The Re-engineering Government (Re-Gov) Programme of ICTA has initiated a number of eServices and enabling projects to increase the efficiency of the citizen service and information delivery mechanism of the government. It is common knowledge that obtaining the correct and relevant information which is related to the citizen services provided by various government organizations is a difficult and unpleasant task. In order to address this situation, the Re-Gov Programme initiated the Government Information Centre (GIC) Project to provide such information in all 3 languages through a call centre.
In order to provide the same information given through the call centre over the web, a parallel project was initiated to design the GIC website
The call centre which is operational on 14 hours x 7 days basis is highly utilized. On average it receives over 2,500 calls daily.
However, it became obvious that if the same information can be provided over the web, such information can be accessed by citizen 24 hours x 7 without any limitations. This idea gave the birth to GIC website www.gic.gov.lk which has already won 2 international awards.
Main features of GIC
One number to obtain all government information
One number regardless of the telecom network
Open 8.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
Open 365 days a year
30 lines open for incoming calls
Trilingual (Sinhala, Tamil, English) – select the preferred language
Call when citizens are free
Treat cordially, greet at the beginning and at the end of the call
Always address citizens respectfully ( “sir” and “madam’)
Be extremely polite, never argue, never talk back
Provide info using a database – consistent responses
If the info is not available call back in 24 hours to obtain the information
Tech Startup Support Program will provide various types of support for technology entrepreneurs, early stage technology related companies for developing their start-ups and for other programs that support and promote startups. The program includes but not limited to seed funding, trainings, networking sessions, business promotion opportunities locally and internationally, encouragement programs, hackathons, etc. The aim of Spiralation is to promote, encourage and support technology related entrepreneurship and innovation within Sri Lanka.
• To create awareness among students and undergraduates on innovation leading to entrepreneurship
• To facilitate engagement between private and public stakeholders in the startup ecosystem
• To support other initiatives which enable a conducive ecosystem for technology based companies
World Conference on Youth, BMICH – 86 participants
Local Startup Conference
• 35 startups exhibited
• 55 investors participated in investor workshop
• 200+ attendees
• 40 speakers including 5 foreign speakers.
8 startups participated at NASSCOM Emerge
6 startups participated at 4YFN Barcelona, Spain
10 startups participated at 4YFN 2016 in Barcelona, Spain
10 startups participated at InnovFest unBound in Singapore
8 startups participated at 4YFN 2017 in Barcelona, Spain
Seed Funding Program
Spiralation Seed Funding Support Program focuses on providing seed funding for technology entrepreneurs. Business enterprises forming new or in very early stages of development will be targeted (Small enterprises with less than 2 years in operation). The primary focus would be to encourage entrepreneurs to launch their business ideas in creating new products and/or services that would serve in creating new businesses, breech market gaps, assist new ICT related innovations etc. (*Conditions Apply)
The grant will subsidize infrastructure, training, business development mentoring including both technical and managerial competencies which are essential for the growth and sustainability of the company and all third-party costs.
Overseas and local business promotion
The need for market access is high among startups. Since startups very rarely are able to break into markets on their own, the ICT Agency through business promotion activities provide startups to showcase their products to the world. Startups are given affordable opportunities at various platforms and intern they gain customers by speaking to the top-level management directly rather than going through different channels.
Overseas and Local Startup Conferences
The number of technology related start-ups in Sri Lanka have grown over the last several years. While a considerable number have succeeded, quite a number of start-ups have also failed due to several reasons. One of the major reasons for the failures of start-ups is not having the proper exposure and knowledge in running a startup and other business aspects. Under this program, the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka will organize startup conferences with the aim of sharing knowledge through thought leaders to entrepreneurs and also provide support for startups to attend startup conferences internationally to gain much needed exposure and knowledge.
University visits and Hackathon’s will be carried out to promote entrepreneurship and identify budding entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. The cost will cover transportation, venue, refreshment, payments to experts, multimedia, tokens of appreciation and other stationary which will be required.
Expert Engagement Events
Experts who have specific domain knowledge will be engaged to address more technical and critical elements of a startup such as software patenting, information system and web security, API integration etc. ICTA will evaluate and engage with consultants to facilitate these sessions. The cost will cover venue, refreshment, payments to experts, multimedia and other stationary which will be required.
Workshops will be organized on different subject matter which is essential to run a company such as marketing, accounting, legal and administrative, software architecture etc. The workshop will be designing in an interactive manner so that the companies can discuss their individual company issue and will be no longer than 5 hours. The cost will cover venue, refreshments, multimedia and stationary which will be required.
ICTA Spiralation Hackathons
Hackathon’s and University visits will be carried out to promote entrepreneurship and identify budding entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.
