The CCN#3 “Open eTraining Network for the Millennium Development Goals” to SatElections is a pilot project dedicated to the development of a broadband satellite network in support to both the training (eTraining service) and the electoral needs (Electoral Data Transmission) of the Independent Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (IEC-DRC).
The capabilities of such network will be also expanded with the provision of additional services in the field of Capacity Building. In order to overcome the severe logistic problems of DRC a logistic support has also been envisaged through the following activities:
- The provision of UPS (Uninterruptable Power System) systems to the three eTraining sites of Kikwit, Kananga and Mbuij Mayi,
- The development and installation of a self contained solution through a Learning Tele Centre facility (prefabricated structure),
- The provision of a Tele Surveillance system in order to monitor the pilot sites considered as the most vulnerable.
All the service and associated applications will be run for a 12 months pre-operational pilot period.
The pilot project will contribute to conceive, develop and validate a full ICT based solution in response to both training and electoral data transmission needs of the IEC-DRC, and further complementing the offer with eGovernment services. The whole portfolio of applications will be provided taking into account the actual operational challenges of the target environment.
The CCN #3 proposal to the SatElections Project “Open eTraining Network for the Millennium Development Goals” intends to carry out the following activities:
Electoral Data Transmission (EDT)
The EDT services will utilise a broadband satellite network in order to respond to the Electoral needs of the IEC-DRC and cope with the electronic delivery of voters’ registrations (with biometric data), candidates’ cards, voting papers and results. They include specific security features protecting the authenticity, confidentiality and integrity of the data.
The eTraining activities intend to respond to the needs of the IEC via:
- The transmission of the eLearning modules to the training centres and their usage via the Administra Training Platform, in order to train the operational personnel working for the electoral cycle;
- The completion of the eLearning content catalogue, already started with the production of both the Effective Electoral Assistance Module and the Electoral Administration modules.
Capacity Building (CB)
The Capacity Building application will expand the capabilities of the SatElections system with the provision of additional services in support to Capacity Building (such as community information, edutainment, public health information and Internet access point) for the benefit of the local communities living in the neighbour of the training sites of the IEC-DRC.
The pilot activities will run for a 12 months period offering the above mentioned services (i.e.: Electoral Data Transmission, eTraining and Capacity Building). End users’ feedback will be gathered in order to demonstrate and validate a sustainable business model.
The logistic support activities will help to resolve the severe logistic problems which affected the initial phase of the original SatElections pilot. The following activities will be carried out:
- Provision of UPS to the three pilot sites of Kikwit, Kananga, Mbuij Mayi,
- Migration of the Astra2Connect terminals over the Intersat Africa Astra2Connect service platform,
- Development and validation on the field of a self-contained “Learning Tele - Centre” facility (prefabricated structure) to provide a one stop solution to the issues of installation, telecommunications, electrical power supply, security monitoring, drinkable water provision and air conditioning, especially conceived for the most isolated rural areas in Sub Saharan countries,
- Provision of a Tele Surveillance system in order to monitor the pilot sites considered as the most vulnerable.
Figure 1 – Aggregate Pilot Network
click for larger image
The project intends to represent a solution answering the real needs of a community that is going to face for the second time elections. The actual legal and administrative framework of the DRC presents several shortcomings related mainly to the following issues:
- Elections were held once in 2006,
- The administrative system still needs to be designed and developed,
- The logistic problems represent a huge challenge in the activities related to the preparation and execution of the electoral cycle.
In this context, the IEC-DRC has expressed interest in having a unique interface for ICT via a provider able to solve problems and manage activities in a one stop solution.
Thanks to the cooperation among the Industrial Consortium (Openet Technologies, SES ASTRA), the Independent Electoral Commission of the DRC and the Institutional Partners (UNDP, EC, International IDEA) and to the support of ESA and the national governments, the project will demonstrate that the system and the associated services can represent an effective, sustainable and scalable solution able to respond to the real needs of African Developing Countries in terms of eGovernment services.
The aim of this pilot project is to set up, integrate, qualify and pilot the electoral data transmission service (EDT) throughout the provision of pre-operational services over a satellite based network, supporting the actual process of voters’ registrations with associated biometric data transfer, transmission of the candidates cards, voting papers and election results.
The pilot network for the electoral data transmission will be composed of 40 sites located in DRC.
The following Figure 1 summarizes the network proposed for the VPN link peripheral data collection centres equipped with VSATs for sending records to the centralized database of Kinshasa. The centres receive the biometric data acquired from the biometric kits stored on optical media.
Figure 1 – VPN
The iDirect Hub serves as a router for the VPN. Specifically, the entire data flow is directed to the HUB-Router that returns it to the VSAT station in Kinshasa. The service for the IEC network will be managed by Openet as Virtual Service Operator.
