Kcom, part of the KCOM Group, has been selected by Staffordshire County Council to deliver one of the country’s first Public Sector Networks (PSN). The agreement will see Kcom provide the Council with a county-wide network designed to allow any public sector body in Staffordshire to join the PSN and exploit its benefits. Through the managed service Kcom delivers, the Council and its partners will be better positioned to provide more advanced, efficient and cost effective services to the people of Staffordshire.
Working initially with Staffordshire County Council and the county’s schools, the network will be accessed by around 200 council sites and 400 schools. The network also connects all Borough and District councils in Staffordshire and South Staffordshire Health authority have now agreed to join the PSN, creating one of the largest networks in the UK – connecting around 50,000 devices. The five year contract, which is extendable to 10 years, is worth approximately £23 million and combines wide and local-area networks, rationalisation of multiple telephony services onto a single IP platform, a new contact centre system, streamlining of mobile phones connectivity and the centralisation of security functions.
At the same time as investing in service delivery and benefiting from this streamlining of operational costs, Staffordshire County Council is consolidating 18 offices into a new County HQ in the centre of Stafford. The network will also provide a platform for introducing new, flexible ways of working into the council and its partners.
“Staffordshire has an excellent track record in developing partnerships that enhance the council’s IT services. The introduction of a Public Sector Network is the logical next step and a compelling opportunity,” comments Sander Kristel, CIO at Staffordshire County Council. “We are one of the first counties to introduce a PSN, and we’re very excited by the efficiencies and improvements the network will enable within Staffordshire – particularly those that support Staffordshire’s challenging ambitions for the integration of public services. Kcom’s experience in the public sector has been invaluable in creating a solution which works for us, as is the fact that Kcom sits on the PSN GB (Governing Board) – which works with the Cabinet Office on issues relating to PSNs. It is reassuring that that the PSN we are developing with Kcom is in direct alignment with Cabinet Office guidance, policies and standards.”
“Staffordshire County Council has been working on this procurement with all Staffordshire local authorities, schools and Health partners and we have now started discussions with other public sector partners,” states Cllr Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Assets, Performance and Organisation. “Not only are we significantly reducing running costs for the council and our partners but more importantly we are supporting better, more joined-up services to the public.”
“Regional PSNs are currently under consideration by county councils and other regional bodies’ nation-wide as part of ongoing initiatives to reduce expenditure and share efficiencies,” comments Afshin Attari, Head of Distributed Government, at Kcom. “Discussions are already underway to help bring more public sector bodies within Staffordshire onto the network – helping further multiply the benefits of a PSN. Kcom has also been looking at how we can help the council widen the boundaries of the PSN to encompass small businesses and possibly the citizens of Staffordshire within the network – delivering further value for money.”
Paul Simpson, Group Executive Director at Kcom, says: “We are very pleased to have been given this opportunity to work with Staffordshire County Council in developing and implementing one of the country’s first PSNs. We have been closely monitoring the public sector market and investing in our capabilities so that we are able to confidently meet the necessary requirements. We are confident that through our capabilities and track record within the public sector, we will be able to support our customers in achieving their goals.”
Kcom was selected following a procurement exercise using the OJEU Competitive Dialogue procedure[i]. This procedure initially selected six suppliers, subsequently shortlisted to three, before Kcom was chosen to deliver a Framework Agreement for the provision of network and communications managed services within Staffordshire. As a consequence of this framework, PSN partners from across the county can draw on the benefits of the network.