Global Communication Network (GCN)

The Foreign Service is the most visual point of view and the first point of interaction with a foreign nation. The image, perception and expectation of a nation can be improved or harmed by the experience of interacting with a foreign mission. Therefore, to remain competitive, keep global relevance and a common message as well as central control of the global presence have become essential and cardinal to national security.

For these and various other reasons, national and security interest has resulted in a significant improvement required in the way nations communicate with its global missions. In this age of industrial espionage, global terrorism, organized criminal activities and information warfare, it is essential to have private networks with encrypted communication. This is part of a much wider effort that should consider usage, physical security, procedures and operational automation.
Countries operate large Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Normally, its statutory mandate is the formulation, articulation, and implementation of Foreign Policy and External Relations. In order to implement a proper global network for communication purposes (GCN), the following functions are to be considered:
  •  Foreign Policy and International Relations.
  •  Representation in Foreign Countries by way of High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates.
  •  Consular Matters including the protection of interests abroad.
  •  Relations with Diplomatic Corps located in the country.
  •  Co-ordination of International Conferences in the country.
  •  Representation of the country at International Organizations such as: the United Nations, the African
     Union, the EU etc.
  •  Pilgrimage Arrangements.
  •  Technical Assistance to Foreign Countries.
  •  Repatriation of destitute citizens.
  •  Issuance of Passports, Travel Certificates & Seamen Identity Cards in Missions abroad.
  •  Organization & Arrangement of State Protocol & Ceremonies, Accreditation of the country Envoys and
     Consular Representatives. Coordination of official visits abroad by country’s dignitaries.
  •  Responsibility over Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities.
  •  Responsibility for signing of Cultural Agreements, and furnishing Missions with daily News Summaries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dozens of key Embassies, High Commissions, and Missions all around the world. Its Headquarters is based in the capital city. A successful GCN will allow the appropriate secure communication channels for the Ministry to execute this and other tasks without compromise.
Best of breed and world class infrastructure is required. No systems form a single vendor, nation or potential compromised source is used and the implemented security structure complies with the traditional onion ring or layer over layer approach. Countries that are on the US, EU or other embargo/sanctions/restricted list will result in technology variation on a case by case basis. All technology building blocks are subject to change to keep up to date with the latest technology trends, product updates and local standards to ensure the implementation of the latest proven available solutions. The product design used allow for ease of support and minimizing variations in terms of interfacing and configurations to ensure the highest standards as well as universal approach.
Due to the often restricted nature of the GCN technology, the country is to supply all the required declarations and other documentation as is required to allow to process export approvals and inspection and tax free entry, direct and indirect, to all the relevant missions. This applies to all temporary and/or permanent Import and Export, of Equipment and Materials including but not limited to test equipment, project equipment, contractor equipment, installation tools, site materials, instruments and consumables for this Project.
Any pricing provided or mentioned is therefore exclusive of all taxes, including but not limited to duties, levies, regulatory and/or other statutory fees in the countries of GCN implementation.
The completion and full beneficial use of the GCN program is enabled in 2 ways. One is coverage of missions and the second is development of the central command. The central command uses control centers or RCC for supporting sub-regions. For most of the countries, only 2 are required, one in the capital city and one recommended in Europe. The infrastructure of the new MFA headquarters has to be designed and implemented to support interaction with the missions. This could require a process during which ICT cabling and systems is to be updated and modernized to support converged services as is being implemented in the remote missions.
The convergence of services means full IP protocol based voice, video conferencing and computer services. This allows for security via encryption and management, appropriate to national security and strategic importance of the MFA. GCN provides these services on a global scale and normally the installation rate is 2 missions a week and that is accelerated to up to 5 or 6 a week as needed. Global coverage and central development have to happen in parallel to ensure converged services at all locations, without the potential for security loopholes or backdoors.
In general, the headquarter staff is seen technologically as the biggest mission, located in the capital city. As it includes a full command and control, all interaction is fully monitored and its usage is under the full dictation of the capital city.
All MFA staff is therefore global based on user roaming. That implies that regardless of posting or travel, any user in any location is able to communicate and function. A posted user is thus enabled to visit capital city or any other mission and still execute tasks as if at his or her own desk.
Needless to say the benefits of central command, secure communication, computerization and its relevance requires little explanation. In addition the communication tools, networking systems provides work process automation or computerization, which makes all files globally portable or accessible. It creates a single global mechanism for MFA key needs (leave, allowances, travel, payroll, etc.), creates a coordination platform for memorandums, stream lines issues such as budgets and issuance of VISAs to highlight a few, thus moving MFA towards a secure and coordinated structure. The digital information archiving provides for continuity as staff circulates due to posting or assignments. The knowledge base and knowhow thus remains within the system.
In general it is important to drive processes from the central or decision making point, which is the capital city. It is important to note that deployment of missions take more time and the central location can be developed in a matter of a few weeks. Included centrally is the global control center, located in a designated site, typically a bunker or basement. This state of the art facility not only controls the services in the headquarters but all missions globally. The center has a management room, datacenter and helpdesk.
A training center is normally added. This key element is often referred to as capacity building, which will focus on user or usage education and knowledge building. All levels are included and executive management via computerization will receive specialized attention. This will be done using seminars, regular briefings, training sessions that includes certification.

In summary, the GCN enable the completion of a modern global MFA wide full Desktop Services and Productivity, Secure VoIP (Voice over IP) and VC (Video Conferencing) solution. It includes the Core Software and Systems for automation and On-Line Services. It allows for a Central MFA hosted Web Site, development Conference and Meeting Rooms, Training, Maintenance and Support Services as well as Broadband to each global Desktop. The GCN can thus be categorized into four parts:

  1.   Part 1: Completion of the Global rollout of the Missions,
  2.   Part 2: Complete ICT infrastructure development and desktop systems for the MFA Headquarter.
  3.   Part 3: Capital City’s Data Center Development, with Network Operation Center and Helpdesk facilities.
  4.   Part 4: Capacity development, user and usage capacity building, training and seminars at all levels.