Interoperable and maintainable data delivery platform delivers multiple benefits
Department of Transport Ireland, Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division (DVCSD)
The Department of Transport Ireland wanted to move away from its legacy architecture toward a services-oriented, API-driven model. Since the division is responsible for the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF)—a database containing details of all 2.4 million registered vehicles and 2.65 million licensed drivers in Ireland—it needed greater flexibility and more efficient development.
Through Version 1, a Red Hat partner, the DVCSD engaged Red Hat to assist in the development of a strategic roadmap that outlined an initial three-year plan to implement a new API services architecture. It adopted a suite of Red Hat products to help shape the safe and sustainable development of transport in Ireland. Red Hat® OpenShift®, Red Hat 3scale, and Red Hat’s single sign-on technology helped it fulfill this mission while supporting economic growth and social progress.
Requests to access NVDF data were growing at an exponential rate, and DVCSD’s legacy systems were struggling to meet the demand for this highly sensitive information. GDPR governs the collection and use of personal information, so access control and auditing are a necessary part of maintaining and distributing data, and increased access slowed down the process. NVDF’s systems were built on legacy technology with mainly batch-driven text file outputs that were inflexible and specific to a single application or consumer. This made Implementation and maintenance tedious and time-consuming processes.
Their challenge consisted of three main elements: transforming DVCSD into a data service provider, facilitating the controlled distribution of data, and enabling DVCSD to respond to data distribution requests quickly. The sensitive nature of NVDF data ruled out public cloud solutions because it required strict security protocols and quick implementation.
DVCSD was looking for an end-to-end API solution with specific requirements that needed to translate into a technical solution to meet strict design, deployment, and maintenance criteria. Interoperability was also a key requirement; Red Hat’s solutions had to work seamlessly with other open source products.
DVCSD and Red Hat worked together to map out a new solution, identifying key technical requirements such as developing a cross-data center solution based on Red Hat OpenShift. This created a platform that would provide an effective service, to both the public and third parties.
The key elements—integration, security, and technical components—needed to be interoperable and easy to maintain. Using Red Hat’s technology along with other open source solutions and enterprise-level support offered a complete solution to these challenges.
A project was launched in late 2018 to carry out an initial pilot API for DVCSD use. Another project was started in parallel to provide an API layer for an external web application for National Driver License Service Online (NDLSO). Both were hosted on Amazon Web Services while the new physical infrastructure was being built.
In April 2020, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) requested access to NVDF data so they could build an additional layer of authentication for COVID-19 emergency payments. This needed to be done quickly so they could respond to the massive volume of requests. The infrastructure and Application Development teams rose to the challenge, delivering a full end-to-end production integration between two government agencies in just four weeks – a timeframe that would not have been possible using their legacy infrastructure.
The new API platform removed many of the typical integration challenges, such as connectivity, security, resilience, and scalability—allowing DVCSD to respond faster to changing business needs. It also maintains the NVDF’s integrity and confidentiality by introducing more granular data protection and security controls through the Vehicle and Driver API Services, supplying only enough data as required to meet the needs of the user.
The scalable platform caters to new business requirements, provides data interfaces and a proven migration path away from legacy systems, and delivers a standardized CI/CD development model. This ultimately translates to faster development cycles and consistency through component reuse, with an additional benefit of significantly reducing data-exchange challenges with other business systems and partners.
By September 2020, the API platform had serviced 72,000 API requests from MyGovID. The Road Safety Authority, as a third party, leads the provision of drivers licenses and uses DVCSD as a data provider, as does Ireland’s toll roads operator. The Road Safety Authority/NLDSO now provides online driver license application and renewals, catering to the 2.65 million licensed drivers in the country.
An unanticipated success of this project was the swift and efficient response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Infrastructure and Application Development teams, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection was able to rollout additional authentication methods for MyGovID to validate emergency COVID payments to citizens who had lost household income.
The introduction of the NVDF API platform has been a truly transformative initiative for our department, and has dramatically enhanced our capability to meet our core mission as a data service provider. Simply put, it is a game-changer for us.
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