Defence Team Innovation Challenge – CANCAC is a go!


Defence Team Innovation Challenge

As part of Blueprint 2020 and in line with Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, Stephen Burt, Assistant Deputy Minister, Data, Innovation and Analytics and Blueprint 2020 Champion for National Defence, launched the first ever Defence Team Innovation Challenge (internal link) in May 2018. To support the challenge and ensure that Defence Team members have access to the new technologies and resources they need, Deputy Minister Jody Thomas has set up a fund to implement and support the winning innovations.

Ten finalists from across the country came together for a Dragon’s Den-style competition on November 30, 2018 at NDHQ(Carling) to pitch their proposals. Judges included Isabelle Desmartis, Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology), Commander Simon Page, Assistant Chief of Military Personnel, and Aaron Snow, CEO of Canadian Digital Service (CDS), a government agency established to assist departments in building and deploying digital services. Close to 20 of the 64 ideas that made it to Phase II dealt with IM/IT capabilities including chat and communications, learning support and management systems, knowledge management systems, and cloud technologies.

ADM(IM) participants were front and centre. Among the finalists were two teams from Director General Information Management Technology and Strategic Planning (DGIMTSP). Michael Brown, DIMEI 4-4-7, C4ISR Compute Services & Operating Systems, pitched a DevOps Dojo, with the idea of creating a virtual space to tackle new technologies and cloud services. The concept comes from Michael’s karate experience and lends itself well to an agile learning environment. Xiaolan Yang and her team collaborated with DGEAS, DGDS, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force to develop their vision of a Canadian Common Access Card (CANCAC) using biometrics and PKI encryption for secure and streamlined access to buildings, data and services.

CANCAC: consolidated common access card

Everyone has experienced managing multiple ID cards, building passes, health cards and drivers’ licenses. Adding to the pile of cards are PKI smart cards and many user accounts. There is a clear opportunity to improve user experience and operational efficiency by consolidating multiple cards into one common access card. The consolidation effort will support user mobility and cloud experience, and enhance security through biometrics.

Ms. Xiaolan Yang, Chief Identity Credential Access Management (ICAM) manager in DIMEI, has been looking for the opportunity to promote the Canadian Common Access Card (CANCAC) for the past few years. The Innovation Challenge provided a perfect opportunity to get the necessary visibility to finally realize this capability. Her DIMEI 3-4 team has been collaborating with enterprise applications (DGEAS) and the National Defence Identification Services (NDIS) within DGDS for years. Their immediate endorsement and support was critical to navigating through the Innovation Challenge phases. The team submission also included representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army. The corner stone of achieving CANCAC success will be team collaboration.

“Participating in the Innovation Challenge was a lot of work. Sharing ideas with the members of the different organizations was a great experience,” Xiaolan said. “Everyone was completely on board with the desire to do good work and confident in the value it would bring to the department.”

As one of ten finalists in the competition, the CANCAC team did a great job representing the concept and their organizations. In fact, Deputy Minister Jodie Thomas has decided to fund the initiative starting in April 2019.

Xiaolan said, “This is where persistence pays off. We’re going to be able to demonstrate our vision and collaborate with stakeholders to demonstrate the CANCAC capability. We are looking forward to this next challenge.”

DevOps Dojo

“The funny thing is, I almost didn’t submit a proposal to the Innovation Challenge,” says Michael Brown, DIMEI 4-4-7, C4ISR Compute Services & Operating Systems. “My DevOps Dojo proposal is a way of creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement, a place where we can share knowledge, and more importantly, share experiences.” Read more on the Defence Team Intranet.

Image gallery

  • Ms. Xiaolan Yang, Chief Identity Credential Access Management (ICAM) manager in DIMEI
  • Michael Brown, DIMEI 4-4-7, C4ISR Compute Services & Operating Systems

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