During the pilot operation, the VSATs will use the return channel bandwidth set by the HUB operator to the aggregated value of 5 Mbit/s. The site of Kinshasa will receive data over the forward channel set to the value of 5 Mbit/s to maintain a constant data flow. The total guaranteed bandwidth is the sum of the two channels (FW 5 Mbit/s + RT 5 Mbit/s).
The proposed C-band service consists in providing fixed and dedicated capacity for IP based applications and, where required, Internet access via a network of two-way satellite terminals. Following a review of available products and services which could respond to the requirement of the IEC, the SatElections team has identified in the iDirect technology the most viable solution.
The chosen iDirect service is based on a star topology network with a Hub and user terminals. The Asymmetric Full Duplex transmission is based on:
- TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) in the direction Hub => SR (Outbound, Downstream or Forward Channel) based on DVB-S2 standard,
- D-TDMA (Deterministic Time Division Multiple Access) in the direction SR => Hub (Inbound, Upstream or Return Channel),
- Dynamic bandwidth provisioning (Bandwidth-on-Demand),
- TCP acceleration capability in both directions QoS (Quality of Service) control.
The eTraining services will be operated throughout the Ku-band Astra2Connect platform in line with the approach adopted in the frame of the SatElections (main contract and CCN#2). The network will be initially based on the three sites of Kikwit, Kananga and Mbuij Mayi that will be migrated from the original set up of the SatElections pilot (based on dedicated capacity on the NSS-7 satellite) to the Astra2connet platform operated by Intersat Africa on the TS 11N satellite. SES ASTRA will expand the eTraining network with the activation of 30 additional terminals that will be operated with the Intersat Africa service platform.
The Pilot operations will last 12 months.
The Capacity Building activities (CB) will expand the capabilities of the network with the provision of additional services in support to a set of applications (such as community information, edutainment, public health information and internet access point) for the benefit of the local communities located around the sites of the IEC.
The CB service will be supported by the Wi-Fi connectivity around the CB site. The proposed network includes two types of services:
- Access to the a content server
- Access to the Internet
The contents stored on the content server will be made accessible via a Wi-Fi network to internal and external users. A dedicated router will be connected on one side to the Astra2Connect modems, and to the other side, via a suitable amplifier, to an external omni-directional antenna suitably located (likely on the roof of the building).
The solution is designed to provide connectivity to a set of PCs via Wi-Fi at 2.4 GHz frequency. The access will be managed by the system administrator by setting passwords and usage rules. Home users will require an external antenna, usually secured to the roof, connected to a wireless router.
The Content Server will be populated with a first selection of contents which will be refreshed by Openet during the project activities and throughout the remote access to the Internet, and pushed in Multicast via the Astra 2 Connect platform.
As part of this additional CB services, Openet will allow 10 RDC electoral operators to access to a distance course in Politics and International Relations organised in cooperation with an Italian University. In addition, ASTRA will provide 5 “Wireless To Go” terminals for the access to the Internet in the most isolated areas.
Figure 2: High level architecture based on Astra2Connect and Wi-Fi access.
The User and System requirements have been defined. Next steps will cover the production of a consolidated procurement plan together with the provision of six pilot sites for the start of the eTraining services.
Consolidated PSA and PilUP documents will be also finalised. The audio visual production of the additional training contents will be also realised. Pilot operations for the eTraining are expected to start early February 2011.
A Critical Review Meeting will take place in conjunction with the SatElections Pilot Committee meeting in Brussels. Then system development activities will be realised in order to qualify the pilot network and go ahead with the commissioning of the pilot system.
It is planned to start pilot operations for the EDT and CB in June 2011. Operations will last 12 months. Finally, the outcomes assessment will be carried out and the project will be completed by July 2012.
A new organisation (INEC) replaced unexpectedly the original SatElections partner (IEC) in May 2011. INEC has still not yet confirmed its interest in pursuing the activities started by IEC.
Due to the lack of response from INEC, the consortium – led by Openet – has proposed to close the SatElections activities in DRC and to shift the focus of the collaboration pursued in the pilot activities from the national stakeholders in DRC to international organisations active in the Central and South Africa.
In this respect, Openet has proposed the following three main activities:
- A new electoral eTraining service to support the African member countries of the “Economic Community of Central African States” (ECCAS), conceived in collaboration with the "Ecole de Formation en Afrique Central Electoral” (EFEAC) based in DRC and with the “European Centre for Electoral Support” (ECES) based in Brussels.
- Extend the scope of the eTraining and Capacity Building activity with a satellite radio based service in DRC to stimulate the implementation of strategies against climate changes and in favour of food security and rural/farmer subsistence. The activity will be conceived in the frame of the “Communication Initiative for Sustainable Development” programme in cooperation with FAO and the Italian Ministry of “Environment and Territory”.
- Support the “Rally to Read” initiative, pursuing eLearning/Educational assistance to very remote and rural schools in South Africa The above three activities have been negotiated and agreed with ESA on Feb 2012. For more info about the progress status click here "Satellite way for education (Sway4edu)".