The internet infrastructure with its related applications, such as eCommerce and email, has become indispensable for governments, businesses and individuals as well. The massive and rapid development in information technology field, including the advancement of various Internet applications and computer hardware, makes the current internet infrastructure insufficient to meet the needs.
eGovernment is one of the main internet applications, if not the most important of all; therefore, the existing infrastructure of the Internet, (referred to as Internet 1 for the purpose of this article) may not be suitable for the development of eGovernment applications in the near future, where it is necessary to be prepared for the future shift to Internet (2). This article is an attempt to clarify the necessity and inevitability of such shift for a successful eGovernment application.
1. Internet (1)
Originally, the Internet was invented by USA in the 1960s with a key objective to create an effective communication system that wouldn’t be affected in case of any nuclear military strike against the U.S by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the communication system was established to remains beyond any central command or possible control. Soon, educational institutions and universities which participated in developing the Internet realized the importance of taking advantage of this technology in the field of science and research by linking universities in the United States with each other. Then the military filed of the internet was separated from the educational and research fields.
In the early nineties, the internet became available for individual; since then, the real revolution of the information and Internet age has begun. The Internet started to create applications to meet the needs of individuals and institutions and it is no longer restricted only to the U.S. but has extended to the whole world. The progress of communities, the affordability of computers, and the diversity of devices connected to the Internet and use of various applications such as eCommerce and email on a daily basis by individuals
led to very fast development of these applications. Multimedia is now widely used, the size and quality of data are increasing significantly. Therefore, the existing internet infrastructure has turned incapable to accommodate the needs of these applications because it was not prepared for this purpose, and related applications were limited in terms of volume and diversity. Rapidly, the
Internet and its related applications have complicated and diversified, especially the massive number of websites and servers turns IPv4 protocol of the internet (1) insufficient to accommodate enough addresses.
When arguing that the Internet (1) does not meet the needs of either current or future Internet applications this necessarily includes the eGovernment - not only because it is considered as one of the most important applications, but because it contains them all as it provides citizens with all required government services. We know that these needs shift day after day to eServices, which requires the eGovernment to continuously upgrading and increasing its complexity and such advancement should be at least in parallel or ahead of any new developments in Internet applications.
2. Internet (2)
American universities and institutions realized that change is inevitably coming and new infrastructure must be available to provide high speed to accommodate current and future Internet applications. Websites like (www.internet2.edu) or Wikipedia mention that Internet (2) project is a consortium of non-for-profit institutions led by more than 180 U.S. universities, in addition to 60 commercial companies, including (Intel), (IBM), (SESCO) and other leading companies. The role of this consortium is to find applications and advanced communication technologies to accelerate the development of the Internet (2), and integrate it within current applications
and infrastructure of Internet (1). Today, the infrastructure for Internet (2) project consists of 28 points of presence which are distributed within the United States.The points of presence comprise servers and high-speed cables of bandwidth literally thousand times more than the bandwidth available within Internet (1). These points are called (GigaPoPs) where each bandwidth is 2.4 GB
per second. The (Abilene) network is forming the basic infrastructure for the Internet (2), a communications network developed in cooperation between Internet (2) project and companies such as Qwest and SESCO.
IPv6 protocol is one of the main features of Internet (2), which uses 128-bit in eight boxes to accommodate the huge numbers of addresses compared to IPv4. This will overcome the problem of lacking enough addresses in Internet (1) for computers and websites. However it is necessary to know that Internet (2) is not separated from Internet (1) network, but a more advanced version.
3. Future eGovernment
The term eGovernment means use of information and communications technology to support inter-government business as well as providing services and interacting with citizens. These services include, for example, health, education, employment, housing and tourism. If we look deeply into each service provided, we notice that it needs advanced and efficient information systems which can deal with the huge amount of the ever increasing data. It also needs well-developed infrastructure to meet the needs of the citizens smoothly away from complexity by providing friendly interfaces to the user and using multimedia such as video, audio and images since the main objective of the eGovernment is to provide trouble-free services to citizens. Therefore, it is of no surprise that future eGovernment services to citizens has to use highly advanced technologies, such as high-definition TV (HD TV), (Virtual
Laboratories) and (Telemedicine) etc. These services could be provided via the current infrastructure of Internet (1).
eGovernment reflects the level of progress in any country or government, where the use of sophisticated technology indicates growth and advancement in the country. The Internet (2) represents the next infrastructure of eGovernment due to the rapidly changing nature of our era, where all government entities and ministries as well as e-commerce applications are evolving very rapidly, in addition to the increasing complexity of information systems, hardware and various tools and devices. We should not forget that the number of eGovernment users is rising day after day, while the above facts show that Internet (1) with its existing infrastructure is incapable to accommodate the current rapid development. Therefore shifting to Internet (2) is inevitable to enable the eGovernment to continue providing its services efficiently.
* Say Yes to e-Government e-Magazine, No. 25, Kingdom of Bahrain, 21/12/2011.