The Public Sector Network (PSN), a secure private network for the public sector, has ‘huge potential’ to provide savings through shared infrastructure and services, Socitm has said.

In its ‘Public sector network: case studies of a major shared service’, the local council IT managers’ association said that IT leaders of all local public services should be therefore preparing now for connecting locally or regionally to the PSN in order to exploit these benefits. It also makes recommendations on what factors organisations should consider when establishing a business case for the PSN.

“From this point, no individual network procurements in any local public service should now happen unless they are clearly part of existing or planned PSNs,” said Jos Creese, Socitm president.

Socitm said in the report that the PSN infrastructure is critical to delivering the government’s ICT strategy, and will enable major savings by providing a platform for shared services.

The PSN can support a wide range of integrated network services, including data, telephony, video conferencing, file transfer, messaging, and a secure access tool to enable the deployment of cloud computing when required.

Among its recommendations, Socitm said that local government could avoid the costs of duplicate connections to the Government Connect Secure Extranet (GCSX) by aggregating multiple organisations’ individual connections into one.

It also suggests that public sector organisations that share a site or are within close proximity with each other could join connections to the GCSX into one. Furthermore, public bodies could aggregate purchase of a large network for voice and data in order to achieve economies of scale.”

“PSN addresses some of the issues that have inhibited use of the previous, centrally designed, ‘one size fits all’ solutions like the GCSX,” said Creese.

He added: “The PSN concept is a ‘network of networks’ where regions or sub-regions will commission networks designed to meet their local needs.”

Socitm’s report, which is available here, also provides case studies, including best practice techniques and common pitfalls, about public networks that are already in operation in Hampshire and Kent, and developing ones in Cambridgeshire, Essex, North Yorkshire, London, Dorset and Yorkshire and Humber.

In September, Socitm and the Local Government Association (LGA) reached an agreement with the Cabinet Office to relax some of the security standards requirements for local authorities to connect to the government’s network.