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IT rapid response support

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, travel restrictions and lockdowns were enforced around the world. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had to make sure British citizens were safe and offer support on a massive scale.

On 23 March, the first official UK lockdown began and the FCDO had to carry out its work from home.

The FCDO couldn’t respond to this crisis without essential IT network and equipment. We made sure the FCDO had the IT it needed for their vital work.

Communications equipment

When the FCDO’s Posts in Ottawa and Malaga closed, staff started working from home, but still needed to be able to answer calls from British travellers. This meant a change to the phone system and new phones.

Providing new phones was not simply a case of ordering from an online supplier. Our high security standards meant working with our supply chain to obtain specific headsets and phones.

Shipping restrictions also made it extremely difficult to get equipment to staff. However, our logistics team worked hard to make sure the equipment arrived quickly and securely.

Finally, we made the necessary changes to the phone system to reroute inbound and outbound calls.

Network support

With the majority of the FCDO suddenly working from home, the IT network needed to deal with a huge surge of demand. We helped the FCDO develop additional network capacity and Firewall changes to ensure staff could log into the VPN. We achieved this in just 3 weeks to reduce the disruption to business as usual.

Key FCDO officials also needed to attend daily No.10 Downing Street calls and important international conferences remotely. We made bespoke changes so that the FCDO could use additional conferencing applications.

Customer response

Key to the success of this work was our agility, our speed of response, and collaboration with our supply chain. These behaviours enabled us to bolster the IT and communications systems, supporting the FCDO’s crisis response.

When FCDO needed to embrace remote working globally as COVID-19 restrictions came into force, FCDO Services provided trusted logistical support to distribute essential IT equipment quickly and, working in partnership with other suppliers, enabled speedy changes to infrastructure, increasing capacity for virtual meetings and hybrid working practices.

Head of IT Delivery, FCDO