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E-GOVERNMENT SUPPLEMENT - TECHNOLOGICAL WONDER

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A recent IT deal has prepared Rossendale BC's 'out-of-date' IT team for local government in the 21st century, says ...
A recent IT deal has prepared Rossendale BC's 'out-of-date' IT team for local government in the 21st century, says David White

Rossendale BC has undertaken a radical overhaul of its IT services as a part of its determination to streamline and enhance the functionality of the council's business processes. Following an open tender process involving a number of potential suppliers, the contract was awarded to Securicor Information Systems and commenced in April 2001.

Just twelve months later, Rossendale BC welcomes the rapid advances in technology and service achieved and is looking at ways to develop its IT objectives. Before the relationship between Rossendale BC and SIS, it was concluded that the IT services in existence within the council were archaic.

The advent of the government's clear commitment to the modernisation of public services served to further endorse the view that an outsourced level of expertise was required in order to bring the IT infrastructure into the 21st century.

SIS was clear in its objectives to:

-- Provide an innovative thin client and MS Windows-based graphical environment to improve the work processes of staff

-- Create a partnership with Rossendale BC to fit with the requirements of best value and e-government initiatives

-- Provide the council with the technological tools to achieve real long-term business benefits through effective, efficient and economical services

-- Place SIS staff on-site at Rossendale who become colleagues of the council staff on a day-to-day basis and provide project management advice and guidance

-- Introduce remote UNIX and network support facilitated by a permanent communications link from the Sutton service centre which is operational 24 hours per day, 365 days per year

-- Supply introductory training for new desktops or new users

-- Link 12 remote sites to the council offices where the computer section was based so ensuring ongoing support

-- Provide the council with the requisite tools to introduce an improved security policy

-- Allow the day-to-day business of Rossendale BC to continue while simultaneously improving its IT infrastructure.

The replacement infrastructure design is based on Microsoft Windows 2000 servers and 3 Citrix terminal servers to drive thin-client devices which look and act like PCs. The key difference is the thin-clients are controlled centrally. The design also consolidated the UNIX technology required to run the council's core business applications.

The following UNIX applications were migrated following user testing, with the full copy of the live database transferred to the new server, and all application users set up on the new machine:

-- Environmental health

-- Payroll

-- Stores

-- Debtors

-- Council tax, national non-domestic rating and benefits

-- Housing rents and management

-- Creditors and accountancy.

Each application and department has designated user officers who worked in partnership with SIS to achieve the targets. The service centre is also regarded as a success by those working at the Rossendale BC offices. It is felt that this facility has helped to streamline and discipline the delivery of assistance and resolution of issues with impressive statistics showing that 99.5% of all calls logged within the first 12 month period were resolved within the agreed service levels.

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