The cloud as a driver of innovation for e-government

12 November 2014

As a European provider of advanced cloud solutions, Fabasoft – in particular, for the IT needs of the public sector – made a name for itself years ago, and the success of its “eGov-Suite” has made it a market leader in the German-speaking countries today. Fabasoft was invited to speak on this subject at 13th edition of the International Congress “ITAPA” (IT AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION) in Bratislava. This blog post summarizes Fabasoft’s assessments for “Cloud use in e-Government.”

IT-driven structural transformation of the public sector

Social changes and budgetary constraints pose major challenges for public institutions today. Administrative reform that aims at improving internal processes and providing citizens with an up-to-date range of services requires the use of efficient and modern ICT. At the same time, honoring the principles of collaboration, transparency, and the broadest-possible involvement in creating “public values” requires “open government.” Even over the mid-term, the entire e-Government sector could appear with completely different structures: decentralization, multi-actor architectures, private-public partnerships, crowdsourcing, and innovation and industry driven by citizens are the buzzwords of this paradigm shift.

The public sector as an economic driver

The public sector is a dominant factor in any economy. In the EU, it accounts for 50 percent of GDP, and it provides 17 percent of total jobs. For its future economic progress and capacity to innovate, cloud computing and open data are the long-sought technological and organizational drivers that need to be used to reduce costs and become useful gains. Potential savings of 20 percent lie dormant in the 23 largest economies of the EU, and open data, i.e. the targeted reuse of data, could supply 40 billion euros of additional economic power.

Cloud strategy puts Europe on track for the future in ICT

The European Union has recognized this unique opportunity and has adopted an ambitious cloud strategy in 2012 whose intention is to make the most of this economic treasure. Clearly priced, on-demand access to unlimited computing power and every modern IT service based on actual need – anytime, anywhere and on any device – via the Internet represents the dawning of a fundamentally new era for ICT. IDC has estimated that the cloud business could contribute approximately 940 million euros to the EU’s domestic product from 2015 to 2020 and would generate some 3.4 million new jobs and 370,000 new companies – a real growth spurt.

Three main lines of attack

The European cloud strategy has three main lines of attack: unifying differing technical standards, including of cloud providers, and representing the interests and claims of cloud users in formulating model conditions for “service level agreements,” “certification schemes,” a binding “code of conduct” for cloud computing providers, and the establishment of a “European Cloud Partnership” (ECP) for a better linking of industry and the public sector. The ECP’s intention with “Cloud4Europe” is to use the financial instrument of “pre-commercial procurement” to boost cloud coverage in the public administration and to delegate a role to the sector that corresponds to its pioneering position.

National g-clouds – a heterogeneous landscape

According to a survey by ENISA, Europe is a long way from having a consolidated domestic sphere with regard to implementing national cloud strategies for e-government. While the UK and France have long since marched ahead in the g-cloud arena with officially agreed state strategies, otherwise highly developed countries are either just now hammering out binding strategies or are still determining the implementation process. The host country of the ITAPA Congress, Slovakia, has already developed a strategic framework for the g-cloud and is in the introductory phase of the DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) project. The plan is for this to result in a cloud basis for providing 138 different e-services for diverse life events that is available in all of Slovakia’s 2,900 communities.

Austria’s status with regard to e-government

Austria has very successfully implemented g-cloud projects; on the strategic end, however, the only position paper that exists is that of the Working Group on Cloud/Federal Government, Countries, Cities, and Municipalities. Both the “Electronic Data Management Environment” of the Federal Environmental Agency, with its 22 applications, and “portal.at,” based on the 400 applications offered by “e-gov Federal Computing Centre (BRZ) Services,” have won the prestigious EuroCloud award.

Sensitive public data needs high-level protection

If sensitive citizen data is migrated to the cloud, then all the IT facilities of the cloud provider become a critical infrastructure that requires special safety precautions and the utmost protection against unauthorized access to data. Cloud providers and customers in the public administration sphere should therefore work together to comprehensively assess risks in a manner that considers every possible threat scenario before undertaking such an endeavor.

Fabasoft already playing in the champion’s league

With comprehensive security - our genetic code - and our exemplary implementations of authentication via premium business registration processes and digital identities, Fabasoft has already met the two main challenges for a flourishing European cloud market.