Microsoftâ Solutions for:

 
Windowsâ DNA for Government

 

 


Abstract............................................................................................................................. 1

Overview............................................................................................................................. 2

Windowsâ DNAâ for Government..................................................................................... 6

Presentation Tier............................................................................................................ 8

Business Logic Tier........................................................................................................ 9

Data Tier and Backend Integration.......................................................................... 10

Tools, System Services and COM............................................................................. 11

System Services.............................................................................................................. 13

Standards-based networks: intranets, extranets and the internet................... 13

Standards-based messaging/communications.................................................... 14

Security and Smartcards............................................................................................ 15

Government Scenarios – Windows DNA for Government in Action.................................. 17

Knowledge Management................................................................................................. 18

Collaboration............................................................................................................... 18

Microsoft Exchange In Defence............................................................................... 19

Analysis......................................................................................................................... 21

OLE DB........................................................................................................................... 22

ADO MD......................................................................................................................... 22

Metadata Sharing Methods...................................................................................... 22

Service Operations.......................................................................................................... 24

Data Security................................................................................................................ 24

Integrating with legacy systems................................................................................ 25

Electoral Administration............................................................................................ 26

Billing and payment.................................................................................................... 27

eGovernment................................................................................................................... 28

Intelligent Forms (IForms)......................................................................................... 29

Citizen Interfaces and Delivery Channels.............................................................. 30

Government On-Line: personalisation, navigation, creation and publishing... 31

Summary.......................................................................................................................... 33

Further Resources and Information................................................................................. 34


Abstract

 

This paper provides IT professionals involved in the development of government systems with an overview of the Microsoftâ Windowsâ Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) technical framework and how this has a key role to play in the development of a Digital Nervous System for government.

 

A companion paper to this, entitled The Digital Nervous System in Government, is aimed at decision-makers and key influencers and provides an overview of Microsoft’s vision of a digital nervous system in government. The white paper explains how a digital nervous system can improve a government’s internal operations as well as the interaction between different government departments and agencies, and its interaction with the citizen and partners.

 

The latest versions of these papers and a variety of more detailed case studies and supporting documentation illustrating the specific application of Windows DNA to the development of government solutions can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/europe/industry/government

 


Overview

 

Microsoft’s DNA architecture combines the technologies of the PC and the internet with existing government systems based on mainframes and mid-range systems.

 
Microsoft Windows Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) Architecture for Government is a technical framework with a key role to play in the development of a digital nervous system for government. Microsoft’s DNA architecture combines the technologies of the PC and the internet with existing government systems based on mainframes and mid-range systems. (Details of Microsoft’s digital nervous system (DNS) for governments are contained in the companion white paper.)

 

Windows DNA for Government enables the development of new, more easily built information systems that harness the power of existing government investments in IT without a need for adopting the expensive ‘rip and replace’ mentality that has previously been mandated as the only way to add value to existing systems. The guiding principles of Windows DNA for Government are:

·         internet ready – to facilitate the development of solutions that fully exploit application flexibility and the internet’s global reach and on-demand communication capabilities;

·         faster time to live use – to facilitate the development and deployment of solutions more rapidly, without requiring developer re-education or a change in how software is built. Services and functionality are exposed through the underlying “plumbing” to reduce the amount of code developers must write;

·         true interoperability – to facilitate the building of interoperability so that enhanced functionality can be added to existing systems. Windows DNA adheres to open protocols and standards so that other vendor solutions can be integrated;

·         reduced complexity – to integrate key services directly into the operating system and expose them in a unified way through components. By reducing the need for IT professionals to function as system integrators, they can focus on solving business issues instead;

·         language, tool and hardware independence – to provide a language-neutral component model so that developers can use task-appropriate tools. By building on the PC model of computing, customers can deploy solutions on widely available hardware;

·         lower the total cost of ownership – to develop applications that are easy to deploy, manage and change over time.

 


With the Microsoft Windows DNA for Government architecture, components help to reduce the complexity of building multi-tier applications. The core of Windows DNA for Government is the close integration of standards-based internet and client/server application development underpinned by Microsoft’s Component Object Model (COM) – the most widely used component software model in the world, available on over 150 million desktops and servers.

Windows DNA for Government adheres to open protocol specifications and published interfaces to enable governments and their suppliers to easily integrate third-party products and platforms.

 
 


Importantly, Windows DNA for Government is an open architecture, building on industry standards established by bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Microsoft recognises how important it is for governments to avoid proprietary lock-in – which is why the Windows DNA architecture is based on open industry standards. Windows DNA for Government adheres to open protocol specifications and published interfaces to enable governments and their suppliers to easily integrate third-party products and platforms.

 

There are many strengths to the Windows DNA model, including:

·         it enables interoperation with and between existing and new systems;

·         it provides a way of integrating and viewing information in a single location (such as a web browser) even where the underlying information resides on a variety of underlying systems;

·         it provides a framework for the “knowledge age”;

·         it allows governments to undertake business process re-engineering through evolutionary steps – rather than the expense of “rip and replace”.

 

Windows DNA for Government enables developers to build and extend existing government applications to combine the power of the PC platform, the reliability of client/server computing and the ubiquity and international communications capabilities of the internet.

 

A typical simple example of the practical application of Windows DNA for Government might be the provision of a web browser interface into mainframe or other backend data drawn from a variety of separate departmental systems.

 

 

Another example might be the provision of transaction systems (such as the processing of life episode updates from a citizen – for example, the registration of a birth) using modern internet-based solutions which interoperate with legacy backend mainframe systems. The combination of legacy systems, PCs and the technologies of the internet (including those used for internal intranets) provides a powerful solution to modernising existing information systems in a cost-effective and productive fashion.

 


Consider this example: in a social securities office, a vt100 terminal provides a civil servant with access to an application specifically developed for a single purpose – such as a citizen’s entitlement to unemployment benefit. Separately, the same civil servant uses a PC on which office applications, such as word processing and a spreadsheet are based. The two infrastructures – the application system dealing with unemployment benefits and the office systems – are run entirely separately. In addition, if there are other systems the civil servant needs to access, they frequently involve the civil servant logging out of one system (such as unemployment benefit) and then logging into another to access the remainder of the information (such as entitlement to housing benefit).

 

Basing an integrated solution on industry standards helps to lower infrastructure costs, decreases system administration and helps simplify the administration and training overhead of the government officials using the systems.

 

 
To co-ordinate the various sources of information, the civil servant may well jot down notes on a piece of paper and then manually sort out the overall picture for a particular citizen. There are high costs associated with maintaining and operating such discreet systems, both in IT terms and the resource terms related to the tasks and time spent by civil servants in accessing and co-ordinating such information in a manual fashion. Through the use of Windows DNA for Government, the civil servant could be provided with a single PC that provides not only office applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets, but also integrated access to a range of backend systems – delivered onto an integrated screen through a web browser interface, for example.

 

The result is increased flexibility, lower cost – and a lower opportunity for errors. Within this integrated Windows DNA for Government architecture, all government client machines are connected to a Windows NT Server on an IP-standard infrastructure. Basing the integrated solution on such industry standards helps to lower infrastructure costs, decreases system administration and helps simplify the administration and training overhead of the government officials using the systems.

