Hampshire continues to use IT as the basis for ambitious business transformation and improved service delivery. The Council was one of the first UK organisations to seriously commit to a thin client architecture some 10 years ago. A move that its Head of IT Jos Creese estimates has consistently delivered £1m annually in reduced maintenance and support costs, but has also been a big Green IT winner: "We save the equivalent energy to power nearly 180 homes in Hampshire as a result of this," he says.
The Council, along with fellow members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership (HIOW), has recently agreed a contract with ntl:Telewest Business to upgrade its public services broadband and telephone network at a cost of £90m.
Conceived in 1997 and rolled out from November 1999 onwards, the original Hampshire Public Services Network (HSPN) was a combined broadband and telephone network aimed at allowing public sector partners in the county - including Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester city councils and the Isle of Wight council - to share systems, data and services and deliver secure connectivity to schools, hospitals and law enforcement agencies.
HSPN2, as the new network has been dubbed, will see ntl:Telewest's fibre optic Next Generation Network build on the facilities of HSPN to bring access to 15,000 public sector staff. Schools will also be connected by the scalable network, which can reach speeds of 1Gbps, and council officials say the network will offer cheaper calls, greater security and greater efficiency thanks to the sharing of value added services like directories and disaster recovery.
By ceding management of the network to HIOW's individual partners, HCC says that the partners will get the precise services and the service they want - partners will be able to choose as many or as few services as they want from a catalogue.
The group's collaborative work has been well rewarded of late. Late in 2008, Creese's team picked up an Intellect Local Government IT Excellence Award for delivering an online recruitment portal that delivered a single technology solution for attracting candidates and managing the recruitment process across 12 of the county's 15 local authorities.
Using the portal, jobseekers only have to enter application details once, and can track applications and book interviews online. Application details can also be added to the Hampshire Talent Bank for future reference.
The recruitment portal went on to win a Real IT Award, where Hampshire CC also picked up prizes for service management in the Service Improvement category. The council was also voted Top Public Sector project for its programme to implement best practice and deliver more cost-efficient ways of using technology to deliver public services: it claims a saving of well over £200,000 a year in increased productivity at the same time as improving service quality.
"Winning the awards gave a confidence boost to the team and provided genuine recognition that we are doing the right things and delivering real public service value," said Creese.
The rest of the technology infrastructure at Hampshire centres on SAP, Microsoft and service oriented approach based around a portfolio of IBM tools, but Creese is quick to stress that IT at Hampshire is about contribution to greater service delivery for citizens, not bits and bytes: "Our approach to IT is underpinned by a 'transforming through technology' business-led strategy, whose goal is to ensure that IT is an enabler, never a constraint," he says. The strategy has seven main themes, namely customer focus, efficiency and shared services, information management, flexible working, partnership working, designing IT around people, and IT skills and exploitation.
"IT is there to support and stimulate change and be a source of innovation and business process improvement, as a full partner to the organisation," he adds.