The City of Edinburgh Council entered into a groundbreaking 15-year strategic partnership with BT in 2001. That Smart City deal demonstrated that it’s possible to deliver better citizen services, improved back office efficiency, and lower costs – all at the same time.
While the creation of a Council-wide infrastructure characterised the early years of the partnership, transformation was the ultimate goal. Originally, over 600 servers supported applications for approximately 7,000 corporate and 13,000 education computers. Based in disparate locations, these servers were often under the control of different Council business units.
This local approach to support led to inconsistent systems management levels. The thoroughness of disciplines like patching, anti-virus, backup, authentication, and accountability varied from unit to unit. Typically, when a new application or service was required, another server was procured, adding to the problem. Different networking technologies left by previous organisational structures compounded matters. With two sets of software to run, access controls were complex, resulting in an unfriendly and slow user experience.
The challenge was to build a sustainable and scalable architecture, with best-in-class levels of resilience and security, around which Council services could evolve. Donald Crombie, Information Security Manager for The City of Edinburgh Council, says: “A smart city should be a sustainable city. Not only were our servers difficult to manage, but also their aggregate carbon footprint was above industry best practice.”