What is it?

PSN is the trusted, shared infrastructure that connects increasing numbers of organisations delivering public services to each other and to cloud based and hosted services they can use or share. Developed in 2011, after the Cabinet Office asked Industry to design an inclusive eco-system, the PSN was based on common Enterprise standards including performance and service, it’s made up of inter-connected commercial networks from many competing suppliers, so ensuring best value.

Why is it trusted?

To create the right environment for public service providers to share information and services, trust must be established between organisations. The annual PSN compliance process does this by ensuring that both suppliers and customer adhere to appropriate standards including security and technical interoperability. Using existing good practice and standard commercial services wherever possible, this approach creates ‘good and safe’ place for the PSN community to do business at least cost. This way, trust can be established  without direct contracts and previous experience.

How secure is PSN?

PSN provides an Assured Wide Area Network (WAN) suitable for using with information classified as Official (or Protect/IL2 in old terms). All services certified as PSN compliant are pre-accredited to ensure this and so cover the great majority of government requirements. Where information is classified as Official-Sensitive (similar to the old term  Restricted/IL3), then PSN can also meet this need with Protected WAN overlay services, using common agreed encryption or connectivity utilising  the Inter Provider Encryption Domain (IPED).

What’s the objective?

PSN aims to save the Public Sector money by better utilisation of conectivity and a greater choice of consumption and services and enable more efficient and joined-up public services. The initial aim was to provide a demonstrable £500m a year savings. This was achieved in 2013, according to HM Treasury.

What’s the benefit?

PSN saves money straight away by helping consolidate multiple networks, doing away with duplicate connections to other organisations, allowing the purchase of standardised, rather than bespoke services and promoting open and dynamic competition between suppliers.

Most importantly, PSN enables much larger benefits by providing the conduit for shared services, better collaboration and greater efficiency; transforming the way public services are delivered. Digital delivery to the citizen means that the public services ‘supply chain’ of processes, applications and information must be seamless and online too. PSN provides the trusted means to do this across departments, agencies and authorities.

How do I know if a service is ‘PSN’?

Before any supplier’s service can be connected to PSN it must be certified as complying with the relevant PSN standards. PSN compliant services can provide network connectivity plus a wide range of applications including voice, video, conferencing, collaboration, hosting, mail and many others. You can find a list of compliant services and those undergoing certification on the PSN website.
If in doubt, ask your supplier for the PSN compliance certificate for their service.

What about the PSN Frameworks?

Two procurement frameworks were let by the Crown Commercial Service in 2012, covering network connectivity (PSN-Connectivity) and a range of network services (PSN-Services). Although called ‘PSN’, the frameworks include both compliant and non-compliant services. To be clear, a PSN compliant service can be bought through any legitimate procurement mechanism and not solely through the PSN frameworks. Likewise, a listing on the PSN frameworks does not itself mean that a service is PSN compliant. Although extended into 2016, the PSN frameworks are due to be replaced with a new framework in 2015 called Network Services Framework which will list services that are PSN Compliant as an attribute, so removing any confusion between frameworks and compliance.

How do I connect to PSN?

Before connection to PSN as a user, you need to have PSN Compliance. This certifies that your network environment meets the basic requirements to connect to PSN, and ensure that you’re able to share and consume services across the PSN community. Find out more about becoming a customer from the PSN website. You also need to acquire a certified PSN connectivity service, whether that’s a complete WAN or just a single connection into PSN.

How do I make a service available on the PSN?

Any organisation, commercial, public or voluntary, can make services available to consume on PSN. Think of PSN as a ‘wire frame’ connecting hundreds of organisations on which shared services from communications to line of business or critical support applications can be hung. Doing this generally means gaining appropriate PSN certification as a service provider for each individual service before it can be connected to PSN.

More guidance on how to become a service provider is on the PSN website. Innopsis as the industry association for all PSN suppliers provides invaluable support from compliance workshops, networking and information to regular meetings with key stakeholders. PSN services can be sold through any legitimate procurement mechanism including the Digital Marketplace.

What’s the market for PSN services?

There’s a dynamic and open marketplace for PSN network connectivity and services, with many suppliers competing through the PSN frameworks, G-Cloud and other commercial routes. It is estimated that approaching £500m has been spent to date through the PSN frameworks and on PSN compliant services through other channels.  Innopsis is expanding with around 60 members, at least 50% of whom are SMEs entering the growing PSN market.

PSN General Documents and Technical Standards

Ever wondered what a vPoC is? Where does a PoI fit in? What exactly a DNSP is? What is PSN? What documents are in the overalll PSN Standards? The answers are here.

The core of the PSN Operating Model is the Technical Design Document (TDD). This describes the minimal technical standards of PSN Services.

To view or download the documents, please click here

Service Management Framework

In an environment where end to end service may be dependent on suppliers or other consumers who are uncontracted, there has to be a set of rules to obey, a way or working and a common vocabulary that all can understand. There needs to be an agreed ‘way of doing things’, otherwise there will be chaos. This does not have to be difficult or onerous, just following common sense practice.

The Service Management Framework decribes how PSN runs, day to day. For details of the documentation, please click here

Compliance

How does a Supplier or consumer know that any services connected or connecting meet the agreed standards? Compliance provides a short cut to experience. Services and Customer Environments that meet the conditions described in the PSN Operating Model, and can be backed up by verification, also a rapid trust environment to be established.

