On Thursday May 7th 2015, in order to register their opinion about who should be their Member of Parliament, some 30,691,680 people in the United Kingdom made a journey to their local polling station and voted in the General Election.
That means 30,691,680 marks were made next to names on 30,691,680 ballot papers, collected in the more than 40,000 polling stations that had to be hired for the day, to be counted by hand, by tens of thousands of paid staff, who often ended up working all through the night, in one of hundreds of huge halls that had to be rented for the occasion.
Figures for the 2015 election are not yet known, but, on 27th April 2011, speaking about the cost of the 2010 election, Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper told the commons: “We have estimated that the cost of the 2010 UK parliamentary election will be £113,255,271. This figure consists of £28,655,271 for the cost of distributing candidates’ mailings and a further £84.6 million for the conduct of the poll.”
£113m cost to the taxpayer, 30m journeys and lots of very late nights. This is 2015, isn’t it? Surely, there is a better, cheaper, more convenient option?! Of course there is, say increasingly numerous voices, including that of EPX co-Director Daniel Ellis, who see a bright future for electronic voting.
The two most common arguments against the introduction of electronic voting are that of technical security and social acceptance. Attitudes are changing faster than ever and the onward march of technology is clearly not only unstoppable, but also getting faster. It is still less than 8 years since Apple released the iPhone, but the cultural change that the technology has already caused is immense. Previously the stuff of sci-fi, Google already has driverless cars legally cruising the streets of California. And with huge support clearly present in parliament, next year it may become legal in the UK to create a baby using DNA from three different people. The times, as they say, really are a changing.
The security of online elections is quite rightly a very serious subject, but it has not stopped many leading companies to offer ‘military grade’ software technology for their conduct. Tellingly, almost all major political parties around the world already hold their internal elections via electronic ballot, reaping the benefits of cost savings and easier organisation, in particular.
But let’s not forget how much the general public has taken to online life. 84% of British households have Internet access, over half of all adults use online banking, with around three-quarters of us buying goods or services over the Internet. How much more proof does anyone need of our ease in using the Net?
Many youngsters, the very group who find access to technology more natural than any other, are the people least likely to turn out and vote. In 2001 MORI estimates that only 39% of 18 – 24 year olds voted, compared to 70% of those aged 65.
A recent report by campaign group WebRoots Democracy found that an online voting option could boost youth voter turnout in a General Election by up to 1.8 million, increasing turnout by around a quarter. Online voting would be expected to increase overall turnout by up to nine million, an increase of almost a third.
Let’s look at the figures again: £113,255,271 – £28,655,271 on printing and postage and £84.6 million for the poll. As anyone who understands the benefits IT has brought to the world of business over the last 40 years will tell you, it is considerably cheaper to send an email than it is to print off a letter, put it into an envelope and post it. Also, why hire staff to do work manually when it can be done at a fraction of the cost by digital means?
Electronic voting could save taxpayers a fortune every year. Isn’t it time that British democracy caught up with British business?
GradEX is the annual exhibition held by Staffordshire University where graduating students who are about to head off into careers in the outside world show that their final year work is not only of a professional standard, but also shows commercial awareness.
On Friday 15th May, former Staffordshire University students and EPX Directors Daniel Ellis and Mark Pennington (they met and founded EPX while studying there) were delighted to once again take part as judges in the Web & Multimedia category.
“Out of the 30 student projects in the category, all of whom had created projects of an extremely high standard, three stood out in particular”, said Daniel Ellis. “In second place, Martin Lenord’s spam filter had been created using extremely complicated and impressive mathematics. I was particularly impressed by the winner, James King’s road safety app, which offered motion tracking for vehicles, scalable up to use with fleet management.
“The winners pipped their competition to the post because their projects had especially strong commercial aspects to them, something we see as being particularly important.”
“We have a long-standing relationship with Staffordshire University. It is always a pleasure to maintain our connection with everyone there”, said EPX Director Mark Pennington. “I wish all of this year’s graduates the very best in their new careers, bringing the very latest skills and knowledge to industry.”
