Uber Reclaims London Licence

A year after Transport for London (TfL) stopped ride-hailing service Uber’s London operating licence over safety concerns, an appeal has led to the company being granted a further 18-month licence.

What Happened?

Back in November 2019, TfL said that it had identified a pattern of failures by Uber, including breaches that had risked the safety of passengers and drivers, plus some uninsured journeys.  Uber had pledged to improve its drivers’ safety training and provide a direct connection to emergency services, but TfL stopped Uber’s licence to carry passengers in London.

What Failures?

The “pattern of failures” which led to Uber being refused a licence to operate in London back in 2019 may have included (according to details reported to be from letters sent to Uber by TfL):

– A global phishing scam involving GPS signal manipulation.

– Drivers using fake or possibly out-of-date insurance certificates.

– Unlicensed vehicles transporting passengers, and drivers with fraudulent private hire licences using the app to take passengers.

– Fraudulent account profile pictures used by some drivers.

– More than 27,000 safety-related complaints being made about Uber services between 1 December 2018 and 31 May 2019.

Happened Before

Uber had previously had its London licence removed by TfL in 2017 after it was decided that the company was “not fit and proper” following security issues, public safety issues, poor reporting (of serious in-car crimes), poor medical checks (of drivers) and poor background checks (of drivers).

In 2018, Uber was only given a probationary 15-month license in London following changes made to improve relations with city authorities.

Latest Ruling

After Uber appealed and argued that it has now improved insurance document verification systems and is rolling out real-time identification, Judge Tan Ikram said that “I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more”.  Now that Uber has been judged to be a fit and proper operator again, it has been granted an 18-month right to take rides in London.

Behaviour Towards Drivers

Uber has still to face the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing which will decide whether its drivers receive basic workers’ rights, such as holiday pay and the minimum wage for the hours they work.

Union

Unions such as the GMB have been vocal in their criticism of Uber’s behaviour towards its drivers with allegations that the ride-hailing giant may be effectively depriving drivers of an income by disconnecting them for days after false accusations have been made against them.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is clearly good news for Uber and also for the many customers who have had a generally good experience of the company’s services in London in the past.  Even though Uber has made changes and apologised for mistakes, it will still face criticism from unions and have to handle objections and criticism from black cab operators, close scrutiny from TfL to make sure Uber keeps its promises, challenges from competitors who will not be pleased that Uber is back (e.g. Ola, Freenow and Bolt) and all the challenges, safety requirements and reduced revenue that have come with the pandemic. It now remains to be seen how Uber behaves going forwards and how it can operate effectively in a dramatically changed environment.

Privacy Campaigners Challenge Government Over Test and Trace

Privacy campaign groups Big Brother Watch and The Open Rights Group have voiced their concerns that there is a lack of clarity from the government about how the data of users of the new NHS contact tracing app will be protected.

Concerns

The privacy campaign groups are concerned that both the Track and Trace system and the contact tracing app appear to be risking the privacy of the public as regards their personal details and that a lack of clarity over this is contributing to a lack of trust in the system by the public and, therefore, may be endangering public health and prolonging the pandemic’s effects.

A key concern by the privacy groups is the apparent lack of a legally required Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).  A DPIA, introduced by the UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is a process that can reduce the likelihood of data breaches.

No Longer Based on Public Trust

The Big Brother Watch website highlights what it believes to shift by the UK government from creating and nourishing public trust towards simply relying on coercion and penalties to make contract tracing in the UK work.  For example, Big Brother watch says “This new approach to contact tracing is no longer based on public trust, but on exclusion, criminal sanctions and police enforcement. Many people will be rightly shocked to find they’re refused entry to coffee shops and restaurants unless they hand over their personal contact details. This is an astoundingly excessive law that poses a serious risk to privacy and data rights.”

