Last update at : Thu Apr 27 7:42:15 1995



@Apr, 18, 1995@

@ Yousef Nusseir , @


Information is considered an important resource that enhances the development process in society. Computerized information systems are the main component for socio-economic development especially when coupled with appropriate communications infrastructure that facilitates accessibility through networks.

Towards this end Jordan has embarked on an ambitious project to establish A National Information System (NIS) which aims at developing information sources at the national level and setting up networks linking information generating and collecting centers thus ensuring the flow of information to users in both the public and the private sectors in the Jordanian community.

This paper will outline the concepts of (NIS) and the strategy for implementation with an overview of the achievements so far, together with an overview of the connectivity and communication infrastructure in Jordan.



1 @1. Background@

2 @2. Concepts@

3 @3. The Information Sector in Jordan,(3)@

4 @4. Telecommunication Sector in Jordan@

4 @5. Information sources@

4 @6. Requirements For Integrated National Information System@

4 @7. Plan Of Action @

4 @8. Operating Methodology@

4 @9. NIC Activities@

4 @10. Important Considerations@

4 @11. Impact@


@Author Information@

1 @1. Background @

national resource necessary for the development process, Jordan has embarked on establishing a National Information System (NIS) . This totally decentralized information system would be utilized for decision-making, planning and research at the institutional and national levels for both the public and private sectors. The National Information Centre (NIC), entrusted to establish (NIS), conducted national studies and set requirements and strategies for the implementation of this project.

Many institutions and information centres were established to collect, organize, and disseminate information in an attempt to satisfy the needs of decision makers, planners, researchers and scientists in all walks of life. However, these efforts were conducted in an ad hoc manner without coordination and in the absence of a national plan to manage and organize information. This prompted the need for an organized coordinated information base at the national level.

This need for pertinent information led to a plan for a project to establish a National Information System (NIS), which would serve all national institutions in various public and private sectors through a network of computerized information systems, Thus facilitating the availability of unified timely information to the various sectors of the community. This cooperative effort requires the establishment of a national body that would be entrusted with the management and coordination of all activities that lead to the establishment of NIS. Hence, the National Information Centre (NIC) was established in 1993 as a result of the By-Law No. (50) for the year 1992 which was issued in accordance with Article (11) of the Higher Council for Science and Technology Law No. (30) for the year 1987.(1)

(NIC) embarked on planning and implementing activities pertaining to the establishment of (NIS) . This effort was supported by international agencies, such as, the German Technical cooperation (GTZ) , International Development Research Centre of Canada, World Bank and UN organizations. Furthermore, Since the early eighties, Jordan has identified the need to establish a dedicated data transmission network to facilitate the badly needed data and information exchange among various national institutions in the public and private sectors. Also, the network should provide a gateway for international conductivity. During the second half of eighties several activities took place towards that end, including feasibility studies, technical studies to establish a national packet switching data transmission network. However, those efforts did not materialize.

Within the context of a decentralized National Information System (NIS) which Jordan has embarked on establishing, in which information generating centres are linked in sectorially structured clusters (sub networks), data exchange became a vital component. Hence, there is an immediate need to establish a national digital communication network for data transmission. This network is considered the backbone of (NIS) for the collection, access and exchange of information. Studies are being conducted by various national and international experts to identify the current needs and define the appropriate network technology and topology.@

2 @Concepts @

2.1 @Main Objectives@

@ Establish and manage an integrated National Information System, linking information collecting and generating centres in the public and private sectors, and coordinating their activities through national networks. Develop and process information ensuring its flow to users in the public and private sectors, so as to enhance the management and organizational effectiveness, thus promoting socio-economic development.(1) NIS is a totally distributed system with well establish linkages. Information is classified into sectors at the national level Information sources are identified in each sector where data is collected, generated and processed. Information sources within each sector are grouped in one cluster, with one source acting as a focal point. Detailed information remains at the sources, while aggregate information is kept at the focal points. Connectivity among sources of one cluster constitutes a subnetwork as part of national network which is the basic component of NIS.@

