Commsworld and CGI combine to bring new Smart Place connectivity to Scottish Borders secondary schools

CGI together with Commsworld are continuing the successful transformation of the Scottish Borders into the UK’s first Smart Rural Region.

As primary providers of IT services for Scottish Borders Council, CGI tasked its trusted partner, Edinburgh-headquartered Commsworld, with further boosting the network connectivity and reach of all of the region’s secondary schools to enhance the delivery of the local authority’s world-class education programme, Inspire Learning.

Over the past four months, Commsworld undertook one of its most important jobs of the year in Scotland – laying 20km of fibre cabling to overhaul and upgrade the fibre infrastructure, resiliency and capacity to all nine secondaries.

It now means that all 6,296 secondary school pupils in the Scottish Borders, along with their teachers, will benefit from a ‘next generation network’ capable of delivering speeds 500 times faster than the average UK broadband connection.

This is because it is linked to Commsworld’s Optical Core Network built on around 1,500 miles of Dark Fibre. Operating its network exclusively over Dark Fibre allows Commsworld to maintain full control and deliver massively scalable bandwidth.

Using the Optical Core Network brings huge benefits not only to the region’s secondary schools, but also its businesses and organisations – including other Scottish Borders Council offices – located in and around the vicinity of each of the secondary schools.

The move is a further boost to the Council’s Inspire Learning programme, which has quickly become embedded in the core of what learning and teaching looks like in the Borders.

The programme is directly impacting on providing service improvements in the area including providing digital skills, improving employability, and making the Scottish Borders an even more attractive place to live, learn and work. It is creating a world class, sustainable environment in which to learn and teach, and includes equipping staff and pupils with iPad devices.

At the heart of its success has been stronger state-of-the-art, full-fibre networks brought in for both primary and secondary schools, with Commsworld linking them to its Optical Core Network.

Lyndsey Teaz, CGI Vice President, Scottish Business Unit Leader (Interim), said:

“Commsworld is one of our most trusted partners, and works side by side with us, and Scottish Borders Council, to harness technologies and bring practical innovation that can transform, enable, protect and deliver real change to existing systems.

“Thanks to Commsworld, this new, improved and highly resilient network will result in a further massive enhancement of Inspire Learning, and of the Borders’ ambition to create the UK’s first rural Smart Place. By embracing its digital future, it will boost digital skills and learning, connect communities, support innovation and transform services for all citizens, as well as empower a flexible workforce.”

Steve Wood, Group Sales Director for Commsworld, said:

“We are proud to have delivered this work after four months and ahead of schedule. The results will be not only transformative for every secondary school in the Scottish Borders, but also enable the region’s rural towns, its businesses and organisations, and its citizens to access  much higher bandwidths with much greater resilience.

“It means that Scottish Borders Council is leading the way in rural connectivity. This is template for success that needs to be replicated throughout other areas of Scotland, and indeed  the UK, which are crying out for better digital connectivity.

“Such connectivity in the long term will boost not only education and teaching in schools, but also deliver the capacity for more cutting-edge digital systems and processes in areas such as social care, health, the environment and sustainability as we continue to work towards a net-zero economy by 2045.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said:

 Scottish Borders Council is working with our partners with the aim of making the Scottish Borders the most technologically advanced rural area in the UK, to help support our communities, attract new businesses and ensure we’re best placed to meet future challenges.

“A key part of that is creating and retaining a homegrown, skilled digital workforce. Inspire Learning is a vital part of that, and thanks to CGI and Commsworld we are well on the way to meeting this objective, which will in turn help attract more and new skilled jobs and increased inward investment to the Borders.”

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