Quarkside

03/05/2012

Vaizey crazy about hazy rules

Filed under: Local Government,Policy — lenand @ 8:58 am
Tags: , , , ,

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said he had two important jobs, Broadband roll-out and Wi-Fi in libraries. He is only satisfied with the first. He is disappointed with the second. The demand for library Wi-Fi is large and increasing, but fewer than 50% have achieved this. The CIPFA October 2011 survey indicates the scale of adoption at the time, although it is improving.

Wi-Fi in Libraries. Oct 2011

 

What is Ed doing about it?

He started by listening to the problems. For example, one London Borough was quoted £7000 for one library; another City Council had an internal quote of £18k for two libraries. Suppliers attending the meeting gasped with astonishment. They were hard pushed to justify more than £500 per library, putting Wifi into a chain of coffee shops might only cost £300 per location.

Why don’t you approach suppliers directly?” asked inquisitive Ed.

I would get the sack”, was the immediate response. “I was told there were security problems”, he added.

There’s two points to make:

  1. Users only require access to the Internet, not direct access to Council systems. They want a simple solutions that work in their own home, libraries or even Starbucks.
  2. Some local authority ICT strategies are outdated if they have not caught up with modern mobile technology. They should help libraries to respond to demand in the most cost effective way, not suggest gold plated portals that are guaranteed to be unaffordable.

Template procurement contracts are a possibility, but some have restricted use – such as the Courts service. The Public Sector Network (PSN) templates may be applicable – but this is only for a limited number of suppliers. Concession deals, like Westminster and Colchester, could also be considered in the wider context of town centre Wi-Fi.

Ed banged (metaphorically) on the table, and proceeded to diss local authorities for over-elaborate procedures. He demanded that suppliers, LAs and assorted ministries work together and “sort out a viable procurement model by the end of the year ”. We shall see.

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