Supporting startup initiatives and other organizations
Sri Lanka being a young ecosystem in the world, it is important that initiatives for startups and entrepreneurs are conducted in a manner that would help the startups. It is a well-known fact that many initiatives fail due to financial issues therefore, for startup initiatives that create an impact in the startup ecosystem, the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka would support the initiative by financially contributing upto 50% of the costs of the event. This is done with the intention that initiatives organized do not fail due to financial reasons.
ICTA Sri Lanka making a token presentation as APICTA 2015 National partner (from left) FITIS Chairman Chinthaka Wijewickrama, APICTA 2015 Co- Chairman Abbas Kamrudeen, University of Colombo School of Computing Director Prof. Gihan Wickramanayake, APICTA 2015 Co-Chairman Ruwan Amarasekera, ICTA Chairperson Chitranganie Mubarak and ICTA CEO Muhunthan Canagey
The Federation of Information and Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) and BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, Sri Lanka Section announce that the APICTA 2015 international awards ceremony, considered the ‘Oscars’ of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in the Asia Pacific region, will be held in Sri Lanka this time.
APICTA, the largest ICT awards ceremony in the Asia Pacific region, will be held in Colombo from November 18-21 this year, with the participation of over 650 ICT innovators, experts, investors, traders and entrepreneurs from 16 member countries.
The National partner of APICTA 2015 is the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), the apex ICT institution of the government.
ICTA CEO Muhunthan Canagey said, “This is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to position the country among the international community. We can promote our products and services and this enables us to showcase our talents to the world. APICTA also brings leading ICT firms and professionals under one roof and we can certainly look forward to new business opportunities, investments, joint ventures and technology transfers with APICTA 2015.”
APICTA Chairman Dr. Dileepa De Silva said, “This is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to position the country among the international communities. We can promote our products and services and this enables us to showcase our talents to the world. APICTA also brings leading ICT firms and professionals to a single place and we can certainly look forward for new business opportunities, investments, joint ventures and technology transfers with APICTA 2015”
The Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) is an international awards programme organised by APICTA, which aims to increase ICT awareness in the community and assist in bridging the digital divide. Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) is an alliance of national ICT organisations representing their respective countries to build and enhance a mutually cooperative network to promote ICT, enhance technology innovations, capability and adoption and encourage the development of indigenous ICT solutions for the global market. Sixteen countries in the Asia Pacific region have been members of this regional alliance, including countries with developed and established economies like Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, etc.
By providing networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs in the region, this awards programme is designed to stimulate ICT innovation and creativity, promote economic and trade relations, facilitate technology transfer and offer business matching opportunities via exposure to venture capitalists and investors.
Apart from the APICTA Awards, the other main parallel event is the APICTA 2015 Business Forum, which will create a common platform for investors, traders and the business community to benchmark their innovations, explore possible business partnerships and investments, explore import and export market entry points and share innovative ICT solutions for business etc. A business lounge will be operated during this event and would consist of a breakfast meeting with the Japanese delegation, a panel discussion and one-to-one business match-making lounge.
Parallel to the Business Forum, a Student Knowledge Sharing Forum will also be conducted. This is expected to contribute towards the skills and knowledge upgrading of youth in tertiary and secondary education for both Sri Lankan as well as foreign students visiting Sri Lanka to attend the APICTA 2015 competition.
The events calendar for the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2015 competition are as follows, November 18-20 – APICTA 2015 Awards ceremony, November 21 – APICTA 2015 Business Forum, November 20 – APICTA 2015 Students Forum and November 20-22 – Infotel – 2015 Exhibition.
Sri Lanka is fast becoming an IT hub for international business. With the opportunity of tapping into bigger international markets such as Europe, Australia, Scandinavia, South East Asia etc, the knowledge held within IT related organizations would need to become more diversified.
To facilitate this requirement, the ‘Industry Knowledge Enhancement’ programme was designed to enhance the awareness and understanding of required fields among employers and the future workforce in the Sri Lankan IT industry.
The ICTA shall fund and facilitate training programs including workshops and forums to help participants adopt the latest technologies to enhance quality and information security in career development.
1. Domestic Learning Seminars
‘Domestic Learning Seminars’ is one of the key capacity building initiatives incepted in 2009. Having adopted incremental improvement over time, the project continues to drive excellence. The project focuses on adaptation and skill enhancement of the current IT labor pool in Sri Lanka. Composed of a series of training programmes spread throughout the year, it caters to the current knowledge demand in the local IT industry. The key knowledge areas are determined by the core competencies required within the industry.
2. Quality code development initiative
The IT Industry of Sri Lanka is facing the issue of developers producing low quality code during the first couple of years of their career. The ‘Quality Code’ program was developed as a solution to this problem.
