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A ten-year programme to transform the way in which council services are delivered in Edinburgh will make the capital a leader in in how it interacts with citizens.

The City of Edinburgh Council is teaming up with BT in a £150 million strategic partnership to create ‘Edinburgh – the Smart City.’ The Council believes that its vision for an information-rich city with the most advanced public service infrastructure in the UK will give Edinburgh a competitive advantage over other cities.

The partnership agreement goes beyond a straightforward outsourcing contract, and is unprecedented among British local authorities in its scope and vision. BT will become the Council’s strategic partner and supplier of ICT (information and communications technology) for the next decade.

“This council has already made a huge investment in information technology and is proud to be the first council in Britain to achieve internet and e-mail access for all our schoolchildren,” said Councillor Donald Anderson, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council.

“This partnership is about maintaining momentum and maximising further investment in information technology. We will use IT to transform service delivery. The whole concept of the ‘Smart City’ partnership is about making it quicker, simpler and easier to access public services.”

Added Councillor Anderson, “The Smart City’ partnership will keep Edinburgh at the cutting edge of modernising service delivery in Britain.”

Angus MacKay, the Scottish Executive’s Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “Modern public services must be shaped around citizens. They must be run for the benefit of the consumers of those services, not the providers. Modern technology should enable better delivery of current services and delivery of new services.

“This will bring the benefit of investment and experience from public and private sectors. I am pleased to see that ‘Edinburgh – the Smart City’ does this. It’s important that the City of Edinburgh Council is working in partnership with the private sector to deliver these improved services. I wish the council well with what it is doing and I look forward to seeing how it progresses over the coming months and years.”

Tom Aitchison, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “To fully realise the many potential improvements offered by this exciting initiative, we are aware of the need for fundamental changes in the way we do business. As well as being a tremendous challenge, the programme provides an exciting opportunity to build on our commitment to public service with the backing of leading edge technology and a more customer-focused organisation.”

The strategic partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and Syntegra, BT’s consulting and systems integration business, will aim to achieve the goal of ‘Edinburgh – the Smart City’ in stages. The initial phase will see an immediate investment by BT of more than £15million on replacing mainframe systems, installing a new e-mail and intranet service and setting up a new voice and data network.

Over the longer term, a council-wide IT infrastructure will improve service delivery and break down departmental barriers. This could give residents and businesses a single point of contact for all council services and information, smart cards for service delivery, and access to council services from the internet, kiosks and digital television.

Ultimately, the Council, working with other public agencies, will be able to deliver more co-ordinated services which can focus better on the needs of people rather than the internal workings of departments and individual public agencies.

Bill Halbert, Managing Director of Syntegra, said: “Syntegra is pleased to have been chosen to lead this opportunity on behalf of BT. The City of Edinburgh Council’s vision is compelling. Its achievement will bring considerable benefit to the citizens of Edinburgh and we are delighted at the prospect of playing such a fundamental role in its realisation.”

Press Contact: City of Edinburgh Council
John McKenzie, Media Officer
Tel: 0131 529 4428
Fax: 0131 529 7479

Barry Murphy, Head of Market Communications
Tel 01252 777243

Notes to Editors

1 The City of Edinburgh Council decided in April 1998 to outsource its entire ICT functions, including all voice and data networks, mainframe and distributed servers, application development and desktop management. Around 170 staff will transfer to BT. A meeting of the full Council in February 2001 agreed to establish the ICT Partnership with BT taking on the management and delivery of those services from April 01, 2001.

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