Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New platform helps public services tap the Cloud

An EU-funded consortium has developed an easy-to-use platform that enables public administrations to host services on the cloud, helping them to become more efficient and reactive to citizen needs.
New platform helps public services tap the Cloud
Public administrations are facing growing pressure to efficiently deliver services under ever-tighter budgets, and this has made cloud-based solutions an attractive proposition. Many public bodies however remain distrustful of the cloud, and concerned about infrastructure costs and technical requirements.

Positive results

In order to address this, the EU-funded STRATEGIC project developed and tested a new platform designed specifically to help administrations host services on the cloud and then manage these services effectively. ‘Key features include a graphical interface that public services and helps them manage all issues related to the cloud,’ explains project coordinator Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez from Atos in Spain. ‘It is targeted at users with some technical background. The platform is also flexible, suits any type of provider and complies with all legislation.’

STRATEGIC worked closely with public administrations in several countries, and ran successful pilots in the City of Genoa (Italy), Stari Grad (a municipality in Belgrade) Serbia, and the London Borough of Camden in the UK.

‘This provided an opportunity to create totally new applications, replicate applications already working in other public administrations and “cloudify” existing applications,’ says Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez. ‘Camden for example operates a management process of blue cards for people with disabilities, so we developed an application, hosted in the cloud, to manage requests. This is totally new and innovative, and this will be replicated to other public administrations in UK.’

In Stari Grad the project developed a cloud-based application to manage the cross-border issuing of various certificates with Genoa and installed a mail service for staff. Furthermore, Genoa cloudified its application to help new companies establish themselves. All three pilots ran an open data initiative for publishing data on the cloud.

Involving the public sector

Following completion of the project, work will now begin to fully commercialise the platform. As the consortium moves forward, public bodies will also be offered consulting services to help them fully tap the potential of cloud-based public services.

‘We really want public services to try this platform out, and then share their experiences with future customers,’ explains Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez. ‘Although administrations are our intended end user, our potential customer base also includes IT providers and cloud application service providers, who can then use our strategic platform to sell their own applications.’

The project has also helped to highlight several issues that continue to limit the roll-out of cloud services in the public sector. ‘We found that some administrations simply do not trust cloud technologies,’ says Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez. ‘A change of mentality is needed, and one of the positive elements of our project was that less-developed administrations – such as Stari Grad – were given the opportunity to learn from more advanced pilots such as Camden.’

Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez also argues that the roll-out of cloud-based public services at the local and regional level simply cannot happen without adequate national support. ‘Most municipalities simply do not have the budget to put in place the required infrastructure,’ she says.

STRATEGIC also identified a need to fully take into account the constraints of administrative bureaucracy. ‘It is very hard for public administrations to work day by day,’ says Nuria Rodríguez Domínguez. ‘There needs to be prior planning and a clear plan for deployment, laid out well in advance.’ These recommendations are currently being written up as a final deliverable, and will help both policy makers and public administrators to develop cloud-based public services in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

Related information

Keywords

STRATEGIC, cloud, bureaucracy, public, IT, cloud applications, cloud hosting, application developers, municipalities, infrastructure, ATOS
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