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Manchester City Council does deal for Google

18/10/16

Local authority eases into enterprise service through deal with Cloud Technology Solutions

Manchester City Council is beginning a migration into the use of Google’s office productivity apps, under a deal with locally based company and Google partner Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS).

Manchester Town HallBob Brown, the council’s chief information, told a session at the annual conference of public sector IT association Socitm that it plans a roll out of the applications over six months, but that 10% of the workforce – around 600 people – should be using them by the end of December.

“We’ll do a phased approach, with email and Hang Outs first, then various tranches over the next few months,” he said. “We’re already doing video conferencing in the multi-agency safeguarding hub.”

He said it is part of a strategy to enable the council to change its business processes in the effort to find major savings, moving away from what he described as a “significant legacy debt in our architecture. It is also intended to support a major property rationalisation programme by enabling more staff to work flexibly with cloud based applications.

“It should bring us considerable business benefits,” Brown said. “Among these is that the ability to store core information and data will give us a better business continuity capability.”

Chromebook precedent

He added that some of the council’s staff have already been using Chromebooks – more of which will be made available – and its Android operating system on their mobile devices. This was one of the factors that prompted the council towards moving to Google.

As part of the move, the council plans to give business teams the ability to use appropriate applications from the Google Playstore.

“We’re not enabling them to all go out and start buying apps, but will introduce appropriate policies,” Brown said. “We’re just working on this and there will be a permissions process and cost profiles. But giving people the ability to use apps could give them the ability to do some things differently.”

Brown shared a stage with Vicki Palazon, head of finance for Peterborough City Council, who said it began a migration into using Google’s cloud apps in July. This involved a ‘big bang’ approach to shifting to Gmail and the use of Google Hangouts for video conferencing and the chat function.

She said that, while some people were slow to respond or resistant to the move, it has already produced benefits for the council.

It is now planning to move to working with Google Sheets, although this is expected to take about 12 months.

Image: Manchester Town Hall by David Dixon, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

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