The electronic government may not renovate a collapsed subway, but it gives the citizens an opportunity to inform the government about the existing subway problems. Moreover, the citizens can check existing status as pertains to job commencement and completion. A motorist cannot get a speeding ticket from the e-government, but he attains the privilege of paying for this ticket online using his credit card instead of queuing for the same service. E-government does not make decisions in city council meetings; however, citizens comprehend the agenda. Additionally, they can watch or listen to the proceedings online. They can do this while at the home, library, or at their workplace. Furthermore, they can communicate with the leaders using email. E-government does not assume the responsibilities of the local government. Most importantly, it places the services and information on an entirely new medium, which is accessible to citizens, government workers, and business associates. It is noteworthy that when posting such data the government considers the consumer’s needs and priorities, not just it’s own.
Definition of e-government
E-government is the ability of local government to convey information and services electronically to those concerned. The mediums used include the Internet, interactive voice response systems, and touch screen kiosks. Thus, e-government is a means through which the government delivers services close to its people. This has entirely transformed government operations, by making them transparent and convincing (Nixon & Koutrakou XIX).
Security in e-government
Confidentiality is an essential aspect when carrying out official proceedings in government. It is evident that the security necessities of e-government applications differ; thus, it is prudent to apply the minimum level of security measure in accordance with the case. Retrieval systems are imperative when presenting discretion in secret information. For example, it is not appropriate to disclose downloads of personal forms, this can be an application for a medical check-up. Thus, those using this service cannot access this information. Hence, it remains a secret only known to the concerned individual. On the contrary, there are situations where information posted by the government requires confidentiality and substantiation. For example, in the case of a penal code application, disclosing such records is mandatory. Furthermore, the subjects of the penal code only, access the records. In this case, the system requires identification details of the parties concerned to ease the retrieval of information. There are three security levels applied by most governments. The first level is ‘secure for normal use. ‘The second level is ‘secure with trustworthy infrastructure’ while the third level is ‘technical end-to-end security’ (Nardelli, Posadziejewski & Talam 272).
Implementing of security strategy is not enough, as government needs to establish a solid security system to safeguard citizens’ information. As a result, society will trust the work of the administration. Different governments prefer their own security systems; there are those who prefer an elaborate and complex system. Conversely, there are those who prefer an easy but efficient system. Moreover, many security analysts have suggested that an excellent security system should not be complex or reduce flexibility in any way. The security procedures executed should safeguard private information and at the same time establish sites that satisfy the needs of those using the system. It is evident that security is not only about technology. Moreover, research has proved that most security breaches involving the Internet happen from within the institution. Some of these breaches are because of negligence or lack of knowledge by those involved. For example, an employee can accidentally download a virus or install unauthorized software. In order to prevent this from happening, a local government has the duty of educating its employees on efficient ways of protecting data (Docstoc 18).
A well-understood security policy that takes care of all the data ensures the efficiency of a security system in an organization. Installation of firewall software prevents the system from outside intrusion. This also applies to software that checks network traffic. Furthermore, this software help in the identification of illegal efforts to upload, alter, or damage the files and data. A technology known as ‘public key infrastructure’ (PKI) or digital signatures provides reliable security for local governments that offer complicated e-government services. These services include online transactions or legal documents. Most importantly, PKI makes use of encryptions to guard susceptible data. It is one of the best technologies used in authenticating individuals participating in Internet transactions. It is also the most efficient in providing confidentiality and overall security. On the other hand, PKI has its demerits, which include its legal-binding requirements. Moreover, it can slow down the electronic processing of transactions if not well operated. Currently, this software is expensive to purchase (Gupta, Agarwala & Agarwala 128).
Local governments use various tools to maintain the security level of their data. One of these tools is biometrics which involves scanning body parts such as the face, thumbprint, or eye retina. Most importantly, through scanning of these body parts and comparing them with records in databases the computer records an accurate identification process. Many government departments such as NASA apply this technology; thus, local authorities have started implementing it. It is noteworthy that the use of biometrics is faster, more efficient, and more reliable than PIN numbers. The other outstanding advantage of this technology is the fact that it trims down labor costs. However, biometrics and PKI are not perfect in their operations. Thus, local governments should put in place a disaster recovery plan that identifies the critical applications involved; hence, applies the relevant and efficient measures to bring it back in case of a disaster or security breach. Frequent testing and updating of the plan are essential. Moreover, those concerned should be ready to initiate the recovery strategy in time. It is imperative to back up systems and data with copies stored at a location far from the main processing site (Gupta, Agarwala & Agarwala 129).
E-government is the best and most efficient means of involving citizens in administrative issues. Moreover, it provides the government with a reliable way of receiving feedback from the public. This enables it to address areas with deficiencies. However, this system of government can be disastrous and costly in case there are no sufficient security procedures in place. This ensures efficient data protection; thus, avoiding its misuse. Most local governments have implemented the three most efficient levels of security. Moreover, there are technologies and tools used in providing security for the data; these include PKI and biometrics. Moreover, they are the best technologies for data security. Conversely, they have demerits, which the users must be conversant with to avoid inconveniences. Most importantly, in e-government security of data stored in databases receives the highest priority and attention.
Docstoc. E-government: a strategic planning guide for local officials. Docstoc. 2009. Web.
Gupta, Kailash. Agarwala, Kamalesh. & Agarwala, Prateek. Digital Signature: Network Security Practices. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd, 2005. Print.
Nardelli, Enrico. Posadziejewski, Sabina. & Talam, Maurizio. Certification and security in E-services: from E-government to E-business: IFIP 17th World Computer Congress, TC11 stream on security in E-services, August 26-29, 2002, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Massachusetts, MA: Springer, 2003. Print.
Nixon, Paul. & Koutrakou, Vassiliki. E-government in Europe: re-booting the state. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2007. Print.