Industry experts along with ICTA put together a curriculum targeted at Quality Code Development, which is delivered by speakers from the industry who shall elaborate on tips and key principles needed to enforce Quality Code.
3. Building Security Professional
The ‘Building Security Professionals’ project highlights the need for more IT security professionals in Sri Lanka. The initiative is directly derived from the government’s vision of building 20,000 IT security professionals in Sri Lanka by the year 2020.
The project entails a long-term plan of creating awareness and enhancing basic IT Security knowledge . The project envisions to introduce school students to IT security based careers.
• To open up the opportunities for IT industry to build capacity in priority knowledge areas which are highly required in driving for excellence.
• To cultivate the knowledge based economy via introducing new technology through internationally recognized training programs at an affordable cost.
• To enhance the quality of the existing workforce while building certified professionals in key demanded areas in international context.
• New technology infusion to the Industry e.g. Automated Testing, Hybrid development, Cloud technologies, Agile testing etc.
• Mature processes – Effort estimation, Agile Development
• Adoption of frameworks and standards e.g. Blackduck, ITIL,
• Certified workforce e.g. CBAP, STQB, Ethical Hacker,
• Over 1700+ professionals from 120+ companies have been trained in various topics since 2009.
• Some of the key courses were,
– Software Effort Estimation
– Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master Training
– Hybrid Mobile Application Development Training
– Big Data and Hadoop Training
– Performance Testing – J Meter
– Devops – Chef & Puppet
The programme is endorsed by destination branding models adopted successfully within the Tourism industry and by countries such as Singapore, India, South Africa, France, Germany and Argentina, in branding Sri Lanka with view of stimulating its export growth, attracting foreign investment and managing negative stereotyping.
The ICTA engages in overseas business/country promotion activities with the main intention of creating country branding/positioning targeting captives, analysts etc. promoting the country as a viable destination to setup an offshore operation, attracting ICT investments to the country and exploring overseas business promotion opportunities for local companies.
In achieving the target of USD 5 billion in export revenue by 2022, ICTA through the ‘Country Branding and Business Promotion’ project conducted under the Industry Development Programme, focuses on promoting Sri Lanka as a destination to source technology and skill.
• To create visibility for the Sri Lankan IT BPM industry brand
• To provide opportunities for local IT and BPM companies to exhibit and take part in local and international exhibitions and conferences
• To provide opportunities for local IT and BPM companies to meet and network with potential local and international clients/partners to foster business partnerships
• A Sri Lankan Financial Shared Services center awarded the Winner for “Best Process Improvement and Innovation” at the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON) Australasian Excellence Awards 2016
• Brand exposure globally (primarily targeting the demand markets such as UK, Australia, Europe, South & South East Asia)
• ICTA’s Industry Development program has supported the industry and the industry body (SLASSCOM) in expanding its business development activities in the UK market in 2009 as well. These facilitations and engagement with the UK market helped Sri Lanka to be recognized as the winner – offshoring destination of the year 2013 & 2014 and shortlisted in 2015 by the National Outsourcing Association, UK
• Improvement in the ATKEARNEY Rating for Offshore Destinations
• Improvement in the Gartner Rating for Offshore Destinations
• 67 unique companies have received at least one opportunity through ICTA to be part of an exhibition or networking meeting in Australia. 80% of the beneficiary companies have either got sales, setup a partner network or established an office in Australia
• Partnerships made with Government and trade entities in Australia
• Disrupt Asia 2016, Sri Lanka’s first ever startup conference and tech showcase
• Sponsor of NOA Awards in 2013
• Creation of the Sri Lanka IT BPM Destination brand
• 67 unique companies participated in networking events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne
• 40 unique companies participated at CeBIT Australia during 2011-2013
• 25 unique companies participated at Gartner Symposium and Exhibition, Gold Coast during 2013-2016
• 8 companies participated at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain in 2017
• Country pavilion organized at Gartner Symposium and Expo, London, UK
• Competitive Benchmarking report produced by ATKEARNEY
• One on One meetings with 40+ Gartner Analysts
Overseas and Local Business Promotion
Industry consultation and analysis of industry markets is conducted to promote international exposure of the domestic ICT Industry, within designated countries. Organizing of overseas and local business promotion missions are conducted via (1) retaining a matchmaking/ PR company in the target country, to raise awareness and facilitate business links. (2) assisting ICT Associations in overseas promotion activities such as event participation and the hiring of consultants for matchmaking/ business development as well as capacity building for marketing and advertising activities., (3) facilitating overseas business/country promotion activities by working closely with international stakeholders/ network channels.
