Government-Centric Vs Citizen-Centric
For the most part, governments operate like large organizations in which each department or agency has its own set of procedures and processes, Mr. Karunasena observed. Unfortunately, this government-centric approach often means citizens have to go through numerous, and at times redundant, steps to complete a process. ICTA is working to address this challenge by integrating systems throughout different departments in the Sri Lankan government.
“We want to change the government’s thinking to a level where the different organizations do not have any boundaries,” Mr. Karunasena explained. “We have to re-engineer their processes so they are from the citizen’s point of view.”
One good example of a re-engineered government service is the passport application process, Mr. Karunasena said. In the past, a citizen would have to go from one agency to the next to get copies of his original ID, birth certificate, and other government-issued documentation required to verify his identity and process the request.
Now the integrated system created by ICTA lets a citizen simply go to a passport office and file an application. Mr. Karunasena explained that this is possible because the interconnected government technology systems allow the passport official to pull up all of the citizen’s documents needed to verify the information.
Objective: Government 3.0
Getting the different government organizations’ systems to talk to each other and share information is not an easy task, and at ICTA, it continues to be a work in progress, Mr. Karunasena said. He also noted that the ultimate goal for ICTA is “government 3.0” in which all government services are delivered in a variety of ways, so that a citizen never has to visit a government agency.
Three key components of ICTA’s initiative to achieve government 3.0 are Lanka Gate, the core software infrastructure that connects all the agency databases; the Lanka Interoperability Framework (LIFe), the interoperability framework that allows each agency to share data; and the Lanka Government Network, a private network that connects all the government organizations. At the core of the government network is the messaging infrastructure, which is supported by the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus.
“This network is for the government, so when government organizations implement ICT systems, they will use the same systems,” Mr. Karunasena said. However he added, “We have defined a policy where we only want to get engaged when there is government-to-government, government-to-business, or government-to-citizen communication.”
Using this infrastructure, the ICTA is working to deliver government services through multiple delivery channels, including the country Web portal (www.srilanka.lk), voice and mobile.
Mobile service delivery is an area of particular emphasis for ICTA because mobile technology is so readily available to citizens, Mr. Karunasena explained. The latest numbers from the Telecom Regulatory Authority and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka show that the Sri Lankan population has over 20 million SIM cards in circulation, he said. Based on this information, ICTA can assume that least one person in every family has a mobile phone.
Lanka Gate Developer Portal
To date, ICTA primarily has focused publishing government services for citizens to consume. However, the agency also wants to encourage citizens to develop Web and mobile applications from the information that is publicly available, Mr. Karunasena said. To support this effort, ICTA has implemented the Lanka Gate Developer Portal (https://developer.icta.lk), which provides a view of the overall architecture, explains how to make use of it, and offers tools to help developers build applications.
Mr. Karunasena noted, “ICTA’s aim is to work with the government on the policy aspects, changing regulations, and putting up new processes and guidelines such that they can deliver efficient services. And then we want to bring these services to the front and make them publically available, so that people themselves can develop useful applications.”
To learn more about ICTA’s use of WSO2 middleware for its citizen centric service delivery, view Mr. Karunasena’s full presentation here.