Supporting a Digital Public Sector
Sponsored Content By Schneider Electric’s Secure Power Division - Canada
By David O’Reilly, VP and General Manager of Schneider Electric’s Secure Power Division - Canada
2020 has offered many challenges and significant change for Canadians. The ways we connect with each other have changed, and our opportunities to collaborate in person are limited – increasing our reliance on wireless networks and connected technology.
This is a focal point across the country for business, industry, and government. Organizations and services have adopted various distancing measures, such as online support systems and remote workspaces—and the public sector is no exception. Across the country, there has been a rapid and sustained increase in users logging in to work remotely – nearly 40 percent of Canadians did so in the last week of March 2020 – taking advantage of a broad digital network to keep themselves and their families safe while remaining productive.
The Canadian government is a driving force facilitating this transition to a digital workforce, going so far as to request non-critical government employees work remotely unless specifically necessary. In parallel, public services are also moving to online-access, meaning Canadians are mitigating their risk of COVID-19 and a new, more flexible working style is being normalized. Looking forward, it’s abundantly clear that working remotely will become a normal way of life for many Canadians.
This transition presents its own professional challenges. Namely, as the public sector workforce moves remote and digitizes more services, new processes and structures will need to be implemented to ensure employees can be efficient and effective to seamlessly continue their work in supporting and serving citizens across the country. Doing this means providing government employees with access to high quality, reliable networks and digital systems with a strong IT infrastructure to ensure downtime is limited and service for is smooth and simple.
To ensure the above criteria are met, and to ensure this new digital service and working environment can be sustained and developed, the public sector must continue to strengthen and expand the installations serving as the backbone to this online system. That is, modernizing and retrofitting the underlying data centre solutions, network, and infrastructure being used every day.
This can take many forms, but the goal remains the same – ensure more users can enjoy fast, consistent connection to a reliable, secure system that is scalable and simple to maintain. Without meeting these needs, operational costs can quickly rise with rapid replacement and downtime. Worse, user and citizen data could be put at risk.
When looking at the growth of the public sector’s distributed workforce, elasticity is becoming a baseline system requirement. That is – systems must readily endure rapid data increases and ensure availability for users simultaneously. With more users signing in and out daily as they continue to work remote, there will be largescale spikes and more time spent under full load, and if the infrastructure can’t support the network demands, downtime and costs to operate the infrastructure could skyrocket.
Looking to the future of the public sector, scalability is key for developing a robust remote work environment. As the number of users on government IT systems increases, individual data centre installations will be heavily stressed for longer times, meaning current systems could be overloaded – slowing or shutting down. By planning with growth in mind, for example, by integrating systems which can be scaled up through plug-and-play installations, costs can be reduced and expensive downtime prevented.
The public sector, perhaps more than any other industry, requires its data and networks be secure. General security can be improved with many data centre solutions and tools. For example, many networks allow the separation of virtual work environments ensuring only specific users can access certain data. Further, to protect the underlying infrastructure, data centre management tools like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT can restrict data for a given system to a single encrypted gateway, eliminating numerous potential entry points for cyberattacks.
Supporting this entire system comes down to ensuring resilient, reliable power. Today, data centres can be equipped with multiphase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems to do just that. These tools deliver exactly enough power to support entire systems, but in a surge or sag, can isolate and protect key equipment, or even provide battery power to eliminate downtime as a result of power loss.
While a modern public sector network’s functionality is key for the remote workforce, it’s equally important that it be simple and efficient to manage and maintain for IT managers and administrators. That in mind, it has become near-standard for IT infrastructure to leverage monitoring and analytics technology, offering line of sight to the health and status of vital devices for managers, anywhere and anytime. Simply – with access to real-time system analytics and performance data, system administrators can manage and maintain networks remotely to prevent or rapidly respond to downtime.
As we continue towards a digital public sector work environment with more of our government workforce online and remote, ensuring our supporting systems, equipment and infrastructure are modern, resilient, and scalable will be vital to the most efficient and effective experience for users and the public sector overall.