The process will include ICTA sending out an EOI to the industry seeking its interest, shortlisting delegate companies based on a selection criteria, conducting capacity building sessions targeting selected companies followed by monitoring/evaluating their pre-mission as well as on-mission and post-mission performance.
The project has led the Sri Lankan IT and BPM Sector to engage with the UK and Australian markets since 2010. Over 25 business promotion activities have been funded and supported during the 2010 – 2016 period, which includes country pavilions at the Gartner Symposium & IT Expo in UK and Australia, and business networking meetings in London (UK), Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne (Australia) and Singapore.
Go to Market Support for IT Product Companies
This initiative was launched by the project in March 2017. The objective of this program is to subsidize the cost for local IT product companies in their efforts of seeking support for overseas business development activities for market penetration and new market development with the aim of increasing export revenue and local employment.
Process: an overseas business development activity in the form of a trade mission or exhibition must be identified by the IT product company. An IT Company which owns the IP for a software product or products developed in-house is eligible to benefit, and the applicant should provide evidence in the application (critical evaluation) that the identified activity forms part of a strategic plan to develop their business/markets and the go-to market strategy.
In-line with global best practices on destination branding and AT Kearney’s recommendations to improve the overall rankings and the attractiveness as a leading destination for IT-BPM services, the Sri Lanka IT BPM brand that was created in 2014 has consistently been used to give visibility and promote the country as a viable destination for IT-BPM services and to source technology and skill.
This brand was launched as an image changing campaign, bench marking Sri Lanka against the other competing countries in the region and leveraging Sri Lanka as a knowledge hub, highlighting the hygiene factors the industry/country possesses as a competitive destination; ICTA has led a stakeholder driven approach from designing to implementing of the brand, and has been closely working with the relevant government bodies and industry associations such as EDB, BOI, SLASSCOM, FITIS, The Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) etc.
Furthermore, ICTA through the Industry Development Program has played a pivotal role in coordinating with the stakeholders of the IT-BPM industry to ensure a unified message is delivered as a nation . The brand and Sri Lanka as a destination is continuously promoted when exhibiting at country pavilions, through the dedicated website www.srilankaitbpm.com, via social media, country promotion material such as the country video, the country book and mission booklets.
And at international business community networking forums, the ICTA delivers customized presentations on Sri Lanka, highlighting the many ways the country is transforming towards a creative knowledge-based society through digitally empowered citizenship, giving rise to a conducive environment for investment and conducting of business. Meanwhile, all promotional material and country pitches are customized towards the different target groups/markets, and the country/brand is promoted during targeted roadshows, networking forums etc.
Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) will be the National Partner of Sri Lanka’s flagship ICT Expo INFOTEL 2015.
The exhibition will be held from November 20 to 22 at the BMICH under the theme of ‘‘Connecting Citizens’’.
The key objective of this year’s exhibition is to showcase the latest ICT and digital innovations, harnessing the best ICT solutions to empower the future growth via multiple career guidance events on an ICT platform.
ICTA, the apex ICT institution of the Government, has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT industry. ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers in the formulation of the National Policy on ICT and provide all information necessary for its formulation. ICTA, which is wholly owned by the Government of Sri Lanka, implemented the e-Sri Lanka Development Project under which significant progress has been made.
FITIS Chairman Chinthaka Wijewickrama said the salient feature of this year’s event is the incorporation of many progressive features. They are a unique addition to the selection on offer.
“A noteworthy feature is the demarcation of a special Shopping Area, where ICT products and services will be on sale at reasonable prices and with a comprehensive warranty for the benefit of visitors to the INFOTEL–2015Exhibition. “Visitors to this event can see for themselves and personally experience the newest, state-of-the-art technology in relation to computer software and hardware, Big Data, Mobile Computing, Cloud Computing, Digital Signature and Computing Gaming.
“INFOTEL–2015is the only key platform in Sri Lanka which brings together under one roof Chief Executives, eminent professionals and decision-makers in the ICT sphere, apart from entrepreneurs, educationists, students from schools and universities and people from all walks of life. It will be more focused towards the country’s national growth and increasing IT literacy”.
“As the biggest ICT-related happening, this event draws lakhs of visitors every year. It is the biggest show in the ICT sector. At INFOTEL–2015, there will be over 300 exhibition and trade stalls. What will be unique is that the exhibition will not be limited to showcase ICT products and gadgets, but will be one of international standards and a meeting place for corporates, buyers, sellers, recruiting companies, career seekers and IT enthusiasts alike, the FITIS Chairman said.
INFOTEL–2015 will also offer the opportunity for organizations the world over to participate in having their stalls and products displayed at this event. It is an ideal platform for ICT stakeholders in Sri Lanka and other international countries to explore and capitalize the new growth and wealth creation opportunities in the country, he said.