Open Rights Group

Although the Open Rights Group was pleased that, in June, the government scrapped its plans to use a centralised model for its Covid-19 tracker app and opted for the decentralised model (no big, central database), it is also very concerned about the apparent lack of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). The Open Rights Group highlights its particular concerns over the government’s apparent lack of clear explanation of how bars and restaurants should keep data, and what the legal liabilities are.  It points out that although the England and Wales App and QR code scan for a venue may record that some people were there, it does not give the full picture and there may be a security and privacy loophole.  For example, if a person doesn’t have a modern smartphone, and simply hands their data to a pub or restaurant, the Open Rights Group is concerned that the person will have little or no privacy protection and that no thought appears to have gone into the privacy and risks,  even though those risks are very tangible.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The failure of the previous tracing app, criticisms of a lack of an effective, large scale track and trace system for 6 months, and a lack of availability of tests, a large death toll, and recent criticism of the government by the media over what appears to be a confused strategy and messages have all contributed to reduction in the level of trust.  This is a difficult backdrop with which to launch a new app to which the government wants all of us to subscribe to.  It may be particularly bad for many businesses who have been forced to make difficult decisions to comply with COVID laws e.g. in the hospitality industry to hear that the UK government may not have met its own legal requirement for a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).  Although posting the QR code at business premises is a way to make it easier for businesses to comply and help with track and trace, there may well be a grey area as regards the collection and protection of data for those who don’t have a smartphone with the capacity to work with the app system. Trust, transparency, and clarity are all areas the government may need to work on to make a test and trace system work, help businesses and protect public health.

Cyber Security Top of List for Digital Transformation

A recent survey appears to have shown that changes brought by the pandemic have meant that IT buyers from companies working on digital transformation now value cybersecurity the most.

Survey

The survey, conducted among IT business leaders attending the all-virtual Digital Transformation Expo (DTX), DTX: NOW this month showed that 26 per cent of respondents put IT security at the top of their digital transformation list. A close second place was the cloud at 21 per cent.

Pandemic Accelerated Digital Transformation

As shown in survey results published last month by Studio Graphene, the need to quickly shift staff to working from home because of the lockdown appeared to be a driver and an accelerator of digital transformation for businesses.  The survey showed that nearly half (46 per cent) of business leaders said that said Covid-19 had driven the most pronounced digital transformation that their businesses had experienced.

Adapt

The distribution of the workforce/staff working from home which the pandemic lockdown caused has meant that not only have businesses have been forced to adapt their cloud strategy, but also their cybersecurity measures, and their business cultures to ensure that their businesses function as well as possible.

Challenges and Gains

The survey found that the biggest challenges to digital transformation projects were identified as being changes in the scope, reduced budgets, and changes in team structures.  At the same time, the survey results revealed that the need to ensure that all employees could work from home revealed IT issues that may not otherwise have been addressed, thereby helping the business to modernise and realise which areas needed investment going forward.

New Ways of Working

With further restrictions, local lockdowns, the possibility of new, stricter restrictions ahead and a decidedly uncertain near future for traditional office-based working, the pandemic has driven diversification of work methods and structures. Flexible, smarter, hybrid working, involving different location looks to be a reality for businesses as we try to gain more control in an increasingly unpredictable world and businesses environment.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The results of the survey appear to support the idea that necessity has driven digital transformation.  The pandemic lockdown has been a catalyst that has moved many aspects of businesses forward and led them to clearly and quickly see the importance of cybersecurity, where weaknesses are, where investment is needed next and has shown them that new, more flexible models of work can benefit employer and employee.  Whilst changes have been difficult, and people and their organisations have been forced to adapt to changes quickly, the lessons learned in digital transformation may have boosted confidence within organisations that they have the in-built flexibility, creativity, experience and ability to weather the storm and reinvent how they work according to prevailing conditions.

Featured Article – The Challenge of User Access Permissions

Employees being given too much access to privileged, sensitive company data can put an organisation in danger.  In this article, we explore the issues around this subject and how businesses can minimise the risk.

Survey

In a recent survey of 900 IT professionals commissioned by IT security firm Forcepoint, it was revealed that 40 per cent of commercial sector respondents and 36 per cent of public sector respondents said they had privileged access to sensitive company data through their work.  Also, 38 per cent of private sector and 36 per cent of public sector respondents said that they did not need the amount of access they were given to complete their jobs.  The same survey showed that 14 per cent of respondents believed that their companies were unaware of who had what access to sensitive data.

The results of this survey confirm existing fears that by not carefully considering or being able to allocate only the necessary access rights to employees, companies may be leaving open a security loophole.

Risks and Threats

The kinds of risks and threats that could come from granting staff too many privileges in terms of sensitive data access include :

Insider Threats

Insider threats can be exceedingly difficult to detect and exact motives vary but the focus is generally to gain access to critical business assets e.g. people, information, technology, and facilities.  Insiders may be current or former full-time employees, part-time employees, temporary employees, contractors/third parties, and even trusted business partners. The insider may be acting for themselves or for a third party.  Information or data taken could be sold e.g. to hackers or to representatives of other organisations/groups or used for extortion/blackmail. An insider could also use their access for sabotage, fraud, social engineering or other crimes. An insider could also cause (unintentional) damage.

