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Roland Brown Discusses ictQATAR's Government Network
Recently ictQATAR announced the creation of a secure Government Network that connect Qatar's government agencies directly, allow for improved data sharing and provide an enhanced platform for government e-services.
Recently ictQATAR announced the creation of a secure Government Network that connect Qatar's government agencies directly, allow for improved data sharing and provide an enhanced platform for government e-services. We sat down with Roland Brown, Government Network Section Manager, to discuss the specific features of the Network and the benefits it will bring to the people of Qatar.
Can you first tell us about how the Government Network project started?
The Government Network first started as part of ictQATAR's e-Government initiative in 2007 when it was determined necessary to have a communications platform supporting the launch and the delivery of numerous e-services. In 2008 we started working quite intensely on getting the design together; in terms of how are we were going to deliver the network to government agencies, what the technical criteria that needed to be considered, how are we were to implement this, and in what sort of format. In 2009 we reached an agreement with Q-tel on the implementation of the Government Network and recently signed the contact in June. We have now begun the work on implementing the Government Network for the State of Qatar
What are the primary service objectives of the Network?
The Government Network has three primary service objectives. The most important one is to ensure that when data is transmitted across the network it is secure, that government agencies can be sure that any information that they have traversing the Government Network is safe. We will be putting encryption devices in place so that data is securely transmitted.
The Second point is performance. When we place systems like PACS, which is Picture Archiving Communications Systems, generally used in the healthcare sector, we need to make sure that the platform is reliable and is delivering the performance required by the applications. For example real-time services, voice or video, need to be delivered across or between agencies in a true real-time manner.
The third point is availability resources. We need to make sure that the network has a very high level of availability. If you take a site that's connected into the Government Network and one of those links, if it has a pair of links, one of those links are broken, we must make sure that the other link, the stand-by link, recovers within a very relatively short space of time. So this is where we look at the availability and make sure that the services are continuously given the availability of the Government Network.
Which sectors will benefit most from the Government Network?
There are three main government sectors in Qatar that will benefit. One is the healthcare sector, second is the Education sector and the third is Central Government. For Healthcare we have systems like PACS and the electronic health record which are critical services being driven forward by the Healthcare sector and require a fast, reliable network. In the Education sector there are number of independent schools which are now being given the access to the K-net portal, which allows teachers, pupils and parents to get together in terms of online collaboration. And for the central government, the Government Network will allow for services to be shared between different ministries and agencies securely.
How will the security of the Network be ensured?
Security is a very important point. We plan to make sure that security is implemented at the access point of the Government Network. The Government Network will position equipment at the government agencies such as Firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and implement routine policies. If an agency wishes to encrypt data, now that means to protect the data that is traversed across the, we have special devices positioned within the cabinet that would also be positioned at the agencies site that will encrypt data and make sure that any data transferred across the Network will be safe and secure.
How will you monitor the progress of the construction of the Government Network?
This year, the GN is entering its implementation phase as I mentioned. First we need to make sure the government agencies are prepared for implementation. We will work very closely with Q-tel to do site surveys and prepare each site. To monitor the progress of the project going forward, it will be me and my team interfacing with Q-tel and with the agencies to make sure that we properly manage the quality.
By: Mina Nagy