Mission Impossible? New IT Network for Elections Still in the Works

Efforts by the General Elections Commission, or KPU, to prepare for next month™s voting were once again cast in doubt as KPU officials and experts disagreed over whether the information technology network to transmit poll results would be ready in time.

œWe™re expecting the tender winner to finish installing the network system by the end of this week, Husni Fami, who heads the KPU™s IT technical team, said on Sunday.

Laksana Tri Handoko, an IT network analyst of the Indonesia Institute of Sciences, or LIPI, which helped develop the technology in question, took issue with that statement. œThere is no way you can install it all in a week like they said, Laksana said.

He explained: œThey must bring and install the equipment in all district commission offices, such as in Papua and other provinces that are not easy to reach. They surely cannot use the old network because it™s a different system, the maintenance for which would be costly. They have to develop new network.

The IT network will be used to send vote counting results from the various district election commissions to Jakarta. The network will connect the central office in Jakarta to all districts, enabling election officials to instantly access results.

The KPU announced on Thursday that PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, or Telkom, won the bid to provide and install the network, create a disaster recovery center and call center, and maintain the network.

The project is valued at Rp 14.6 billion ($1.2 million). œHowever, with the limited infrastructure, the provider [Telkom] would not be able to work alone. I believe it will ask other providers, such as Indosat and Excelcomindo to help them build the network. The three providers have worked together several times for these kind of projects, Laksana said.

As of press time, Telkom could not be reached for comment on the matter.

However, Hadar Gumay, chairman of the Center for Electoral Reform, said that even if the installation was finished this week as the KPU said, the little time left for testing the system could miss significant errors.

œYou cannot run the trial of a new system only a week before the elections. That™s just impossible. What if the system doesn™t run well? he said.

Camelia Pasandaran
Source : Jakarta Globe (23 March 2009)

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