Broadband bonanza for PEI community

Promoting Atlantic Canada’s economic development through the renewal of the entrepreneurial spirit…that’s the goal of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and all it’s initiatives.

The Agency’s support of a Broadband Network in the Kensington region of Prince Edward Island is a case in point.

Thanks to ACOA, more than 590 businesses, 8,500 residents and 15 institutions in the region will soon have access to fixed-broadband wireless technology through the Malpeque Bay Community Broadband Network.

ACOA will make a total of Can$ 308,121 available for the project.

The funds will be provided to KenNet Inc., a not-for-profit community organization in Kensington that owns and operates the Knetwork Centre, PEI’s first regional technology facility.

Announcing the funding, Malpaque MP Wayne Easter said high-speed Internet will enable area businesses and residents to access business, health and educational applications that can significantly improve their quality of life.

The project, he said, is in line with the Canadian government’s goal to make broadband services available to businesses and citizens in every Canadian community by 2005.

ACOA’s success, according to Ron Surette, Director General, Business Intelligence and CIO, ACOA, flows from its ability to provide a wide range of business development tools and resources throughout the business lifecycle. “We have a holistic approach when working with clients,” he said.

Surette said clients are able to securely interact with ACOA through a client portal focused on grants and donations. “If you are a small or medium entrepreneur keeping track of the latest contract, amendments, conditions and so on can be a challenge. We’ve put this information online and made it available to clients. The ability for clients to access parts of their record is a value added service that has proved to be very popular.”

To accomplish all this securely, he said, ACOA provides information and services over Secure Channel – the electronic delivery platform that allows Canadians to securely and privately deal with federal departments and agencies.

By harnessing the Secure Channel infrastructure, Surette said, ACOA is able to resolve the ubiquitous conflict between security and access.

“Often in an organization the CIO will insist confidential client information should not be sent over SMTP Internet mail, while the service transformation folk want to know what other options exist for electronic transactions with clients.”

“Until recently we had no solution. But now, using Secure Channel components, we can provide clients with the ability to engage in secure electronic correspondence.”

He said through a portal called – My Portfolio – ACOA clients can view confidential information on aspects of their record, can access forms online, engage in transactions, provide digital signatures, electronically file documents – and much more. “The vast majority of transactions can be conducted electronically with the security levels we have in place.”

The Secure Channel infrastructure will soon enable services to be repeatably and reliably deployed to new clients, according to Milan Belohoubek, project executive with Bell Canada. Bell leads the consortium of high-tech companies providing the Secure Channel infrastructure.

He said while Secure Channel is an enabler for the government online strategy,the real worth is not in the infrastructure alone. “As straight plumbing, the infrastructure has no value by itself. The value is derived from services deployed on top of it.”

However, he said, deployment and access to services is simple as Secure Channel harnesses industry standard tools and practices that ensure reliability and interoperability for all the programs and departments. “The whole idea is you just plug in and consume available services.”

Secure Channel, Belohoubek said, is a key driver for the Canadian shared services strategy, providing cost and time savings through common managed solutions. “Instead of every department creating a separate registration, authentication and encryption system or network, these capabilities are now provided over the Secure Channel infrastructure and can “simply be consumed by programs sitting on it.”

He said smaller departments benefit, as they don’t have the budgets to create these value-added services on their own.

In 2006, Canadians will be able to complete the census online using Secure Channel authentication.

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