Iurie Turcanu, the executive director of the eGovernment Center in Moldova, describes his country as “small but ambitious”. Indeed, few would suspect that Moldova, which officially declared itself a republic after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, would be one of the few nations in the world to leap headfirst into e-Government.
“Two years ago our government set a primary objective for our nation – to digitize all public services. That was a real challenge, because we have to do this fast and with relatively small budgets.” said Turcanu at WSO2Con EU 2015, where he and Artur Reaboi, an enterprise architect at the e-Government Center of Moldova, explained how they implemented this national interoperability platform,
which streamlines public services delivery, both for citizens and businesses, as well as optimizing internal governmental business processes.
Apparently unfazed, they began to build a platform with the help of the WSO2 middleware platform.
The Foundation for e-Transformation
The government as a platform, or, as the World Bank puts it, the “Governance eTransformation Project” was undertaken by Turcanu and his team at the e-Government Center of Moldova, under the purview of the State Chancellory. Of course, they hit a number of problems on the way.
The first was the way things worked:
- Lack of communication between authorities, or even subdivisions of the same authority.
- Financial obstacles – some organizations sell data or access to data
- Technological obstacles – lack of standards, incompatibility, lack of documentation
The second set of problems lay in the scope of the problem. This was not a simple system of websites: they needed to built a system that would provide a unified connection bus between the different arms of government – judiciary, taxation, customs and more – and the citizens, and this needed to be accomplished with an absolute minimum of cost, time and human resources.
They needed authentication solutions for the fundamental task of identifying the citizen. They needed to gather different data structures, technologies and weave a single central system in between all these moving parts. They needed electronic messaging to communicate information to citizens. They needed electronic payment systems. Finally, they needed hosting to have the whole structure running.
This was also a relatively central system, which meant it needed the one thing that would be devastating to get wrong: scalability. Indeed, as Reaboi, explains, this was one of the first doubts their sponsors had.
“The WSO2 solution answered all of our problems,” says Reaboi. “Our requirements were many and had to cover many contexts…and future needs. This is why we use lots of WSO2 products; in the middle of this is the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus.”
The end product is highly flexible. A public agency can come to them and be given the relevant interfaces to access the data they needed; where it came from or what format it was originally saved as, would not matter to the agency – the business of transforming the data is handled by the WSO2 Data Services Server and the ESB, which allowed them to open up data locked in diverse legacy systems without having to modify the existing data or software.
The WSO2 stack’s inherent multi-tenancy and performance let them scale this model quickly. Their test project, before it was announced to the public, took on some 5000 messages per second with only 2 ESB nodes. For 3.5 million people, they reasoned, that was more than enough scalability.
Today, much of Moldova’s government services are online. Everything from citizen IDs to payment mechanisms has been launched, driving not just digitization, but governmental reform towards a more efficient way of running a country. Indeed, as Turcanu put it, “In fact, it is the basis for public services engineering which is going on parallel to this reform. It acts as the core element of the public service engineering reform of Moldova.”
The e-Government Center hasn’t stopped. They’re now working on electronic visas, electronic procurement systems, a system for developing online registry and permit solutions – the idea is to digitize everything by 2020. Looking on their progress, WSO2 is proud to be right at the heart of Moldova’s trailblazing achievements.
To further understand Moldova’s eTransformation project see Artur Reaboi’s full talk at WSO2Con EU 2015.