The government is drafting new laws to address emerging crime trends involving cyberspace as they cannot be curtailed under the existing legal framework. The CID Computer Crimes Division is to establish 22 new units under each SSP division to address computer related crimes.
The need for Internet privacy laws is felt when the norms of data protection are violated, said Jayantha Fernando, Programme Director, ICTA, emphasizing that Sri Lanka has no specific laws on Internet privacy.
Fernando said that the government has begun policy level discussions at the initiative of ICTA on Internet privacy laws and data protection. He said the process of formulating the draft is in progress.
Privacy laws count on how information is collected, processed and transferred to the third party, he said.
The Computer Crimes Division of the CID set up under the Computer Crimes Act 2007 deals with an increasing number of complaints on email scooping and privacy violations. The division has investigated over 100 on internet related crimes, including 50 complaints of cyber deformation, 21 complaints related to obscene publications and another 22 related to email hacking this year.
Another 2,000 complaints involving Facebook and Twitter were reported to the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) in the first seven months of this year. Most incidents had occurred on Facebook, and primarily involved in the use of fake profiles, Senior Security Engineer of CERT, Roshan Chandragupta said.
He said that people are affected in different ways through internet. Some are threatened with information related to the victim, some are harassed sexually, some are blackmailed for money, and some are even bullied to the point of death.
However, CERT limits their assistance to IT related options. Further legal action would have to be resorted externally, he said.
He said “there were many people who had been affected by impersonators on social media. Some are not aware where to complain and had, therefore, not made a complaint in relation to fake profiles.”
“Current laws make it difficult for us to bring in the culprits” claims an investigation officer attached to the Computer Crimes Division of the CID.
“For example, there were many incidents that are reported in which an aggrieved party shares the contact details of another party. Usually, the victim is a former girlfriend of the culprit who does that to avenge her. This does not fall under deformation law, as there is no defamation, so it becomes difficult for us to bring the culprit to book”, he said.
The Computer Crimes Division lacks officers to carry out work. The division has no branches. However, the CID is in the process of training more officers, CID Director SSP.R Nagahamulla said.
With new plans to establish branches, the CID is in the process of selecting officers to be trained on computer related investigations.
“We need 120 personnel. Training takes time. We have assigned new officers to be trained on investigations under officers in the Computer Crimes Division” he said.
Following a proposal made by the Law, Order and Prison Reforms Ministry, a Hi-tech Crime Unit will be established under the purview of the IT division of the Police to look into the issues in concern with Cyber Crimes, said Police Information Technology Division ASP Damayantha Hettiarachchi.
“The unit will assist the police to find digital forensic evidence to the complaints received on cyber-crimes whilst general Police officers cannot analyse electronic evidence,” the ASP said.
The Police Department lacks electronic devises. The department is in the process of purchasing standardised equipment to track offences to continue investigations.
A standard operation procedures will be used to gather electronic evidence.
There are 10 IT labs under the Police IT division. Another 12 labs will be opened soon, but there are only limited Police officers certified by the IGP to look in to forensic electronic evidence, he said.
Pointing out that the Budapest Convention is an effective tool for law enforcement, ASP Hettiarachchi said “The Council of Europe will attend the Cyber Crime Meet to be held in Sri Lanka this week. They will provide assistance to train police officers to enhance their IT capacity. IT experts will conduct training programmes at the Kalutara Police Training College for law enforcement officers”
In 2015, Sri Lanka was invited to join the European Cyber Crime Convention. The Foreign Affairs Ministry together with the ICT Agency (ICTA), has fast-tracked Sri Lanka’s entry into the Council of Europe (CoE) Cyber Crime Convention also known as the Budapest Convention.
“The Budapest Convention on Cyber crime, seeks to address Internet and computer crimes by harmonising national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation among nations,” Fernando said.
Sri Lanka has overtaken Philippines, Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and several other countries in the process towards joining the Budapest Cybercrime Convention. Sri Lanka becomes the first Country in South Asia to join the Cybercrime Convention, which is the only international treaty on cyber crimes globally, he said.
“This is a significant policy breakthrough for Sri Lanka. It will create a whole new possibilities with regard to cyber crimes. The Criminal Justice Authority can investigate and prosecute offences,” he said.
It is an obligation of the Budapest Convention to open 24/7 contact points in Sri Lanka to get mutual assistance from other member countries when dealing with cyber incidents, he said.
Sri Lanka has to think about the strategy on data privacy and data protection to introduce laws compatible with European and other international standards, ICTA Programme Director Fernando said.
The benefit of the convention is that all will be compelled to adhere to the data protection and privacy safeguards. Privacy laws are important where investors from Europe or other countries will look at how information provided is protected in Sri Lanka.