The insider threat has become more widely recognised in recent years and in the U.S., for example, September is National Insider Threat Awareness Month (NIATM).

Intrusions From Curiosity

The digitisation of all kinds of sensitive information, and digital transformation, coupled with users being given excessive access rights, has led to intrusions due to curiosity, which can lead to a costly data breach.  One example is in the health sector where, in the U.S., data breaches occur at the rate of one per day (Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights figures).  Interestingly, Verizon figures show that almost 60 per cent of healthcare data breaches originate from insiders.

Accidental Data Sharing

Some employees may not be fully aware of company policies and rules, particularly at a time when the workforce has been dispersed to multiple locations during the lockdown.  A 2019 Egress survey, for example, revealed that 79 per cent of employers believe their employees may have accidentally shared data over the last year and that 45 per cent sent data to the wrong person by email. Unfortunately, the data shared or sent to the wrong person may have been sensitive data that an individual did not need to have access to in order to do their job.

Hacking

If hackers and other cybercriminals are able to obtain the login credentials of a user that has access rights to sensitive data (beyond what is necessary) this can provide relatively easy access to the company network and its valuable data and other resources.  For example, cybercriminals could hack or find lost devices or storage media, use social engineering, or use phishing or other popular techniques to get the necessary login details.

How Does It Happen?

The recent Forcepoint and the Ponemon Institute survey showed that 23 per cent of IT pros believe that privileged access to data and systems are given out too easily.  The survey results suggest that employees can end up having more access rights than they need because:

– Companies have failed to revoke rights when an employee’s role has changed. 

– Some organisations have assigned privileged access for no apparent reason.

– Some privileged users are being pressured to share access with others.

How To Stop It

Stopping the allocation of too many privileged access rights may be a holistic process that considers many different aspects and activity from multiple sources, including:

– Incident-based security tools. Although these can alert the organisation to potential problems and can register logs and configuration changes, they can also give false positives and it can take a prohibitively long time to fully review the results, find and plug the breach.

– Trouble tickets and badge records.

– Reviews of keystroke archives and video.

– User and entity behaviour analytics tools.

– The challenge is that many organisations lack the time, resources, and expertise to piece all these elements together in a meaningful way.

Looking Forward

It appears that where there is a disconnect between IT managers and staff, and where access rights are not regularly monitored or checked, a whole business or organisation can end up being in danger. Some security commentators suggest that the answer lies in easy-to-use technology that incorporates AI to help monitor how data flows and is shared to bring about the necessary visibility as regards who has access and what they’re doing with that access.  Always seeking verification and never acting simply on trust is a key way in which organisations can at least detect malicious activity quickly.

Tech Tip – Matching Displays

If you need to use 2 or more monitors to help you to get more things done and multi-task, here are some tips for making sure those monitor displays match up.

If the monitors are the same make/model Windows may be able to automatically extend the desktop horizontally.  With different monitor models/makes you may want to consider doing the following:

– If e.g. plugging a laptop into an external display and using them side-by-side, or using one 4K monitor next to a 1080p monitor, under Select and rearrange displays, click and drag the rectangles to match the monitors’ orientation on your desktop.

– Scroll down to the Scale and layout and adjust the resolution of each monitor and its scaling so the windows appear the same.

– Use each monitors’ built-in settings to adjust the brightness and so that each matches the other as closely as possible.

Whole Village’s Broadband Stopped By an Old TV

An anonymous person living in the village of Aberhosan, Powys, was found to have caused broadband outages for the whole village for the last 18 months every time they switched on their old television.

Investigation

An exhaustive investigation by frustrated Openreach engineers found that the disruption to broadband for the whole village, which mysteriously began at 7 am each morning, the time when the villager turned the TV on, led to the replacement of broadband cables in the village before the TV was singled out as the culprit.

SHINE

The engineers used a spectrum analyser to identify the single high-level impulse noise (SHINE) that was emitted from an old, second-hand TV when it was switched on every morning at the same time.  The SHINE caused enough electrical interference to down the broadband signal for the whole village.

The villager, who has not been named for obvious reasons, is reported to have agreed not to use the old TV again.

Interference

Many different household devices can produce radio interference that can affect broadband and Wi-Fi signals.  These can include boilers, water heaters, any device with a motor inside, TVs, some types of Christmas lights, phone chargers, and even LED bulbs and dimmer switches.

