News Column

Agis Infrastructure Overhaul - Panacea for Increased IGR

July 28, 2014

Mohammed Awwal Ibrahim

Evidently, from the recent overhaul and complete change of the system infrastructure in Abuja Geographical Information System, the transformation agenda of the Nigerian government is alive and kicking in the FCT.

The new systems infrastructure are necessary fundamentals for facilitating the current and proposed revenue generating operations of AGIS and also for ensuring sterling service delivery as well as customer/stakeholder satisfaction, in line with the vision of AGIS to "become a comprehensive, all-inclusive fool proof and state of the art computerized geospatial data infrastructure for the FCT."

Senator Bala Mohammed is pivotal to the implementation of this transformation in the Federal Capital Territory. The overhaul of AGIS infrastructure by the FCT Minister through the Executive Director AGIS, Mrs. Jamila Tangaza was with the implicit purpose of guaranteeing security, efficiencies and innovative workflows and a process to impede gaps in all areas. Most of all, with the rapidity and changes in today's technology-driven world, more and more sophisticated requirements of the real estate, and market and the ICT infrastructure that's required to guarantee the levels of systems security and operational efficiency that the FCT Administration and the general public expects from AGIS.

Pertinently, immediate intervention with respect to this had to be made. Owing to the singular fact that since the inception of AGIS in 2003, there has not been any hardware systems renewal/upgrade which is necessarily done at the expiration of the useful duration of computer systems (mostly between 4-6 years, depending on the kind of equipment). Based on this, most of the work servers, workstations and peripherals have surpassed their beneficial durations ensuing in reduced, unreliable and inefficient operations with negative consequences on AGIS overall performance.

The Executive Director AGIS, sought for and got approval from the FCT Minister to carry out the systems upgrade in the areas of upgrading and replacing of obsolete computer servers, workstations and peripherals, upgrading and repair of internet and WAN connectivity infrastructure, establishment of co-located disaster recovery site, installation of security surveillance infrastructure, integration of newly acquired data storage infrastructure, upgrading of GIS/spatial Data infrastructure and upgrading of online portal infrastructure.

The AGIS system overhaul was also carried byout Jamila Tangaza to avert the possibility of a complete system shut down, disastrous loss of data brought about by system failure, prevalence of fraudulent occurrences, along with its potentially consequences to AGIS operations and revenue generating capacity. Furthermore, with the computerized nature of security challenges AGIS faces, it is completely essential that bold actions are taken to reinforce the general security of AGIS infrastructure, as well as put in place a robust security surveillance infrastructure to complement existing initiatives such as security doors and access control system.

In addition, Mrs. Jamila Tangaza has expressed the need for the protection of sensitive data, when she said that "in order to protect the sensitive data in AGIS computerized repositories from possible loss, damage or corruption as a result of unforeseen incidents related to fire outbreaks, terrorism, theft and wilful sabotage, AGIS system upgrade includes adequate disaster recovery plans involving offsite co-location of AGIS servers and storage systems, the system upgrade also provides an opportunity for AGIS IT unit to upgrade and tighten the effective domain access and system security policies in order to guard against future security breaches ".

The Executive Director, AGIS also elucidated that the implementation of the new system infrastructure was done almost entirely by the AGIS in-house IT team with some little support from our Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) partners. This in itself is an epoch achievement given the highly sophisticated and state of art architecture of AGIS new systems which is based on the very latest technology available in the world.

Thus, the utilization of in-house resources by the AGIS management was able to save significant amount of cost for the FCT Administration which hitherto would have potentially quadrupled the amount spent for the project. In addition to cost saving, Jamila was also able to build sufficient in-house capacity to ensure the operations of the new system as well as knowledge transfer to the end users of the system.

For the benefit of my avid readers, let me take a perfunctory look into the way the AGIS system infrastructure was before the overhaul and how it is now after the complete system refit; the major internet connection of 512kbs via fibre provided by Galaxy Backbone Ltd. Was grossly inadequate even for critical security updates, which could only be done during off-peak periods as a result of congestion.

E-collections were done using a V-Sat connection that was later upgraded to 1.5mbps, as it stands now the primary connection to the internet with a bandwidth of up to 13mbs means that speed of data processing is ten times faster than what it used to be.

The issue of low memory and other critical resources on the old un-upgradable client desktops and servers had made operations slower and processing time longer, it took three days to print C of O's, in the past but with the overhaul it only takes thirty minutes. The connection between AGIS and other stakeholder SDAs although claimed to exist, had never been active, collaboration and secure data exchange was impossible; it could only be donethrough public network.

Now secure data sharing between AGIS and these stakeholder SDAs is now possible. The immediate benefits will be closer collaboration, faster service delivery and information sharing. Essential tools for GIS operations were dated 2006, recent technologies could not be utilized, existing satellite image is for 2009. All development/changes made after them never reflected and data processing tools only used older formats. The way it is now is that installation of a major tool used for all GIS (Geographic Information System) operations, including geospatial data management, integration, migration, digitization etc. we expect a more efficient monitoring of FCT boundaries. Initial equipment only covered FCC while the present one covers the entire FCT and part of the contiguous states. This is also useful, not only for land administration, but also for research, management of utilities and health facilities to mention a few.

Not too long the entire AGIS fire reaction and defence system was ineffective, the water reticulation was absent, the alarm system had less coverage and it was operated electrically which means that in case of a fire out break, it will seize to operate. Presently, the fire system is one of the best in the city, as all the hydrants and hose reels which previously ran out of water have now been fully restored and serviced. Also the smoke detectors have been completely reactivated.

By the benefit of this new system infrastructure, AGIS has been able to guarantee the security of valuable land related data stored in their databases by deploying a disaster recovery site at the ultramodern facilities of Galaxy Backbone Plc., which enables AGIS to automatically recover from disaster whether natural or manmade.

Basically, the eventual beneficiaries of all of these efforts are the highly esteemed customers who will undoubtedly experience and enjoy faster, more effective and qualitative service in all aspects of their dealings with AGIS.

The will also ensure an increased revenue generation accruing to the Federal Capital Territory Administration, which will be used for the overriding benefit of the FCT residents in the areas of developmental projects and provision of sterling services. From all indications the new AGIS infrastructure is a win-win situation for all. - Ibrahim writes from Abuja.

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Source: AllAfrica

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