Bring your own device (BYOD) is set to grow in local public services despite Cabinet Office data sharing regulations around the Public Services Network (PSN), says a report from public sector IT managers' association Socitm.
Socitm says there are ongoing discussions between itself, the Local Government Association and the Cabinet Office on BYOD and the PSN.
The report, "A balancing act: current approaches to BYOD in local public services" says that the consumerisation of ICT has "created employee demand to use their own (and often superior) technology for work".
At a time of austerity, says Socitm, BYOD can also save public bodies money by not having to supply as many devices to staff to do their work
On the downside, allowing employees’ devices on the network presents a "huge security headache" for organisations, the report says.
A section of the report explains how the Cabinet Office’s current compliance requirements for connection to the Public Services Network (PSN) has created "unintended consequences" for councils wishing to exploit the benefits of BYOD.
Details of changes one county council has had to make to its BYOD practices are set out, and the report suggests that compliance guidelines "have been disproportionally applied and need to be reviewed".
The report also emphaises that BYOD is not just an issue for ICT professionals. Changing to a BYOD approach should involve HR, finance and legal specialists, and requires the organisation to develop policies and formal agreements to cover usage and practice, and to set out procedures to be followed if devices are lost, stolen or otherwise compromised.
The report provides a series of case studies from organisations pioneering BYOD and related practice. These include Leeds City Council, The Salvation Army, Solihull MBC, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Derby City Council, among others.
"Individuals have become tech savvy and will look to circumvent ICT policies if they feel they are being hindered from doing their job", said Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight.
"Socitm benchmarking data shows a significant drop in user satisfaction with ICT services where restrictions on flexible practices like BYOD have been imposed to allow connection to the Public Services Network (PSN).
"Socitm is continuing to work with the Cabinet Office, its members and suppliers to resolve these obstacles to rapid adoption of BYOD by local public services," Greenwood said.