Work on Nat’l Broadband Project steams ahead

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Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes

— data centre building to be completed in one month’s time

WORK on the multimillion-dollar National Broadband Project is steaming ahead and according to Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, the building housing the data centre should be completed in about one month’s time.

This project, which has received a US$37.6 million loan from the Chinese government, aims to develop the established E-government network by improving the delivery of services to citizens in the areas of health, education, security and business and government administration.

“Imagine that if we are putting more and more emphasis on online services– businesses [and] ministries using online services– then we have to make sure that we store the data in a reliable format that nobody can hack in, and so we have a data centre that’s being built,” the minister told Guyana Chronicle in a recent interview.

This data centre is currently being built behind the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) at Liliendaal, and the minister highlighted that the building should be completed in a month’s time.

But the project also requires the creation of a command centre, which will be the central unit of controlling e-Governance.

“Once we complete [the] data centre, we will have to start building the command centre,” Hughes indicated while explaining that the government is currently seeking funding to build this centre.

Some of the features the command centre will have include a video wall that will first monitor “hotspots” in the city, before extending this to other parts of the country; facilities for the police, hospitals and fire service to interface with citizens, particularly in emergency situations and the integration of the Ministry of Education’s “Smart” Classrooms, and the Ministry of Public Health’s telemedicine programmes.

“To do all of this you have to put more fibre so that you can have that uninterrupted secure internet that’s going to be there,” she said, as she explained that the government has to work to ensure that the infrastructure for this centre is sturdy and secure.

Though this command centre will be separate from the data centre, the two buildings will be in close proximity, according to the minister.

But currently, as the government is still seeking funds, the minister explained that within this data centre there will be a space for the command centre.

“If we have to start with a little smaller version we [will] start with that, and then when this building (command centre) is finished we go to the full scale,” she explained.

“We’re excited because these are the kinds of things that we are doing that we think can begin to transform Guyana,” she said.

As part of this project also, personnel have to be trained to man the centre. And the minister highlighted that recently, the government approved the expenditure to send one person from 12 different ministries, including the Parliament, to China and Estonia for two weeks so they can see how it works and they can be trained and then return to Guyana to support the programme’s implementation.