The county council is working with Cabinet Office to pilot the use of cloud-computing within Government to introduce exciting new ways of staff working, sharing information among partners and the public. This could potentially be adopted across the public sector, increasing efficiencies for authorities across the country.
A foundation partner on the government’s G-Cloud programme, Warwickshire County Council has led on the selection and provision of a cloud-based email solution for the county council and helped to set standards for service management, information assurance and procurement that will be adopted throughout the sector as the G-Cloud programme is rolled out further.
Having investigated various options as part of the G-Cloud project, Google has been selected as the preferred supplier for e-mail solution. Warwickshire County Council will join other businesses and agencies, notably the Guardian, Rentokil and Jaguar Land Rover have all selected Google Apps as their preferred option for e-mail.
There will be a range of benefits including greater flexibility of working and reduced costs of licenses for email. Savings will increase long term as the current e-mail solution is phased out and the e-mail infrastructure operates entirely from the cloud. Estimated savings will be around £250,000 per annum for Warwickshire County Council
Staff will have access to a range of tools which Google Mail also provides as part of its e-mail solution. Not only is e-mail and calendar available, other facilities include:
· Instant messaging and chat
· Desktop video conferencing
· Web-based office productivity tools (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings)
The function will be available from a range of devices including mobile phones and tablets. The cloud will link into the county’s new ways of working in which staff may not require a fixed space in an office, enabling hot-desking and working from home and will give the council greater flexibility in its programme of property rationalisation.
It will also enable partner agencies to engage with council staff and will also create opportunities of sharing information easily with the public.
The issue of security is being addressed by the county council and the government’s own specialist information assurance agency Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG). It will reduce the need for carrying sensitive information on memory sticks, or for it to be stored in the hard drive of laptops, reducing the potential for possible leaks of information. In addition, Warwickshire is also working with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to ensure it is aligned with the necessary data protection act policies.
The pilot is set to begin with 100 staff who will volunteer and be selected to ensure that it provides not only a cross section of staff but a range of officers who have a commitment to testing the capacity of G-cloud working.
By mid-October the project will have been designed and will then be tested from the end of the month through to the end of the year.
A paper will go to cabinet making recommendations for the scheme to be rolled out to remaining email users during 2012, hopefully during the summer months.
Cllr David Wright, portfolio holder for Finance, governance and IT, at Warwickshire County Council said:
“By joining the G cloud and adopting Google apps, the council will be at the forefront of smarter working among ourselves, our partners and our residents. We are proud of our commitment to act as a pioneer to enable agencies across the public sector to make efficiency savings with their ICT.
“This programme can be implemented rapidly so we will be improving how we work and making savings quickly. It is an exciting venture with great benefits for staff. We look forward to seeing how it works in practice and how it improves our ways of working.”
Chris Chant, programme director for government cloud said
“This pilot is an important step forward in revolutionising the provision of ICT services in government. By exploiting innovations in this manner, government will transform public sector ICT estate into one that is agile, cost effective and environmentally sustainable.”
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