This October saw the first of the SWAN Smart, Connected Scotland Roadshow events take place in Inverness and Glasgow.
With over 30 organisations in attendance, each of the events showcased inspirational customer stories, membership benefits, and explored the extensive portfolio of core and value-added services that are on offer to SWAN members. Delegates also heard about the latest innovations in IoT solutions and how these are being implemented in sectors such as energy and healthcare. This blog reflects on the 10 key takeaways from the innovative roadshows:
1. SWAN has already made significant impact
The roadshow opened with a warm welcome and SWAN update from NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), the contract lead and SWAN Authority.
Mark Mochan, SWAN Programme Manager, NSS, shared insight into the success of SWAN to date, with approximately 6,000 sites currently connected across public sector Scotland, including schools, hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacies and local council offices.
It was impressive to see that SWAN has already amassed 93 member organisations since its launch in 2014, including the Scottish Government, Scottish Qualification Agency, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). In addition, all 22 boards across NHS Scotland are members, as well as 50 per cent of Scottish local authorities.
2. ‘SWAN gives more for less’
Pete Birrell, Head of Information Services at SEPA provided an engaging overview of SEPA’s experience with SWAN, discussing the notable cost savings that organisations can achieve with SWAN, the importance of the network for its Flood Warning Service in addition to doubling, or even trebling network bandwidth across its sites.
This same opinion was echoed by Paul Hunter, Data Centre Manager for the Scottish Government, stating that 22% more bandwidth had been achieved with SWAN for the same price paid in previous years.
3. Innovation is taking place in the most rural areas of Scotland
Michael Kelly, Project Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, provided one of the biggest event highlights, showcasing the innovative projects at work in conjunction with SWAN, to improve connectivity to the most rural parts of Scotland.
A £7.15m Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Project aims to increase the Highlands fibre footprint from less than 1% to 25-30% and involves 152 public sector buildings obtaining full fibre connections. In addition, the R100 and Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme (RGCP) is helping to enable public sector transformation and provide a boost to the economy as improved connectivity is delivered to the rural Highlands.
4. SWAN puts members first with additional services
It was clear throughout the roadshow that the needs and requirements of SWAN members are at the forefront of innovations being achieved with SWAN.
Andy Watson, SWAN Product Manager, was delighted to announce the latest shared and value-added services available to members, from Secure File Transfer and Secure Web Access to 3G/4G private mobile connectivity and more. These services add to the already extensive portfolio which includes SWAN Roam and Protected DNS, alongside Voice, LAN, Wireless, Cloud and Collaboration solutions.
5. Collaboration is key for public sector organisations
The importance of collaboration became a recurring theme throughout the roadshow, with all presenting SWAN customers emphasising this as a key benefit of SWAN membership.
Paul Hunter, Data Centre Manager for the Scottish Government highlighted SWAN video conferencing and SWAN Roam as key collaboration tools, whilst Gareth Archibald, ICT Systems Manager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, spoke passionately about shared systems, knowledge and infrastructure through SWAN, leading to maximised efficiency and collaboration across organisations.
6. Transforming broadband in the UK is well underway
Sarah Mossman, Project Director at Building Digital UK (BDUK), provided an important update on the plan to transform broadband in the UK. Part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, BDUK is delivering superfast broadband and local full fibre networks to the UK through a variety of programmes that SWAN members can access.
7. SWAN works with leading partners
Breakout sessions at the roadshow provided excellent opportunity for delegates to network with several key partners working alongside SWAN, in delivering innovative solutions. Supporting partners present at the roadshow included Palo Alto, Cisco, Pangea, Gamma and Ajenta.
8. IoT...It’s all about the data
Jack Anderson, Head of Digital & Innovation for SWAN, Capita, and Doug Brown, Chief Data Scientist at Capita, provided a thoroughly engaging presentation on the increasing importance of IoT and the changing world of work and data. Passionate speaker Doug Brown explored the nature of our increasingly digital economy, stating that we now live in a world home to 7.2 billion gadgets, which are multiplying five times faster than the human race.
The session concluded with a demonstration of how IoT can be used to collect and analyse real-time data from almost any object, which in turn helps organisations to make improved decisions. This inspiring presentation was a real highlight of the roadshow.
9. Smaller organisations can ‘hub-up’
The events also provided opportunity for delegates to hear about the different membership types available. In particular, Pete Birrell outlined how an organisation can choose to work with an existing SWAN member (a hub) and receive services through that member’s contract, rather than joining SWAN as a member in its own right.
Gareth Archibald, ICT Systems Manager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, discussed the benefits of joining SWAN through the SEPA hub, including collaboration of shared services, and access to a wide range of SWAN value-added services such as video conferencing, SIP lines, and managed networks.
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10. There’s not long left to become a full member
A critical point brought to delegates’ attention by the SWAN Authority is the upcoming deadline for becoming a full SWAN member. No new call-off contracts may be entered into after 31st March 2020. Organisations wishing to join SWAN after this date can only do so by joining a hub, so I’d encourage all public sector organisations that are considering joining SWAN to contact the SWAN Authority to discuss their options.