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EXCLUSIVE! Working Principles of a Secured Event Streaming and Data Exchange Platform

OpenGov Asia has acknowledged the effectiveness of GovTech’s Asynchronous Data Exchange (ADEX) in facilitating the secure transmission and reception of real-time, lightweight data for both Whole-of-Government (WOG) and local companies. ADEX is a key component of the Singapore Government Tech Stack (SGTS) Communications Pillar, which also comprises API Exchange (APEX) and Cloud File Transfer (CFT).

Initially, ADEX was developed as the Sensor Data Exchange (SDX) and was incorporated into the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP). However, it has since evolved to support the exchange of not only sensor data but also non-sensor information. In this context, non-sensor data may include processed sensor data, such as raw sensor data after it has undergone processing and analysis.

ADEX facilitates the discovery and sharing of event data, including real-time status updates and event streams, across the Internet and Intranet. Subscribers receive the updates instantly upon publication of the events, while publishers have the flexibility to select the recipients of these updates.

Deployed on the Government on Commercial Cloud (GCC), ADEX allows the sharing of data up to the “restricted” classification level, without being deemed sensitive. It allows government departments to publish and subscribe to real-time data via a self-service portal on the Internet and Intranet of the GCC.

A secure event streaming platform and information sharing

The ADEX team has identified “Insider Threats” and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks as the most common and prevalent security concerns for an event streaming platform. Insider threats arise when a user intentionally or inadvertently misuses the platform.

To mitigate this risk, the team implemented multi-factor authentication and role-based policies. In addition, they have established utilisation threshold limits and continuously monitor them proactively to prevent DDoS attacks from causing system disruption. Proper maintenance of user profiles is also essential to ensure that users have precise control over the data stream access.

The platform supports recognised data protocols and utilises Transport Layer Security (TLS) channels for communication. Proper maintenance of user profiles is also essential to ensure that users have precise control over the data stream access.

The ADEX team emphasises that in addition to the information, such as descriptions and tags, provided by the data source, it is crucial to preview the readily available data, verify the source of the data and understand where and how the data is extracted. It is essential to be vigilant for issues while consuming the data and to use validations to ensure the data is secure.

Implementing strong user passwords, multi-factor authentication, and trustworthy encryption techniques for data at rest and in transit, as with any other type of platform, is essential for protecting user data.

To safeguard against exploitable vulnerabilities, users must make sure to apply the latest security patches and updates regularly to their software and systems. Additionally, they should adhere to conventional security practices and adopt as many security measures as budgets permit.

The team explored the distinctions between APEX and ADEX. They revealed that APEX is an API platform designed for accessing centralised and secure government services, and primarily relies on HTTP REST to facilitate this access.

ADEX, despite being a centralised event streaming and data exchange platform, offers greater flexibility in how government entities communicate real-time data. It simplifies the process of locating and subscribing to real-time data from multiple sources. Additionally, an approval process provides more precise control over data access, ensuring that only authorised individuals can view specific information.

The team benefits from utilising analytics as they need to study messaging-related metrics and usage patterns, allowing them to continuously improve the system’s performance and better serve users. By gaining insights into system performance and user needs, they can make informed decisions and implement enhancements to ADEX over time.

ADEX is currently operational and meeting the needs of various government agencies, making it an ideal platform for agencies like the National Environment Agency (NEA) to share critical environmental information with stakeholders. It allows NEA to improve stakeholder engagement and information dissemination by releasing updated environmental data such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed and wind direction.

Organisations that do not manage sensor data may lack the domain expertise necessary to comprehend that their data could potentially be transferred in real-time. ADEX, previously referred to as the Sensor Data Exchange (SDX), was developed to simplify the exchange of real-time sensor data. The team maintains that educating consumers on asynchronous data transmission and increasing platform knowledge is an ongoing process.

The team acknowledges that government agencies may need time to acclimate to ADEX, which utilises an event-driven, publish-subscribe methodology. Moreover, it is understood that adopting new technology can be daunting.

Rather than relying on traditional approaches such as Secured File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) or Application Programming Interface (API) for system connectivity, agencies must be willing to embrace a different approach.

Establishing and promoting a culture of collaboration within government institutions necessitates patience and needs time. While agencies possess expertise in their specific domains, they may be unaware of how their data could assist other agencies. The team is optimistic that agencies will be willing to share their data on ADEX, allowing other agencies to explore the marketplace and discover new opportunities independently.

ADEX is not like OTT platforms that stream movies and TV shows. Rather, it serves as a central broker for real-time data from the government, which continuously streams. ADEX empowers data creators to manage and supervise data consumers.

Its real-time, asynchronous fire-and-forget data transfer capabilities can help public agencies overcome the burden of inefficient and outdated information exchanges. By facilitating a culture of sharing that fosters collaboration and creativity throughout the public sector, ADEX can potentially help agencies identify new use cases for better public service delivery.

With real-time access to reliable data, public agencies can make more informed decisions, respond to emergencies more effectively, and enhance their overall operations and service delivery.

About the team

The ADEX team acknowledges the benefits of having a diverse workforce in fostering creativity and innovation. A crew forged from a variety of fields can bring a wide range of perspectives and ideas to the table, resulting in more innovative solutions.

However, it is equally important to define clear goals for the team, which can help provide a focus for their creativity and ensure that their ideas align with the organisation’s overarching vision and mission. By combining a diverse workforce with well-defined goals, organisations can foster a culture of creativity and innovation that drives success.

The team has effective strategies and best practices to promote a creative workplace environment, including nurturing teamwork among employees. Collaborative initiatives provide employees with opportunities to work on projects together and create a culture that values teamwork and collective brainstorming.

Fostering a work environment that encourages risk-taking and experimentation can motivate employees to take chances and pursue innovative ideas, even if they do not always result in success. Providing employees with access to tools and resources, such as technology, training, and workshops, can help support their creativity and encourage them to explore new ideas and approaches.

In addition to encouraging open communication, providing constructive criticism and feedback on ideas and initiatives can help employees refine their ideas, leading to better outcomes. Moreover, they recognise the importance of celebrating triumphs and recognising individuals who have made significant contributions to the company’s creative endeavours.

The team acknowledges that a range of resources and support are necessary to ensure the success of the programme. This includes access to adequate funding, building a team of skilled and knowledgeable members, clear goals and objectives, supportive management, effective communication tools and technology, opportunities for ongoing training and development, and regular performance evaluations and feedback.

These provisions can help to ensure that the programme is aligned with organisational objectives and priorities, that the team is equipped to succeed and that there are mechanisms in place to monitor progress, address challenges and make necessary adjustments.

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