Statement by the Supervisor of Elections
Mr Mohammed Saneem
Result Management Information System Software Development Agreement Signing
28th September, 2017
11:00am – FEO HQ Conference Room
Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen and a very good morning to you all.
Acknowledging our DATEC partner, Ateen, thank you so much for taking out your time and to your team who are here as well. It’s good that we know who you are so we know who is working on the project and as well as our technical advisor Mr Robin Boyd including our partners from Korea, AWEB.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a very important day in the calendar in the lead-up to the 2018 General Elections.
The Fijian Elections Office as you are already aware is now in elections mode and we are now in the final enhancement of the Result Management System for the next General Elections.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the FEO had procured the development of the Result Management Information System prior to the 2014 General Elections through DATEC. The Result Management system was actually something based on the 2006 Result Management System, although the result calculation tabulation material was different.
The core structure was based on the 2006 design of the Result Management System which I’m informed was done also through DATEC. So with its long standing history and experience in the design of this sensitive software, DATEC was our preferred supplier for the enhancements that we needed to do.
Notwithstanding the legal side of things where they were the ones who built it in the first place so they get the chance to edit it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in terms of improvement to the 2014 Result Management System, from the 2006 design, the key thing that we included was the double blind data entry. This is to ensure that data entry in terms of the results of the election is done accurately by our data entry personnel and that there is a systematic approach to identifying or removing errors.
This was visible in the 2014 final results when you take the protocol results from Polling venues and you compare that with the results that was published by the Result Management System in terms of the high accuracy.
The double blind data entry system also allowed us a high level of transparency where our supervisors were able to verify discrepancies at data entry level and then verify through the protocol of results and then make the results accurate.
The 2014 General Election results were also tabulated in a manual system in our cabinets as well as the Result Management System and the results are still available on the website.
We had conducted a review after the 2014 General Elections at the FEO general level in terms of the Result tabulation system and other components that were involved, our team highlighted that we needed to enhance the software.
Enhancements include the need for the software to automatically print out results that have been recorded in the software. This is very useful in terms of updates for the political parties and the members of the media.
You may remember the pink slips that were pasted in the Results Centre in 2014. We actually ran out of space to do that. We want the RMIS to print a reciprocal slip of the similar polling station results so that political parties, members of the media and other interested persons are able to verify this.
We also want the software to become more user interactive. I must admit that in 2014, the software was too technical and I couldn’t use it because I didn’t know how to type strings and threads and I think Ateen understands all these languages better.
But this time around, I would like to be able to press some buttons for records to be generated. That’s much easier in terms of data handling for verifications and QA as well.
The other thing that we have incorporated into the design is a flush mechanism. The flush mechanism has the ability to delete all data in terms of numbers from the RMIS before data entry begins.
So we have notified political parties that on the night of elections, at 6pm, we will be conducting a system flush where we will delete all data from the RMIS. We will print the list of candidates and polling stations with zeros on them so that you can see there is no data there and it’s all zero, zero, zero. Then the next process is we will type one, one, one for candidates, we will print that as a secondary record that one is equal to one at the print out stage. We will then again flush the system and bring it down to zero, zero, zero then we start with data entry.
So this is very important from those who may be skeptical about whether one is equal to one or one is equal to not one. So in this sense, the flush process will be live on air from the RMIS on the FEO channels and I am sure the members of the media will also be interested in covering that ceremony at 6pm at the Result Management Centre on Election Night for the flush to ensure that you are satisfied that the system starts from zero when the data entry begins.
Ladies and gentlemen, just to mention, that we will still maintain the provisional results data entry and then once provisional results conclude at 7am the next morning, we will start with the results data entry for the final results. We will be giving out more information about the RMIS and the result delivery in due course.
The FEO in all its software development projects ensure that there is utmost sensitivity around data and source codes and to that end, as is our standard practice, our supplier has agreed to provide the software source codes to the FEO following the conclusion of the development phase and the source code will be kept secured by the FEO IT team. Basically, we don’t allow our source codes to be kept by any third party vendor and that is the reason why the source codes will be returned to us by the supplier and thank you Ateen for graciously agreeing to that very stringent requirement.
Ladies and gentlemen, Datec Fiji Limited will also be very useful in their role and knowledge because in 2014, the development of the software was done in a month and it was deployed on a closed network and I am sure they have also done some assessments as to what can be done better with the software and we will be doing final testing in about three months’ time and we will be doing a lot of public awareness on how the RMIS works.
It is very important that the RMIS at the Result Management Centre will actually be on a closed network. At this time, we have given thought after planning that there will not be any Wi-Fi networks in that facility. It will be a closed network setup and this is to prevent the ability of any penetration or suspicious activities in terms of the housing of the place so because I am not an IT person, I believe it’s called switch on and switch off – so we will physically protect that area by removing any chances of infiltration. That is for security.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Datec Fiji Limited is a very reputable supplier of software applications and it has many international partners and the FEO is proud to be associated with them to develop the RMIS for the next General Election.
Before I conclude, I would like to mention that there is a publicity component of the results of the election which is not handled by the RMIS. The publicity component will be handled by the Communications team at the FEO. This will be done with a little bit of a twist. We will be announcing the results on an App which has been developed in-house for the general public.
And this App will be updating itself every 15 minutes and you will be able to get the results on your phone every 15 minutes. So you don’t have to continuously download updates, the App will update itself every 15 minutes and you should be able to get the results.
The second source of the results will be the FEO website and the website will be running live results as you would have seen with the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia and Korean Elections. Results will go live on the website and the members of the public who are proficient with the smartphone technology will be able to access those results from the website. Members of the media will also be able to access those results in various formats from the website and we will talking to the media organisations in Fiji on Election results coverage because we will not be announcing the results every 20 minutes as we did in 2014.
The results will become virtual and will be available to you in your palms or at your computer screens. We will release more information on this once we have solidified our plans with the members of the media.
The demo of the app will be made available at the end of January, 2018 for you to use. We may place the 2014 General Election results on the app so that you are able to familiarize yourselves on how to go about the app and see the results.
So that is the results that will be exported from the RMIS – it’s not the results that RMIS is going to put on the website because it’s on a closed network and it doesn’t have internet access.
That brings me to the end of my brief on the aspects of the RMIS of the 2018 General Election.
And before I conclude, I would like to mention that the RMIS development and enhancement is being handled by Sadie Tunaulu and her team and they will be looking after other software developments and I would like to thank her and her team for their long hours they have dedicated for the conclusion of some of our technological projects of the office we wish your team all the best in this project and all the other projects.