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Innovation: the MFA receives the “G-Cloud Award”

The Head of Office IV of the Directorate General for Management and Information and Communications Technology, Francesco Lazzaro, has received the “G-Cloud Award” from the Minister for the Public Administration and Simplification, Filippo Patroni Griffi. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the only central government body to receive the award, along with the Treasury Department at the Ministry for the Economy and Finance.

The LIMES Project

The primary goal of the MFA’s pilot project, “LIMES –IT Line for Migration, Emergencies and Security” is to provided continuity in the services offered to Italian nationals living abroad. It is intended to “strengthen active and passive security measures and to safeguard the information technology security of diplomatic-consular missions located in areas of conflict”. The governing law is Decree Law 215 of 2011 (known as the “decree for the financing of international missions”).

The underlying concept is to provide operational continuity both in consulting the databases containing details of the Italian community abroad, and in delivering consular services during crises. More specifically, the project consists of configuring virtual servers hosted through the central government’s infrastructure and populated with the data and applications pertaining to consular functions in high-risk countries. Thanks to LIMES, consular services are able to continue and searches can be conducted on, and data extrapolated from, the databases.

In essence, LIMES is a coordinated series of initiatives aiming to provide the highest possible degree of IT security for the Italian community abroad. It takes the form of a private cloud, created and managed entirely by the MFA.

Data centre and system to combat IT piracy

LIMES is, first, an enhanced ministerial data centre that hosts “virtualised” databases. Second, it provides an efficient system to combat IT piracy, using extremely reliable protection tools (antivirus, logging, firewalls). Third, LIMES provides an integrated convergent communication system fed by additional channels to those traditionally used. Keeping communications with high-risk regions open is of vital importance – and nowadays that can be achieved using a range of channels: phone, fax, email and instant messaging.

Eight missions abroad already included in LIMES

The project has already been activated at various levels in six states, making a total of 8 missions and over 7000 Italian nationals (in terms of individual records in the integrated consular functions system) currently included in the project.