‘Telecommunications as a Service’: Statistics NZ and Spark deliver first implementation in Christchurch

Statistics NZ CTO Chris Buxton

Statistics New Zealand and Spark have partnered to deliver one of the first Telecommunications-as-a-Service (TaaS) government connectivity networks at the Christchurch CBD.

From this week 380 public servants from nine agencies will work from the new BNZ Centre between Cashel and Hereford Street.

Next year, 200 more staff will join them in the building officially opened yesterday by Prime Minister John Key and Minister supporting Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee.

Statistics New Zealand is the lead agency responsible for co-ordinating all the agencies working in the BNZ Centre.

“This is a real shift in thinking for government and the delivery of ‘workplace as a service’,” says Chris Buxton, chief technology officer, Statistics New Zealand. “We are transforming the delivery model to enable real co-location of agencies, moving away from a co-tenancy model.

From the outset, we were encouraged to explore innovative solutions to support a more integrated colocation of agencies, enabling interoperability and cross agency efficiencies,Chris Buxton, Statistics NZ

In the BNZ Centre the nine government agencies will be able to collaborate securely with each other and with their customers. Public servants will have a modern, flexible working environment that is geared towards accommodating staff mobility, and sharing common meeting rooms and networks. It not only meets today’s requirements but also the future needs of agencies.

TaaS was developed as a flexible way of delivering telecommunications and data services that removes the traditional complexity of owning, managing and maintaining networks and will enable government agencies to focus on their core services.

The initiative began with the government desire to rebuild the Christchurch CBD following the earthquakes in 2011. “The challenge for IT was then to design an innovative solution that enabled nine agencies to work seamlessly in the building with minimal upfront adoption costs,” says Buxton.

“From the outset, we were encouraged to explore innovative solutions to support a more integrated colocation of agencies, enabling interoperability and cross agency efficiencies.”

He says Spark has provided this through TaaS, “a modern, collaborative working environment, providing the flexibility to support broader government building use in the future for the benefit of all New Zealanders”.

“This is ground-breaking because the approach enables interoperability of agencies in a controlled way,” says Buxton.

He also sees it as a model to enable federated data services for government. “The design and lessons are currently being used to help guide and inform other government accommodation projects and is seeing some support for the potential to enable an all-of-government accommodation approach.”

TaaS enables a government agency to select and pay for the telecommunications they need today whilst still being able to quickly modify services to meet their changing business needs.

The TaaS model of operating aligns and supports the new government multi-tenanted sites, negating the need for individual network installations by providing a single shared service for which each tenant pays only for their usage component.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles says the company is delighted to deliver the services. “The opportunity to implement TaaS with such an innovative agency like Statistics New Zealand has helped ensure the success of the Christchurch project.”

Tim Miles - CEO, Spark Digital

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