IEBC assures measures in place to ensure election technology delivers

June 12, 2017 3:35 pm
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The KIEMS devices acquired by the commission have a dual-sim capacity hence their ability to minimise downtimes occasioned by weak internet connectivity by automatically picking the strongest network available in a given location while transmitting results/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Acting ICT Director Chris Msando on Monday assured adequate measures have been put in place to ensure its technology infrastructure works on August 8.

Msando said the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) kits acquired by the electoral agency will work at an optimum capacity as comprehensive training has been done to avoid a repeat of technology failure witnessed during the 2013 general election.

“In 2013, it is the people that failed the technology. In that election the technology was delivered about two or three weeks before the election, some of the devices were arriving a night before the election. People were receiving technology that they were not prior exposed to (sic) and being expected to use it to the success of the election – that was a tall order,” Msando said.

He said the KIEMS devices acquired by the commission have a dual-sim capacity hence their ability to minimise downtimes occasioned by weak internet connectivity by automatically picking the strongest network available in a given location while transmitting results.

He noted that IEBC had acquired two new data centers to mitigate the risk of systemic failures triggered by technical hitches while relaying results to the national tallying centre.

“The Commission has invested in redundancy in terms of back-end data processing. We’ve invested in two new data centres so we’re going to have an active-active  data site meaning any of those two data centres can receive data, process it and project it to Kenyans,” he said.

So far, the commission has in place 35,000 KIEMS gadgets. Of those, 11,000 have already been put into active use during the recently concluded voter verification exercise nationwide.

Safran Identity and Security, the firm supplying the kits, is expected to deliver the final consignment of 10,000 additional KIEMS devices to bring the total number of the gadgets to be used to identify voters and transmit results during the election to 45,000.

“We’re going to put two sim cards from different operators that are going to run on a private network – APN – that is encrypted and secure,” Msando assured.

According to Msando, the commission is in talks with mobile telecommunication operators with a view of lobbying them to enable 2G network on poll day for use by the IEBC.

“Enabling 2G or EDGE is just a value added service that exists in their (operators’) infrastructure which they may not activate because they may have deployed it in areas that don’t have many customers using the service,” he said.

The ICT head noted that it was critical to have enhanced GPRS since the results transmission aspect of the election would also involve sending images of the form 34A – the official document containing election results for the presidential vote – to the national tallying centre.

He also disclosed that the KIEMS equipment will be secured using a bar-code encrypted to a particular polling centre, making it impossible for it to be used to transmit results from elsewhere.

The equipment is also wired in a manner that prevents the polling clerks from transmitting results when voting is still underway.

“Only authorised devices will be able to transmit results. It is totally locked to only the applications you need to launch at a time. The polling station has to be closed electronically in the evening for the polling officer to have access to the result transmission system.”

IEBC has cleared 14,552 candidates for the August 8 election, thirteen per cent of them being youths while women account for nine per cent.

Msando was speaking during a conference organised by the United Nations Development Programme on combating cyber-terrorism and violent extremism during the electioneering period.

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