 


An important aspect of Windows DNA for Government is that Microsoft is also porting key elements of the Windows DNA architecture to non-Microsoft platforms to provide a framework for interoperability and integration across the whole range of a government’s computing environment. Working with partners, Microsoft has already made COM available on UNIX and MVS and has ported Microsoftâ Internet Explorer to a variety of UNIX platforms and the Macintosh to support a richer cross-platform client than basic HTML allows.

COM/CORBA bridging products are available from CORBA vendors and provide mechanisms that enable Windows DNA-based applications to be integrated with CORBA solutions running on UNIX and other platforms.

 
 


Microsoft also endorses open approaches to COM/CORBA bridging. COM/CORBA bridging products are available from CORBA vendors and provide mechanisms that enable Windows DNA-based applications to be integrated with CORBA solutions running on UNIX and other platforms. The lack of standard CORBA implementations can however make it necessary for governments to be careful about matching their bridging solution with a specific ORB.

 

An important aspect of Windows DNA for Government is that Microsoft is also porting key elements of the Windows DNA architecture to non-Microsoft platforms.

 

Windows DNA for Government

 


Governments have generally developed separate IT systems and infrastructures within the different vertical and horizontal functions of government. Even within a particular government department, such as one responsible for social security, numerous distinct computer systems are often likely to exist, all specified and procured in different timescales and to meet differing operational objectives. Each computing environment has its own user interfaces, hardware, network requirements, development environment and data store.

 

The result of this monolithic and isolated approach to the development of government systems has been:

·         longer development times (since many of the systems replicate data and functionality held on other systems – such as generic information about citizens, date and place of birth, place of residence and so on)

·         incompatibility between systems (each system was separately procured for a specific purpose)

·         nugatory expenditure (since each system replicates functionality and data already contained in other systems)

·         high support overheads (since each system requires its own set of specialist skills in order to be supported)

·         minimal emphasis on the best interests of the citizen. Take for example the common scenario of a citizen who moves address or occupation: such personal information about a private citizen is often held on multiple different government databases. Or consider a life event such as getting married: various government departments require notification of such a change of personal circumstances, requiring the citizen to repeatedly provide the same information. Governments need to provide a more citizen-centric suite of services – and a systems framework that matches that citizen-centric model.

 

Windows DNA for Government provides a practical and cost-effective approach to the development of systems that build on current government IT investments, but which provide more modern and flexible flows of information.


Microsoft’s vision of a digital nervous system in government is built around three primary functions: knowledge management, service operations, and eGovernment. The diagram below shows how the Windows DNA framework models these functions against the constituent components of government – officials, process, and citizens and partners.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Windows DNA for Government framework maps onto the DNS model using three logical layers:

·         Presentation

·         Business Logic

·         Data

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Presentation Tier

Government IT departments and their IT partners need to balance the conflicting needs of servicing the many delivery channels required with minimising development costs. This is particularly problematic given the wide diversity of systems generally in use in government. Governments can resolve this dilemma by exploiting the services provided by the Windows DNA for Government architecture.

 

The presentation tier of Windows DNA for Government handles elements such as HTML, Dynamic HTML, scripting, components, and the Win32â API. Governments, for example, can build user interfaces using HTML to reach the widest possible range of clients – such as PCs and Macintoshs or UNIX clients. Provided the target platform can run a web browser, it would be able to use the basic HTML interface. More powerful interfaces can be built using Dynamic HTML combined with scripting in environments where a cross-platform browser such as Internet Explorer 4 is installed – encapsulating business logic in scriptable components that can be deployed on the client or the server side. An intra-government application could provide a basic interface using HTML, but a more enhanced interface with richer functionality to those using a more advanced browser like Internet Explorer 4. Backend servers such as Microsoftâ Internet Information Server (IIS) and Active Server Pages (ASP) scripting technology can detect the type of browser in use and choose the appropriate interface for the delivery of the service.

 

A wide range of Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools are supported by Windows DNA. In addition, standards-based HTML and web authoring tools are also fully supported.

 
A wide range of Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools are supported by Windows DNA, including Microsoftâ Visual Basicâ, Microsoftâ Visual J++ä, Borland’s Delphi, Powersoft’s PowerBuilder and Synon’s Obsydian. In addition, standards-based HTML and web authoring tools are fully supported within Windows DNA, including the Microsoftâ Visual InterDevä web development software and Microsoftâ FrontPageâ web site creation and management tool. In addition, non-RAD tools, such as Microsoftâ Visual C++â and MicroFocus Cobol can also be suitable tools for creating Windows DNA solutions.

 

The versatility of a technology such as Dynamic HTML, combined with scripting and components, allows the user interface for government applications within a department, across departments and for delivery to the citizen to be built using the same technology. Developers are able to re-use the business logic and user interface components across delivery channels, reducing the amount of re-coding required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business Logic Tier

Governments face a major challenge in rationalising the operational processes that sit behind their front-end delivery channels. Applications increasingly need to enable government to apply common business processes that span various systems, but they also need to avoid re-engineering existing information systems. Governments want to take advantage of the price/performance and off-the-shelf functionality provided by PC-based servers, but also need to incorporate existing midrange and mainframe systems into the overall systems architecture.

 

The Windows DNA for Government architecture addresses these requirements by providing a suite of services built around web servers, transaction and messaging servers, and scripting. Windows NT Server and the Microsoft BackOffice product portfolio provide the foundation on which Windows DNA for Government services are built. This combination provides integrated security and administration, file and print, communications, messaging and groupware, databases, host connectivity, systems management, internet, secure proxy, content creation and web site management, and information retrieval and search services.

 

Microsoft’s model of deeply integrating the application services with the underlying operating system is in direct contrast to the layered middleware approach commonly seen on UNIX platforms.

 
The business logic tier of Windows DNA for Government deals with the application specific flow and handling of information and is provided through the likes of web servers (Internet Information Server), Microsoftâ Transaction Server (MTS) and Microsoftâ Message Queue Server (MSMQ). Microsoft’s approach is to integrate the capabilities of a high-performance web server (Internet Information Server), scaleable object request broker, robust distributed transaction manager (Microsoft Transaction Server), message-oriented middleware server (Microsoft Message Queue Server) and other application services directly into the Windows NT Server operating system.

 

All services are available to clients running Windows and other operating systems through open protocols and published interfaces. Microsoft’s model of deeply integrating the application services with the underlying operating system is in direct contrast to the layered middleware approach commonly seen on UNIX platforms. In that model, the need for portability across various implementations requires application services to sit on top of the operating system and offer a completely separate set of services for security, etc. This leads to increased complexity, higher development and deployment costs, and greater integration challenges for developers and customers.

 

Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS) provides governments with the facilities needed to deliver services that span databases, machines and even diverse systems (such as Windows NT, UNIX and CICS). MTS enables developers to implement solutions without requiring new, complex infrastructures and multiple programming tools. Microsoftâ SQL Serverä, the internet and legacy systems can all be integrated via standard COM interfaces. This approach enables developers to focus on building government solutions, helping to lower development costs.

