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Surrey County Council has announced a two-year extension to its Unicorn (Unified Communities Over Regional Networks) Public Services Network (PSN) contract with BT, and claimed it is on track to deliver authority-wide savings of £3.5m.
The Unicorn network project has been up and running since 2012, and covers the county council and its partners – which include all of Surrey’s 11 districts and boroughs, CSH Surrey - formerly Central Surrey Health - and Surrey Schools, as well as Bracknell Forest Council and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services – with a fully managed and integrated voice and data communications service.
The network, which will now run until 2021, recently connected its 500th site after 40 Surrey libraries signed up. Colm O’Neill, BT managing director of major and public sector contracts, said the extension was a vote of confidence in the service, which besides PSN connectivity includes managed local and wide area networks, IP telephony, mobility, managed Wi-Fi and contact centre services.
“What we are seeing with Unicorn makes a strong case for a collaborative approach to procurement and lays the foundation for much closer public service integration that will help public sector budgets go further,” said O’Neill.
Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council cabinet member for business services, said: “With rising demand for services like adult social care meaning money is really tight, we need to do everything we can to make taxpayers’ money go further.
“This deal is on track to save £3.5m over its seven years. That is why we have extended the contract by two years.”
Read more about the PSN
More public sector bodies will now be able to sign up to five-year contracts to use the service. Unicorn partners can also have a say in what services and suppliers are made available through the shared service catalogue, and influence the purchasing process. The partnership recently launched a cloud-based Wi-Fi service to enable employees to work from any partner site, retaining access to relevant systems and apps.