2.2. @ Rationale @

@ In its role as a catalyst, organizer and coordinator NIC is entrusted with tasks ranging from the development of information sources in cooperation with concerned national institutions, setting-up unified procedures and standards, providing access to timely information, networking related information sources, manpower development, leading to the promotion and development of the information sector in Jordan so as to achieve it goal of establishing NIS. These tasks are quite difficult to implement without cooperative efforts to elevate and enhance the national capabilities and develop the appropriate infrastructure. The impact of such efforts on socio-economic development in Jordan is tremendous, not-to-mention the impact on enabling Jordan to play a major role in regional development through information highways.(2)@

2.3. @ Beneficiaries @

@Potential beneficiaries of the national information system are diverse in their interest. The system will cater for all types of users whether they are decision-makers from the public sector, business men in the private sector, researchers, academicians or students. Although the size of the NIS could be overwhelming NIC will device user friendly systems that will be easily utilized by different users with different information needs. Eventually, the NIS community will consists of geographically separate members, in different locations but it will remain a community of common interests groups. Regionally, the beneficiaries are participants of regional information networks, in various sectors, mainly, trade investments research, industry and decisions makers.@

3 @ The Information Sector in Jordan,(3)@

@ (NIC) has conducted several studies to identify status and requirements, namely a survey of information sources in the public sector (105 institutions) and the private sector (358 organizations)sectors together with a survey of companies working in I.T. field (176 companies). The main results could be summarized as follows:@

3.1. @ Status of information @

@Although there has been a remarkable progress in the information sector in the last decade, most of it was done in an individualistic uncoordinated manner. The lack of cooperation and coordination procedures had contributed to the emergence of incompatible information systems. In spite of the wide spread recognition of the importance of information, information systems, and uses, the information service are still traditional.@

3.2. @ Infrastructure @

@The available capabilities in the form of equipment and maintenance are quite satisfactory. In the data communication area there is an apparent deficiency. At present Jordan lacks a digital network that is capable of high speed data transmission. This, in turn impairs the ability to transfer data or even have remote access to this data in an efficient and cost effective manner.@

3.3. @ Data and Data sources @

@In general, data is available in Jordanian institutions, but it is not organized, and, in some cases, not accurate. There is data repetition and duplication in various institutions. Data coding and classification vary in most fields and in most institutions. All this impair the data exchange and transmission. Furthermore, the automation process is below the required level in most national institutions.@

3.4. @ Manpower @

@Qualified and skilled manpower in information and information technologies are adequate as a whole. Certain shortages in some specialties are recognized. Training opportunities are generally adequate in most specialties. However, training needs are quite apparent at various levels.@

4 @ Telecommunication Sector in Jordan,(3)@

@The Telecommunication Sector in Jordan provides basic services but very little in terms of value added services, with no data transmission provision. The Telecommunication Corporation (TCC) of Jordan has had a monopoly on communications specially where basic services are concerned (telephone,fax and telex). However, it is in the process of being privatized whereby it will still maintain a monopoly on basic services but would allow the private sector to offer other services. A regulatory body was established for that purpose. At the moment the private sector offers paging services and mobile cellular services. Available telephone numbers are 335,000 (65% in Amman) with total number of subscribers being 287,000 The number of cities towns is 434 served. Nearly 2,200 telex and 1,500 car telephone subscriber are also being served. There are 17 exchanges in Jordan together with one national exchange and one international exchange. However, 21 new exchanges and 80 branch exchanges are to be installed together with 86 optical fiber links and 17 microwave links. Furthermore, most telephone exchanges in Jordan are digital, some are semi-digital.(4) The offered services in Jordan include Telephone, Telex, Facsimile, paging and mobile cellular telephones. As for data transmission, it is being offered on leased lines or dial-up bases and at low speeds, mainly to financial institutions and some governmental organizations. However, the demand for such services is increasing at a very high rate both for national and international conductivity. @

