The Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) is one of the most significant single public sector ICT initiatives ever undertaken in Scotland. The programme was set up to establish a single shared network and common ICT infrastructure across Scotland’s entire public sector.
In February 2010 the McClelland Review found that the Scottish public sector was lagging behind in its use of ICT and recommended an overarching national ICT strategy. In response, the Scottish Government published 'Scotland's Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services' in 2012 – with SWAN being one of the first major initiatives to be launched by Scottish Ministers in support of this new national digital public services strategy.
In 2014, Capita was awarded the contract to build and run SWAN. So far more than 6,000 sites have been connected, including schools, hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacists and local council offices. SWAN is bringing reduced costs, improved service and the ability to share data across organisations, fostering co-operative working.
The resulting network offers better connectivity, better performance and faster speeds as well as delivering value for money for the Scottish taxpayer, as detailed in the £30m savings stated in the Scottish Government’s refreshed digital strategy. The outcomes for Scotland mean public bodies are more easily able to communicate with each other, share services and better serve Scottish citizens.
Key member organisations of SWAN include central Government departments, including the Scottish Government, Scottish Qualification Agency, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, all 22 boards across NHS Scotland as well as 50 per cent of Scottish local authorities.
SWAN allows all of its customers to benefit from economies of scale as well as increasing productivity and collaboration, acting as the gateway for N3, the Internet and Janet networks. With local authorities now realising significant benefits from utilisation of the SWAN Public Services Network (PSN) gateway, the focus is now on trialling the secure email service and helping innovative members to make best use of the shared areas of SWAN to collaborate and drive inter-agency working.
SWAN offers a wide range of connectivity options and a portfolio of shared and Value-Added Services (VAS):
- Managed LAN service portfolio including LAN, Wi-Fi, security and cabling
- Hosted IP Voice service
- SIP Trunk service (a version of VOIP, specifically designed to make and deliver phone calls)
- Small site Wi-Fi service
- A range of professional services
- Different performance characteristics and technology-based SLA.
SWAN is also helping to unify network assurance – by applying a common standard of data assurance, it simplifies public sector interaction and ensures greater security for data transmitted internally and externally.
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SWAN offers significant economies of scale and value for money, which is in turn putting cash back into the public purse. It’s critical that our customers are working in the best possible commercial environment. We want public services organisations to understand that it’s not just a new network, but a significant foundation for digital transformation that will make a real difference to public services into the future. We look forward to the next stage of SWAN and enabling our customers to achieve the full potential of the digital world.Eddie Cronie, Managing Director, SWAN