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Norfolk's digital ambition to transform local services

David Bicknell Published 05 December 2013

CIO Tom Baker says Cloud based data and resources project will save £10m and boost local economy


Just a year after joining Norfolk County Council, chief information officer (CIO) Tom Baker has set up a unique £26m, five-year project to transform and improve public services in the county.

The county council today announced an agreement which will deliver £10m of savings from the council's IT budget, and at the same time help to boost the local economy, solve social problems and safeguard vulnerable people through the use of better sharing of data and resources with partners.

The Digital Norfolk Ambition (DNA) project will involve Hewlett Packard (HP) and its partners Microsoft and Vodafone and drive the creation of a Cloud-based 'information hub' to break down existing communication barriers between organisations and establish the secure sharing of data across Norfolk to help public services plan more effective services targeted at those most in need.

The hub will be developed by graduates from the University of East Anglia (UEA) working alongside HP and the county council.

The council believes the use of technology and better sharing of data and resources between partners is fundamental to building the right services for Norfolk and the new partnership will support closer and more informed working.

Over the coming weeks the council, HP, Vodafone and Microsoft plan to invite partner organisations to take part in a number of initiatives to support better education and higher education including:

  • the creation of a new four-year degree in Information and Management Analytics at UEA sponsored by HP
  • the creation of a one-year course for 16-year-olds to provide technical computer skills, and
  • the setting up of 'tech camps' for teachers to keep them abreast of the latest technological developments.

"Our vision is to deliver world-class integrated public services that stimulate and support a sustainable knowledge economy in Norfolk," said Baker, who helped drive similar local transformation in his previous CIO job in Sunderland.

"HP will contribute to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the county by enabling multiple agencies to effectively participate in joint service delivery. The creation of a platform for more joined-up collaboration between NCC and other partners will make it possible to get a single view. In addition, HP will enable us to make cost savings of about 20 percent."

Stuart Bladen, Vice President and General Manager, UK Public Sector, HP Enterprise Services said, "This partnership with Norfolk is unique in local government in the UK: it will provide a new style of public service that enables multiple agencies to effectively participate in joint service delivery. Furthermore, we are excited to bring HP, Microsoft and Vodafone together to focus on the education, skills and jobs agenda here in Norfolk."

James Johns, HP's Director of Strategy for the UK Public Sector, also pointed out the partnership benefits of the project for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Norfolk and particularly referenced HPs current programme helping SMEs sell into government.

Nigel Williams, Chief Fire Officer, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We see this initiative as an exciting opportunity to better join up public services and improve public safety, whilst at the same time rising to the challenge of having to find the budget savings that we all face at this time. We are firmly committed to exploring the opportunities this initiative offers to better integrate Fire and Rescue service ICT systems within the wider county council network."

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