SharePoint extranet streamlines secure information exchange between Telford & Wrekin Council, external agencies, partners and individuals.
“Core’s initial response showed they understood our objective, they had experience in delivering similar service capabilities and were proposing the use of SharePoint as the platform of choice”
Development Team Leader, Telford & Wrekin
- Telford & Wrekin Council needed complete security when providing confidential information electronically to health and social care organisations.
- Insecure email networks used by external organisations raised concerns over unauthorised access of sensitive and personal information.
- Secure SharePoint extranet allows sensitive and confidential information to be downloaded from a data repository, following email notification
Telford & Wrekin is a unitary council in the West Midlands. The borough’s major settlement is Telford, a new town designated in the 1960s, and incorporating the existing towns of Dawley, Madeley, Oakengates and Wellington.
As with all local authorities, Telford & Wrekin liaises closely with a number of health and social care organisations and needed to implement a solution that would allow for the confidential sharing of information with those external agencies, partners and individuals not connected to GCSX – the Government’s Secure Nationwide Network.
Safe And Secure With A Complete Audit Trail
Telford & Wrekin Council’s initial objective was to communicate electronically and securely with a number of social service organisations including care homes, childcare and foster services, but anticipated extending these capabilities to other partner agencies at a later date. “The Council is responsible for the security of information that it transmits so a secure information exchange system is highly critical to our operations,” explained Dom Musgrove, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Development Team Leader. “We have to ensure that personal and sensitive information is only ever made available to designated and authorised personnel, demonstrate our compliance with various pieces of legislation and Government regulations and have full audit capabilities.”
Having evaluated a number of different solutions (none of which met all of the stringent data security requirements), Telford and Wrekin Council approached Core. “Although we have implemented Microsoft SharePoint across our organisation, and were inclined towards a SharePoint solution for this requirement, we were open to alternative proposals,” continued Dom Musgrove. “Core’s initial response showed that they understood our objectives, had experience in delivering similar service capabilities to other public sector organisations, and were proposing the use of SharePoint as the platform, which would allow us to capitalise on our existing SharePoint knowledge.”
Working Together To Streamline Communication
Working closely with Telford & Wrekin Council’s internal IT Team (and following an in-depth discovery phase, supported by two discovery workshops), Core began development of the SharePoint extranet solution. “The concept behind this was to provide a secure method of sharing confidential documents and information to partners and individuals not connected to GCSX,” said Dom Musgrove. “All information was to be held in our SharePoint data repository with recipients receiving an email to alert them to log onto the extranet and download the necessary documents.”
This highly secure solution resolved almost all of the issues that Telford & Wrekin Council was facing. The risks of confidential content being emailed to the wrong people or accessed by unauthorised personnel (whether in error or maliciously) was reduced; logged in users could only see documents that they were authorised to view; and documents held in the library could be “time-stamped” so they became inaccessible after a specified period. Core also provided an SQL database so that users could select recipients via a drop-down menu, further reducing the risks of sending sensitive information to the wrong person and removing the pressure on the Council’s IT department to manage and maintain email address lists.
“We have streamlined the way in which we communicate and exchange information with external agencies, partners and individuals by reducing as far as possible the possibility that personal and sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands,” added Dom Musgrove. “This makes the entire secure information sharing process far more effective and efficient, even allowing for external partners to use the same system to send information back to us.”
As well as saving costs by removing the need for Telford & Wrekin Council to purchase individual software licences required for other secure information transfer systems, the solution has also reduced reliance on post and courier services. Information that would previously have been exchanged by registered or recorded mail, delivered by hand, or collected in person, is now made available via the secure extranet, saving time, reducing costs and ensuring that the Council maintains compliance whilst efficiently managing and controlling the dissemination of information.