CGI: providing a benchmark for local authorities

From April things are set to change
 in Edinburgh, for people, businesses and schools. The council is embarking on an ambitious programme of digital transformation. The IT and business process services firm CGI is providing technology and know-how enabling Edinburgh’s introduction of integrated digital services.

As well as delivering digital services for Edinburgh’s citizens, encouraging them to carry out transactions online, the council’s schools will also benefit from the modernisation of their ICT infrastructure, with an improvement in bandwidth speeds available to primary and secondary schools, providing students with greater access to online educational tools.

“Edinburgh started with the individual; the citizen, the learner, the employee, the tourist, and designed around them,” said Maggie Morrison, CGI’s public sector director in Scotland. “That’s the approach CGI takes as well when we work with companies; start with the customer.”

CGI has partnered with telecoms provider Commsworld, working with CityFibre, to extend its Gigabit City project to an additional 294 council-owned sites. On completion later this year, more than 500 council-owned buildings will be connected to the new network and 137 primary and secondary schools will benefit from connection speeds 50-100 times faster.

Edinburgh’s 17,000 businesses will also benefit from the growth in the network, which is designed to function as a backbone for any future deployment of fibre to homes.

CGI’s work wIll also update ICT systems across all council service areas and automate and integrate back office processes with a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The ERP will integrate with citizen-facing digital platforms to enable cost reductions and increased capacity, while improving service quality, securing more effective and efficient citizen engagement. The digital self-service platform will be based on a specialist local government platform to enable multi-channel self-service to be integrated with back office systems.

The company says the programme will change the way citizens access and use public services and will introduce better ways of working for council employees. It anticipates that it will also serve as a benchmark for other local authorities in delivering digital public services. At the original tendering phase, around 50 other public sector organisations took the option of using CGI without having to repeat the procurement process.

It is expected that the £186m contract will also save the council £45m over its initial seven-year term. It will create 200 jobs and 60 modern apprenticeships. CGI was also asked to invest in social enterprises and community groups.

CGI has an established business hub in Edinburgh and it will be expanding to create more jobs to support its engagement with the council and its public sector partners. These roles will cover a wide range of areas and responsibilities from experienced ICT, networking, digital and cyber security professionals, to the creation of more than 60 modern apprenticeships to provide school leavers with the opportunity of a career in ICT with CGI.

As part of CGI’s SME Accelerate programme, local small to medium enterprises will be included in CGI’s supply chain and this will increase over the lifetime of the contract. “SMEs are essential in providing fast, agile solutions to challenges and opportunities,” said Morrison. “We want to involve them in the supply chain.”

To support the council’s ambition of establishing itself as a leader in local government innovation and the adoption of digital platforms, CGI will contribute to a jointly financed innovation fund, which will explore new ideas, and pilot new technology for the benefit of the council and the citizens of Edinburgh. The programme will provide opportunities for local SMEs to work with CGI to introduce digital and social media services as part of the council’s Digital by Desire strategy.

The deal with Edinburgh is a significant step in CGI’s growth in Scotland. As well as public sector partnerships, 
it is also involved in the oil and gas
 and energy sectors, financial services and utilities. As part of the company’s investment in digital, it is also in the process of expanding its Open Digital Services Centre, an open source technologies hub set up in Glasgow in 2013, with the aim of creating 250 jobs.

“These are exciting times for CGI,” said Morrison, “and we are really looking forward to supporting improved services and increased productivity.”

CGI’s vice-president of  digital transformation and strategy, Craig Wallace, is speaking at the Digital Transformation Conference in Edinburgh.