Cisco Helps Telford & Wrekin Council Integrate and Transform Community Services
Telford & Wrekin Council in the West Midlands will transform local community services by using a Cisco® Unified Communications system to integrate multiple agency services and deliver them to residents in a way that is transparent to the customer, even in residents’ homes. Children and parents will be able to visit their local schools to access not just education but also a range of council services such as social care and benefits as well as non-council services such as healthcare, all under one roof.
The network, based on the Cisco Unified Communications system, was designed, installed and is now being managed by Synetrix Ltd, a Cisco Silver Certified Partner. The network connects council offices, libraries and even some local healthcare agencies and all 83 schools in the area. It extends to other community authorities that share sites with the council, such as a local police station. The Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) network will provide the platform for multi-agency information to be accessed from a single point of contact so that residents can deal with council-related needs such as tax, benefits, social care and associate healthcare from a consolidated point of contact or single phone call. Mobile technologies will extend the Cisco network infrastructure into residents’ houses, care homes and hospitals so that council and other agency staff can provide services at the point of need. It is anticipated that this could, for instance, significantly reduce the time taken to complete a benefits application. This is because customer’s evidence documents are much easier to access and will be scanned into the relevant systems at point of contact.
Tom Greatorex, interim head of information & communication technology at Telford & Wrekin, said, “The infrastructure that Telford & Wrekin Council is building with Cisco and Synetrix is about delivering a much more efficient and citizen-focused approach and about bringing services closer to the community -- even into their homes. We believe that the Cisco network, which extends into every school in the area, is one of the most advanced and innovative in local government. It is one of the important building blocks that will enable the council to save money, become more efficient and improve service delivery. True, sustainable transformation of services starts from the bottom up, and an excellent converged communications network forms part of those foundations.”
As well as improving community services, the Cisco IP network is also expected to help Telford & Wrekin Council reduce operating costs and improve council efficiency. The council is achieving call-charge savings gained by the Cisco Unified Communications systems to ensure that the entire network infrastructure and telephony system is cost-neutral within five years. Additional cost savings are expected from the council’s Business Transformation programme through increasing staff mobility and flexible home working and, ultimately, reducing council office space.
The council will use the Cisco IP network to deploy an e-learning portal that will provide all council staff with faster and more efficient access to online training facilities. The portal will enable staff to pick and choose courses so they can focus on their own development needs and also allow them to learn at their own pace. Initially, the portal will give staff access to a range of materials to help them improve their use of information technology, from how to create a spreadsheet table to using the council’s accounting systems. The portal will be extended to include a wide range of bespoke training and development courses and services, which will be available to council staff.
The Cisco Unified Communications system at Telford & Wrekin comprises a Cisco network connecting up to around 230 sites using Cisco 2821 Integrated Services Routers and Cisco Catalyst 3560 Series Switches. The Cisco IP telephony element uses Cisco Unified CallManager and 5,000 Cisco Unified IP Phones 7900 Series. The Cisco Unified Communications system is supporting around 30,000 children and 5,000 council staff. The Cisco solution at Telford & Wrekin Council has been installed by Synetrix in cooperation with the council’s information and communications technology and business transformation teams. Greatorex said, “The full technical roll-out in Telford & Wrekin only took 14 weeks and happened without any disruption for our customers, showing the commitment of the teams and the expertise and support of Synetrix.”
“The Cisco Unified Communications system at Telford & Wrekin will show how local government can dramatically improve the efficiency and delivery of citizen services by providing online access, allowing agencies to automate, consolidate and even eliminate resource-consuming processes,” said David Critchley, public sector director, Cisco UK. “Telford &Wrekin is going a step further and using technology to integrate other community service to further transform and improve peoples’ lives.”
Andy Hvass, sales director at Synetrix, said, “From a detailed analysis of the requirements of Telford and Wrekin, we felt the Cisco Unified Communications system was the best choice in terms of its capabilities, reliability and range of services to deliver the council’s immediate objectives and long-term vision. We were able to deliver the complex solution on time and on budget to meet Telford and Wrekin’s key deadlines, and we are now providing managed services to maintain, support and continue developing the network and communications facilities.”
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