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Westminster lays ground for shared networks

City Council instigates shared services for capital

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Westminster City Council has begun a procurement for next generation network services that could be taken up around London.

It has published a tender in the Official Journal of the European Union for networks capable of carrying data, IP telephony, integrated email, voicemail, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing and IP based CCTV.

The framework will be open to public sector bodies from around the capital, giving it the potential to emerge as a significant shared service.

Although the base value of the contract for Westminster will be £2.5m over four years, the tender notice says it could be worth up to £160m if there is widespread take-up of the framework.

David Wilde, chief information officer for Westminster, told GC News: "For some time London has been talking a lot about joined up services around networks, but the procurement set up has been a constraint. What we have put in place here does not prevent others from taking advantage."

He said the council has been speaking with London-wide groups such as Capital Ambition and the Socitm London Transformation Group in drawing up the procurement. "We have also been in discussions with individual boroughs and some are interested in what we are doing," he added.

While some efforts to promote shared services have been hampered by EU procurement law, Wilde said Westminster is confident it is "on the right side of the rules", in terms of the services to be offered and the geographical limitations of the framework.

"We spent a lot of time and effort getting advice to ensure the information notice is as robust as can be to ensure we will be in a strong position if there is any challenge," he said.

The tender will be run as a competitive dialogue, in which potential suppliers will be able to discuss the details of the services before the final contract is drawn up. Wilde said this is important in being able to harness the full potential of next generation networks.

"The whole communications environment has changed so much in the past 18 months, and will change so much in the next two years, that not going through a competitive dialogue would risk not being able to take advantage these changes," he said.

The tender notice names all the educational institutions in Westminster to which the framework will apply. Wilde said it will be open to schools in other London boroughs, although there is a question over how much freedom they have to act independently of their local authorities.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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