The city of Sunderland in the northeast of England is looking to the cloud to build a smarter community for residents and a more...

The city of Sunderland in the northeast of England is looking to the cloud to build a smarter community for residents and a more investment-appealing location for businesses.

Just last week, officials announced that the city would become the first in Britain to offer wall-to-wall, superfast broadband coverage. And today, they announced a deal with IBM in which city information, services and communications will be taken into the cloud. The project is also being touted as one of the first of its kind in Europe.

“In the current climate, it’s vital that local authorities like us use our own assets to not only improve services but stimulate economic growth for the benefit of the whole city,” said Council member Paul Watson.

Being rolled out at a cost of £5.7 million, the cloud-based program is expected to pay for itself within five years thanks to an assortment of efficiency gains. Those include a projected savings of £1.4 million a year in operational costs.

Officials say the cloud-based system will make it easier and quicker for residents to access city services, which should help the council become more responsive to local needs. Furthermore, businesses will be able to use the cloud to increase their capabilities without having to invest in new training, software licensing or other purposes.

“As well as providing an infrastructure for the provision of services to the council, the Sunderland City Cloud deployment is designed as a platform with flexibility to meet the needs of many other city constituents,” said Lynn Ferguson, IBM industry executive for local public services. “For example, it will be used to deliver cost-effective services to enable the growth of small and medium-sized businesses and hence to help facilitate economic growth in the city.”

Greenbang