Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN)

March 13, 2014 by 3 Comments | Category Digital Public Services

What is SWAN?

The Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) Programme is designed to deliver a single public services network available for the use of any, and potentially all, public service organisations within Scotland. The SWAN initiative aims to enable infrastructure and service sharing that will produce cost efficiencies and facilitate the creation of public services that are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local needs. The contract value for SWAN Connectivity Services is estimated to be up to £325m over 9 years.

What types of services are included?

Initially, SWAN will deliver services that fit broadly into two categories:

  • Core Infrastructure Services

The core infrastructure includes the development and deployment of the network itself and the provision of support services such as a help-desk, service portal, service monitoring, reporting, billing and technical design support. These are services that will be required by most, if not all, service users.

  • Catalogue Connectivity Services

Connectivity services will allow service users to connect to other service users and gateways with a variety of bandwidth, resilience and security options available.


The SWAN Programme is a major milestone from the Digital Public Services strategy. It is one of the first major initiatives to be launched by Scottish Ministers in support of the Scotland’s national digital public services strategy ‘Scotland’s Digital Future – Delivery of Public Services’ and is aligned with the McClelland Review of Scottish Public Sector ICT Infrastructure, taking forward its recommendations on public sector collaborative procurement, aggregation of network demand and use of common standards.

Anne Moises the Chief Information Officer for the Scottish Government commented:

“This is terrific news for Scotland. Through the  McClelland Review, we not only had a compelling vision for a secure aggregated communications service, we also had had the support and participation of the wide body of  Scottish public sector organisations who recognised the benefits and cost savings that could be achieved and the opportunities it provided for better sharing of services and information. There is a strong desire from all Scottish public sector organisations to deliver more joined-up services that are centred around the citizen, and the network we will have in place from April 2014 makes it possible to integrate and deliver digital services and information in a way that was previously not possible.”

Cross public sector working

“The SWAN project is a great example of public sector organisations working together to deliver a range of shared local and national benefits. Four Vanguard Partners: NHS Scotland, Education Scotland, the Pathfinder North local authority consortium and the Pathfinder South local authority consortium worked in partnership on this complex procurement for the benefit of all public bodies. And a shared service approach centred in NHS National Services Scotland will ensure the contract continues to deliver maximum value for money to all organisations that join over the lifetime of the contract.”

For the Vanguard Partners alone the annual equivalent saving on current costs is likely to be between 6% and 50%, depending on the Vanguard Partner, with an average saving of 25% across all Partners. Similar levels of savings are anticipated for other public sector bodies that sign up.

SWAN has been designed to deliver in a dynamic environment of new policies and new ways of working and is well placed to exploit the anticipated rapid developments in communications technology. It has the capacity to grow and be flexible to enable new digital services to be brought on stream quickly. However, SWAN is not just about the connectivity, it provides a modern set of commoditised digital services (e.g. voice, video, unified communications and collaboration tools) on which common business practices and shared services can be delivered.

Eddie Turnbull, the Head of e-Health, said:

“SWAN will be a key enabler for the Scottish Government’s 2020 Vision of joined up health and care. The aim is to focus on the needs of the individual and improve outcomes for people by providing consistency in the quality of services, ensuring people are not unnecessarily delayed in hospital and maintaining their independence. We will achieve this by creating seamless and responsive services that allow people to stay safely at home or in a homely setting for longer. SWAN will provide the underpinning connectivity that will eventually enable everyone who is directly involved in an individual’s healthcare, including the individual, to share information and collaborate securely.”

Many other public sector organisations have committed to using SWAN in the future when their current contracts expire. These include the Scottish Government, a number of Local Authorities and Police Scotland.

What are the benefits of SWAN?

SWAN will benefit from using existing communications infrastructure and services (where possible) as well as exploiting the significant investment that the Scottish Government has made in new infrastructure as part of the Step Change 2015 and World Class 2020 programmes. This will mean:

  •  Reduced cost of services – by leveraging collective demand for services that have traditionally been purchased on an organisation to organisation basis, we will be able to reduce the cost of basic services.
  • Cutting procurement costs – going through a formal OJEU procurement to meet the network service needs of many public sector organisations will reduce the overall expense of procurement by removing the need for each organisation to carry out their own procurement process.
  • Enabling greater collaboration – creating a shared, holistic network services solution will enable greater communication between public sector organisations, which in turn will lead to a higher standard in the delivery of public services.
  • Unifying network assurance – utilising a common standard of data assurance will make it easier for public sector organisations to interact with each other, and ensure greater security for data transmitted internally and externally.


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