The government of Barbados signed a historic contract on January 5, 2016 for the implementation of Government’s Wide Area Network (WAN). The WAN was conceptualized to serve as a key infrastructural element and a catalyst for Government to aggressively implement its proposed e-Government programmes.
Alyson Forte, Permeant Secretary, in the Ministry of the Civil Service stated that the WAN “has the ability to transform the public service, opening up many services and opportunities for government and the private sector.” Its introduction is expected to play a crucial role in the execution of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy currently being undertaken, through grants from the European Union (EU).
In addition, the Wide Area Network will aid in Knowledge distribution through formal and informal networks. Access to timely and reliable information is critical to decision making, policy formulation, and programme implementation, and is essential to business whether in public or private sectors. The timely arrival of the WAN will greatly facilitate these tasks.
The WAN has already been installed at thirty (30) of the thirty-two (32) sites identified for phase 1. Currently twelve (12) WANs are utilised within the Barbados Public Sector. Having been developed independently, no connectivity currently exists between them. They will eventually be replace or integrated into the new government WAN. This process has already started with the largest network, the Financial & Human Resource Network (SmartStream) migrating to the new high-speed WAN. Martin Keogh, General Manager of Digicel Business indicated that the specifications of the network, “are of such a high standard, that it is regarded as Cisco’s most advanced and powerful network deployed anywhere in the region.”
The network is expected to provide the following benefits:
• High-speed inter-agency connections for greater communication and service delivery efficiencies;
• Internet gateway for Government which is secure and cost effective;
• Extensive utilisation of internet protocol (IP) telephony has resulted in cost savings, of over 50% on Governments telecommunications bill in agencies already utilizing the network which hosts the new Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system and Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) provided by Digicel. This is expected to be replicated across the public service.
• Provision of new secure modes of communication between government and citizens;
• Reduced operational cost through standardisation and economies of scale;
• Easier sharing and dissemination of information between all stakeholders;
• Facilitated deployment of enterprise-wide applications and services which enable improved and re-engineered government operations such as budgeting, financial management, human resource management, payroll and procurement; and
• Meeting pent-up demand for connectivity across government and within ministries and agencies.
Government is eager to see its agencies embrace the WAN and witness the emergence of innovative service delivery by developing e-services that will be facilitated by this state of the art network..