The Windows DNA for Government approach enables governments to build flexible applications focused on business need, based on components that can be used across delivery channels. The component-based approach will enable governments to buy solutions rather than to build them. Previously, packaged applications were either difficult to integrate with existing systems and difficult to customise, or were complicated to configure and deploy. By building their government applications to the Windows DNA for Government architecture and delivering them as a set of components, third-party developers can help to solve the integration problem for governments.

 

Data Tier and Backend Integration

Governments need applications that present a comprehensive view of information and associated relationship information. This single, powerful view needs to span system boundaries so that information can be viewed in a single place – such as through a web browser – even where the underlying data exists in a variety of separate systems, such as a mainframe, e-mail system and word-processing system.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The data tier typically comprises file systems, databases, messaging stores and other specific stores across a range of systems such as NT Servers and other systems such as midrange and mainframe systems. The Microsoftâ BackOfficeâ platform enables Windows DNA applications to take advantage of:

·         scaleable back-end services for database management (Microsoft SQL Server);

·         electronic mail and groupware (Microsoftâ Exchange Server);

·         host integration and connectivity (Microsoftâ SNA Server);

·         application management (Microsoft Systems Management Server);

·         internet/intranet (Internet Information Server and Microsoft Site Server).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, Windows DNA-based applications can access other vendors’ back-end services, such as Oracle, Lotus Notes, ICL, IBM and Siemens systems, through open protocols and common interfaces defined by the Windows Open Services Architecture (WOSA). For instance, OLE DB provides a unified way for Windows DNA applications to access data anywhere in an organisation. This backend integration is a powerful feature of Windows DNA that provides a major tool in the development of a digital nervous system.

 

Microsoft and its partners provide a suite of tools and strategies for protecting a government’s existing investment by integrating application transactions, messaging queuing infrastructure and data stores into Windows DNA for Government applications. Such tools include CICS, IMS and XA support via COM interfaces in Microsoft Transaction Server and the Component Transaction Integrator, Microsoft Message Queue Server, and DCOM support on platforms other than Microsoft. Integration with these systems preserves a government’s existing investment while using the consistent programming model of the Windows family of operating systems.

 

COM is the most widely used component software model in the world.

 

OLE DB complements ODBC by allowing all data sources, not just relational databases, to expose their data through a common set of COM interfaces.

 
Microsoft’s universal data access technology, OLE DB, provides access to disparate data sources through a consistent COM interface. OLE DB complements ODBC by allowing all data sources, not just relational databases, to expose their data through a common set of COM interfaces. Data from e-mails, spreadsheets and documents as well as databases is accessible through OLE DB. This allows developers to access government data from many sources without the overhead, expense and resources required by the use of multiple proprietary data-access APIs.

 

Tools, System Services and COM

Windows DNA-based applications can access other vendors’ back-end services, such as Oracle, Lotus Notes, ICL, IBM and Siemens systems, through open protocols and common interfaces defined by the Windows Open Services Architecture (WOSA).

 
The three tiers of Windows DNA are underpinned by two pervasive services: tools and system services. Tools includes scripting, the creation of components and the use of RAD and standard development tools. System services include standard infrastructure components such as directory, security, management, networking and communications.

 

The elements of the three tiers are exposed and combined together through the use of the Component Object Model (COM). COM provides a rich set of integrated services, wide choice of easy-to-use tools, and the largest set of available applications since COM is the most widely used component software model in the world. In addition, COM provides the only currently viable market for re-usable, off-the-shelf, client and server components.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


COM enables government applications to be developed with components by encapsulating any type of code or application functionality, such as a user interface control or line of business object.

 
The importance of COM is that it enables software developers to build government applications from binary software components that can be deployed at any tier of the application model. These components provide support for packaging, partitioning and distributed application functionality. COM enables government applications to be developed with components by encapsulating any type of code or application functionality, such as a user interface control or line of business object. A component may have one or more interfaces: each exposes a set of methods and properties that can be queried and set by other components and applications. For example, a citizen component might expose various properties such as name, date of birth, address and telephone number.

 


System Services

 

The implementation of an effective digital nervous system based on the Windows DNA for Government framework requires a core of standards-based system services that facilitate the development of effective application services. Amongst the key service components are the development of standards-based networks, a common messaging/communications infrastructure, and the application of security standards such as smartcard technology.

 

Standards-based networks: intranets, extranets and the internet

The key to cost-effective provision of IT services both within government and between government, its partners, suppliers and the citizen is a systems architecture based on industry standards. Within government, this means applying TCP/IP-based standards to simplify the operation, design, interoperability and maintenance of government networks. By moving towards TCP/IP as the standard and away from proprietary standards such as IPX/PX, governments can also take advantage of internet-based standards.

The key to cost-effective provision of IT services both within government and between government, its partners, suppliers and the citizen is a systems architecture based on industry standards.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


By interconnecting diverse government computer systems across a private intranet, it becomes possible to develop front-end systems that provide information drawn from a variety of back-end departmental systems.

 
The application of these standards for internal use is known as an intranet and the development of a cross-departmental government intranet is a useful step towards providing the types of systems and services that modern governments require. By interconnecting diverse government computer systems across a private intranet, which can be securely protected and hence suitable to carry the required levels of security classifications common in government environments, it becomes possible to develop front-end systems that provide information drawn from a variety of back-end departmental systems.

 

A secure government intranet of this kind provides a key component in the creation of an effective digital nervous system, since it provides a principal mechanism by which information can be exchanged, shared and moved between different government systems. The means by which this is achieved is through the use of Windows DNA for Government. Unlike previous attempts at providing pan-governmental data networks, the internet standards-based approach using Windows DNA for Government makes the implementation of a secure IP-based network a relatively straightforward task.

 


Many governments are working on the development of pan-governmental networks based on TCP/IP networking standards, cleared for classifications of material that make them suitable for use between government departments and agencies. The Windows DNA for Government architecture can then be applied in delivering services – such as secure messaging and intra-departmental, pan-governmental applications. The front end of the services provided across such networks typically utilise industry standard web browsers. Numerous key benefits derive from the application of Windows DNA for Government – from the sharing of information between government departments, to the fact that no changes or application-specific clients are required on the different desktop PCs in use around government where users are able to use the same web browsers that they use for other purposes.

 

The development of a secure intranet for government use can also be extended beyond communication and collaboration within government. Through the development of extranets with secure interfaces into the secure government intranet, a government becomes able to exchange information with other agencies and bodies who have a relationship with government – this could include not only partners and suppliers, but also the citizen.

 

Standards-based messaging/communications

Through the development of extranets with secure interfaces into the secure government intranet, a government becomes able to exchange information with other agencies and bodies who have a relationship with government, including the citizen.

