The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)’s burgeoning GM One Network will provide improved connectivity to numerous public sector organisations within the city-region, including local government and emergency services
Back in early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic the GMCA launched a Digital Blueprint, setting out a three-year strategy focussed on improving the city-region’s digital infrastructure and engagement.
Perhaps one of the most significant goals laid out in this framework was to significantly upgrade and improve the public sector infrastructure and networks, much of which had been left unchanged for over a decade.
As part of this process, the £23.8M Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Programme, coupled with local investment, was agreed in March 2020, appointing Virgin Media Business to connect over 1,500 public sites across the region.
Since then, however, it has become increasingly apparent that greater collaboration is needed between the GMCA, Greater Manchester’s local authorities, Fire & Rescue Services, and Transport for Greater Manchester with regards to infrastructure usage. By the middle of 2021, the resulting discussions have led to the concept of the GM One Network, aiming to create a single active network infrastructure across these key public sector organisations, enabling network services across the region to be provided more efficiently, securely, and flexibly.
If successful, the GM One Network can later be expanded to further public sector organisations, including additional emergency services and health organisations.
Today, the GMCA has announced a new strategi partnership with telecoms equipment provider Cisco to help build this network, which will support the latest technologies including 5G, WiFi6, and Open Roaming.
Cisco will also work with the various local authorities within Greater Manchester to provide digital skills training via the Cisco Networking Academy, the vendor’s global IT and cybersecurity education program. Much of this will take place at the facilities of Cisco’s accredited training partner, UCEN Manchester, which opened up a new campus in Manchester back in September.
“Greater Manchester’s bold ambitions to build a fairer, more sustainable, and prosperous community align very closely with Cisco’s vision for a more digitally inclusive nation,” said Adele Every, Head of Public Sector for Cisco UK & Ireland. “By widening access to digital skills and advancing technology, our partnership will enable the GMCA to revolutionise citizen services, while driving economic growth opportunities from which everyone can benefit and helping to realise the region’s ambition of becoming a world-leading digital innovation hub.”
Cisco will not be alone in helping to support the GM One Network. Engage ESM has also been announced as a supplier for the GM One Network, with additional partners expected to be announced in the near future.
The value of this improved connectivity for the public sector cannot be understated. Recent research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by Cisco, suggests that improved connectivity, faster internet speeds and wider technology adoption could add £4.8 billion in productivity gains to the Greater Manchester economy, by 2030.
“This is a huge achievement for Greater Manchester’s public sector and really demonstrates the value of collaboration,” explained Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester. “Through transforming our public services, we are boosting our towns and cities, cementing our position as a world leading digital-city region. Ensuring our services are more efficient supports our ambition that everyone in Greater Manchester, whatever their age, location or situation, can benefit from the opportunities digital brings.”
Is the public sector in the North of the UK moving fast enough when it comes to deploying high quality infrastructure and developing the digital skills within their communities?
Join local authority representatives in direct discussion with the telecoms sector at this upcoming Connected North conference, live in Manchester