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Essex County Council (ECC) is set to deliver enhanced ICT services to around 200,000 users through its Next Generation Network (NGN) services whilst also reducing spend.
Daisy Updata Communications Limited (DUCL) has been awarded the NGN contract to manage and develop the IT network infrastructure and associated telephony services, for 10 years, for one of the largest local authorities in the UK, Essex County Council (ECC). The contract is valued at £81m.
DUCL is a new Joint Venture between Daisy Group, an experienced supplier of unified business communications services, and Updata Infrastructure, a leading provider of network solutions to the public sector.
Built to PSN-standards but requiring no new financial investment from the Council, the NGN will initially establish a single network with connectivity to schools, council sites members of the Essex On Line Partnership (EOLP), a combination of organisations working together on ICT projects including local district, borough and unitary councils, Essex Police and Essex County Fire Services. NGN therefore introduces a true PSN throughout Essex.
NGN also has the capacity to quickly encompass other public sector bodies – for example, the NHS whilst also potentially connecting other public and third sector organisations from the wider region outside Essex. The same benefits Essex will realise are available to the wider region and were covered under the scope of the OJEU procurement.
DUCL will also draw on the expertise of Daisy’s supplier relationships to address the Council’s comprehensive requirements following its NGN procurement exercise. The new infrastructure is set to reduce expenditure on network and telephony services , whilst ensuring a future-proofed, robust and fully managed service.
The contract will combine ECC’s data and telephony networks and add additional services – unified communications, video conferencing and fixed telephony, for example - to support flexible working. One of the contract’s key early deliverables is to provide full compliance with Public Services Network (PSN) standards to enable secure connectivity to government services and to provide a platform for sharing services with ECC’s other public sector stakeholders – the emergency services, the NHS and local authorities for example.
The network will provide connectivity and associated services to more than 200 ECC corporate sites, including council offices and libraries, and 550 primary, secondary and academy schools. As part of a comprehensive upgrade programme, primary schools will receive an increase in network bandwidth from 2Mbps to 10Mbps, and secondary schools and Academies will have the option of upgrading their links to a 1Gbps connection. Where required, corporate sites will also receive a bandwidth upgrade to meet new services.
Call costs will be reduced through the introduction of new telephony services including the utilisation of IP Telephony and the introduction of new mobile tariffs. Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) will enable calls to be routed in the most cost efficient way.
David Wilde, CIO at Essex County Council, commented: “For Essex and the users of this network, it is about getting more for less; providing a better service at a significantly reduced cost. DUCL have developed a model that will deliver our strategic objectives and support the transformation of the Council’s services delivered to our citizens.
"In March 2012, we announced our plans for a new network infrastructure that would achieve savings to of our overall network infrastructure costs whilst also introducing new technologies. As part of its bid process, DUCL proposed a highly innovative and transparent commercial model that ensured best value for the county and helped us achieve cost savings.
“The new infrastructure and commercial model are flexible and will be available for use by the public sector in Essex and the wider region, including local authorities, the NHS, the Fire and Rescue Service and charities. We are absolutely committed to sharing services and collaborating with our partners and neighbours, and clearly the most cost effective way of doing that is across a shared infrastructure.”
Matthew Riley, Chief Executive Officer at Daisy Group plc, said: “This contract win is an illustration of the success we can achieve in the Public Sector. Essex County Council’s choice of Daisy Group and Updata Infrastructure is testament to the high level of service and cost savings we can provide to our customers via a truly unified communications offering.
“This is the blueprint for success for other local authorities and we look forward to being able to provide our services through the framework to reduce costs and transform access for public services to ICT.”
Richard Bennett, Managing Director of Updata Infrastructure commented, “From the outset, we wanted to provide best value for the Council. By combining our respective strengths, the consortium was in a position to focus on driving costs from the supply chain. By forming the DUCL consortium, we have ensured that there is absolutely zero margin-on-margin mark up, helping the Council to meet its tough cost saving targets whilst delivering a flexible and highly resilient network.”