Council Gets £1m To Lead Cost-Saving IT Project

Merton to share networks with neighbours

Merton council has been awarded £1 million to lead a money-saving project introducing shared and standardised IT networks with neighbouring London boroughs.

The funding has been awarded by London's improvement and efficiency partnership, Capital Ambition, and will be used for introducing internet-based 'Cloud computing' to link the boroughs of Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Richmond with the main aims of increasing efficiency and reducing operating costs.

Initial assessments show savings of around £1 million are feasible in hardware replacement, and further savings will be possible in sharing other services. If it is successful, the strategy could be adopted by other London boroughs.

Merton is already sharing Human Resources with Sutton and a new trial partnership with Richmond sharing legal teams will be underway soon. By sharing servers and introducing a high-speed dedicated network it is hoped the inconsistency between the boroughs' different IT processes and systems will be removed, leading to faster working and maximised savings.

The system could be up and running within a year and savings on connection costs and reductions through using 'pay as you use' systems could be made very soon after that. In the long term, standardisation of the way the system is controlled could also lead to a reduction in training costs.

Councillor Mark Allison, Merton Council cabinet member for finance, said: "In a time when money is being taken away from local government, securing this funding is excellent news for Merton and all the boroughs involved.

"This is a pioneering project that could help us operate more efficiently and cheaply, which will be good for all our residents."

July 25, 2010