INSIGHT

Power to the Cambridgeshire people

Connecting lives and mindsets via the internet

The great thing about connectivity is that it connects people – and, if we say so ourselves - that’s more true in Cambridgeshire than most places. Step forward the Cambridgeshire Public Services Network (CPSN).

The brief for CPSN was to connect 200 schools, 32 libraries, 28 fire stations and 50 community centres with a fast, secure network, while reducing operating costs for the County Council. The budget was lean. The ambition was not.

In response, Virgin Media Business delivered a framework that has improved services across the community, found annual savings of £1m and created impacts that are being felt in neighbouring counties as well.

Improving the frontline services

The basics of the solution was a bespoke fibre optic network, connecting all sites to superfast internet with proper security. We increased network capacity while improving data, telephone and internet services across offices, schools, community centres and other public premises around Cambridgeshire.

And reduced bills by around 50 per cent.

But extending group purchasing into other areas as well means that CPSN also makes it cheaper and simpler for all players to get related services - like web filtering security software. And being able to buy the framework’s network services from the cloud means full security protection comes “built in”, so even the smallest authorities can afford the best security. Naturally, money saved by the County Council and its network partners, are being re-invested in frontline services.

Changing mindsets

CPSN Contract and Services Manager Michael Carey said:

"CPSN has been a remarkable success story so far and it keeps on getting better. It’s amazing how quickly mindsets change once conventional barriers are removed."

 
 

The network is already a catalyst for innovation in service delivery – IT is now a way of making things better. With technological constraints gone, joined-up working and sharing resources has become obvious – even inevitable.”

And with mindsets are changed, barriers to accessing the technology are removed, creating strong partnerships that have driven network use around the county. It has produced a profound change in the way public sector organisations and the voluntary sector work together to share resources.

So who is collaborating? Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire and Rescue Service, Fenland District Council and groups represented by the Cambridge and District Citizen’s Advice Bureau, to name but a few. Oh, and there’s also Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service right next door.

A better local pub

But what does this mean? Now staff are well connected, schools have better IT and the network team has even set up 50 community access points in community centres, village halls and other public buildings, allowing local people in rural areas to access technology and digital services. At the George pub in Doddington there’s even a weekly computer class, where people can access the internet.

CPSN Contract and Services Manager, Michael Carey, said: “CPSN is a great deal for Cambridgeshire. Putting services under one roof helps to cut costs, improves public accessibility and creates ties between organisations so that they can work together for the common good.”

As more and more organisations in the community begin to see how better communications can be cheaper and easy to access, CPSN is set to grow even more, and keep making things easy for partners by altering services as their needs evolve.

We’ll be there every step of the way.

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