5 @ Information sources @

@Analysis of responses received in the field surveys of existing status of information sources have revealed the following points : - Most institutions deal with various sectors of information. - Specific information sector has multiple sources. - Institutions which deal in the same type of information vary in capabilities and capacities, procedures of data gathering, updating and data processing . - Large number of institutions deal with the Economic sector, while few institutions deal in the sector of Geography and Health information. As for other sectors of information, the institutions are distributed in various numbers. - Data gathering process depends mainly on daily transactions and activities. Very few depend on forecasting and computations. - 36% of information is updated daily, 34% of information is updated in undefined time intervals. - 32% of information is computer stored and processed while 38% is manually stored and processed in a traditional manner. - 64% of information in the Education sector is processed in the traditional method, while 77.1% of information in the International Economic Relations sector is computer processed. - 49% of information has internal sources for data gathering especially in the Health and economic sectors. On the other hand the industry and Political Affairs sectors depend largely on external sources for their data. - 77% of collected data is available for external users, which is a positive indication. It indicates that information is not considered institutional property. - Most information available for external users are in the sectors of International Economic Relations and Natural Resources sectors.(4)@

6 @ Requirements For Integrated National Information System @

@The Studies specified important requirements essential for the establishment of an Integrated National Information System. Greater emphasis was given to the following issues.@

6.1. @ @

@Formulation of a national policy for information in Jordan, to act as an umbrella for the National Information System. The policy shall include general rules and principles, as set forth by the government, in pursuit of organizing the information sector and guidelines to satisfy the national goals and interests.@

6.2. @ @

@Establishment and development of information systems, at various sectors and levels, to formulate the components of the National Information System. Field studies identified 140 national subsystems distributed among 17 information sectors. Out of those subsystems, 39 are already established, 56 require modifications and development and 45 subsystems have to be established. @

6.3. @ @

@Establishment of 17 information clusters (subnetworks) based on groups of institutions that deal with similar types of information. Thus minimizing duplication and enhancing the integration of information at the same sector.@

6.4. @ @

@ Build and implement a national digital data transmission network in Jordan to facilitate data access and exchange among institutions within the country and with regional and international organization. This would enhance the capability of Jordan to better utilize information in the development process within the context of (NIS). @

6.5. @ @

@ The process of specifying equipment and software requirements usually requires a detailed technical study. None-the-less, the Centre was able to identify needs and point out deficiencies in institutions which do not possess needed equipment (13%)@

6.6. @ @

@ As for manpower working in the information sector, the studies specified the deficiencies as a whole and in each individual sector. It was noted that there was manpower shortages in four sectors. Also lower level of educational qualifications . Statistical analysis showed an overall shortage of 900 technical workers in different sectors and in different specialties.@

6.7. @ @

@ The need to organize and conduct training courses was apparent. It is essential, to enhance the qualifications and skill capabilities of the manpower working in the information and information technology sector. 32 courses in different subjects were specified, to meet those needs 6.8 The absence of common standards and unified procedures related to the various information activities, has emphasized the need to establish common grounds and coordination.@

7 @ Plan Of Action (The Strategic Plan) @

@A strategic plan was derived to meet the objectives and functions of the National Information System. This plan addresses the following major issues:@

7.1. @ Infrastructure @

@Maintenance and development of information generating sources. Establishment of specific sectoral communication networks as integral part, of the national communication network for data transmission.@

7.2. @ Development of information sources @

@Specifying information sources in various sectors and enhancing their capabilities and developing their systems.@

7.3. @ Coordination @

@Identifying information sources within each sector and appropriate focal points to coordinate their information systems ensuring complimentary and comprehensives without duplication and contradiction@