 
Microsoft Exchange Server provides a powerful standards-based messaging/communications backbone for government. With the diversity of systems prevalent in government environments, Microsoft Exchange offers versatile connectivity and migration solutions for existing communication and collaboration systems such as Microsoftâ Mail, Lotus cc:Mail, Novell GroupWise, PROFS/OV, SNADS, Digital All-in-1, Verimation MEMO, and any SMTP-based or X.400 based system. As with all aspects of Windows DNA for Government, Exchange is built on industry standards – it has built-in support for existing communication and collaboration protocols including SMTP, MIME, X.400, X.500, and X.509, ensuring connectivity to existing systems. It works in network environments including Novell NetWare, Unix, and mainframe.

 

Microsoft Exchange is already in extensive use in governments throughout the world, ranging from straightforward SMTP messaging deployments, through to those that have developed extensive bespoke business functionality using its inherent collaboration features.

 


Security and Smartcards

In the past concerns about data privacy have been a major civil rights issue in many countries and another reason why government information systems have not been more efficiently integrated. However, in a modern pluralistic society, the principle of the citizen providing informed consent in order for governments to take a comprehensive view (where appropriate – and subject to strict authentication and audit controls) of the status and requirements of a particular individual is gaining acceptance.

 

Use of smartcard authentication and other security mechanisms can ensure that no government employee (or indeed any other individual) has inappropriate access to information about a particular private citizen.

 
As part of this mutual contract between the citizen and the state, government must ensure best practice with regard to data protection and privacy. Use of smartcard authentication and other security mechanisms can ensure that no government employee (or indeed any other individual) has inappropriate access to information about a particular private citizen. Full audit trails can be maintained with details of all access to and use of a citizen’s information held by a government. Data access can therefore be subject to independent monitoring and scrutiny by a trusted organisation or individual, such as a data protection registrar. This presents a major advance in the protection of the citizen over paper-based records, which are difficult to monitor and audit.

 

Used in conjunction with Intelligent Forms smartcards can provide a comprehensive range of powerful government facilities.

 
Smartcard technology is in increasing use around the world for a variety of purposes. In government, smartcards provide a range of essential facilities that enable a whole host of services to be provided and conducted electronically that would not have previously been possible. Through the use of smartcard technology, the important aspects such as citizen authentication, privacy and data protection can be addressed.

 

Already governments are making use of this new technology to improve the interaction between government and the citizen. By dematerialising paper-based forms and offering services via standards based systems such as the internet, government can both reduce its own overheads as well as provide improved services to the citizen. Used in conjunction with Intelligent Forms (as discussed later in this paper), smartcards can provide a comprehensive range of powerful government facilities.

 

Benefits for Government of using smartcards:

·         provides a secure and trusted means of knowing which citizen the government is dealing with (authentication);

·         enables the provision of electronic, personalised services to the citizen;

·         potential for a single identify card and system access authentication mechanism for civil servants (ensures access can be limited to appropriate individuals and that full audit trails exist of all access to information – important for data protection and the social contract to protect the privacy of the citizen).

 


Benefits to the citizen of smartcards:

·         provides a simple means of authenticating their identity to a whole range of government departments and agencies;

·         provides a means of digital signing and encryption to ensure data privacy across public networks such as the internet;

·         simplifies interaction with government – for example, by enabling a citizen to use smartcard authentication to notify a change of status (such as registration of a change of address or occupation), the citizen could provide the information just once rather than having to notify each government department separately.

 

Smartcard authentication services are already becoming available commercially from sources such as banks and supermarkets, as well as more traditional suppliers such as IT companies. There is considerable benefit to governments in letting commercial organisations act as partners in the provision of smartcards for citizens since it removes the need for government itself to become involved in the logistics and overhead of providing and administering them.


Government Scenarios – Windows DNA for Government in Action

 

Microsoft’s Windows DNA for Government framework applies the three-tier applications framework across the entire portfolio of a government’s activities:

·         knowledge management (improving the management, availability and accessibility of government information and the application of knowledge);

·         service operations (enabling the development of best practice and cost-effective operational processes within and between government departments and agencies);

·         eGovernment (exploiting the use of electronic commerce throughout government business – internal and external).

 

These three areas provide a comprehensive approach to building an effective digital nervous system. Each area can be further broken down into an underlying and comprehensive suite of application scenarios and solutions:

·         Knowledge management

-     collaboration (including application scenarios such as defence secure messaging features and extensions to Exchange, records management extensions to SQL Server from partners, case management extensions to Exchange from partners);

-     analysis (including application scenarios such as the criminal and fraud investigation tool extensions to SQL Server from Europol, and GIS and other spatial component suites from partners).

·         Service operations

-     data security (including secure logon and encryption, ITSEC certification, defence level password standards, trusted third parties);

-     legacy integration (including Microsoft and partner components and tools to access and integrate with data in existing systems and databases).

·         eGovernment

-     intelligent forms (such as through extensions to Microsoft Transaction Server);

-     citizen interfaces (such as smartphone, internet PC, web TV, Kiosk and ATM);

-     Government on-line – including personalisation, navigation, creation and publishing (through extensions to products such as Microsoftâ Site Server and Microsoftâ Office);

-     registration, voting, billing and payment (through extensions to products such as Microsoft Site Server and Microsoft Commercial Internet Server).

 

Underpinning these application scenarios are core system services such as the use of smartcards and networks based on TCP/IP and internet standards.


Knowledge Management

 

Governments are massive generators, accumulators and consumers of information. Traditionally, each area of government has developed its own silos of information, dedicated to a specific purpose. Generally each additional system installed by a department or agency is specified and tendered through a separate procurement process. This has lead to a wide diversity of systems, each specific to a given purpose. Increasingly, however, governments are interested in de-layering their internal organisation and enabling improved access to and use of the information latent within their systems. In order to capitalise upon this rich resource of information, together with information that at present resides only in the knowledge of their employees, governments need to build efficient knowledge management systems.

 

Key aspects in the construction of a knowledge management system include:

-     collaboration: many issues concern more than one government department or agency and systems are required that enable collaborative working across departments on a particular case. (Examples of this include the defence secure messaging features and extensions to Exchange, records management extensions to SQL Server from partners and case management extensions to Exchange from partners);

-     analysis: as well as collating and collaborating on information, many functions of government need to analyse and understand that information and require tools to assist with identifying and analysing the key aspects of information. (Examples of this include the criminal and fraud investigation tool extension to SQL Server from Europol and the GIS and spatial component suites from partners)

 

Collaboration

Governments need to improve the way in which they collaborate, both within departments and between departments. This is particularly true where case management spans more than one vertical or horizontal function of government – for example, where perhaps police, social services and courts are all involved. Use of industry-standard, open protocols and messaging standards provides a strong basis for building a communications and collaboration backbone for a government. Another area where there might be a wish to co-ordinate efforts across government is in the formulation of new government policy, where contributions are required from various functions with an interest in the potential legislation.

 

Use of industry-standard, open protocols and messaging standards provides a strong basis for building a communications and collaboration backbone for a government.

 

One example of a collaboration tool already in widespread use is Microsoft Exchange. This provides a powerful communication, collaboration and messaging backbone that is already used extensively in both commercial and government circles. Its high reliability, high availability and standards-based adaptability make it an ideal choice for building a powerful infrastructure backbone for government communications, collaboration and workflow.

