The first steps of establishing a Public Services Network linking local authorities is being hailed as a success
The first stage of joined-up digital government has been completed with the successful testing of a Public Services Network (PSN) in the South of England.
Project Pathway was the trail-blazing initiative to kick off the formation of a secured network between local authorities around the country, paving the way for the introduction of private cloud services.
In this phase, Hampshire County Council has been connected to Kent County Council to demonstrate effective collaboration between multiple suppliers and public sector bodies. It was intended, initially at least, to establish and improve methods for purchasing and thereby to realise significant savings through the common approaches that may now be adopted.
First Steps On A Long Journey
Virgin Media Business and Global Crossing collaborated to produce a Government Conveyance Network and then connected the two regional networks to deliver digital services such as IP telephony and HD video conferencing. The network established by the technical suppliers still has a long way to go. It will gradually expand and form a web of interactivity between all English and Welsh local authorities. At a later date, it will intersect with a similar project for central government departments.
John Taylor, the senior responsible owner (SRO) for the PSN programme on behalf of the CIO Delivery Board commented that “Achievement of this milestone is a real credit to all those involved in this ground-breaking effort. It can only serve to increase confidence that PSN is the way forward for local government and central departments alike, so that we can all reap the benefits by driving down costs and increasing the effectiveness of public services delivery.”
The two county councils piloting the PSN claim to have already saved around £4.7 million this year through the aggregation of their local authority and education networks. The addition of other nodes to the network is expected to increase these savings as more interaction will increase the discovery of better ways to save money and improve service provision through co-developed applications and the sharing of experiences.
Roger Gough, cabinet member for business strategy in the Performance & Health Reform department of Kent County Council, commented that the experience “has helped to make a number of practical changes to the standards and accreditation processes involved in PSN, reducing timescales and removing unnecessary costs”.
“In short, every public sector organisation considering PSN will benefit from what Project Pathway has achieved,” he said.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, councillor Ken Thornber, added, “An efficient and effective network is critical to how we deliver services for our partners – schools, libraries, and all our front line services. It enables us to operate as a modern business and transform the way we design and deliver services.”