7.4. @ Common standards and procedures @

@Setting up common standards and procedures for various functions namely: Establishment of Information systems & centres Information collection , coding , processing and dissemination at the national level.@

7.5. @ Development of manpower @

@Preparation and implementation of training programs, with the objective of enhancing the skill levels of manpower operating in the field of information and information technologies.@

7.6. @ Users Awareness @

@Preparation and implementation of awareness programs with the objective of raising the level of information awareness among users whether decision makers, researchers or scholars.@

7.7. @ Improvement of information services @

@Raising the level of information services and improving the quality, through timeliness accuracy and comprehensives of information ensuring its integrity and security.@

8 @ Operating Methodology @

@NIC operating methodology is based on the following :@

8.1. @ @

@ Provide consultative and technical services through national committees in various sectors to help in gaining a wider scope, cooperation and coordination pertaining to information.@

8.2. @ @

@ Coordinate efforts and integrate systems through national coordinating committees setup for each information sector.@

8.3. @ @

@ Identify priorities that need to be addressed in the short, medium, and long-term, based on a national information policy to be outlined by NIC, together with an implementation strategy.@

8.4. @ @

@ Identify projects that need to be implemented within each activity pertaining to NIC's responsibilities.@

8.5. @ @

@ Cooperate with local agencies for the implementation of those projects through joint ventures and/ or contracting-out projects.@

8.6. @ @

@ Prepare and implement standards & procedures at the national level through appropriate channels to facilitate portability and transferability via national and sub- national networks.@

8.7. @ @

@ Participate in manpower development in the fields of information and information technology in collaboration with concerned national institutions.@

8.8. @ @

@ Hold workshops and seminars with the aim of elevating information awareness and increase the participation and cooperation efforts of public and private institutions at the national level. NIC operating methodology relies mainly on the following components: - Technical consultative committees - Information sectors coordinating committees. - Specialized committee and experts. - NIC activities and personnel. - Cooperation with local and international organization.@

9 @ NIC Activities @

@Since its establishment NIC has embarked on activities aiming at fulfilling its mandate. Some of the more important activities include the following:@

9.1. @ @

@ Conducting studies to identify national needs and assess current status in the information sector. Eight studies were conducted covering public and private institutions.@

9.2. @ @

@ Coordinating and organizing information through its committees and directly by NIC personnel, at both information sectors level institutional level. Thirteen national committees have been setup for technical and coordination purposes.@

9.3. @ @

@ Training programs in information and information technology fields have been set-up by NIC and carried out in cooperation with local institutions to meet the needs of national institutions, as part of a plan drawn-up by NIC based on needs assessment study. Twenty-six training courses have been conducted in various subjects.@

9.4. @ @

@ Seminars and workshops are organized by NIC to promote understanding and enhance cooperation among national institutions, not only in-so-far as the National Information System (NIS) concepts are concerned but also for better understanding and proper implementation of unified procedures and standards as prepared by NIC. Those seminars and workshops would also serve as important elements in increasing awareness for information and its utilization. Ten workshops and seminars have been conducted in various fields.@

9.5. @ @

@ Technical and consultancy services are provided by NIC staff in support of developing information sources at institutional level in preparation for establishing national and subnational information networks, leading to the establishment of NIS. Four sectorial subnetworks are in the process of being setup.@

9.6. @ @

@ Through its technical committees and expertise, NIC is working towards setting-up standards and unified procedures in an attempt to organize and coordinate information at the national level. Nine standards and procedures have been prepared and adopted.@

9.7. @ @

@ NIC will make provision to facilitate information for users in the various fields of knowledge, through its linkages with local and international sources of information.@

9.8. @ @

@ NIC prepared and disseminated reports and publications pertaining to information and related activities to increase awareness and enhance its efforts to fulfill its objectives.@

9.9. @ @

@ Strategies and implementation plans both short term and long term are drawn- up to organize NIC's efforts and guide its course of action

