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The SUNFISH Project: the Ministry of Economy and Finance as avant-garde on cloud services and cybersecurity in Europe

Rome, November 9th 2017 – The SUNFISH Project Final Conference “Innovation, Cybersecurity and Efficiency: a new European Platform of Securely Federated Cloud Services” took place yesterday at the Ara Pacis Auditorium in Rome. Speaking at the conference were the Italian Minister for Economy and Finance, Pier Carlo Padoan, the Chief of Police, Franco Gabrielli, and the Head of the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID), Antonio Samaritani.

The SUNFISH Project was funded, through the European Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020, with €4,5 million. It is the result of the collaboration among 11 different organisations from six different countries (Austria, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Malta and the UK) and the coordination of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Throughout three years of activities in research and development, SUNFISH developed a platform, which can be applied to different public sector entities where the topic of security and data sharing plays a crucial role.

The Minister, by underlining the importance of innovation and technology for the growth and productivity of the country, pointed out “in Italy the public sector has the capacity to become leader in the field of technology and competences”. He added “it is now time to make a shift from the cyclical recovery of economy to the permanent recovery of economy and that this target can be reached through the implementation of innovation and technology”. In addition to this, he said that “it is paramount the redesign of budgetary choices with the aim of introducing technology as one of the main priorities. European Institutions are playing a central role in this regard and in Brussels, many are talking about “Innovation Union”.

The Project has developed three use cases, realised with a use centric approach to reply to concrete needs and requirements of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Interior, the Maltese Ministry of Finance and the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in the UK. These prototypes are a concrete demonstration of how the Project has developed a platform which intercepts and answers necessities of European public administrations by allowing: the safe exchange of confidential information between different private clouds (the Italian use case), the secure and efficient use of public clouds (the Maltese use case) and the secure and reserved storage of data distributed among different private clouds (the British use case).

The Italian prototype makes use of smart contracts based on blockchain technology to guarantee fairness, integrity and secrecy of information shared between the Italian police and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. In particular, it guarantees secrecy of information related to the residency of police personnel – it is the first time that such advanced technology is applied in a system of this kind. Coherent with specific objectives of the Digital Single Market and thanks to the experience acquired in innovation for the public sector, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, supported by its technological partner Sogei, is focusing its attention on new information technologies as agent for the economic development of the country.

The outcome of the research project, developed using open-approach and reusable technology, constitutes an important asset for the renewal and transformation required by the agenda for digital Italy and the Digital Single Market. In this regard, the Head of the General Administration, Personnel and Service Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Luigi Ferrara, underlined how “SUNFISH represents a great opportunity for the rationalisation of public IT infrastructures and, therefore, spending. The technology used in the Italian use case will be used for the renewal of NoiPA and applied to “Cloudify NoiPA”, which by January 2019 will support more than 3 million public employees.

The discussion during the event focused on the challenges and opportunities around new technologies, cloud and blockchain federation, as much as new prospective for collaboration between public and private sector.

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