Avoiding Interference

Although there is no way of guarding against someone using a rogue TV that knocks out the whole signal for the village/town, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of interference to the signal (delivered over your telephone line) in your own home.  These include:

– Not putting the router behind your TV or in the middle of mains cables.

– Connecting the router to a master socket where possible.

– Making sure that devices connected to the phone line have micro-filters.

– Removing any old, unused telephone extensions.

Also, it is a good idea to use devices in the home that conform to British Standards.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For any businesses in the village, and anyone working from home, the daily broadband outages must have been highly frustrating and costly. It is a shame that the problem persisted for 18 months before it was resolved. Now more than ever, with home-working due to the pandemic, having a reliable and fast broadband connection is vitally important so it is also important to be aware, as mentioned in the information and tips above, of how to minimise sources of interference where possible.  It is also worth noting that where there has been a broadband supply failure, a voluntary Code of Practice between the big broadband providers means that there is now an automatic compensation scheme in operation.

Tech Giants Requested To Cease Kids Ads

In an open letter to Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, MPs, academics, and campaigners have asked the big tech companies to stop targeting children with personalised advertising.

Global Action Plan

The letter has been published online by Global Action Plan (GAP) which is a charity that campaigns on primarily environmental issues but also believes that consumerism is a value system that can damage the wellbeing of young people and add to the environmental strain that the planet is under.

Stop Targeted Advertising To Kids

GAP believes that because younger generations have grown up with adverts all their lives, this has led to problems with their mental health and self-esteem. GAP is particularly concerned that there are no rules limiting the number of adverts shown to kids online. The charity says that “children are being targeted in increasingly sophisticated ways with adverts that are tailored specifically for them based on large amounts of sensitive personal information”.

GAP wants websites that are popular with children to comply with the law and stop targeting under 13s, turn off targeting for under 18s, and introduce a cap that will ensure that adverts only make up 10 per cent of social media content.

The Letter

The open letter, which is directly addressed to Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, is the latest move as part of GAP’s  Stop Targeted Advertising to Kids campaign.  The letter makes the points that:

– Behavioural advertising undermines childrens’ privacy.

– Ad-tech companies are showing a disregard for privacy laws and appear to be subjecting children to extraordinary surveillance.

– Children are more susceptible to the pressures of marketing, are less likely to recognise paid-for content, and are less likely to understand how and what kinds of data are used for these purposes than adults.

The open letter asks for an end to behavioural ads to those people who the platforms know are, or are identified as, under 18, and states that “There is no justification for targeting teenagers with personalised ads any more than there is for targeting 12-year-olds.”

Signatories

The letter has 19 signatories including Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Caroline Lucas MP, and Amnesty International.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

GAP accepts that many websites and platforms need to host advertising but the points that GAP is making is that ‘excessive’ advertising is fuelling the consumer culture that is leading to the destruction of the environment and it seems that although targeted advertising to children is going on, there appears to be no societal consent or effective regulation. With one in three internet users worldwide being children and with 43 per cent of 11-year-olds who go online (in the UK) saying they have a social media profile, this potential problem of a lack of current regulation for the targeting of children (many of whom may be having their privacy compromised before they are even old enough to make decisions about their privacy) is significant. Big tech companies, such as Facebook, who have made the headlines in recent years over privacy issues, e.g. Cambridge Analytica and stopping hate speech online, are likely to want to appear to act responsibly with issues relating to the wellbeing of children but it remains to be seen how they respond to the open letter from GAP.  

Featured Article – Tips & Tools To Keep Kids Safe Online

The online environment can be a dangerous as well as a fun place for young people so here are some tips and tools to help keep kids safe online.

The Risks

Children face many risks online including seeing/watching things they shouldn’t, arriving on websites that contain content not suitable for them, making contact with/being contacted by potentially dangerous people on social media, being tricked or coerced into divulging personal information or sharing photos, buying things or spending money using another family member’s device, and even being bullied.

NSPCC

NSPCC figures (Jan 2020) estimate that 1 online abuse offence against a child was recorded every 16 minutes in England and Wales in the previous 9 months – that is 90 potential online abuse crimes against children every day.

The pandemic lockdown and 6-month closure of schools also put children at greater risk online.  For example, a recent NSPCC survey also shows that children turning to social media because they are feeling lonely or have poor mental health (e.g. because of the pandemic) are at higher risk of being groomed online.

The NSPCC, among others, is pushing for an Online Harms Bill that will result in the introduction of a well-resourced, independent regulator with the powers to take on the big tech companies to improve safety for children. The charity has also called for mandatory child safety rules for social networks, safe accounts for children and detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe.

