Edinburgh Embarks on “Smart City” Project

[London, ENGLAND] The City of Edinburgh Council announced
Friday a ten-year project to transform delivery of its services,
working with BT in a US $220 million strategic partnership.

Named “Edinburgh – the Smart City,” the program is intended
to be the most advanced of its kind in the U.K., and this,
say its organizers, will give the city a vital competitive
edge. Councillors in other cities will no doubt watch
carefully and note any pitfalls encountered by the Scottish

Council Leader Donald Anderson said it had already made a
huge investment in information technology and was the first
council in Britain to achieve Internet and e-mail access for
all its schoolchildren

“This partnership is about maintaining momentum and maximizing
further investment in information technology. The whole concept
of the Smart City partnership is about making it quicker,
simpler and easier to access public services,” said Anderson.

Edinburgh’s Council’s embrace of the Internet is yet another
indication — if any were needed — that beneath the wild
fluctuations in speculative investment, the real usefulness
of the Internet is growing steadily and inexorably.

In an initial phase, BT will spend nearly US $20 million
on replacing mainframe systems, installing a new e-mail and
intranet service and setting up a new voice and data network.
The work will be carried out by BT’s consulting and systems
integration business Syntegra.

Tom Aitchison, chief executive of Edinburgh Council, pointed
out the need to make some fundamental changes in the way
business is conducted if the full potential of the initiative
is to be realized.

“As well as being a tremendous challenge, the program provides
an exciting opportunity to build on our commitment to public
service with the backing of leading edge technology and a
more customer-focused organization,” said Aitchison.

Back in April 1998, Edinburgh Council took the decision to
outsource all its ICT functions, including voice and data
networks, mainframe and distributed servers, application
development and desktop management. 170 staff are leaving
the public sector in a transfer to BT — which assumes
responsibility for the services from the beginning of April
this year.

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