Camden council set to use schools network for other local services

Camden Borough Council is likely to be the first London local council to adopt a network set up for schools as a conduit for other services, in an effort to escape long-winded conventional procurement processes.

The network, the London Grid for Learning is undergoing a migration to a new supplier, Virgin Media Business for £200m over the next five years.

The Public Service Network is intended to provide over 3,000 education establishments, across the 33 London boroughs, with high bandwidth connectivity. Savings on broadband services could be as much as two thirds of London schools' current spend in this area.

Phase two of the project is to open the network up to other services supported by the local authorities within the region.

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John Jackson, Assistant Director of Corporate ICT at the London Borough of Camden confirmed that once the network was widened out beyond schools, his council wanted to be one of the earliest adopters, because it was an ideal foundation for sharing services with other authorities.

He said: "One of the problems at the moment is the Byzantine procurement regulations we have had to observe in the past. Frameworks like this offer us a legally compliant, but simpler and faster way of getting more value for money. What makes it really work is the economy of scale. The deal Camden could get on its own here is nowhere near the bargaining power of all 33 councils."

He said the first uses he would like to make of the network outside of education would be connectivity with other London local authorities' systems, which in turn could support services to citizens, such as a common Wifi or mobile service.