Some advice from Ian Dunmore over at Public Sector Forums regarding the article I produced looking at UK G2G systems and there possible evolution.
He’s noted that there is some confusion about what I’m saying with these articles, with readers commenting that I’m suggesting that it is a way forward for the co-ordination of UK G2G systems.
Unfortunately I feel that would be too progressive, and that actually we need some mature discussion about the G2G systems in the UK, which are carrying a variety of data (including ‘Citizen’ data), before we start looking at what we should do about the co-ordination of these systems.
The message that I’m trying to get over is that:
- There are common usages of identity across the UK Government (“Identity Ontologies”).
- Around these common usages of identity G2G systems have ‘sprung up’.
- Given the projects known to be delivering in the near future, what will this ‘eco-system’ of UK G2G systems look like in the short term.
- Given what is known we can postulate a little further out to what the ‘eco-system’ of UK G2G systems might look like in the mid-term.
- The G2G systems in the UK are at different levels of maturity.
- The G2G systems in the UK have differing (technical) architectural topologies.
- Given the near future state of these G2G systems can we predict how they might evolve ?
- It’s likely that it will go in one of two ‘architectural’ directions:
- Either ‘point to point’ – with lots of ‘single’ connections between the major G2G systems, and there end-points – I call this the “Mesh” model.
- Or into a UK wide G2G messaging ‘back-bone’, into which the other major G2G systems will communicate – I call this the “Hub” model.
- However it’s also been postulated that the “Hub” model will be the direction that is taken – but that one of the existing UK G2G systems will take the place of the central G2G system that would be required for cross UK G2G communication.
- I’m not advocating any of the models listed above over any of the others – but I am trying to raise the visibility of the topic. Some of the questions and issues at large include:
- Shouldn’t someone be worrying about this for us – and planning it out in a sensible manner ?”
- Aren’t there security (primarily of information) issues ? What about the ‘Data Protection Act’ (DPA) ?
- Given the amount of ‘Functional Overlap’, i.e. systems performing the same (or very similar) function to it’s neighbour, shouldn’t we be looking at combining some of this together ? Otherwise won’t we end up building almost identical systems repeatedly ?
- Shouldn’t we try and achieve savings by combining physical infrastructure and hosting ?
- How does ‘Shared Services’ play into this ? How can this be done and achieve the ‘t-Gov’ agenda ?
- Is this ‘Citizen Centric’, and will it deliver to the majority of the population ? Should it be, given a number of the common usage of identity are not ‘Citizen Centric’ ?
- Increasingly isn’t this becoming a piece of ‘Critical National Infrastructure’ ? And thus needs a more appropriate focus from Government ?
- Some of these G2G systems are starting to move away from there original designs, what implications do these changes have, and have they been planned for appropriately ?
- These G2G systems are starting to be connected together – what issues does that bring to areas like the DPA ? And what other implications does this have in terms of these systems themselves ? Will these systems be flexible and agile enough to allow these new data communications (without costly re-engineering) ?
- Who should be looking into this, and managing it on behalf of the UK ? The Cabinet Office ? The Prime Ministers Delivery Unit (PMDU) ? The UK CIO, the CIO Council and the CTO Council ? The Security Services ? Or another body ?
I’m almost certain that other questions and issues will come to light, that’s one of the major reasons I’m working with the Public Sector Forums team to try and gather as much opinion as possible.
Once this is done I’m hoping we will be looking at building up some joint recommendations.
Given my background and role it would be extremely easy to start off with “well you could (or should) do it like this” – however, firstly, that’s not my style, and, secondly, my experience in the implementation of large scale IT systems has taught me to gather opinion up front – to be inclusive – and that’s the first step to delivering good technology solutions which meet there user’s requirements.
More soon – hopefully when we’re ready to start looking at some early recommendations…