Infrastructure > Devices

Peterborough City Council leading the way to PSN compliance and mobility

Published 27 March 2014

How one local authority managed to achieve Public Services Network compliance while implementing BYOD


Government organisations are facing a ticking time bomb when it comes to becoming compliant with the upcoming Public Sector Network (PSN) regulations. Companies that fail to become compliant or gain help towards becoming compliant by the end of March are effectively opting out of the PSN.

This is particularly true for councils who have a BYOD strategy in place, as their mobility schemes could be threatened by the new PSN regulations. Those who find themselves disconnected from the PSN may be unable to access important data and will not be able to continue business as usual.

Following an audit last year, Peterborough City Council was given a period of time to ensure it met the requirements detailed in the PSN updates from the Cabinet Office. At the time its mobile device management solution was not up to requirement and could not provide the tools to be PSN compliant.

Two years ago the council moved switched its primary mobile IT platform/operating system from BlackBerry to Apple. Peterborough needed a solution that could provide its employees with easy, secure access to data and a platform that could support the growing number of iOS devices in the workplace.

Richard Godfrey, ICT Strategy, Infrastructure and Programme Manager at Peterborough City Council said, "It was very important for us to have the right mobile device management platform in place. It made sense for us to look for a good solution that could not only achieve PSN accreditation but also allow us to roll out other applications across the estate in the future."

Peterborough wanted a platform that would match its future requirements, in addition to achieving PSN accreditation. It wanted to offer a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) option to employees and work towards becoming a cloud-based council in the near future. To do so, it had to make sure that all employees were accessing the cloud in a secure manner, which meant it needed to implement a mobile solution where users could access corporate data from their mobile devices securely, whilst on the move.

Peterborough worked with its ICT services provider, Serco, and was advised by PSN mobile specialist Mobil8 to find a new solution which would ensure its end users could use mobile as their primary IT platform while being PSN compliant. Mobil8 provided Peterborough with a choice of different mobile device management solution providers to evaluate.

Once Peterborough had evaluated the market it chose MobileIron, the enterprise mobility management leader, and purchased the MobileIron Enterprise Mobile Management platform to design a completely new architecture that complied with the Cabinet Office guidelines.

Godfrey explained, "When we sat down and began the evaluation of the various products Mobil8 provided us with, it was quite clear to us that the MobileIron platform was head and shoulders above everything else in the market to help us move to our goal."

Implementing the MobileIron Enterprise Mobile Management into the council's existing infrastructure provided its IT team with a real-time holistic view of its mobile device estate, monitored by the MobileIron policy enforcement engine. This also provided the council with a configuration that is consistent with the guidelines published from the Cabinet Office and CSG and informs Peterborough of these issues. Essentially it also gives Peterborough assurance that the issues failed in the previous audit can be addressed.

Godfrey said, "ICT should be seen as an enabler. Therefore we have to be as flexible as possible for our employees and work closely with other departments within the council to aid them and help transform their services. Many employees have different preferences when it comes to using their personal or corporate devices, therefore it's important to be as flexible as possible be either providing a BYOD policy or a corporate device policy. The end goal is to build an IT infrastructure that can cope with there being no technical reason for anybody to be in a certain building to do their job."

In addition to having corporate iPhones and iPads, Peterborough is now in the stages of implementing a BYOD strategy under Mobil8's guidance and using the MobileIron platform to allow employees to chooseusing a personal or corporate mobile device. This approach means that employees who are out in the field can spend more time with residents and do not have to return to the office to fill in paper work. This also means that the corporate and personal devices are compatible with each other and data is not lost.

Councils using a BYOD strategy are cutting the number of physical estates and desks they need, as employees out in the field no longer need to return to the office to fill in paper work.

Robert Stirling, director of Mobil8, said: "This is a common trend we are seeing among government organisations guiding the transition from legacy mobile devices to embracing BYOD and allowing organisations to implement a BYOD strategy."

The incentive allows employees to buy a mobile device of their choice from a high street retailer through a salary sacrifice scheme, where the employee can buy a fixed tariff phone at a discounted price. The MobileIron platform is then implemented to manage both the corporate and personal data on the phone. If the employee leaves the organisation and the data needs to be removed, the MobileIron platform can only remove corporate data and the employee's personal data remains untouched. This therefore means employees can confidently and securely access data stored on their device of choice and empower them to have a choice.

Peterborough is now moving towards increasing flexibility for its employees and increasing employee productivity. According to Godfrey, "The new PSN regulations made me feel like having a mobility platform in place was hopeless. We might as well put them all in the bin, as the PSN requirements coming out at the time were unworkable. But with the new MobileIron solution in place since before Christmas, in addition to the advice from Mobil8, we're now seeing an improvement in our move towards becoming compliant and the PSN guidelines are much clearer."

Peterborough is now moving towards embracing a BYOD strategy to cut the amount of time needed in the office and cutting costs for the council as a whole to change the way the council works and develops.

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