Five problems Network Services 2 will solve
We've looked into five public sector problems that can be solved by procuring tech through the new iteration of the Network Services framework.
CCS will shortly launch an updated version of its Network Services framework, which enables public bodies to access network and telecoms related services without a lengthy procurement process. The aim of the second iteration is to improve on and streamline the existing framework, through which 57 suppliers have been successfully winning business for the past three years. So, what issues facing the public sector can the Network Services 2 framework help with?
Embracing remote working and BYOD
In recent years, many public sector organisations have begun to adopt a more flexible attitude towards mobile working. Allowing staff to work from home can have a number of benefits, reducing office costs cutting the time wasted on travelling between offices. Giving employees more freedom to work from anywhere also provides a more motivated workforce and fosters a working culture that is more resilient and adaptable to change.
But, of course, moving to a mobile working environment isn’t challenge-free. Staff accessing sensitive documents through their home or a public WiFi network on unencrypted devices are running the risk of data breaches. Public sector bosses are rightly concerned about preventing the personal information they hold on citizens falling into the wrong hands. However, such problems can be avoided by ensuring that staff access their work resources, corporate information and applications through a secure network.
Bringing staff together
Sometimes, emails just don’t do the job. In any organisation there are times where key staff need to be brought together to chat about solving issues of policy and delivery. But if your heads of departments are all working in different locations, getting everyone in the same room at the same time can be a problem. The time taken to find and book a room and the time taken by staff travelling mean that having a face-to-face meeting can eat up valuable resources.
That’s where video and audio conferencing come in. Technology can allow staff to connect with each other and quickly agree on solutions to problems whilst sitting at their laptops or on the end of their phone. Conferencing technology can now allow so much more than just connecting people for a chat and enable conference participants to work on shared documents and access each other’s desktops.
Making the most of scarce resources
Public services are going through a time of unprecedented financial stress due to government austerity cuts. It’s almost impossible to pick up a newspaper without reading another headline about a council facing budgetary issues. Recently, Northamptonshire County Council was forced to introduce emergency restrictions on spending after running out of money. One response to this crisis has been a decision to replace the county council and the county’s seven districts with two unitary authorities.
A number of councils around the country are going down the unitary route. However, many are stopping short of a full merger and instead creating shared service teams covering specific functions. Such arrangements can save significant amounts of money over the long term, by creating efficiencies of scale. However, bolting new arrangements on top of existing, separate networks can be problematic. Taking a fresh look and creating a new unified communications network can solve problems caused by fragmented legacy systems that don’t talk to each other.
Moving public services online
Moving public services online, if done properly, can save organisations money, while making life simpler for citizens. A whole host of functions, from securing a new driving license, to applying for planning permission can now be done fully over the internet. But moving to a digital first environment is about a lot more than technology. It is about driving a culture change to a new model for public services, reshaping organisational structures.
None of this, of course, is possible without the free-flow of data within and between departments and organisations. A well-implemented network approach can help public bodies deal with the volume of online requests in a seamless manner. Even traditional methods of communication including telephone handling can be made easier through a network-based approach.
Unleashing the Internet of Things
The government are only at the beginning of a journey in working out how to make the most of a new phenomenon – the Internet of Things (IoT). This allows organisations to gather information from sensors placed on all kinds of objects – such as roads (to monitor traffic flow) and bins (to track the need for emptying and detect vandalism). The data gathered can be used to enable immediate interventions, such as allowing emergency vehicles to avoid congestion, or to build a picture on how future policy can help deal with issues thrown up.
But as authorities grapple with what does and does not work, it is clear that the full potential of IoT can only be reached by the creation of brand new data networks. For instance, Hull City Council this year installed a new long-range wide area network to support its IoT devices. The council says the network will provide cost-effective coverage in high density and difficult-to-reach areas and support its plans to develop more smart services relating to parking, street lighting and waste management.
Looking at the above examples, its clear there is a need for the public sector to keep investing and reinvesting in reliable, strong and secure network related services. It is not surprising then that the value of NS2 is estimated at £5 billion! If you are a supplier of these kinds of services Network Services 2 is not a framework to miss out on, after all if you do it might be another four years before you can apply again.
If you are new to the framework and want to find out more about the Lot structure and how it works, check out our blog ‘The News on Network Services 2’.