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Buckinghamshire speeds up data sharing and cuts costs with broadband network

Karen Gomm

Broadband network brings local councils together for e-government.

Buckinghamshire County Council has rolled out a broadband network to speed up data sharing between councils and help to reduce IT costs .

Buckinghamshire Council paid for the network using £2m of government funding allocated to help councils modernise their IT.

The county's local councils, which include Aylesbury and Chiltern, will exchange data over the new network. It will also support future e-government initiatives and contribute to the county's efforts to meet the government target of delivering all public services online by the end of 2005.

The broadband network was installed by network services company Telindus, and was completed in April. Named BucksConnect, the network was implemented on an existing IP-based network.

The main reason for the network was to provide a common medium of communication for the departments and local councils within the county. It will help to deliver public services more efficiently and quickly, the county council believes.

Ken Boxhall, head of IT services at the council, said, "Buckinghamshire is run along the traditional lines of council infrastructure of county, district and parish councils, rather than being a single, unitary authority.

"This means that the public receive a fragmented service and are left wondering who to contact if a street lamp isn't working, or there is a hole in the road. Until now there has been no single point of contact so people have been calling the wrong councils and departments," he said.

"It was important to provide an infrastructure that would support the delivery of other BucksConnect and additional e-government projects that may happen in the future - for example connecting parish councils, partner organisations such as charities, outsourced housing suppliers and other council offices such as tourist and leisure facilities."

The broadband network has already cut costs for the council by doing away with the need for local councils to have their own internet connections. The council expects the network will pay for itself within a few years.

According to Boxhall the the BT 100 LES network will pay for itself in terms of sharing future applications such as those used for mapping data - instead of having five systems the councils will share one.


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