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Bloxx provides web filtering for Aberdeenshire Council

Aberdeenshire Council is responsible for providing a wide range of services to the population of Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire Council is responsible for providing a wide range of services to the population of Aberdeenshire, with the council employing over 15,140 workers. They required an enhanced web filtering solution to secure internet access for pupils and staff across 150 primary schools, 17 secondary schools and four special needs schools. The desired solution had to deliver secure online access for at least 50,000 users accessing the internet through approximately 15,000 devices.

The Challenge
Before moving to Bloxx, Aberdeenshire Council was using two web filtering solutions, one for schools and libraries and another for their corporate users. Using two solutions was costly, problematic and time intensive from a management and resource perspective.

Chris Clelland, Aberdeenshire Council’s ICT business solutions manager, identified a key improvement straight offthe mark: “During the pilot period it became apparent that the legacy system was having issues in our curricular network and overnight Aberdeenshire ICT staff were able to move 165 locations onto Bloxx, giving a marked improvement to the browsing and learning experience. The current systems were not coping with throughput and neither system enabled flexible policy creation for different user groups – causing frustration, particularly for the schools.”

Key Benefits
Flexible, robust policies
Simplified management freeing up valuable resource
Anonymous Proxy blocking
Granular reporting capabilities
Improved internet speeds

The Solution
The council deployed Bloxx as they wanted an all-encompassing web filtering solution to meet their needs at a corporate level and across all its service areas. The Bloxx web filtering solution is now used to secure online activity throughout schools, public libraries and community facilities for over 48,000 staff and pupils and 230,000 members of the public.

Graeme Slapp, Aberdeenshire Council’s education project officer, explains: “The difference between Bloxx and our previous solution is night and day. Our previous filter was slow and inflexible and we were unable to alter filtering to suit our user groups. With Bloxx we can easily set up filtering based on user groups which is more appropriate for our schools users.”

The Bloxx web filter uses an advanced but flexible policy manager allowing you to easily create polices based around specific requirements for users and groups. Additionally usage quotas can be used to empower users to determine themselves if they should view specific content.

Bloxx’s TVT accurately classifies 51 categories of web content in real-time at the point the web page is requested. This approach eliminates latency, reduces over and under blocking and delivers zero second filtering and protection for new and modified web sites.

The Results

The ability to apply filtering polices now means that the council are able to offer school pupils much wider access to online resource, as Slapp explains: “With a much more relevant filtering policy, our schools now feel much more confident in being able to gain access and use online resources. Access to YouTube was raised as an issue almost weekly. Now with Bloxx we are able to allow staff users full access to YouTube. It will also mean that schools can have their own YouTube channels showcasing students work.”

The previous solution was struggling with the number of requests and throughput, and did not apply polices based on Active Directory group membership. With Bloxx throughput is much improved. The Bloxx Web cache has also made a big difference to web performance.

When asked to summarise the benefits of moving to Bloxx, Slapp suggests: “Improved speed of internet connection, improved reporting and monitoring, more granular filtering polices and ease of management.”

Clelland summarises the move to Bloxx: “It was always envisaged that the changeover would see large increase in Service Desk calls for sites to be opened up for users. However due to the Bloxx website categorisations being much more in tune with modern browsing requirements the changeover went very smoothly with markedly less disruption to users than was anticipated.”
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