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PACI leading from the front in Kuwait's e-development plans
January 2, 2014, 11:12 am
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In one of the biggest and largest exercise of its kind, Kuwait will soon embark on the distribution of the hi tech Smart cards in phases to private sector expatriates during the next three months, Musaed M. Al-Asousi, Director General of the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) has said.

In an exclusive chat with The Times, Al-Asousi disclosed that since expatriates form the largest segment of Kuwait’s population, they are to be divided into segments or categories based on geographical distribution.

“The governorate with the least population density – Mubarak Al Kabeer or the Capital – will be the starting point,” revealed Al-Asousi adding that expatriates will benefit from all e-government services and will be able to access and transact with government and private sector services using the digital identifying signature with the smart cards.

Kuwaitis comprise only 32 percent of the total population in their own country, with around 1,216,118 nationals, as against 68 percent of expatriates with a registered number of 2,619,960, Al-Asousi pointed out PACI was established under decree/law No. 32 in 1982 as the general authority for Civil Information to keep pace with the diverse characteristics of the population of Kuwait, where there is multiplicity of nationalities, as well as dramatic community growth and population mobility.

This visionary planning by PACI has put Kuwait at the forefront of the world in recording population and identity management, and would enable the country to control variables in the system while maintaining a huge data bank of national information. This wealth of data helps decision makers and provides information to all government ministries and private agencies.
As part of its mission, PACI has created and maintains a single national bank for civil information with regards to the country’s entire population, regardless of nationality and age, which includes vital records on birth, death, marriage etc. This information is constantly being revised and updated.

Moreover, information on all citizens and expatriates is a reliable official reference and is handy for all formal individual transactions, Al-Asousi said. This central population database is considered key to enable timely and accurate identity information, providing reliable and accurate data on the population demographics as a fundamental planning requirement that would lead to improve decision making.

Elaborating on this exercise of such a huge magnitude, Al-Asousi said  that PACI identity management systems provide secure, unique and tamper-proof identities that are quickly becoming a primary component of national e-government strategies. Furthermore, it allows for collaboration and efficiency between governmental organizations in addition to the obvious benefit of securing individuals identity while accessing e-government services.

At present, additional information required for issuing Smart Cards will be the latest photograph and blood type of the holder, while information such as fingerprints will be provided by the Ministry of Interior. PACI has already begun to issue smart IDs to expatriates, beginning with government employees.

In the initial phase only Kuwaitis were being given Kuwaiti National Identity Smart Cards. Al-Asousi explained its features in brief by saying that the Kuwaiti National Smart Card is one of the most advanced and secure one of its kind in the world. The card is fashioned with identification parameters that are securely stored in the smart chip and thus enables establishment of on-site as well as remote identity for secure transactions. The card holder can also access all identity based services. The digital signature certificate on the card enables the cardholder to sign for transactions digitally.

Al-Asousi explained that the national Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) validation gateway enable real-time verification and validation of digital transactions and strong user authentication capabilities. Explaining this, Al-Asousi said the card itself is like a building with multiple apartments. We have built the building now and have given other ministries zones in the chip that information can be stored to access. He said that the smart card would have all information required stored offline, which means detailed information such as x-rays or health records or even criminal records will not be placed in the smart card, contrary to what people believe.

The card has so many security features and is one of the most advanced in the world. The current cost of the card is less than what they collect from individuals and plans are afoot to increase the fee. Children above 5 years will also have their photograph in the card unlike the previous civil ID card.

PACI has expanded its network to oversee the continuous enrollment and updating of all construction across the country in order to provide accurate information regarding housing and organizational establishments. “We are keen to play a distinctive and active role in sustainable development and growth through a nationwide database that supports government in strategic planning,” stated Al-Asousi.

PACI has also launched its Geographical Information System (GIS) enabled statistical reporting system through its website. The organization has invested heavily in its ICT infrastructure and one component of this has been the launch of the Kuwait Finder App, which is a boon for Kuwait’s emerging digital community. According to Al-Asousi, it is a program which allows for Kuwait’s map to be quick searched and routed by determining the most efficient directions to selected destinations and locations.

Innovative as it is, PACI has assigned address numbers labeled on plates affixed to buildings -units, governmental, commercial and residential as well as industrial, agricultural and recreational. Users can also search locations by category or by ownership in terms of government or private. Al-Asousi highlighted  how PACI’s GIS system can be beneficial to other government bodies, saying, government agencies can benefit from the GIS system in two ways – they can use the PACI GIS map as a base on which they may add their own GIS layers such as infrastructure pertaining to water networks, underground power cables and the likes. Furthermore, agencies can use PACI’s GIS location search services for faster more efficient delivery of services.

In conclusion, Al-Asousi stated that the strategic objectives of PACI are driving technological initiatives that are aligned with the Kuwait’s national strategy and development plan and that the organization has started many core technological projects, the most important of which is the re-engineering of PACI’s IT systems. PACI is to soon begin phase 3 of mainframe modernization program so as to provide the organization with greater ability to deliver quality service efficiently through various channels to nationals and expatriates across Kuwait.

-Times Kuwait Report

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