Vic govt embarks on data interchange project

Vic govt embarks on data interchange project

New system to replace paper transfers

In line with its e-business infrastructure initiative and e-health system overhaul, the Victoria Department of Human Services (DHS) will implement a new data interchange platform to facilitate information sharing between non-government organizations.

The department's business vision for the project is to provide a centralized, reliable, and secure data transfer facility that will enable non-government entities to deliver and receive data with ease and in a timely manner, according to tender documents released this week.

Victoria's Department of Human Services encompasses the Ministers for Health, Aged Care, Community Services and Housing, and is responsible for funding and delivering services that are monitored and managed through various reporting systems and tools.

The department's existing information exchange processes is antiquated, with a combination of paper-based forms, electronic media (CDs and spreadsheets), and existing online networks being used to transfer data.

Electronic delivery of applications, services, and data within DHS has been limited to a closed network called HSNET which made electronic delivery and receipt of non-government data extremely difficult to achieve.

The DHS exchanges data with some 3,000 external organizations from multiple physical locations throughout the state. These vary from large hospitals with their own technology departments and standards to small community-based organizations.

"With the advent of IT, such as the Internet, it has become increasingly important for business areas to develop applications that face outward from the private HSNET environment," according to the department. "In order to facilitate this need, the DHS implemented the e-business infrastructure for secure provisioning of externally facing applications."

As part of the delivery of the e-business environment, the department adopted a "common services" approach to facilitate controlled access to the infrastructure components and user identity information; however, the secure data transfer facility was "not fully-defined and subsequently incorporated".

All the DHS divisions met to discuss the requirements of the project, which were initially documented on September 4, 2006 and updated on May 13 this year.

The initial draft requirements document was prepared by the Information Services Branch, "verified with the business", and a pilot system was built with existing DHS licensed EAI products and tested by the Metropolitan Health and Aged Care information systems group.

With the pilot complete a decision was made to proceed to a request for information.

Other drivers for the project include increased use of common services, to reduce the likelihood of data loss, to reduce "frustration" due to network constraints like firewalls, and to reduce the labour required to collect data from agencies across the department.

The tender recommends the application be Web-based and it will sit among the e-business portal, WebSEAL reverse-proxy, LDAP directory server, and network firewalls.

The significant components of the e-business infrastructure environment are an IBM WebSphere Application Server for J2EE application deployments, an IBM WebSphere Portal Server, Tivoli Access Manager, Lotus Notes, and "corporately supported" databases.

The tender for the new system closes this month.

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