 


The Defence Message System (DMS) version of Microsoft Exchange adds specific features to the commercial Exchange technology to comply with the DMS specification by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

 

A government could easily use a collaboration system built on Microsoft Exchange to co-ordinate government officials’ engagements across the whole range of government departments and to co-ordinate activities, such as a government’s media-handling strategies and the formulation of new policy.

 
A government, for example, could easily use a collaboration system built on Microsoft Exchange to co-ordinate government officials’ engagements across the whole range of government departments and to co-ordinate activities, such as a government’s media-handling strategies and the formulation of new policy. A collaborative system like this could work both with the powerful Microsoftâ Outlookä client, as well as delivering information into industry-standard web browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. Any authorised government official would therefore be able to access the system across a government’s private intranet and view and produce reports using industry-standard web software – without the need for any proprietary application software to be installed on their PC. This illustrates the powerful nature of the Windows DNA for Government architecture in delivering information from backend systems into a standard user interface. Such systems are already in use and making a considerable impact.

 

Microsoft Exchange In Defence

Defence systems have specific requirements beyond those normally provided with messaging and collaboration systems. Because Microsoft’s products are standards-based, they are easily adapted to meet the specific needs of a demanding environment such as defence. The Defence Message System (DMS) version of Microsoft Exchange for example adds specific features to the commercial Exchange technology to comply with the DMS specification by the US Department of Defense (DoD). The Microsoft Exchange DMS technology is ideally suited for government agencies required to use DMS compliant products and companies doing business with the US Government especially in the defence area.

 


Microsoft Exchange is further enhanced by the following special feature extensions in its DMS version:

·         MAPI address book provider with X.500 DAP support. This capability allows users to resolve addresses against an X.500 directory and query an X.500 directory for details of a mail recipient object. This allows users to navigate an X.500 directory regardless of its schema and provides rich query capabilities for users to find objects they are interested in. In addition, such searches can be done directly from within the message compose window.

·         Support for MISSI/Fortezza hardware encryption for electronically signing and/or encrypting messages through the Fortezza driver & MSP (Message Security Protocol or P42). Support for the P42 protocol gives Microsoft Exchange Server DMS users the benefit of adding hardware based (e.g,. Fortezza cards) end-to-end security including signed receipts, non-repudiation, privacy, and content integrity to their communications

·         Support for the "Military Message Content protocol standard (P772)" that assures interoperability with the existing DoD mail system - Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN).

 

The Microsoft Exchange DMS server is essentially the same as the commercial Microsoft Exchange Server (also referred to as COTS – Commercial Off-The-Shelf Exchange). Both share a robust foundation in the X.400 MTA, which is fully compliant with 1984 and 1988 P1 standards. In fact, the commercial version of Microsoft Exchange was the first commercial product from a DMS vendor to be placed on the JITC list of products compliant with the GOSIP ver 2 MHS-88 P1 requirements.

 

The diagram below shows in simple overview how the specific components of the Defence solution relate to the Windows DNA three-tier architecture.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Analysis

In order to provide efficient operations and services, governments need to have tools that enable them to interpret and understand the vast quantities of information that reside on their various systems. Without good abstraction and analysis tools, information overload becomes a common problem. It is imperative for governments to be able to analyse, model and understand the information they hold in order both to contain costs and conduct their operations and services efficiently.

 

As part of the solution to the issue of analysis, Microsoft’s Windows DNA for Government provides data-mining capabilities. This capacity is key not only in areas such as police intelligence and fraud searches, but also across the wider range of government needs including socio-demographic analysis, pattern analysis and so on. The embedding of online analytical processing (OLAP) features, data-mining and the creation of data warehouses and data marts (and the analysis and understanding of data that arises from their application) provides a key facility for governments to exploit. Microsoft’s OLAP Services include a middle-tier service that enables users to perform sophisticated analyses on large volumes of data with exceptional retrieval performance times. Data sources can include any OLE DB provider, such as SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 as well as other relational databases and flat files.

 

Microsoft, with the help of many third parties, has defined extensions to its OLE DB data access interface, called OLE DB for OLAP, that enable OLAP components from various vendors to interoperate.

 
Microsoft, with the help of many third parties, has defined extensions to its OLE DB data access interface, called OLE DB for OLAP, that enable OLAP components from various vendors to interoperate. This standard interface provides several benefits in helping to deliver the Windows DNA for Government architecture:

·         It allows third parties to augment the set of capabilities included in Microsoft’s OLAP offering. For example, third parties can deliver industry-specific OLAP front-end analysis tools that governments can use instead of the general-purpose front-end tools Microsoft offers.

·         A standard interface allows Microsoft’s OLAP components to interface with existing database systems and data warehouses already in use within government.

·         The existence of standard interfaces creates a more competitive market for components and services, which in turn drives down prices providing improved value for money.

 

Three sets of interfaces play a role in Microsoft’s OLAP strategy: OLE DB, ADO MD, and metadata sharing methods. By far the most prominent is OLE DB.

 


OLE DB

OLE DB defines a set of COM-based interfaces that C/C++ developers can use to access any type of government data store – including email, ISAM files, spreadsheets, documents, and relational databases.

 
In mid 1998, Microsoft augmented its OLE DB API to include OLAP-specific extensions called OLE DB for OLAP. OLE DB defines a set of COM-based interfaces that C/C++ developers can use to access any type of government data store – including email, ISAM files, spreadsheets, documents, and relational databases. The OLE DB for OLAP extensions add the ability for clients to query and update data stored in OLAP systems as "cubes" by using a set of multidimensional extensions to the SQL language known as Multidimensional Expressions (MDX). In Microsoft’s OLAP architecture, OLE DB is used as the interface between each of the components, making it possible to mix and match components from various vendors.

 

Data transfer utilities use the core OLE DB interface to extract raw data from databases and then place "cleansed" data into a data warehouse. OLAP front-end applications and OLAP services can use the OLE DB for OLAP extensions to submit queries and return results based on cube views of underlying historical government data.

 

ADO MD

OLE DB is a low-level COM interface designed primarily for sophisticated commercial C++ developers. A few years ago, Microsoft created a simpler data access interface called ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) for use by application developers. Implemented as a layer on top of OLE DB, ADO simplifies what would otherwise be a complex and lengthy programming task if OLE DB were used directly.

 

In conjunction with the release of OLE DB for OLAP extensions, Microsoft expanded its ADO data access interface to include operations for querying and updating cubes. These extensions, known as ADO MD (MD stands for multidimensional), are targeted at developers writing OLAP front ends using Visual Basic or scripts.

 

Metadata Sharing Methods

To interface with one another, the various components within an OLAP system – regardless of manufacturer – need to share information about themselves called "metadata." For instance, a government procurement database needs to share information about its database structure ("schema") – which may change over time – so that data transfer/cleansing tools can, among other things, standardise column naming conventions. Similarly, administrative tools used to define and modify cubes need access to both the data warehouse schema and existing OLAP service cube definitions.

 


Microsoft supports two methods for sharing metadata: the Repository API and an XML-based metadata interchange format.

