The Next Leap


Options for Government Action

with 4 comments

While mobile connectivity will soon be pervasive, the technology is in its infancy. Maturing technologies such as WiMax and emerging technologies such as cognitive and software defined radio are expected to revolutionise connectivity, but still require testing and development. Stakeholders active in this area were agreed that Ireland can brand itself as an attractive venue for spectrum research and development. Conditions in Ireland are particularly favourable: Ireland has a highly developed wireless sector to build upon, and its range of spectrum is unusually wide since there is no extensive military communications allocation, nor is the country bordered by neighbours with conflicting spectrum needs. Key to this is the development of a favourable and flexible spectrum licensing regime that will attract companies to test and develop their technologies in Ireland. To achieve this, a task force comprising ComReg, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, and leaders in industry and research, could be assembled to further develop a liberal radio spectrum experimentation policy on the basis of ComReg’s Test & Trial Licensing Scheme, established in 2006.

While Ireland has had successes in transitioning to eGovernment, the need to renew and accelerate the pace of transition was a key theme in many stakeholders’ inputs. A renewed eGovernment campaign would elevate Ireland’s global profile and rebrand it as an innovation leader. Lack of digital literacy at government and official level was identified by stakeholders as a significant stumbling block. Moreover, by changing their own practices Government departments can kick start the adoption of e-payments and invoicing systems by tenderers and suppliers in the wider economy. This could, for example, be an important support to Ireland’s e-payments industry. Internet delivered government services are also key to reducing the cost-to-income ratio for businesses. Moreover, by providing services over the Internet, Government can stimulate the demand for wired and wireless connectivity, making Ireland a more attractive test bed for spectrum R&D.

A number of stakeholders viewed the security sector in general as a promising niche for Irish software developers. In addition, the need for critical infrastructure protection, highlighted by one stakeholder, is a point emphasised here. The need to guarantee resilient connectivity and Internet services will increase as the Internet assumes an increasingly important role in daily political, social, and economic life, particularly if Ireland is to place a priority on data centre hosting and the provision of digital content. By establishing a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) within the Department, DCENR would provide a means of protecting the connectivity of Irish citizens and businesses against a hostile attack by hackers and racketeers on the Internet, and of providing support services such as anti-virus and intrusion detection. The need for this unit is such that a small, independent CERT called the “Irish reporting information security service” (IRIS) will begin functioning on a small budget in November 2008. The establishment of a national, government supported CERT would not only provide assurance to companies operating in Ireland, but could be regarded in the wake of the Estonia DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks in 2007, and the Georgia cyber attacks this year, as something of a priority.


Written by johnnyryan

13/12/2008 at 01:45

4 Responses

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  1. I will draw these couple of pages to the attention of a few people I know in the game, as it requires more expertise to get deep. For now, I can certainly agree with the idea on e-Government, but fear that the moment is not great. Altho it should be, a great time to save costs and grow efficiency.

    I hit the above and the wireless research before, and would endorse something innovative here, preferably led by industry and facilitatd by the IDA / EI.

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:03

  2. As someone who has been advocating for the establishment of an Irish CERT for the past number of years and eventually set up the Irish reporting information security service (, I am delighted to see this issue being highlighted in the report.

    Ireland’s economy has grown rapidly over the past decade thanks in no small part to the increasing use of information technology. Information technology and the Internet has enabled consumers and businesses alike to better access and deliver services, create new markets, exchange information rapidly and process information in more efficient means. However this increasing reliance on information technology brings with it numerous risks and threats that if not properly addressed could result in significant negative impact on Ireland’s economy and potentially on the country’s national security. Just as business and consumers have found legitimate use for the Internet there are others who use the Internet for more nefarious purposes such as criminal, illegal, terrorist and corporate and national espionage activities.

    Recent media coverage has highlighted the increasing number of security breaches impacting on companies and individuals while at the same time criminals are finding more ways to exploit the technology that we use in our day to day business and personal lives.

    This media coverage has also been reinforced by the recent Irish Cybercrime survey ( which shows 1 in 4 Irish companies have suffered from an external intrusion onto their systems.

    The vulnerability of a nation’s ICT infrastructure was also highlighted in the spring of 2007 when Estonia suffered a massive cyber attackwhich resulted in it being effectively taken off from the Internet while these attacks lasted. The cyber attacks mirrored social unrest which included street riots and vandalism. While no cost has been put on the effects of the sustained cyber attacks, research indicates the costs were higher than those incurred as a result of the actual physical riots.

    This type of attack was also repeated during the recent Russian/Georgian conflict with attacks inflicted against the ICT infrastructure of both countries.

    The attack on Estonia highlighted to many nations, Ireland included, how vulnerable many businesses and online systems are to attacks from cyberspace. Estonia had recently established a national Computer Emergency Response Team which is felt greatly diminished the potential impact of these attacks.

    Ireland needs a dedicated, professional, single body within Ireland that can provide services to consumers, businesses and other organisation alike advising them on how to better protect their information assets and what to do in the event they discover they are the victim of an attack.

    I look forward to seeing this initiative go forward and will provide whatever help and assistance I can to do so.


    Brian Honan

    19/12/2008 at 23:51

  3. Ireland is certainly a good place to do some spectrum experimentation, a fact recognised by leading telecoms vendor Ericsson, which long ago set up the then-unique test network around its Irish HQ. Ireland could certainly work with the (ever fewer in number) top telecoms and IT suppliers in this area.

    There was some good early progress on eGovernment, not world-leading but sound. But some years ago the pace slowed, and the state of REACH is a particular embarassment. So yes, we need to get back the drive on this, and this will naturally provide new impetus to private sector initiatives. The “rapid response function” mentioned also seems a good and practical action, as the danger is real and growing, and the impact now from any major attack would be severe, and this will only grow, and a major attack can be managed by really very few people.

    J Doyle

    20/12/2008 at 11:50

  4. On E-Government, Obama seems to have started off by doing it on Day One…
    Micah Sifry, writing on

    The Obama Administration took its first major steps toward implementing its promise to make government more open and transparent, with two presidential memoranda covering freedom of information, transparency and open government. The first memo directing all agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure.” This is a 180-degree turn from the policies of the Bush Administration. Most interesting for e-democracy fans: The memo says “all agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.”

    … Obama is calling on the federal government to explore and embrace the wisdom of crowds and to greatly expand the “collaborative government” experiments that have been popping up inside and around the bureaucracy like mushrooms after a storm.

    Johnny Ryan

    22/01/2009 at 21:40

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