The inability to interoperate between different information technology (IT) systems has urged the Cambodian government to develop Cambodia Data eXchange (CamDX). CamDX is a unified yet decentralized data exchange layer between IT systems which offers a secure way to provide and consume services, ensures confidentiality, integrity and interoperability between many different data exchange parties. Whether you are a service consumer or provider, you benefit from CamDX in one way or another.
The Royal Government of Cambodia has embraced digital technology aiming to offer better public services to citizens. To name a few, Cambodia’s public services consist of the population database of the Ministry of Interior (MOI), e-Tax of the General Department of Taxation (GDT), the business registration IT system of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), and vehicle registration IT system of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT). However, many databases come with the absence of interoperability of the IT systems.
Without service interoperability, the same data is repetitively inputted, and there is no way to check the consistency of the data between the IT systems. The Ministry of Interior owns the population registry; however, the data is not shared among government institutions, let alone the private sector, making them engage in repetitive personal information entry. Furthermore, the validity check of the given personal information is impossible in real-time. To improve public services delivery and orchestrate among different services, the government introduces a service interoperability framework called CamDX to tackle the interoperability issue between the IT systems.
CamDX stands for Cambodia Data eXchange, which adopts the model of X-Road of Estonia. The main goal of CamDX is to build an infrastructure that allows for establishing effortless access to data in government databases without compromising the security and ownership of the data with minimal technical changes in the existing information systems. The CamDX ecosystem also has an authentication system called CamDigiKey, a mobile application that requires users to input only information that reflects their real identity. Enabled by CamDX, any request to create an account will be reviewed against the population registry shared by the Ministry of Interior. With only one CamDigiKey account, users are able to access various services that are integrated with CamDX without having to remember multiple credentials (usernames and passwords).
CamDX is for everyone, to everyone. Whether you are a service consumer or a service provider from the public or private sector, you benefit from CamDX in one way or another. CamDX is gradually expanding itself both in the public and private sectors.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
CamDX acts as a distributed system with no central database performing only data exchange between members. It is also designed to host the data exchange of both public and private sector services. Since there is no central database, CamDX has no single point of failure. An attack such as Distributed Denial of Service could be possible to disrupt the services of individual information systems, but making the whole system down at once is hard. Moreover, it connects different IT systems built on any technology of choice. It also does not prescribe any tool or technology for the internal use of an organization. It provides secure data exchange between IT systems and does not own the data. The data still belongs to the organization who services the data. The means of data exchange in CamDX is done through standard web services and therefore can be easily adapted by all developers.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Services that have run through CamDX include the Online Business Registration platform (OBR), the Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS) and the Validation Application on Payment Guarantee/Invitation (VAPGI) (temporarily suspended due to a more relaxed Covid-19 related measure) and the CamDigiKey e-KYC solution. The OBR platform is the first and main service that runs through CamDX.
The success of the OBR platform has resulted in its expansion into Phase 2 where more ministries join the data sharing via CamDX and, soon, Phase 3. CamDX has recently opened its door for the private sector to take advantage of the technology. Banks and insurance companies have shown strong interest in using the population registry in their service delivery. With this data, they will be able to verify customer’s personal information easier and with the trustworthy data from the Ministry of Interior through CamDigiKey
Collaborations & Partnerships
The 5 main players in this innovation journey include the government, the citizens, the private sector, development partners, and civil society. Each ministry involved takes part in the success story of CamDX. The commitment toward the same goal and willingness to share the data forms the solid foundation of this important work. Without the 5 actors’ constant feedback, CamDX would not have been able to take shape as it is today.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
With the data sharing via CamDX, the business registration process has been simplified from a tedious, month-long procedure to an 8-working-day process. Entrepreneurs can file their application, pay and track the application status online from anywhere, at any time. Back-office officers also find it easier to review the application. Ministries also have consistent data important to decision-making.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
In the last months of 2022, CamDX had 438,532 monthly average number of transactions and exchanged data for 4 services, namely OBR, GTAS, VAPGI, and the CamDigiKey e-KYC solution for the banking sector. With the presence of the data exchange layer in just 28 months of operation, the OBR system has been able to register 18,568 businesses, reserve 12,105 business names and grant 328 specialized business licenses.
Challenges and Failures
No different from other innovative solutions, the development of CamDX is not without challenges. The success of CamDX requires strong political buy-in as well as vigorous participation from all stakeholders, especially the public sector so as to showcase a good example. The successful implementation of CamDX is not about technology alone, but a combination of technology, infrastructure, and a legal framework to be able to convince data sharers to use the platform.
Conditions for Success
Cambodia has been lucky enough to receive a strong political buy-in for the CamDX platform. Having a long-term vision, it is only right that Cambodia puts its development agenda around technology. The country's aspiration to become a digital society and economy has put its interest highly in absorbing the benefits from the use of technology. Moreover, the constant feedback from the citizens, the private sector and development partners, and civil society organizations are also what keep CamDX moving and improving.
In fact, CamDX has been inspired by Estonia’s X-Road model and is the first data exchange layer introduced in Cambodia. Since its implementation in 2020, CamDX has been locally and internationally recognized. CamDX is a digital enabler, and with it, the government looks forward to other innovations borne out of the use of CamDX. For example, the private sector may request to use CamDX to get certain types of data from the government to develop their own innovative solution. Likewise, the government also encourages public institutions to make use of CamDX for the betterment of public service delivery.
One of the key lessons is that a reform requires more than just technology alone. If they could be compared, technology is only the tool toward achieving the final goal. Whether relevant stakeholders use the tool is a matter of a lot of back-and-forth discussion, and it requires a high level of negotiation skills. Surrounding technology is also a supporting framework including legal framework and user support aspect to convince stakeholders of the convenience of the platform.
- Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways
17 November 2023