Microsoft supports two methods for sharing metadata: the Repository API and an XML-based metadata interchange format.

 
 


The Repository API is an interface, created with the assistance of various third-party vendors, for accessing a repository, a centralised database storing metadata on behalf of multiple services, applications, and tools. The components within Microsoft’s OLAP offering – including the SQL Server 7.0 DBMS and SQL Server 7.0 OLAP Services – have the ability to use the Repository API to store and retrieve meta data in a central repository.

 

Microsoft also provides the Microsoft Repository, which is composed of two major components: a set of object-oriented ActiveX interfaces that a developer can use to define information models, and a repository engine that is the underlying storage mechanism for these information models (information model is repository terminology for database schema.) The repository engine sits on top of either Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoftâ Jet (the database system in Microsoft Access) and supports both navigational access via the object-oriented interfaces and direct SQL access to the underlying store. In addition, the repository includes a set of information models that cover the data sharing needs of software tools.

 

The two main technical goals of Microsoft Repository are:

·         COM/ActiveX Compatibility: fits naturally into Microsoft’s existing object architecture, consisting of COM and Automation (now subsumed under ActiveX). Thus, the repository should use existing ActiveX interfaces and implementation technology wherever possible and hence minimise the number of new concepts that the large community of ActiveX users needs to learn.

·         Extensibility: it is important that customers and third-party vendors be able to tailor the repository to their needs, both by providing methods on objects stored by the repository engine and by extending persistent state. The latter is done declaratively, with no code.

 

The second metadata sharing mechanism Microsoft supports is under development by the "Meta Data Coalition", an industry group of which Microsoft is a member. These vendors are working on an XML-based (text) format that will allow OLAP services, applications, and tools to exchange metadata directly.

 


Service Operations

 

The potential for major enhancements in the way in which government conducts its internal business is both possible and desirable – on economic and efficiency grounds. Key to achieving improvements in the operation of government within and between departments, agencies and partners, is ensuring that the core components of data security and legacy integration underpin the improvements in process. Security is a concern to ensure that the rights to privacy of the citizen are not compromised by the move to more integrated government services. And integration with legacy systems is critical to ensuring that improvements can be made without the high expense of ‘rip and replace’ methods of modernisation.

 

The application of internet-based standards both within government, between government and its partners, and between government and the citizen is an effective way to build an infrastructure on which improved services and processes can be developed.

 

Key to enabling effective service operations are aspects of:

·         data security (encompassing features such as secure logon and encryption, ITSEC certification, defence level password standards, trusted third parties, audit trails);

·         legacy integration (such as Microsoft and partner components and tools to access and integrate with data in existing systems and databases);

·         government business: ranging from the registration of voters and electronic voting through to the electronic-based billing and payment systems (such as extensions to Microsoft Site Server) – effectively bringing the benefits of e-commerce to a government’s own service operations.

 

Data Security

Ensuring the integrity and security of data is of fundamental importance to governments. As well as issues of data protection and privacy, there are also legal considerations around the integrity and currency of information contained on government systems.

 

Transitioning to an environment based on industry standard technologies facilitates improvements in security. When information is held on computer systems, rather than paper-based records, full security measures can be implemented that ensure only those with appropriate authority gain access to data. In addition, fully detailed audit logs can be maintained of every access to that data – whether merely to read the data or to make updates and modifications.

 


Microsoft embeds security into the core of its technologies and is widely recognised as providing accredited, secure systems. Microsoft also provides regional and national support for specific security requirements – for example, in the UK Microsoft has provided NT Security Enhancements which adds an additional wrapper of UK-specific security features (including password generation algorithms) required in the UK secure government systems market space. Similarly, as mentioned, there is a version of Microsoft Exchange available that meets the US Department of Defense’s security requirements.

Microsoft embeds security into the core of its technologies and is widely recognised as providing accredited, secure systems. It also provides regional and national support for specific security requirements.

 

In addition to Microsoft SNA Server and SQL Server gateway options for providing access to legacy data and systems, Microsoft’s COM Transaction Integrator (COMTI) will provide automated object-based encapsulation of legacy applications and data through COM components.

 
 


Microsoft is a key player in driving forwards security standards in the various international bodies. Its products support a range of standards-based security protocols, including SSL, S/MIME and x509.3 certificates. It has a range of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) approaches and Windows DNA for Government can be used to design secure systems that comply with open standards (including Kerberos) to enable interoperable effective security standards to be established and maintained between systems.

 

Integrating with legacy systems

A key aspect of Microsoft’s Windows DNA for Government solution is its ability to integrate with existing government systems. This provides a framework to develop application systems that span government IT systems: it enables the re-engineering of service operations without discarding existing systems investments. In addition to Microsoft SNA Server and SQL Server gateway options for providing access to legacy data and systems, Microsoft’s COM Transaction Integrator (COMTI) will provide automated object-based encapsulation of legacy applications and data through COM components. COMTI will allow existing mainframe application systems to be easily projected over the web through integration with Internet Information Server. In addition, Microsoft Transaction Server will integrate with COMTI to support distributed transactions between the network and mainframe environment.

 

As an example of how Windows DNA can use these various components in the development of a digital nervous system in government, consider the use of smartcards for use by government officials. The use of smartcards within government can ensure that officials are indeed who they say they are and that they have the appropriate permissions to access the data they are attempting to view. The unique smartcard identification of the government official in this situation can also be used to make an automated entry into an audit record, to ensure that data protection and the civil rights of the citizen are being duly observed. The entries made in such a security audit file could then be independently audited and monitored.

 


The diagram below shows how the use of smartcard access to government systems maps onto the three-tier model of Windows DNA. This illustration assumes a PC with a smartcard reader and web browser software is accessing a system that performs appropriate security validation (for example, checking the classification of the information that the official wants to access and validating this against their clearance and authorisation levels). Subject to this access validation being successful, the official is then provided with access to the appropriate backend systems (in this case, SQL Server and Oracle) containing the information they wish to use.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Electoral Administration

Considerable government resource is generally dedicated to the administration and maintenance of voter registration and voting itself. The application of Windows DNA for Government can move these electoral administrative processes into transactions that automate a large part of the process – making it more efficient as well as freeing-up resources currently burdened with administrative and bureaucratic processes into value-added services.

 

The maintenance of electoral registers and the processes surrounding elections are highly resource intensive. Whereas commercial sector organisations have increasingly moved to efficient ways of tackling such issues – through, for example, touch-tone telephone or internet access in order for customers to update account and personal details – governments generally have continued with old-fashioned internal and manual ways of operating these systems. The use of electronic registration and voting systems can provide an efficient means of removing the need for a large scale manual intervention.

 


The use of authentication and privacy mechanisms such as those offered by smartcards are a key way in which the citizen can be guaranteed that moving to these new systems is no more threatening to civil liberties than current systems. Indeed, security and privacy in an electronic system can provide considerable citizen rights’ protection through the use of mandatory audit trails (perhaps enforced through legislation) – something not possible with paper-based records. The application of well-designed security provisions using the tools of Windows DNA for Government can enable governments to ensure best practice in auditable data protection.