Although most parents accept that their children will need to learn how to use and benefit from technology such as the Internet and devices, they also know that children need protection.  Parents, therefore, often choose to allow supervised access via Parental Controls.

Parental Controls

The big tech companies each offer advice and parental control tools such as software/apps.  For example, Apple realises that its iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV could all be potential sources of risk for children. With this in mind, Apple offers Screen Time parental control software. This software offers features/functions such as being able to set the amount of time that kids can spend each day on specific apps and websites, creating exceptions for specific apps, like Messages or education apps (kids can request more time for parents to approve), and having a ‘Downtime’ setting whereby, at a specific time (e.g. bedtime), apps and notifications are blocked.

Apple also has a ‘Families’ section on its website that gives information about parental controls and Apple’s devices and services.

Google

Google also offers help and features to parents who want to find more ways to protect their children online.  For example, Google gives advice about how parents can add protection for a child using a Chromebook. Using Family Link to manage a child’s Google Account and their Chromebook means that children cannot browse in private, parents can manage which website children can visit and limit their ability to grant permissions to websites. Also, Chrome can be set to block most sexually explicit and violent sites.

Microsoft

There are several different settings and controls in Windows 10 that can be used to protect young users.  For example, if a parent has a Microsoft account for themselves and their child, via the settings, Family Options can allow the operation of parental controls such as checking a child’s internet browsing, getting access to details about a child’s online activity or choosing to receive a weekly email about which websites a child has visited, blocking inappropriate apps and games by choosing an age limit for content, and setting limits on the amount of screen time and also setting fixed hours when a child can access a PC or Xbox.

Browsers

Browsers also offer their own protection for young users e.g. via the addition of filters.  For example, “Kids Safe Web” is a simple lightweight, but powerful Parental Control / Web Filter for Google Chrome.

Child-friendly browsers i.e. ones with curated content and special restrictions are also available specifically for use by children.  These include Kiddle, Pikluk, Kidoz, KidRex and KidzSearch.

Snapchat

Taking Snapchat as an example of an app that is commonly used by children, parental control of the app can be carried out by making changes to settings and functions.  In addition to getting an account themselves to become familiar with the app and its risks, parents can make changes to their child’s account and check who is in their children’s friends and subscriptions lists, control what’s shown in the Discover section, and alter the location sharing setting. There are many websites that explain how this can be done e.g. https://protectyoungeyes.com/apps/snapchat-parental-controls/.  Parents can also consider using apps like the Bark monitoring tool or FamiSafe

TikTok

TikTok is another app that is hugely popular with children and young people.  In addition to privacy concerns raised about TikTok’s possible links to the Chinese state (as highlighted by President Trump in his recent banning of the app), parents may feel that this app could pose other risks to their children e.g. being targeted for child abuse.  Parental controls of TikTok include the ability to set time limits, filter mature content, and disable direct messaging for a child’s account. Parents can also enable time limits and the content filter on their child’s phone and protect these settings with a passcode.  Disabling direct messaging can be achieved using the app’s Family Pairing feature, which also gives access time limits and content filter settings.

Facebook

Although Facebook generally has a slightly older average demographic, parental controls are available.  For example, parents can access Messenger Kids account using the Parent Dashboard. Via this dashboard, they can add and remove contacts for their child, supervise friending, edit the child’s name, gender, and birthday, set up sleep mode to control when their child can use the app, download their child’s information, and remove images. 

Parental Control and Web Filtering Apps

Parental control and web filtering software examples include:

– Qustodio software that can monitor and track a child’s online activity, block dangerous websites, and protect children from online bullying.  It offers an online dashboard and Parents’ App to show how a child uses devices, apps, and the web, the ability to set time schedules or limits for how much internet time is allowed each day, as well as the ability to see what a child searches for and watches on the YouTube Android app and YouTube website.

– Net Nanny® software offers parental controls, an Internet Filter for a family’s online activity, an app-blocker for a child’s phone and tablet (with parental control software), and a website blocker.  Its ‘Family Feed’ also offers instant reporting on online searches, visibility of apps used by the children in the family, and real-time alerts for porn, suicide, weapon, and drug-related content.

Fear Vs Privacy

Although parents feel they may need to download parental control apps e.g. from Apple’s App Store to help allay fears, parents should not have to trade their fears of their children’s device usage for risks to privacy and security. Apple and Google have become aware in recent times that some parental control apps have been found to use invasive technology such as Mobile Device Management, or MDM which can give a third party control and access over a device and its sensitive information e.g. user location, email accounts, and camera permissions. Apple and Google app stores monitor and remove apps that may risk privacy, but parents should also be aware of this risk and perhaps stick to trusted, well-known apps for parental control.

