Newham Council targets a starring role at the Olympics with dark fibre

Smart projects: London council prepares for 2012 by building spare network capacity

Newham Council in London has made preparations for the capital's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games by building a network with enough spare capacity to host the Olympics datacentre.

Newham hopes that the Olympics, most of which will take place within its geographical boundaries, will use the network, thereby providing the borough council with a substantial improvement to its cashflow.

Newham has already cut the running costs of its network by £650,000 a year after completing an overhaul early last year.

With the overhaul having cost £2m, Newham should see a complete return on its investment by the beginning of 2009.

The council also hopes to sell to neighbouring councils in east London the spare capacity it built into its new datacentre, which went live at the same time as Newham upgraded its network.

Newham, along with Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, belongs to the North East London Partnership of councils. The partnership councils are looking to set up shared services to help them meet central government targets for cutting their running costs before 2008, as required by the Gershon efficiency review.

Added to this, last December's pre-Budget statement set further cost reduction targets for councils from 2008 to 2011.

The new targets will require councils to find new ways of achieving cost savings, such as sharing services with other public sector agencies.

Newham's network contains enough dark fibre - spare network that it put in the ground in anticipation of future demand - to sell capacity to several other large-scale users of IT.

The council hired consultants from SNT and Vanguard to implement the network. The cost of the consultants has been met from the improved services that the ICT function now provides to Newham's various departments.

The IT department has also refreshed Newham's desktop estate. The total cost of maintaining the desktops has fallen from £3m to £2m a year, after a large number of budgets were consolidated into one.

Newham is also looking to use radio frequency identification (RFID) or another form of smart chip technology to control employee access to council property.

Employees would have to swipe their cards over RFID or similar types of readers to gain access to buildings.

The council could then limit access to particular properties or sensitive areas, such as the datacentre, to a small number of employees.

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