Victorian State Emergency Service to migrate to hosted ICT

Current Department of Justice (DoJ) infrastructure limits the agency's "operational capabilities" in emergency situations

Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is to move to hosted IT infrastructure and communication services to enable it to better respond to rapidly changing needs during natural disasters and other emergency situations.

The agency’s network, file servers and desktop infrastructure is currently provided by the Department of Justice (DoJ) Victoria. The DoJ also provides applications such as Lotus Notes as well as file storage and document management services.

A hosted service provider will provide email, document management, file/print and server hosted services, and a consolidated network of LAN and WAN connections.

According to VICSES documents, the work carried out by the agency’s 188 employees and 5,000 Volunteers and the limits of the DoJ’s infrastructure necessitated a move to a third-party provider.

“[The DoJ infrastructure is] incompatible with the VICSES requirements, particularly in times of emergency when restrictions provide limited operational capabilities,” the documents read. “VICSES has a separate network at Headquarters in Sturt Street, Melbourne to host local applications and e-mail services for the volunteer network

“Network access to the VICSES volunteer network is provided by third party suppliers and there are significant complications interconnecting the two networks. Supporting and maintaining two networks is inefficient and at times ineffective.”

By way of further illustration, the VICSES said the DoJ offered no agreed or defined service level agreement (SLA), no support out of normal business hours, no single point of accountability or contact as well as business administration and processes which did nit fit the agency’s needs.

“The high security levels of the DoJ Network restrict VICSES from access to the internet, important e-mails can be blocked, limitations on size of e-mail attachments restricts access to information,” the documents read.

“Document Management used by DoJ is configured for strict access control on documents, based on their security classification. VICSES does not require the same level of access control and associated restrictions.”

In related Victorian Government news, state’s government this month backtracked on changes to its eServices panel, announcing a restructure that will be finalised by the end of October.

Companies represented on the panel are eligible to bid for contracts to provide ICT services to Victorian departments and agencies. The previous panel had been in place since 2003, but changes that came in into effect on July 1 targeted inner government departments and 'streamlined' the terms and conditions of contracts.

Shortly after the Australia Internet Industry Association (AIIA) threw its weight behind the decision.

“The changes recognise the importance that ICT plays not only in the development of robust government, but in the development of an innovative and resilient economy,” AIIA national chair, Philip Cronin, said in a statement.

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