How is this done? The PSN Compliance documentation provides the information.

To see the documentation, please click here

BT Reopens 10 Year Old Case – Demands HMRC Repay Millions

BT Reopens 10 Year Old Case – Demands HMRC Repay Millions

Broadband ISP and media giant BT appears to have successfully lifted a stay against a decade old restitution suit in the UK High Court for Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds, which originally claimed that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) owed them £91.8 million plus interest in overpaid tax.

The situation began in early 2009 after BT wrote to HMRC making a claim for hitherto unclaimed VAT on “bad debt relief” for the period 1st January 1978 to 31st March 1989, which arose because BT had accounted for the standard rate of VAT on its supplies to customers but, in some cases, those customers had failed to pay the operator (either in part or at all) for its supplies.

Budget and COVID-19: The UK perspective within the local government.

Budget and COVID-19: The UK perspective within the local government.

Amidst the whirlwind scenario of the COVID-19 epidemic, the UK Government has finalized its yearly budget for 2020-2021, outlining the capital allocated to each area of the public sector. For Local government, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced an increase in core spending power for Local authorities of 4.4% in real terms, reaching a total of £49.2 billion.

The increase is higher than previous years (i.e. 2.8% from 2018-2019) and comes at a challenging time for the UK Public Sector, who will need to balance expenditures moving forward and put in place several policies during the COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee British citizens with housing, minimum income in case of job cuts, and normal functioning of local boroughs with possibly reduced staff due to quarantines. With the new circumstances, extra grants for most of the areas within the public sector may be introduced by central government to mitigate the crisis.

DCMS leads fight to counter fake coronavirus information on internet

DCMS leads fight to counter fake coronavirus information on internet

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said that specialist teams across the government have been deployed for taking on false and misleading narratives regarding the prevailing novel coronavirus outbreak.

The teams are said to be working at pace to make sure that the public has the right information about the pandemic to guard themselves and save lives, said the department.

According to the DCMS, the Rapid Response Unit, which is operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is handling a variety of harmful narratives online. The harmful narratives range from self-claimed ‘experts’ giving dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters who have been running phishing scams.

Huawei propose internet protocol with a built-in killswitch

Huawei propose internet protocol with a built-in killswitch

New IP sounds good in some ways, but might help authoritarian crackdowns.
China, Huawei and Chinese carriers want to redesign a key aspect of the internet — and while there may be some upsides, their ideas have raised some alarm bells. The Financial Times understands that the group has proposed a new internet protocol at the ITU, New IP, that theoretically offers more efficient addressing and network management than the existing TCP/IP standard but also appears to have hooks that allow authoritarian regimes to censor and surveil their residents. Most notably, there would be a “shut up command” that would let a central part of the network cut off data going to or from an address. As you might guess, that could be handy if China wanted to silence an activist without resorting to extra tools.

Beware the dangers of using consumer apps

Beware the dangers of using consumer apps

Many people will be turning to consumer applications right now in order to continue their working lives. Although there are some fantastic, and free, tools out there for people to use there are many dangers businesses need to be aware of in the long term. We asked our vendor audience what those dangers are.

Becoming technology-led, not just technology-enabled

Becoming technology-led, not just technology-enabled

AI will become the intelligent classmate we knew at school.

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the modern enterprise has dominated many boardroom conversations, with many companies now implementing, or considering implementing, the technology in some form or another. But to be truly future-ready, companies must understand that AI will be pervasive across all business functions.

The benefits of the technology is clear to see – with recent research finding that AI can help companies grow their annual profits 80 per cent faster. What’s more, companies using AI have found that errors have been reduced by more than a third (37 per cent), on average, and almost three quarters (72 per cent) of businesses that use AI better understand overall business performance.

Mobile Firms and UK ISPs Commit to Protect Vulnerable Users

Mobile Firms and UK ISPs Commit to Protect Vulnerable Users

Most of the major UK broadband ISPs and mobile network operators have today agreed a set of “important commitments” with Ofcom and Government (DCMS) help to support and protect “vulnerable consumers,” as well as those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

At present vulnerable customers (e.g. elderly people, those with disabilities or sickness and others on benefits etc.) who are self-isolating could be more negatively impacted by the current situation than others, particularly if they start struggling to pay their bills.

Budget 2020: Police Tech Implications

Budget 2020: Police Tech Implications

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the recently announced budget promises to increase funding for UK police forces. As one of the government’s core promises to the public, plans are in motion to bring in an additional 20,000 police officers over the next few years, the only question was how the funds would be phased in. In the most recent budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined plans to invest an additional £750m in the police budget, beginning the first round of recruitment, however these plans were already announced in the previous spending review in 2019.

Government Delays £125m IT Procurement, Blames Pandemic

Government Delays £125m IT Procurement, Blames Pandemic

Move will “enable CCS resource to be diverted to procuring urgent requirements”

The Crown Commercial Service this week said it would extend a major IT contract for 12 months without planned re-procurement, citing the pandemic.

The £125 million, government-wide framework (for hardware, software, applications and ongoing management of printing services) was due to tender this year.

The pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic meant attention was better focussed on urgent procurement to tackle the outbreak of the virus, it said, in a decision that may augur further government IT contract extensions.