The use of extranet style facilities between a government’s internal network (an intranet) can enable close collaboration with partners and suppliers in a trusted and secure fashion.

 
 


Billing and payment

The application of improved approaches to the procurement process (obtaining quotes, placing orders, payment of bills, etc) has the potential to deliver significant benefit to a government. Moving to electronic-based tendering, ordering and payment systems can free resources from previously manual tasks and enable it to be redirected into more essential government services. A large amount of time, paperwork and human resource is currently expended by the procurement process in the public sector: using electronic-based processes can reduce these costs and timelines and provide better service.

 

Security and privacy in an electronic system can provide considerable citizen rights’ protection.

 
The use of extranet style facilities between a government’s internal network (an intranet) can enable close collaboration with partners and suppliers in a trusted and secure fashion. Selection from catalogues, ordering and payment can all be conducted in a secure electronic on-line environment using the technologies of the internet – both within government and between government and its partners. Authorisations for such transactions can also be electronic rather than the paper-based system of authorisations that is generally the rule in government. The use of smartcards could facilitate the automatic authorisation of ordering and payment authority: for instance, a civil servant’s smartcard could identify the level of purchasing and sign-off authority that he has, as well as automatically auditing all transactions. Where his purchasing authority is exceeded by a transaction, it could automatically be routed to a line manager who could use their smartcard in turn to authorise (or decline) the transaction.

 

Private sector organisations have seen enormous savings through the implementation of electronic commerce solutions – Microsoft itself reduced the cost of processing a purchase order from an average of $60 to an average of just $5 through the implementation of a web-based on-line ordering system. Given the volume of government expenditure in most economies, this demonstrates the scale of potential savings that could be made by the application of a streamlined purchasing process based on the Windows DNA architecture.


eGovernment

 

eGovernment is Microsoft’s programme for enabling all aspects of on-line government – embracing direct connectivity with the citizen and with partners and suppliers. eGovernment includes initiatives in areas such as:

·         intelligent forms (IForms): the use of on-line electronic forms to replace existing paper-based forms (based around internet standards and extensions to Microsoft Transaction Server);

·         citizen interfaces & delivery channels: the use of new delivery devices such as smartphones, internet PCs, web TV, Kiosks and ATM)

·         Government on-line: provision of targeted and personalised government information services including a range of components such as personalisation, navigation, creation and publishing (based on extensions to Microsoft Site Server and Microsoft Office).

 

The internet's low cost means that governments will be able to take advantage of value-chain integration in the same way as the private sector.

 
The internet can increase the speed and accuracy of communications between government and its suppliers. Moreover, the internet's low cost means that governments will be able to take advantage of value-chain integration in the same way as the private sector. The goal of the Microsoft value chain initiative is to unite software, hardware, and supply-chain companies to deliver an integrated architecture that will support dynamic-data sharing among diverse software applications and among suppliers worldwide. This will help governments utilise their supply chains more efficiently and less expensively by making it easier to exchange documents, regardless of the format or communications method, and to integrate these communications with operational systems

 

A range of government services can be underpinned by a system service such as smartcards. The use of digital smartcard technologies enables the use of digital signatures, encryption and authentication – essential components in establishing trusted electronic forms of communication. Microsoft’s eGovernment framework addresses issues concerning:

·         authentication - assurance that the government is dealing with the appropriate citizen and assurance for the citizen that he is indeed dealing with the appropriate government agency or department;

·         data protection - assurance that the government is not making inappropriate, ‘big brother’ use of collated information

·         privacy - assurance that all electronic interaction between the citizen and the government is conducted in a secure and guaranteed fashion.

 


Intelligent Forms (IForms)

At present, most of a government’s interactions with the citizen are based on paper forms – ranging from items such as motor vehicle registrations through to tax returns and claims for unemployment benefit. These forms are often complex for a citizen to complete, since they are designed to accommodate a wide and variable range of personal circumstances, and time-consuming and cumbersome for government to process and act upon. Many official paper forms are sent backwards and forwards between a government department and a citizen – frequently because of ambiguities or missing components on the form. Considerable time and expense on the part of the government is involved in the keying and re-keying of data supplied on paper forms. And frequently mistakes and errors are introduced into government data through the difficulty of reading and interpreting hand-completed forms.

 

Instead of being faced with a multi-paged form that may only have two or three sections that are directly relevant to the particular citizen completing the form, an on-line intelligent form will display only those items relevant to a citizen.

 
The use of internet-based intelligent electronic forms provides a simple and effective means of replacing paper-based interactions between the citizen and a government. A key benefit to the citizen is that instead of being faced with a multi-paged form that may only have two or three sections that are directly relevant to the particular citizen completing the form, an on-line intelligent form will display only those items relevant to a citizen. For example, when completing a tax return if a citizen does not have an accountant then a section requesting details of an accountant will not be displayed to the citizen. The form is therefore simpler and quicker to complete.

 

Iforms can ensure validation of information as the citizen enters the information, they do not require the time and expense of manual re-keying, and the form only has to be entered and submitted once - it will automatically be sent to the relevant departments.

 
The benefit to the government of receiving data submitted via intelligent forms is also significant. Firstly, the form can ensure validation of information as the citizen enters the information. This removes the need for manual validation by a government employee. Secondly, since the data is submitted in electronic format it does not require the time and expense of manual re-keying (and hence also avoids the potential for errors to be unwittingly introduced into the data). Information submitted by the citizen in electronic format using intelligent forms can also be directly interfaced through the use of Windows DNA for Government into a government’s backend operational systems. Where information contained in an intelligent form is destined for more than one government department, the citizen has the benefit of entering and submitting the information once on a single form. Using Windows DNA for Government, the data destined for more than one government department or agency can then be automatically posted electronically into the appropriate backend systems.

 


As an example of this application of Windows DNA for Government, consider the potential for three key central government departments to co-operate in an innovative project to deliver a unified system for citizens who wish to register as self-employed. In the UK the government departments of Inland Revenue, Social Security and Customs and Excise have used Windows DNA for Government to implement a system of intelligent forms delivered across the internet into Internet Explorer. The system uses smartcards issued by two of the UK high street banks – Barclays and National Westminster – to authenticate the identity of the citizen. The citizen is able to complete an on-line intelligent form on the internet using the Internet Explorer web browser and then submit that form securely to the government across the internet using smartcard technology to ensure data privacy and citizen authentication.

 

Citizen Interfaces and Delivery Channels

Interaction between a citizen and the government has generally been directly with a particular government department or agency and generally to deal with a specific life episode – such as the registration of a birth, or the claiming of unemployment benefits. The citizen’s experience is generally one of a wide range of interactions with government agencies at both the local and national level. Each life episode interaction tends to be with a different department or function and each involves the provision and exchange of information that has often already been provided to another department. This is time-consuming and frustrating for the citizen.

 

Governments need to provide a more integrated and seamless approach in the provision of their services and the interaction with their citizens. Replicating management structures, bureaucracy and information systems for each function of each government agency and department is both expensive and inefficient. Citizens are increasingly accustomed to far higher quality of services in the private sector, such as 24-hour access to services such as banking, and day-to-day interaction with shops and suppliers with integrated information and sales systems.

