Digital government report

Building strong partnership ecosystems to drive digital transformation within government services

Born out of necessity, we have seen a greater acceleration of digital transformation and innovation within public services during the Covid-19 pandemic than we have in the last decade, writes Shelah McMahon, Head of Public Sector Sales, Vodafone Ireland.

As we look forward, there is a need to better understand and evolve the ways in which technology can support the delivery and management of public services from health and education to the connected smart city in order to build a more resilient, equal, and prosperous society and economy.

The recent launch of the Irish Government’s digital and ICT strategy Connecting Government 2030 is a clear signal of intent to harness the momentum achieved in the last two years to further digitise government services and there is a strong role for the telecommunications sector to play in realising the vision and ambition of this framework and driving a step-change in how people, businesses, and policy makers interact.

Vodafone have been privileged to partner with government over recent years on the delivery of digital infrastructure and services with integrated next generation fixed and mobile solutions, cloud based platforms, IOT and edge computing and we look forward to continue the journey to support the digital transformation of Ireland’s government services. This digital transformation was accelerated exponentially over the last couple of years where public sector bodies were required to adopt new solutions and ways of working almost overnight to continue to deliver key services to citizens.

In the last two years, public sector bodies required a significant amount of effort and energy to adopt to new solutions and ways of working in real-time that has created a stimulus for greater technology adoption.

This was visible across all of government and particularly across education and healthcare. Centres of learning were faced with the prospect of educating thousands of students remotely, and a reliable connection was key to providing a seamless transition into online learning and put digitisation at the top of the agenda and indeed budget.

The HSE, confronted with an unparalleled surge of patient admissions, was tasked with facilitating efficient at-home working for a high percentage of its staff. Vodafone and Aruba partnered with HSE to deliver local area network and connectivity solutions.

Vodafone expedited a smooth transition to remote working with as little disruption as possible. Taking St James’s Hospital as an example, Remote Access Points (RAPs) were deployed in the homes of key medical staff members, allowing them full, secure remote access to the Patient Archiving & Communication Service (PACS).

The Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT, now known as Technological University of the Shannon, Midlands Midwest) also assisted Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout by transforming the modernised athletics arena into a vaccination centre, delivering some 3,500 vaccines each day, seven days a week. The dedicated Vodafone/Aruba robust high-speed network provided the ideal IT infrastructure for vaccine rollout, enabling AIT to pivot its core function to a lifesaving inoculation centre with a catchment area spanning the Westmeath-Roscommon border.

“In the last two years, public sector bodies required a significant amount of effort and energy to adopt to new solutions and ways of working in real-time that has created a stimulus for greater technology adoption.”

Looking forward, Vodafone is continuing to enable digital transition by focusing on platforms and strategic partnerships as the way forward for the business. A major part of the ongoing effort to better integrate our service portfolio (fixed and mobile connectivity, LAN, WLAN, WiFi, 5G, IoT and cloud) involves platforms with open interfaces and cloud-native support for emerging technologies such as managed 5G and IoT connectivity, IoT application enablement, and edge computing. This allows us to build new products and services and co-create end-to-end platforms with our customers and partners, moving very much from a connectivity provider to a technology provider.

This partnership ecosystem is crucial to support the digital transformation of public services.

For example, with a partnership spanning 22 years, Aruba and Vodafone are well placed to deliver complex LAN and WiFi solutions for public sector bodies across education, healthcare, local and government.

Aside from the work with AIT, Vodafone have successfully delivered numerous other large and complex solutions in both the public and private sectors across the island of Ireland. Specific projects in public sector organisations include TU Dublin’s campus, encompassing secure student access and control; Limerick IT, Northern Regional College, and HSE National, including a major WiFi upgrade for St James’s Hospital.

Additional projects include the entire Northern Ireland Civil Service and working with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) to deliver the nationwide Government Cloud Network, built on Aruba switches and routers, wireless and network management software.

With a clear imperative for continued digitisation of government services in Ireland, now is the time to be bold and innovative in order to future-proof how we interact with citizens, businesses and communities.

Our aim is to support the digital transformation of government and to use digitalisation and data to provide an integrated experience for our citizens, businesses and policy makers to embed longer-term societal resilience.

Vodafone is a purpose-led business just like the public sector. Our purpose has underpinned our commitments during Covid and Conti including prioritising mission critical communications; providing network capacity and services for critical government functions, especially hospitals and emergency calls; and improving the delivery of information to the public.


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