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

New data standards for government

New data standards for government

Government’s newly created Data Standards Authority has published its first set of guidelines to inform the use and sharing of data across Whitehall.
The DSA is a cross-government entity that sits within the Government Digital Service, which will work in close collaboration with the Office for National Statistics and representatives of major departments. The data unit’s creation was supported by a £16.4m tranche of funding provided by the spring budget to improve government’s use of data and thereby deliver more “personalised” services to citizens.

Most MSPs received government support, kept staff on and adapted their offerings, finds SolarWinds survey

Most MSPs received government support, kept staff on and adapted their offerings, finds SolarWinds survey

Despite being in an industry that hasn’t been as affected as many others during the coronavirus pandemic, many managed service providers (MSPs) have still had to rely on government financial relief programmes.
However, the majority have managed to keep the same number of staff on, and have adapted their products and packages as a result of coronavirus in a bid to support customers who have been struggling.

EE Complete 500th New 4G Mobile Site for UK Emergency Network

EE Complete 500th New 4G Mobile Site for UK Emergency Network

Mobile operator EE (BT) has today confirmed that they’ve just completed the build of their 500th new mobile site, located in Glencoe (Scotland), as part of their contract to roll-out a new 4G based Emergency Services Network (ESN). This is on top of the 19,000 existing sites that have already been upgraded for the ESN

UK Home Office dishes out contracts to 999 control room vendors after wasting cash on network tech it abandoned

UK Home Office dishes out contracts to 999 control room vendors after wasting cash on network tech it abandoned

Capita’s contract to hook up emergency services control rooms under the UK’s troubled Emergency Services Network (ESN) is being renewed for £6.5m without competition.
The outsourcer has become the latest in a list of control system software suppliers to win the Home Office’s favour without having to fight it out against rivals over contracts that could total £32.5m

Vast majority may ‘never go back’ to the office

Vast majority may ‘never go back’ to the office

Working from home has been a positive experience for many employees, survey found

Remote working has been touted for a number of years as an avenue to increasing employee engagement, improving work-life balance and attracting millennial talent, but not many could have predicted the extent to which people have embraced the home office in recent months.

According to a survey of TechRadar Pro and ITProPortal readers, the vast majority of workers (80.6%) would consider going remote on a permanent basis, never returning to the traditional office.

Even more remarkable, despite the fact that 33.8% of respondents described remote working as challenging, almost three quarters (73.5%) of this sub-group said they would consider making a permanent switch regardless.

Government publishes metadata standards

Government publishes metadata standards

The Government’s Data Standards Authority (DSA) has published a collection of metadata standards for the sharing and publication of data.

It throws the emphasis onto the use of open standards including the Dublin Core schema for sharing across government and schema.org Dataset schema for publication, along with CSV on the Web (CSVW) for CSV files.

The publication is the first to emerge from the DSA, which was set up within the Government Digital Service (GDS) in April with the aim of improving the public sector’s management of data.

Government launches digital identity checking pilot

Government launches digital identity checking pilot

More than a year after first announced, the government has launched a year-long pilot of its post-Brexit digital identity checking service.
The government has launched a pilot of its Document Checking Service (DCS), which aims to open up passport data to allow private sector organisations to check identities digitally.

IP Interconnection – Why is it so vital?

IP Interconnection – Why is it so vital?

As we transition to an all IP world, the future of interconnection is by no means certain. It’s vital that the industry is aware of the potential issues that could lie ahead. Tracey Wright, Chair of ITSPAs Industry Developments Group, explains.
In the 2017 Narrowband Market Review (NMR), Ofcom determined that there was insufficient migration to consider looking at IP based interconnects for the purposes of regulation. However, they did indicate that should the situation vary during the review period they would revisit this decision.
It has long since been ITSPA’s opinion that sufficient volumes of traffic are routing via BT’s IP Exchange product to indicate that an IP interconnect would be welcomed by industry and, for reasons listed below, we believe it essential for the IP interconnect to be regulated to maintain the current clarity, security and equal terms that are afforded by the TDM equivalent we have today.

New data standards for government

The biggest govtech deals of the week

This is the latest instalment of an exclusive series analysing the UK’s biggest public sector tech deals. In partnership with GlobalData, we’ve drilled down into the most valuable tenders and awards from the last seven days. Here’s what we found this week…

The top prior information notices

This week’s featured PIN

Buyer: Home Office
Title: Supply of acquisition, design and build services for telecoms mast base station sites
Lowdown: The Home Office has unveiled plans to splash £50m on new base stations to underpin the emergency services network. Prospective suppliers have until 9 December to register their interest in the forthcoming tender.

The best of the rest

Buyer: Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
Title: Framework: New systems and associated services to replace the existing specialist signal detection, case management and analytics systems
Estimated publication date: 14 September 2020
Value: £5m

Buyer: Network Rail
Title: Software solution with the capability to capture and provide route clearance data
Deadline for registering interest: 31 August 2020
Value: £N/A

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