Referring to maintenance of the data privacy, Fernando said many internal steps that can be taken to ensure privacy, suggesting that the government and private authorities should adopt common internal privacy policies. Organizations or companies offering services on Internet should state their privacy policies in their home page. The companies should have policies to safeguard information collected from those organizations.
“Data owners and the companies will have greater comforts when dealing with various organizations, he said.
Fernando said the government needs to take more efforts to educate people on the need to ensure privacy and respect the privacy of the fellow people.
A national framework for cyber security, including the establishment of an institutional framework, must be developed in order to handle cyber security incidents, Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development Eran Wickramaratne said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the eighth Annual National Conference on Cyber Security, the Deputy Minister said the country needed to form national-level cyber strategies in order to handle security incidents at an organisational, industry, and national level.
“In recent times, many developed countries have suffered cyber-attacks as a result of ‘unstructured’ security organisation. The protection of Critical National Information Infrastructure such as the LGN must be a national priority and sufficient policies and procedures, infrastructure and personnel must be deployed to ensure its smooth functioning,” he said.
According to ICTA, the LGN, or Lanka Government Network Project, is a secure underlying information infrastructure backbone that connects all the government organisations (initially 325 locations in three phases) in a “cost-effective and secure manner to provide internet, email and IP based voice services.” The project sought to address basic hardware and LAN network needs of the connecting government organisations including but not limited to providing WAN connectivity to the LGN Hub.
Government accountability and significance of security
Commenting on the role ICT could play in Government accountability and the significance of security in this regard, the Deputy Minister noted the importance of government officials corresponding with officially assigned email accounts, as opposed to using Gmail or some other personal email address.
“Using personal email addresses means that there is no public traceability or memory of what has officially been done. Take for example the lack of documentation regarding what happened during the previous Government’s tenure. There is little to no traceability of accountability for what took place behind closed doors. Thus we must put in place protocols and capacities to deal with email correspondence,” he said. Right to Information plus strong ICT
Right to Information (RTI) coupled with strong ICT could also play a part, going to the extent of fighting corruption, he said, adding that, for example, there was no reason why the Government couldn’t share information about how contracts are awarded.
“The Government should put out the requisite information on its websites and make it accessible to the public. Moreover, by putting it up online, it saves time for the public who no longer have to demand this information. It also saves time for the public sector who no longer have to divulge information on a piece-meal basis,” the Deputy Minister said.
Government commitment to developing IT
Emphasising the Government’s commitment to developing ICT, Wickramaratne said that Sri Lanka is attempting to develop a modern economy to integrate with the global economy and succeed in the world.
“Just as we are building physical highways, we need to build information highways. Just like we are concerned for safety and security in the physical world we live in, we need safety and security in the virtual world. We cannot simply limit ourselves to the physical world, because significant portions of our lives and activities are transacted in the virtual world. Thus, an understanding of the virtual world is important to succeed, as a people and as a country,” he said.
Good security practices and the development of security infrastructure must be part of the strategy to provide such a secure environment for the country, he added. Hence, the need to form national-level cyber strategies and develop a national framework for cyber security. e-Sri Lanka initiative
Commenting on the impact made by the e-Sri Lanka initiative, Wickramaratne said the project helped strengthen cyber security in the country.
“When the e-Sri Lanka project was envisaged, cyber security was thought of as simply a legal framework. It was through the e-Sri Lanka program that we were able to put in e-laws to provide cyber security. However, as the project subsequently developed, cyber security was institutionalised, and that is how CERT (Computer Emergency Readiness Team) Sri Lanka was born,” he said.
e-Sri Lanka, according to the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), utilised ICT to develop the economy of Sri Lanka, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the people through a six-program strategy which encompassed ICT policy, leadership, and institutional development, information infrastructure, re-engineering government, ICT human resource development, ICT investment and private sector development, and e-Society.
Catching up for lost time
The Deputy Minister further said that the UNP-led Government sees as its task to fast-track Sri Lanka into a position of success and to bring knowledge and competence in ICT.
“We have to catch up for time lost during the past 10 years, and compensate for the people who lost focus of ICT development,” he said.
The challenge, he added, was not understood, and as a result the public sector is significantly behind and Sri Lanka is, therefore, vulnerable due to its lagging behind.
“Strong cyber security and information platforms are not just a luxury to strive for; it is fundamental to our country’s operation. Whether we think about fighting against corruption, or for good governance, or economic development, understanding and strengthening our presence in the virtual world is essential,” he said.
Wickramaratne added that it was crucial to support CERT’s model of conducting educational activity on cyber-safety across the country, setting a national level framework on cybercrime forensics, and helping law enforcement agencies with investigations.
“It is important for all of us to continue to support this model, and help it develop accordingly with the dynamic global situation. Indeed, we all have a role to play,” he said.