 

The use of Windows DNA for Government in tandem with imaginative approaches to the provision of government services opens up the delivery channels available to government in the provision of its services and the interaction with its citizens. As well as the obvious medium of the internet, many other opportunities exist – which can help ensure that those citizens who are not yet part of the internet home-user and work-user community are not disadvantaged. Key outlets for government-citizen interaction can include traditional outlets such as post offices, as well as more innovative ones such as high street supermarkets and even set-top TV boxes. One-stop shops established by local government, perhaps in partnership with private sector initiatives such as ‘cyber cafes’ or community groups, can also provide a powerful means of citizen enfranchisement, as well as call-centres similar to those operated by many private sector organisations.

 


In order to avoid the potential problems of information-age “haves” and “have-nots”, Windows DNA for Government enables a wide range of delivery services to be used to ensure maximum reach and accessibility for all citizens. It is important that delivery channels are not focused solely on domestic or workplace internet users, but span the whole range of interfaces and delivery channels available – such as smartphones, internet PCs, web TV, Kiosks, ATMs and call-centres. By enabling the use of this diversity of citizen interfaces, Windows DNA for Government enables governments to deliver their services through a wide range of channels – Post Offices, set top boxes, supermarkets and so on. This ensures maximum reach.

Through the use of technologies such as Microsoft Site Server Personalisation Services, user interfaces can be constructed that allow citizens to tailor an application to reflect their particular needs and interests.

 
 


Government On-Line: personalisation, navigation, creation and publishing

Using technologies such as NetMeeting, the citizen can connect across the internet to their own tax office directly from a government on-line tax application in order to talk to an appropriate tax official.

 
Windows DNA for Government enables governments to personalise and accurately target their services and the delivery of their services. Through the use of technologies such as Microsoft Site Server Personalisation Services, user interfaces can be constructed that allow citizens to tailor an application to reflect their particular needs and interests. By using advanced technologies such as the Microsoftâ NetMeetingä conferencing software, which allows videoconferencing over the internet and intranets, governments can offer an even richer service to their citizens. For example, if a citizen wants to discuss details of their tax affairs, they will often find that their own tax office is located at a remote location, far from the actual taxpayer. Using technologies such as NetMeeting, the citizen can connect across the internet to their own tax office directly from a government on-line tax application in order to talk to an appropriate tax official.

 

In order to avoid the potential problems of information-age “haves” and “have-nots”, Windows DNA for Government enables a wide range of delivery services to be used to ensure maximum reach and accessibility for all citizens.

 
By using the same internet-based technologies to build the user interfaces for a citizen’s home access and self-service devices, governments can serve the citizen using the same familiar user interface both at home and at an approved outlet such as a post office or supermarket. Not only will the citizen be presented with a familiar user interface, but because services such as Personalisation and NetMeeting are available, the self-service application can be tailored to reflect the citizen’s requirements and can offer interactive advice. Such technologies allow governments to provide a wider range of tailored services while reducing the citizen’s need to visit specific government offices. It increases the citizen’s perception of the governments’ responsiveness and flexibility and therefore increases citizen satisfaction, while lowering costs by providing these services across the most cost-effective delivery channels.

 


A major project to deliver government services on-line is underway in Europe and demonstrates the power and effectiveness of local governments delivering their services electronically. The Integrated Multimedia Applications Generating Innovative Networks project (known as IMAGINE) aims to integrate telematics applications and services in municipal communities. The services, currently being provided in four pilot communities spread across France, Italy and Germany, are focused on the interests of local citizens and local economic entities, helping to create wealth, promote social integration and local democracy. The project shows how such services can contribute to rural and urban planning and developments, renovation of public services, creation of new economic activities and job opportunities. The project is based on the concept of urban intranets, built on open platforms adhering to standard interfaces.

 

The solutions are based on Microsoft BackOffice and the Microsoftâ Commercial Internet System (MCIS), on which specific applications (which already exist or will be adapated/ported to the MCIS platform by specialised software houses) will be packaged in order to deliver the IMAGINE platform. Applications include virtual town halls, local electronic marketplaces, employment services, tele-learning and tele-health services. To optimise access to services, PCs, kiosks, NetPCs and potentially set-top boxes and smartphones will be used for delivery.

A major project to deliver government services on-line is underway in Europe - the Integrated Multimedia Applications Generating Innovative Networks project (IMAGINE), aims to integrate telematics applications and services in municipal communities.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The illustration below shows how the Windows DNA architecture scales well to meet even the demanding requirements of on-line digital communities and cities. In this case, web-based access via delivery channels such as kiosks and citizens’ home access interacts with a range of information services (built on Microsoft Windows NT Server and Microsoft’s Commercial Internet System) and accesses a range of backend data (for example, the on-line analytical processing facilities of SQL Server).

 


Summary

 

By building to the Windows DNA for Government architecture, governments can respond more quickly and cost-effectively to develop delivery channel applications that integrate the new technologies with their existing systems to provide improved citizen service at lower cost.

 
Governments have a vision for their future: delivering a flexible, cost-effective and responsive service to the citizen – any service, any time, anywhere. In addition, governments need to streamline their internal processes and to implement systems suitable for the information age. Windows DNA for Government is the first cost-effective solution for governments that want to integrate internal and external delivery channels in both a networked and internet-networked world. Windows DNA for Government provides a consistent programming model, consistent development environment, consistent distributed services, and consistent application model to the desktop and the server. The core of these features is the Windows family of products and the distributed services built into them. Windows DNA for Government maximises the value of a government’s existing investment in systems and integrates it with PC and internet-enabled features to provide modern, efficient and citizen-centric services that capitalise upon the latest and most modern technologies in both its service operations and the delivery of those services.

 

This vision needs to be supported by flexible, citizen-focused IT systems that support multiple delivery channels. For the IT-literate citizen, on-line government services can be directly accessed and delivered into the home and the workplace. For those citizens who do not have direct access, delivery channels such as Post Offices, supermarkets, high street banks and one-stop shops established by local, regional and national governments provide an effective and efficient means of providing the same services. A government’s IT systems need to take advantage of the power of new technologies without requiring the costly replacement of existing processing systems, and they must cost less time and effort to build than in the past. By building to the Windows DNA for Government architecture, governments can respond more quickly and cost-effectively to develop delivery channel applications that integrate the new technologies with their existing systems to provide improved citizen service at lower cost.


Further Resources and Information

 

For more information on Windows DNA for Government, visit the Microsoft in government web site:  www.microsoft.com/europe/industry/government. The site includes case studies and information about the worldwide alliance of Microsoft partners who are actively delivering Windows DNA for Government.

 

For a more general overview, please see the companion white paper, Digital Nervous System for Government, available at the above web site.

 

Ó 1999 Microsoft. All rights reserved.


Microsoft, Win32, the Windows logo, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. AS/400 and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. Novell and UNIX are registered trademarks of Novell, Inc. in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company, Ltd. All other trademarks are held by their respective companies.


The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Ltd. on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.

 

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