The Public Sector Network (PSN) is grossly underused, and not even known about by some public sector IT budget holders – 69 per cent are aware, 13 per cent use it.
However, the PSN preparedness report, released by Cisco, showed how over the next two years at least 57 per cent of holders were likely to adopt a PSN despite present numbers being low.
87 per cent of budget holders said that communication and collaboration with other government bodies needed to be improved – when an understanding of how joining the PSN can do just this then implementation of the technology could follow.
“There are so many different network providers with their own protocols currently, and the public bodies have their own security standards too; it’s a very fragmented network.” Said Rod Halstead, managing director of the public sector at Cisco. “The police might want to share information with schools but because of the different security level requirements they are not able to.”
The government has estimated £651m savings once the PSN is adopted – surely encouragement to organisations to go ahead.
The lack of awareness about the technology and waiting for contracts to run out before taking up PSN are said to be two stumbling blocks. Rocco Labellarte at Northamptonshire Council does not agree. He explained how they could still establish the PSN-ready protocols and “connect with other service providers when they have upgraded too.”
However, two more possible hurdles are a lack of money to invest upfront and reluctance in some bodies to hand over control of their networks.
The PSN will work for public bodies across the board – such as the health service, the police and schools – it will be a single, secure telecommunications infrastructure that has been created according to a set of security protocols to suit all.
The bottom line is simple, according to Halstead. “Adoption of the PSN is really just sensible rationalisation and standardisation of the network”.