Private sector support
The Deputy Minister also called on the private sector to provide guidance to the State sector in developing strong ICT infrastructure, adding that he was personally striving to reform public enterprises by developing strong ICT infrastructure.
“The private sector has made investments at a higher level, and thus have a more sophisticated ICT architecture. The public sector is lamentably lagging behind and there is an urgent need to bridge this gap. The government will look to you for guidance and the way forward,” he said.
Top row: From left CEO Harsha Purasinghe, ICTA Managing Director Muhunthan Canagey, and Malaysia OMESTI Bhd Executive Director Mah Xian Zhen. Second row from left Microimage COO Suren Rupasinghe, Dialog Axiata Group CEO Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya and SLASSCOM Chairman Mano Sekaram
Microimage, the company that started as a high-school startup and built through sheer determination and passion, celebrated its 20th anniversary at a warm and cherished event on 7 October evening.
The significance of this event was the heartfelt gratitude and appreciation shown to all those who were a part of the company’s humble, yet incredible journey.
The evening kicked off with CEO Harsha Purasinghe showcasing the journey of their proprietary software, the very first Sinhala Unicode Keyboard, Helawadena, a collaboration between the ICTA, Microsoft and Microimage making Sinhala, Tamil and numerous other language ‘keyboards’ ubiquitously available. The initial Microimage product was given a small space in a store (at Majestic City) owned by another small startup, EPSI. Ironically, the owner of EPSI was none other than Muhunthan Canagey.
Canagey, Head of ICTA, ‘remembered’ and shared this journey with the audience. “I am extremely proud to be standing here acknowledging the success of Microimage. Harsha and I have come a long way together and achieved many accomplishments together. I am more than proud to have been a part of this journey.”
Next, it was COO Suren Rupasinghe who spoke about Sri Lanka’s pioneering Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions: developing time and attendance, and payroll software for the manufacturing sector. Despite rejections and disappointments, the company only strived harder and launched the HCM8R2 which ended up as a game-changing experience to the HR industry.
The company was proud to service a large established growing client base across the region, deploying in seven markets, which includes Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brunei and Saudi Arabia.
Harsha then spoke about the company’s foray into the international arena tying up with Asia-based OMESTI Group.
This strategic partnership with Microimage was intended to bring leading edge Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions to Asian markets. Known as MIHCM (Microimage HCM) Asia, the new venture used Kuala Lumpur as a launch pad to deliver proprietary HCM solutions to South East Asia and beyond, leveraging on the regional networks of the OMESTI Group.
Executive Director of OMESTI Bhd, Mah Xian Zhen, who had flown down especially for the occasion paid a glowing tribute to the Microimage team and their plans to enter the East Asian countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
Meanwhile Microimage was transforming from being just another provider of desktop language software into a very successful software research and development company focusing on providing innovative solutions in key product lines such as human capital management software solutions, enterprise software solutions, and mobile solutions/software localisation.
At this point, Mano Sekaram, Chairman of SLASSCOM, aptly summed up the Microimage story by saying that despite all the hardships faced along the way due to various industry shortfalls, the company did not give up hope but flew the flag for Sri Lanka at every tech forum, locally and internationally, bringing pride and recognition to this country. “Every successful company has to have a soul, and Harsha is the heart and soul of Microimage.”
Seeing an opportunity to get into mobile media, the company then started developing a radio automation software which turned out to be the mission-critical innitiative for radio operations.
Today, Microimage Mobile Media powers all key radio networks and the leading DTH TV operators. Microimage Mobile Media Broadcast platforms are now marketed in other regional countries as well.
During this time, Microimage introduced ebooks via the BookHub to Sri Lanka in collaboration with Dumindra Ratnayaka (ex-Etisalat) and Rajiva Gunasena of Gunasena Bookshops. They did not stop there but went on to develop a music app called ‘Thaala’ to facilitate legal music downloads, which was launched together with Dialog Axiata’s music service offering.
Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group CEO of Dialog Axiata, said: “Whilst we live in an era of disruption, and breaking down things yesterday to do things today, it is heartening to see a company that has risen from humble beginnings to become one of the biggest successes in this country today.”
Apart from making game-changing software, Microimage veered into social innovation with the first-ever disaster and early warning solution called DEWN. This a world class social innovation that emerged after the Indian Ocean tsunami was a great collaboration between Dialog Axiata, Microimage and the University of Moratuwa’s Dialog Research Lab. This is currently deployed with the Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka.
Today, Microimage Holdings has become the umbrella organisation that oversees all of its diversifications including Microimage Impact. This new arm will engage in various social impact initiatives and all revenue generated from this social venture will be put back into fostering social ideas towards social impact harnessing the power of technology.