Pictured below are James King, left, who won first prize for his project ‘How Technology Can Aid Road Safety’ and Martin Lenord, right, who gained second place with his “Social Spam Detection Service” project.
Representing EPX, Dan Ellis was delighted to attend an event at leading Stafford accountancy firm Carthy Accountants recently. The informal gathering of clients and network contacts marked the reopening of their offices following a three-month complete refurbishment. Michael Carthy, Director, said, “We’re delighted to offer our customers the highest quality of service and our new offices reflect that commitment.”
EPX Ltd has become one of the first in the UK to utilise the latest in WiFi technology from Sweden, after it was hired to oversee a complete upgrade of the wireless internet system at Merseyside’s only 5 star venue, Hillbark Hotel, in Frankby, Wirral. Managing Director of EPX, Dan Ellis, told us, “We were delighted to play our role in helping make the experience at this magnificent hotel even better. Whether visiting on business or for leisure, guests know to expect the very best here, so coming up with the right technical solution was essential.”
The technology EPX decided on is a new product from the innovative Dubai-based firm Dovado, which has its research and development in Sweden and who are widely seen as Scandinavia’s leading wireless access point producers. “The Dovado Tiny is compact, sleek and powerful. In total, we installed 30 units, ensuring superb coverage throughout”, said Mr Ellis.
Dan, 31, already has a long-standing connection to the hotel. For the last 15 years, as a volunteer stage technician, he has assisted the local theatre group, The Hillbark Players, who perform in Royden Park, directly adjacent to the venue’s grounds every summer. “This is such a special place, so it’s great to be here delivering a different kind of technical performance.”
Since taking on the hotel in 2002, the Hotel Group Directors, Craig and Lisa Baker, have said that attention to detail has been key to its success, including gaining the 5 star accolade in 2012. Mr Baker explained, “As the North West’s premiere hotel, spa and wedding venue, we provide consistent high quality in every aspect of our service. Whether it’s for laptops, smartphones or tablet computers, our guests require excellent wireless connectivity. This new, state of the art system will guarantee that.”
The 30 Dovado Tiny devices provide superb WiFi coverage throughout.
The next generation of Superfast Broadband is most definitely here, but there is at least one considerable barrier to entry for most firms – cost. With BT, for example, who charge eye watering prices to dig up roads and pavements to install optic fibre all the way into offices, a new Superfast Broadband connection could cost £15,000.
Fortunately for thousands of SMEs, registered charities, social enterprises or sole traders across the UK, help is on hand from the new Government-backed “Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme” (https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/). Put simply, the Government is currently offering to chip in up to £3000 to help cover the cost of installing Superfast Broadband for your business.
EPX Technical Services is delighted to be a registered supplier for the scheme, offering cutting-edge microwave broadband connections with a generous subsidy from the Government. Daniel Ellis, co-Director of EPX, said, “Many firms in the UK had looked into getting a new Superfast Broadband connection, but the exorbitant cost meant it was simply a non-starter. The combination of the microwave technology we offer, twinned with a £3000 voucher from the Government makes our offer extremely affordable in comparison to all other systems. There is no civil engineering required, so cost and lead times are greatly reduced”.
EPX microwave broadband installation costs, on average, £500, with a monthly price half that of other similar fixed lines, of only £200 per month.
With cheaper solutions, such as BT Infinity, (fibre to the cabinet in the street) many customers share one line, with connection speeds dropping as traffic increases. In sharp contrast, with a microwave broadband leased line from EPX the connection is exclusively yours, giving you guaranteed both up and download speeds of, for example, 1Gb, even in a rural area.
If you would like to talk to someone about claiming your £3000 Broadband Connection Voucher and get set up with the most modern of Superfast connections, please call the team on 03333 44 00 98.
Check local availability of the scheme here (https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/) and for more information on eligibility please click here (https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/eligibility-checker/)
Below is a map of the coverage area (accurate as of January 2015).