Digital infrastructure plays a vital role in the smooth running of Glasgow, which in turn impacts on the city’s prosperity and productivity.
Before our digital upgrade we had two existing contracts in place providing CCTV camera and traffic management network services across the city. Both were due to expire and needed to be replaced to ensure these critical services continued to operate efficiently.
A decision was made to bring both components together to be delivered through a single supplier. In addition to the basic needs of CCTV and traffic management, the new replacement network needed to support leading-edge Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and address future requirements for 5G network capabilities across the city over the next decade.
We also needed to tackle digital attainment and economic regeneration in the city, and wanted the contract to deliver a variety of social value outcomes including work experience opportunities, mentoring programmes, and apprenticeships.
Access to digital technology can improve quality of life, financial inclusion, health and wellbeing, employability and civic participation, but not everybody in the city had access to it, nor did they have the skills to truly embrace its potential.
In May 2020 we turned to Crown Commercial Service (CCS) as their commercial agreements provide a compliant and efficient route to market.
We chose to use CCS’s Network Services 2 (NS2) framework as it met all of our assessment criteria. It’s well-suited to the council’s requirements as it has robust and low-risk terms and conditions, enables access to a supplier market with the skills and experience required to deliver the contract, and allows social value elements to be assessed alongside other criteria.
The NS2 framework has been designed to help public sector customers with all their telecom and network requirements, from mobile, voice, and video, to data and security. It offers reduced procurement time (between one and six months) and flexible contract lengths (up to ten years for some services).
In addition it offers savings for customers of up to 8.5% on internet services and 60% on data and network services that are more than four years old. Since it was awarded in August 2019, it has delivered commercial benefits of approximately £24m.
After consideration, a further competition was run through the framework. The solution was to appoint a single supplier to install, manage and support a brand new robust, scalable and flexible full fibre network.
Edinburgh-based Commsworld was awarded a ten-year contract for £5.8m. This represented a cost avoidance of approximately £4.4m, calculated by comparing the successful bid against the average value of all bids received including the winning bid.
The solution delivered as part of the contract gives us advanced technological capability to make more informed operational and strategic decisions in the future. For example data harvesting will enable us to deliver more efficient, targeted services for the benefit of citizens.
Key to this is the availability of high-speed fibre backhaul capability, that could help drive forward the implementation of 5G across the city – increasing the reach of 5G to all areas of Glasgow.
Consisting of 633 circuits, the network will support the delivery of CCTV, traffic control and other services across the city.
The infrastructure will also have the capability to support a range of IoT sensor-enabled automation including noise-monitoring, pollution monitoring, the measuring of footfall, building management, flood and water management.
As part of the contract, an apprentice was recruited, a mentoring programme for digital skills established and work experience placements offered to those from digitally deprived backgrounds.
The final outcome was the one we hoped for. As well as investing in our city’s infrastructure, we were able to build community benefits into the procurement which will have a lasting impact beyond the lifetime of the contract.
To find out more about CCS’s NS2 procurement framework visit www.crowncommercial.gov.uk
Cllr Angus Millar is chair of the Digital Glasgow Board