Safety Tech Challenge Fund: Supplier Showcase: some quick thoughts

Warning: I am writing this while slightly grumpy, and it may well show.

I was invited to attend the “Safety Tech Challenge Fund: Supplier Showcase”.

I have written before about the government’s Challenge Fund, and some of the valuable spin-off work/engagement. (I have a blogpost I should have written by now, but have not, on another of those meetings. I should fix that…)

So I was grateful for this opportunity, given the relative paucity of information available about the funded solutions.

There’s plenty I’d like to say but cannot

I was looking forward to writing a factually accurate, fair, and honest reaction, in line with my previous (and future) writings on this topic.

This was important to me, since seats around the (virtual) table are limited, and I know that lots of people in the UK have an interest in what is happening here.

I hear that there is to be an official write-up, but I am mindful of Sir Humphrey’s comments about minutes (warning: YouTube link). These are good accompaniments to third party commentary, not a replacement for it.

So I was rather put out that the event took the form of a Zoom webinar, but the opening remark was “please do not share the content of this session”.

To me, that was a significant misstep, and a major disappointment.

This is a public funded activity, developing tech ostensibly for the public good.

Frankly, the organisations involved should be committing their code and other artefacts to public repositories, under permissive open source licences, as they go along. (Even though this would assist despotic regimes in adopting the solutions more rapidly…)

But anyway. My current view is that I can add more value, and do more to bring a constructive and critical viewpoint, by being at the table, than I can from getting myself ejected.

For that reason, even though it does not sit well with me, and undid some of the good work the governmental team had done on this to date, I’m going to abide by the request not to share the content of the session.

(I have notes so, if you’re someone with the authority to change the official position here, and let me write them up under the Chatham House rule, please do say!)

What I feel I can say

What I feel I can say is: