Following the great work on the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) project, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) have now announced the exciting next steps to light up the fibre with a state-of-the-art, high-performance data network – the GM One Network. In collaboration with our technology Partners Cisco, Virgin Media O2 Business and Engage ESM.

For the people of Stockport and Greater Manchester (GM), this world-class infrastructure can remove barriers to social, economic and public sector reform objectives. Already recognised as necessary, the pandemic underscored the need for high-quality digital infrastructure to enable people to work, live and study differently.

As public sector resources remain stretched, continuing to transform our public services, including our digital infrastructure, is more vital than ever. Public sector infrastructure and networks haven’t changed much in the last 25 years, yet interconnectivity between public sector organisations has increased as we work more closely together.

What is the GM One Network?

Using the latest Software Defined Network technologies, GM One Network will create an active network infrastructure across the Stockport region connecting over 130 locations, including council buildings, partner organisation offices, such as Stockport Homes and Totally Local Company, all our libraries and the large majority of Primary and Secondary Schools. This will enable network services across Stockport and Greater Manchester to be provided more efficiently, securely and flexibly.

A single physical active network across Greater Manchester with separate virtual networks for each partner organisation will be a true enabler of multidisciplinary team-working for localities and across the wider GM area. The LFFN programme provided connectivity to more than 1,300 sites across the region, including Stockport. Importantly the GM One Network is also readily available for non-LFFN sites to connect into.

GM One Network is an excellent example of Stockport Council making significant progress in our vision to be a Radically Digital Council delivering outstanding public services based on world-class digital infrastructure. Stockport Council has been at the forefront of driving this GM Partnership initiative, chairing the GM One Framework group and the GM One Network Collaboration Board.

GM One Network demonstrates the value of close collaboration between local authorities and public services. It is a testament to the forward-thinking, partnership-based ethos of the GM One Network founding partners – Stockport Council, GMCA, GM Fire and Rescue Service, Transport for Greater Manchester, Bury Council, Oldham Council and Rochdale Council – that such a large-scale high-tech infrastructure project could be realised.

What are the key benefits?

  • GM One Network will create a single active network infrastructure across a large proportion of public sector organisations, enabling network services across Greater Manchester to be provided more efficiently, securely and flexibly. And it will take advantage of the local full-fibre network, ensuring Stockport can harness the benefits of our investment in full-fibre.
  • The GM One Network has established the foundations to enable further delivery of priorities within Stockport’s Digital Strategy and the GM Digital Blueprint, supporting our ambition for Stockport to be a leading digital council in a world-leading digital city-region.
  • GM One provides a single physical active network across Stockport and Greater Manchester with separate virtual networks for each partner organisation. Collaboration is at the heart of the design for the GM One Network, providing an overarching set of guidelines, standards and configuration parameters to allow interoperability.
  • As well as delivering savings over ten years, the initiative includes a comprehensive, multi-year social value programme within Stockport and across the region, supporting our efforts to tackle the digital divide.
  • A common and consistent platform will improve user experience, meaning users can move seamlessly between public spaces.
  • The GM One Network will be more financially efficient by reducing spend on wide area networks (WAN) and other network and infrastructure services, including routers and firewalls.
  • It will also be practically more efficient by adopting a “do things once” approach for all the partners, through standardisation removing the need for an individual approach in each Local Authority and reducing duplication. Furthermore, less effort will be required to deploy, configure, and install network infrastructure, and using automation will reduce the need for third-party site visits.

Social value

Our technology partners, Cisco, Virgin Media O2 Business, and Engage ESM have made bold investments in social value initiatives that support Stockport’s digital ambitions and the wider GM Digital Blueprint. These social value commitments include:

  • Support for start-up businesses to create new products and services that deliver positive outcomes for communities, such as business mentoring, co-development of new products and university-led research
  • Career mentoring for over 24-year-old Greater Manchester residents seeking employment
  • Working with schools to inspire students into tech and digital careers
  • Working with relevant stakeholders to offer digital skills training and initiatives
  • Creating 28 new apprenticeship opportunities
  • Over 3,300 volunteering hours to support community projects across Stockport and Greater Manchester
  • Supporting digital inclusion initiatives through financial donations, Greater Manchester’s Databank and installing free connectivity in some community sites across the region
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