Irish Government to appoint CIO to manage 21st-century nation

14 Oct 2009

The Irish Government is finally going to appoint a digital tsar to manage the Irish public sector’s use of IT, existing e-government infrastructure and national digital assets, it emerged today.

Speaking at the launch of Imagine’s WiMax technology, which will bring speeds of 8Mbps and higher from base stations 8km away and which will cover 90pc of the country by 2012, Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD said his Government will appoint a Chief Information Officer (CIO).

“The Government have made a commitment in our renewed programme that we will appoint a Chief Information Officer. This CIO will provide leadership for the development of information and communications technology and other relevant technologies within and outside Government.

“The CIO will report directly to me and will lead a streamlined government structure for delivering the ICT function both within the Government and in the community.”

The new CIO’s role

Cowen said the CIO will advise the Government on how to take a proactive, leading role in championing ICT innovation and development externally, as part of building a Smart Economy.

“The CIO will assist public-sector modernisation by driving changes to government business processes and implementing improvements in how government communicates with its citizens through ICT. And the CIO will take a cross-departmental and agency-leadership role in driving the e-government programme. This is a further expression of this Government’s commitment to the development of innovative ICT technology in Ireland.”

Cowen confirmed the Government will commit to ensuring that 100Mbps broadband will roll out to all second-level schools in Ireland.

“The Government is currently overseeing a pilot project which will see 78 second-level schools, right around the country, equipped with 100 megabits of broadband connectivity. I am pleased that the renewed Programme for Government now contains a firm commitment that this will be extended to all second-level schools by 2012, along with the rollout of new digital-access devices for teachers and students.

“Today’s exciting launch of cutting-edge WiMax technology is a very welcome addition to these developments, and to the ambitions we all share for the renewal of our economy and society,” Cowen said.

Availability of Imagine’s WiMax broadband service

Cowen was speaking at the launch of Imagine’s WiMax broadband service, which will be initially available in Dublin, Athlone and Sligo.

Imagine, which is headed up by telecoms entrepreneur Sean Bolger, will be investing €100 million in upgrading its national infrastructure to WiMax.

WiMax is a wireless broadband standard colloquially referred to as a “hotspot for a city” and is backed worldwide by Intel, Google, Comcast and Motorola. It is deployed in 145 countries by major operators, including Clearwire and Sprint.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD has confirmed the Government will commit to ensuring that 100Mbps broadband will roll out to all second-level schools in Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years