSS in many small and medium businesses, I find many of the
points unfounded and somewhat misleading”.


“”Like most IT Now issues/articles, I’m afraid it’s rather feeble. They seem to write assuming the technical knowledge of a 4th-form GCSE IT student. Mostly harmless vanilla waffle. But the legal article on OSS licenses by “Past BCS President and IT lawyer” Rachel Burnett is appalling – she states without qualification that when you create a derivative work, it must be licensed on the same terms as the original: “This means that any investment in creating commercial software products
which use the OSS source code cannot be realised by charging for use of those products”. How can someone with that level of ignorance become an IT lawyer, let alone BCS President?

But perhaps it was bad sub-editing: since the intro says that she ‘discusses the Open Source Initiative’, but the article only mentions it very briefly in the last paragraph, one suspects that a lot has been cut to make room for a large irrelevant picture of a penguin.””


Quoted from
“I appreciate…comments on the recent ITNow article on Open Source . It is normal practice for the BCS publishing team to consult with our Specialist Groups or other expert members about the topics we cover in the magazine but unfortunately this time a mistake was made and this step was missed , and I apologise for this.

However, this and other recent comments about the content of the magazine have been taken on board and we are reviewing our approach to the magazine to ensure it meets the needs of our members. We are keen that members contribute to this process and have set up a group in the member network to begin discussion on what they want the magazine to be. I hope you will get involved, the group is called ITNow Evolution.

Best wishes.

Elaine Boyes
Head of Publishing and Information Products
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT”

“I rarely find any article of interest in IT Now since they usually consist of lightly modified corporate marketing pieces, all fluff and no substance. The Open Source issue was equally disappointing because although they did not feel like sales pitches, the articles were vague and anecdotal rather than informative and analytical.  For example, the “Cracking the Desktop” article fails to mention Firefox, one of the most successful open source desktop applications. A case study of the challenges faced in deploying this faster and more secure alternative to older versions of IE would have been informative, yet the article looks at the cost benefits of switching to OpenOffice an obsolete technology compared to online office tools such as Google Docs.

“Can Open Source Be Secure?” also exhibits the lack of editorial rigour in IT Now. The phrase “Experts do not agree” should not be allowed without referencing at least two sources (i.e. the “experts” on either side of the argument) yet the article contains no citations at all. The label ‘Journalist hiding their own opinions by using phrases…’  from should perhaps be applied here.

I have renewed my BCS membership for another year on the basis that my local branch and Specialist Groups provides some value, and I will give the new Academy of Computing project a chance, but my opinion of IT Now is that it is not worth reading.

Best wishes”