Talk To Children

Talking to children about the existence of online risks and what they need to do to keep safe is important and can help them to understand and accept why parental controls are necessary. By regularly talking with their children about what they are doing and sharing online, parents can also get an up-to-date idea of risks.  

Other Sources of Information

Other sources of information that parents may find useful include:

– Net Aware, https://www.net-aware.org.uk/, a collaboration between the NSPCC and 02 is another great source for information and tips about how to keep children safe online.

– Mumsnet, which offers some good safety information and tips of discussion boards e.g. posts about how to get children off TikTok, see: https://www.mumsnet.com/children/internet-safety

Zero-Emission, Hydrogen-Powered Commercial Aircraft by 2035 Says Airbus

Airbus has announced that a zero-emission, hydrogen-fuelled commercial aircraft could be a reality by 2035.

Targets

The dramatic drop in air pollution levels during the global pandemic lockdown reminded many people of the pressing need to meet global greenhouse gas reduction targets and how commercial aircraft have been significant contributors to pollution worldwide.  It is against this backdrop that Airbus has made its latest announcement.

Airbus Says

After a  joint research project started last year between Airbus and EasyJet, the Chief Executive of Airbus, Guillaume Faury, has now announced that there are three ZEROe concept designs for aircraft that can use hydrogen, that has been produced from renewable or low-carbon sources, to power zero-emissions commercial flights.

The three gas turbine engine, hydrogen-powered aircraft design concepts are for a turbofan carrying up to 200 passengers more than 2,000 miles, a turboprop with a 50 per cent lower capacity and range, and a “blended-wing body” aircraft. Airbus says that all three aircraft could use new hydrogen fuel cells that burn liquid hydrogen to create the electrical power needed for propulsion and flight.

Hindenburg Hydrogen?

You could be forgiven for being reminded of what happened to the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg in May 1937 when its hydrogen gas balloon spectacularly caught fire as it attempted to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station in New Jersey, U.S. 

Hydrogen

Hydrogen, the lightest element on the periodic table, is also known (in diatomic hydrogen gas form) for being highly flammable and explosive, even at low concentrations. It is also worth remembering that although current jet aviation fuel doesn’t give off much gas or ignite easily as a mass in the tank, it is also extremely flammable once vapourised and burns at a much higher temperature than other fuels.

Hydrogen is more efficient than the oil for normal aircraft fuel and is regarded as a much greener alternative but it is also four times bulkier, even in a liquid state.  That said, the enormous energy costs from fossil-fuels involved in making hydrogen was one of the factors involved when many of the big aviation giants, including Airbus, shelved ideas in the short-to-mid-term for greener, more efficient aircraft that could run on hydrogen back in 2010.  Other ideas for commercial aircraft fuelling that were shelved at the time also included nuclear-power, solar and electric power.

Airbus was first reported to have been involved in projects to develop a hydrogen-fuelled aircraft as far back as 2000 with its part in the Cryoplane project.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The aviation industry is currently in serious trouble as a result of the pandemic and this story of a vision for greener commercial aircraft may be a welcome distraction but is likely to look some way further off than its predicted fifteen years. Negative reports by climate change experts this week have led to some suggestions that crucial climate change emissions targets should be moved forward from 2050, and having hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft may be one important way to meet the targets and help put the brakes on climate change damage before it’s too late. 

The fact that the large quantities of hydrogen fuel needed for these new design concepts can be produced from renewable or low-carbon sources rather than fossil-fuel sources is an important change that could make these aircraft a reality. This new way of fuelling aircraft could also create many other new business opportunities and possibilities but the idea is unlikely to be met with too much enthusiasm by those in the oil and fuel industries and those businesses in their supply chains. It does appear, however, that just as car manufacturers have committed themselves to electric models going forward, emission-busting change must now start taking place in the post-pandemic aviation industry in some form or another.

Tech Tip – Optimize Working Space With Snap Assist

If you are using Windows 10 and you want to multi-task and make the most of your single screen Snap Assist enables you to split your screen between two open windows.  Here’s how:

– Hold down the Windows key on the keyboard and use the < or > arrows.

– Snap Assist will then move the active window to either the left or right side of the screen. The other side of the screen will show your other open windows.

– Click on the window that you would like on the other half of your screen to load it there.