Tasks Timeliness Main Activities Yr. 1 Yr. 2 Yr. 3 Yr. 4 Yr. 5 ================================================================== No. of Est./Dev. Information Systems 60 60 60 60 60 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. of Est./Sub-networks 4 4 4 4 4 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. of Training Courses 12 12 12 12 12 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. of Awareness Seminars & Workshops 8 8 8 8 8 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No. of Est. Unified Standards & Procedures 10 6 -- -- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- @

10 @ Important Considerations @

@For the purpose of developing the information infrastructure in Jordan within the context of a totally decentralized national information system, it is assumed that the major components for the implementation of this effort are made available. These components fall in four categories, namely, information and communication technologies, data, manpower, and finance. It is further assumed that if the financial component is made available, then the other three components would be easily fulfilled.

Considering that information is becoming one of the main ingredients in the socio-economic development process, its organization and management is vital for that process. The fact that Jordan is striving to implement this strategy, the establishment of a National Information system, indicates national commitment to ensure the proper organization and utilization of this important and vital resource, information, in the development process. Needles-to-say that Jordan aims at joining the regional and global information infrastructure for the betterment of society . This assumes proper information infrastructure at the national level.

The development of the information sector would surely create job opportunities specially for women. Accessibility to information would enhance the capability of individuals to interact in the workplace regardless of location. This would encourage and promote distributed work environment. Furthermore, the development of integrated information systems would elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of production.

The need to establish data transmission network in Jordan is quite evident in the public and private sectors. The fact that the (NIS) considers it a prerequisite promotes this conviction. The network shall link national institutions to facilitate integration and functional complimentary in the information area among institutions. More important, it is to provide information users accessibility to appropriate and timely information.

Furthermore, the world is moving towards establishing Global Information Infrastructure which presumes well organized and integrated information at the national level. Regional information highways are being considered to assist regional development. A Middle East information highway is but one. Jordan is looking forward to participating effectively in such a highway. However, this would be difficult without the establishment of a national data transmission network with an appropriate gateway for regional and international connectivity. Internet is an important and viable component. With an Internet node being established at NIC, Jordanian institution would enjoy international connectivity to further promote socio-economic development.@

11 @ Impact @

@As a result of the scientific and technological advancement, and the rapid progress of the country, a precise and up-to-date knowledge of the situation of the country from the economic, social, educational and cultural, scientific and technical point of view, has become a prerequisite for national planning. Decision makers and planners in private and public institutions are increasingly faced with the problem of inappropriate information as an essential national resource for development.

The impact due to the introduction of information technology and the accessibility to information can be summarized as follows:

11.1. @ @

@Participation in decision-making becomes the norm.@

11.2. @ @

@ Development of management practices and skills to lead industrial and commercial enterprises. Restructuring organizations, in light of decentralization supported by information technology.@

11.3. @ @

@ Elevation to the level of social awareness due to accessibility to information.@

11.4. @ @

@ Cultural interaction due to transborder data flow. These changes are mainly directed towards administration restructuring and development. Information systems employing computers and communications technologies are a key component in this development process.(6)@ References


@Nusseir, Y, National Information System Concepts, Amman, 1992. Nusseir, Y, Towards a National Information System for Decision Making, Arab Fund for Development Regional Seminar on Information for Decision Making, Cairo, May 1994. Nusseir, Y, Information Systems for Administration, First International Conference on Computing in Administration and Public Organisations, Damascus, Syria, 1994. Dahabra, M, Telecommunication in Jordan-Overview, Seminar on Information Highway, RITSEC, Cairo, 1994. Vitro, R, Towards an Economics of Knowledge-based Development, State-of-the-Art Institute, Washington, 1989@

Author Information

@ Y. Nusseir, a PhD graduate from University of Bradford, U.K., 1976, is currently the Director General of the National Information Centre in Jordan, Tel: 962-6-837184, Fax: 962-6-837168, email:

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