In early 2020, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) launched a Digital Blueprint for the region, with an ambition to ensure Greater Manchester has the digital infrastructure it needs to be a world class digital city region.

For our people, world class infrastructure can remove barriers to social, economic and public sector reform objectives. Whilst already important, the pandemic has highlighted the need for high quality digital infrastructure that can enable people to work, live and study differently.

As public sector resources remain stretched, continuing to transform our public services, including our digital infrastructure is more important than ever. Public sector infrastructure and networks haven’t changed much in the last 25 years, however the amount of interconnectivity between public sector organisations has increased as we work more closely together. 

Greater Manchester is making significant progress in this space having already secured the Government backing for full-fibre investment, with Virgin Media Business appointed to deliver up to 2,700km of new fibre optic broadband infrastructure across the region.

The £23.8M Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Programme, plus other local investment, will connect more than 1,500 public sites across the city-region making this the biggest government full-fibre investment project in the UK.  

Whilst the LFFN programme is laying the foundations for a network of world class infrastructure, each of the organisations involved needs to consider how best to make use of that investment. The programme demonstrates the value of close collaboration between GMCA, Greater Manchester’s local authorities, Fire & Rescue Services and Transport for Greater Manchesterand and subsequently those partners agreed to investigate the potential benefits of further collaboration to utilising a network without bandwidth limitations.

GM One Network was the result of those investigations - a single active network infrastructure across a significant number of Greater Manchester’s public sector organisations, enabling network services across the region to be provided more efficiently, securely, and flexibly.

GM One Network will take advantage of the LFFN and will ensure that all involved organisations get the full benefits of their investment, creating environments in which these connections could be better used, be more resilient, faster and at a reduced cost. It will act as a catalyst for many smart city projects and unlock further delivery of priorities within the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint, supporting our ambition for Greater Manchester to be a world leading digital city region. 

GMCA, on behalf of the initial GM One Network partners, contracted UBDS to undertake a discovery and develop an outline business case for the GM One Network. As well as the innovation potential, the outline business case indicated significant cashable savings for the initial five organisations involved over a 10-year period compared to the projected operating costs for the current network over the same period.

In addition to financial, other benefits could include:

  • Improved user experience, by providing a common and consistent platform for each organisation to use, users can seamlessly move between public spaces
  • The acceleration of adopting modern working practices such as remote and mobile working
  • The ability to reduce revenue spend on wide area networks (WAN), interconnect services and core network infrastructure, including routers and firewalls – through standardisation and reducing duplication
  • A “do things once” approach for Greater Manchester, removing the need for individual approach in each local authority
  • Moving to a software/policy defined network platform, where reduced effort will be required to deploy, configure and install network infrastructure, using automation to reduce the need for third party site visit
  • Wireless-first approach reducing the required density of fixed local area networks LAN connectivity, which will reduce site installation and maintenance costs
  • Additional buying power and using shared network infrastructure

GM One Network is an exciting programme with the potential to elevate Greater Manchester’s digital aspirations by laying the foundations for a transformation enabler across the region. Interested suppliers can find out more and Greater Manchester’s digital ambitions online.

GMCA are currently looking for a supplier for GM One Network. More details on the the tender process and requirements available via The Chest. Applications close at 12pm on 28th May 2021.


Article Published: 04/05/2021 09:12 AM