Network expansion needed for full digitisation – NDMA
…data management centre to be built
An expansion of the existing network will be necessary, but National Data Management Authority (NDMA) Head Floyd Levi is optimistic that by 2020 citizens will access hundreds of Government services fully over the Internet.
During a recent interview with the media, Levi was asked by Guyana Times about the likelihood of Government meeting its self-imposed deadline. At the time, Guyana had just signed a loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China, which would allow for money for the US$37 million National Broadcast Network Expansion.
“We do have the network in place. And the network is now being expanded. What is needed for Government services to be online is what we like to call the e-services part of it, where the Government Ministries themselves are providing that service to citizens through online media.”
“So you already have a couple of Government agencies that are doing online services, like GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a number of educational institutions are doing the same thing.”
The Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) was another agency that Levi noted had moved its enrolment online. The benefits of this, according to Levi, was that persons would not have to leave their homes and communities that may have Information Communication Technology (ICT) hubs to access services at a centralised location.
Levi also noted that the National Broadcast Network expansion would cater for the building of a data management centre. He explained that the Government’s network used fibre-optic cables as well as microwave technology. All of this, he said, will be improved.
“This is purely bandwidth on the Government’s network. But we do use Internet service that we buy from GTT. So, for those components that require Internet service, we’ll get those from GTT.”
At the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual Caribbean Civil Society meeting in June of this year, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes had said that ordinary citizens and businesses would, by 2020, be able to access more than 200 public services online.
“So imagine your driver’s licence application (or) that application for a TIN number; all these services can be done online, and, therefore, we have to start heading in that direction… And the Private Sector, you are going to be left behind also if you continue to do this the old way,” she related, as she stressed that the Private Sector should avail itself of technological opportunities to improve customer service.
Meanwhile, IDB Country Representative Sophie Makonnen had also stressed the need for countries to keep up to date with advancing technologies. With new technology, Makonnen noted, there are new ways to solve old problems, such as inadequate health care.
A few days before that meeting, stakeholders were introduced to the concept of exponential technologies (ET) and their importance in developing small economies like Guyana’s. A presentation was made by Dr Nicholas Haan, the Track Chair and Vice President of Impact at Singularity University (SU). SU is a Silicon Valley think-tank that offers educational programmes and serves as a business incubator.
During his presentation, Dr Haan pointed out that, in recent years, there have been major technological transformations which have created opportunities for agencies to rethink the way they serve people.
“Humanity is currently witnessing, at this very time, a major transformation never ever seen before; a transformation into a digital era where every single one of our social systems – our food system, our energy system, our health system, our government system, etc – every single one of those is being transformed by technology and other global trends.
“This creates incredible opportunities if you’re leading a corporation or if you’re an entrepreneur, and it creates incredible opportunities for Governments around the world to rethink the way to best serve the populace,” Dr Haan had posited.
He went on to talk about how ET has advanced and developed over recent years to create new concepts such as artificial intelligence programmes that operate in real time with no human control and 3D printing.