Canada might be considered a trailblazer in the area of e-government, but how can we stay on top? This year’s GTEC Week Professional Development Forum will focus on government’s move to modernize and maintain its position as a global leader in e-government.
The conference and exhibition, which
takes place Oct. 18-20 at the Ottawa Congress Centre, will feature seminars on global trends and policy issues, as well as on program delivery, human and organizational transformation, along with technology and security solutions.
“”Canada, for the last four years, has been the No. 1 country in the world in regards to implementing e-government, so our theme is serving Canada and taking it to the next level,”” says Eric Davies, executive director of GTEC Week.
A new pavilion is being introduced this year, called Public Safety and Security. “”There’s an awful lot of interest in this particular topic,”” he says. “”We did a survey last year of a lot of our delegates and that was one of the top items that came up all the time.””
Another pavilion — which made its debut at last year’s show — will feature open source solutions. “”There’s a lot more interest in that again, and one of our keynotes is going to address that,”” he says. “”Also, within open source we will concentrate on IT security.””
GTEC Week will also include a series of five half-day workshops on key technology issues, including informed IT decision-making, security, accessibility, voice-over-IP and service visions.
Victor Abele, director of the Treasury Board Secretariat’s service delivery improvement, will discuss future directions of the federal service delivery infrastructure, based on a management review.
“”We’re starting to understand how we’re performing in government service delivery, identifying priorities, improving management practices and so on,”” he says, “”and we are examining opportunities to improve service and reduce the cost of government through a more effective use of in-person and call centre operations in support of increased use of self-service.””
In his presentation, Abele will address the issues of consolidation on the front end and complexity on the back end. The solution set, he says, lies in redesigning business processes, the underlying service delivery infrastructure and the skill sets of front-line workers.
“”Our own experience with government is it isn’t necessarily consistent; levels of service are highly variable. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not so great,”” he says. Future initiatives will result in better client service, a more effective, efficient use of government resources and an opportunity to save money while improving performance.
“”All government services are not 911, they’re not created equal, but we can at least measure ourselves on some consistent scale,”” he says. At the TBS booth, key performance indicators will be provided for assessing this environment.
In his presentation, Telus Communications chief technology officer Girish Pathak will discuss the value of convergence to government — the business benefits of transformation to IP communications.
He says Canadian governments at all levels are at an historic crossroads, and he’ll explain what’s at stake and how Canadians can seize the opportunity.
“”On one hand you find that modernizing the government is mandatory — Canada’s competitiveness in the global village and the quality of life that citizens have is at stake,”” he says. “”You’re competing with city states like Singapore and tech-savvy countries like Korea and potentially staking business claims in developing countries.””
On the other hand, he says, governments are being asked to deliver sustained progress and modernize their functions without spending any extra money — and that’s the real problem.
“”This is neither an impossible nor an easy task, and one of the components is technology convergence — the transformation of technology that I’ll talk about at GTEC,”” he says.
Bell Canada’s Eugene Roman will also discuss IP communications in his presentation, Evolving to the world of IP. And Industry Canada will make a presentation on Canada’s current readiness and future opportunity with convergence.
Another future direction that is generating much interest — and confusion — is Internet-based voting.
Gary Rodgers, a principal with Hewlett-Packard’s world-wide public sector practice, will discuss this in a presentation entitled, Geneva: A case study on e-democracy.
“”What I’ll be talking about is the practical experience that we gathered there, because when other countries and other voting authorities determine that they want to move forward with Internet-based voting, they have to have some concept of what they’re really up against,”” he says. “”It’s a matter of staying on top of it to maintain the security and ultimately the transparency of government.””
In Canada, fewer people have been heading to the polls in recent years, and governments are recognizing that Internet-based voting might be a way to increase participation in the electoral process.
The problem is, they’re stuck with the perception that nobody else has done it, so how can they go about doing it?
“”It is possible, it has been done, and those authorities who have a need or requirement to increase the transparency and to increase the democratic inclusion of more and more people, they can do that,”” says Rodgers.
Geneva has mini-referenda on various issues; Internet-based voting allows citizens to vote on these issues on an ongoing basis (as opposed to electing officials to particular offices). “”They’re probably closer to a pure democracy than in both Canada and the U.S.,”” says Rodgers. However, he adds, all of the security and validation requirements are the same with any Internet-based voting system.
“”The governance model of the country or region will drive exactly what’s presented,”” he says. “”The security is driven by the technology levels and capabilities that are being implemented, but the presentation of the ballot … will be driven locally by the regional authorities.””
In a related presentation, Statistics Canada’s Mel Turner will discuss Bringing the census online, conveniently and securely.
Security is a theme that pervades many of the seminars at GTEC Week this year. Steve Cooperman, vice-president of security solutions with Oracle Corp., will explain how to build an information platform for homeland security.
He says we need to leverage available information and bring disparate information sources together to make sure it’s at the right place at the right time in the hands of decision-makers. “”There’s a tremendous challenge now in how we make that all happen,”” he says. “”One of the biggest focuses … around the world is building this information technology infrastructure to really support this vision of information sharing and information-based targeting so we can stop things before they happen.””