Could this community project be the start of a national transformation? | George Monbiot

One London borough has been bringing people together to work, socialise and dream. The results are extraordinary

If there is hope, it lies here, in the most deprived borough in London. Barking and Dagenham has shocking levels of unemployment, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence and early death. Until 2010, it was the main stronghold of the British National party. Its population turns over at astonishing speed: every year, about 8% of residents move out. But over the past year it has started to become known for something else: as a global leader in taking back control.

Since the second world war, councils and national governments have sought to change people’s lives from the top down. Their efforts, during the first 30 years of this period at least, were highly effective, creating public services, public housing and a social safety net that radically improved people’s lives.

There’s a programme to turn boring patches of grass into community gardens, play corners and outdoor learning centres

Related: Yes, there is an alternative. These people have shown how to ‘take back control’ | Aditya Chakrabortty

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AWS launches WorkLink to make accessing mobile intranet sites and web apps easier

If your company uses a VPN and/or a mobile device management service to give you access to its intranet and internal web apps, then you know how annoying those are. AWS today launched a new product, Amazon WorkLink,  that promises to make this process significantly easier.

WorkLink is a fully managed service that, for $5 per month and user, allows IT admins to give employees one-click access to internal sites, no matter whether they run on AWS or not.

After installing WorkLink on their phones, employees can then simply use their favorite browser to surf to an internal website (other solutions often force users to use a sub-par proprietary browser). WorkLink the goes to work, securely requests that site and — and that’s the smart part here — a secure WorkLink container converts the site into an interactive vector graphic and sends it back to the phone. Nothing is stored or cached on the phone and AWS says WorkLink knows nothing about personal device activity either. That also means when a device is lost or stolen, there’s no need to try to wipe it remotely because there’s simply no company data on it.

IT can either use a VPN to connect from an AWS Virtual Private Cloud to on-premise servers or use AWS Direct Connect to bypass a VPN solution. The service works with all SAML 2.0 identity providers (which is the majority of identity services used in the enterprise, including the likes of Okta and Ping Identity) and as a fully managed service, it handles scaling and updates in the background.

“When talking with customers, all of them expressed frustration that their workers don’t have an easy and secure way to access internal content, which means that their employees either waste time or don’t bother trying to access content that would make them more productive,” says Peter Hill, Vice President of Productivity Applications at AWS, in today’s announcement. “With Amazon WorkLink, we’re enabling greater workplace productivity for those outside the corporate firewall in a way that IT administrators and security teams are happy with and employees are willing to use.”

WorkLink will work with both Android and iOS, but for the time being, only the iOS app (iOS 12+) is available. For now, it also only works with Safar, with Chrome support coming in the next few weeks. The service is also only available in Europe and North America for now, with additional regions coming later this year.

For the time being, AWS’s cloud archrivals Google and Microsoft don’t offer any services that are quite comparable with WorkLink. Google offers its Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy as a VPN alternative and as part of its BeyondCorp program, though that has a very different focus, while Microsoft offers a number of more traditional mobile device management solutions.