Giving an insight into the future of Microimage, Harsha outlined plans of their new office in Sydney, Australia and Dubai.
The biggest announcements of the evening were the HCM15 version, which was demoed through a beautiful video and mStudio 3.0 poised to revolutionise the broadcast industry as never before, as Microimage continues making headway beyond the shores of Sri Lanka.
ICT Agency of Sri Lanka Managing Director/CEO Muhunthan Canagey shared his views on Sri Lanka’s role on cyber security at the EC Council Cyber Security Summit 2015.
Canagey explained that Sri Lanka is taking leaps in developing the infrastructure for a digital economy.
“The new Government’s aim is to get all state buildings linked across the country. A project is been carried out for linking up 3,500 state buildings with 100 megabyte connectivity to each other and to an information back bone of 100 gigabytes across all 25 districts. This means any state official would be able to work across any of the state buildings irrespective of the location they are in. So if you have an appointment at the Ministry of Finance and afterwards let’s say you have to go for a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or our ministry; with the same login you would be able to work across all ministries. Now that’s the type of environment we are bringing in,” he said.
“While we do that, we are also ensuring that the citizens will be able to engage themselves in Government related services. These are all e-services and by 2018 we intend to have the entire Government’s services available as e-services for citizens, allowing them get all their services across mobile platforms. That’s the vision we have to move forward. The next step that the ICTA will actually take is to work forward along with the financial institutions in the country to develop the national payment platform for Government payments; starting with the Sri Lankan customs as the first payment service. This would allow citizens to tap all bank accounts into one app and be able to make transfers and payments across all Government portfolios,” he added.
Digital economy entails many security challenges. These cannot be dealt by the Government or any institute alone. Information security is an ongoing process which requires people, process and technology to align together.
“These services all sound fancy and as the way to move forward. But on the other side we have to consider the cyber security aspects. While we keep opening our doors, there are more threats coming in. The SL-CERT, a subsidiary of ICTA does an enormous amount of work in ensuring citizens are protected on a day-to-day basis. They have large volumes of hacks that are reported to them daily. ICTA takes cyber security very seriously and we are the first in South Asia to enter the Budapest Convention; the cross-border contractual agreements which will be taking place in this regard,” he stated.
He further explained the importance of having a cyber security culture within organisations in Sri Lanka. All technological measures to safeguard information assets in organisations would fail if the concept of cyber security is not instilled within the organisation and its employees.
“We need to bring cyber security into our lives, our culture because everything we do is going to be online and in the future, we really need to take this area forward. We are planning to implement the National Security Operations Centre (SOC) by March 2016,” he added.
Canagey also pointed out that it’s time for organisations to start investing in the skills of young people who have high technical knowledge and know-how of hacking.
“The drive towards cyber security will be a key focus. When I say that, I look into this audience and I see very senior people. There are also young men and women from different state universities this afternoon. Nevertheless, the average age for cyber security cult is 15. So this is not anymore about men and women but this is about boys and girls who have to take over this space. These young people have great hacking capabilities; they do a great job and want to be a part of ethical hacking. We need to get a lot more youth involved in this space. That’s the commitment expected from you in the industry as professionals and business leaders. You will have to bring into the organisations, these very young people to deal with cyber security because they know how hacking works, they know how to play these games, and they are some of the greatest tools and assets that organisations can have in terms of cyber security. We could facilitate but these young people can really do a good job,” he emphasised.
During a panel discussion Canagey discussed the role played by ICTA to encourage organisations to integrate cyber security into their culture.
“ICTA is not an organisation. It’s a facilitator to the industry irrespective of whether they are state or private sector organisations. We are taking great efforts to make organisations aware of cyber security issues. Private sector organisations need to realise that our competition is no longer local but is global. So if Sri Lanka is to move forward to revolutionise the digital infrastructure and go into the global space, we need to start thinking different,” he said.
Discussing the factors preventing Sri Lanka from following proper standards whether in the payment industry, COBIT or Stock Exchange Canagey said; “Standard is a motion that has to come from the top and that’s the type of culture we want. The level of education has to be improved for this. For instance, in the banking industry we will be bringing forward non-collateral based lending. That is one area where the Minister and Ministry of ICT is going to work very closely.
Let’s say you want to start a software company and you want to take a loan and they ask you to bring your mother’s or father’s house as collateral, which is not fair. This is what we need to change but not just for IT; the whole eco-system needs to change. There’s a multi-strategy that needs to work out. Let’s not worry about what has happened in the past. Let’s move forward. Let’s incubate and accelerate a knowledgebase economy, get rid of collateral based lending and also build-in a culture that incorporates youth and develops policy making. We should change this culture to bring in technological revolution in this country.”