Turkey had already been trying to implement an e-Passport solution for some time. However, it had not made much progress. Countries in the Western Hemisphere urged Turkey to produce a new generation of passports. Turkish citizens could be forced to go back to the tedious system of applying for a visa. The situation even got the attention of the President of Turkey who made a statement, announcing that Turkey would start to issue a new generation of e-Passports by 1 June 2010.
Lars Bågnert, VP, CISSP and Manager for Operations & Services at PrimeKey Solutions, worked with his team on PrimeKey’s project in Turkey.
– PrimeKey was approached by one of our partners, who asked whether we could implement a public key infrastructure (PKI). A PKI is a set of hardware, software, policies and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store and revoke digital signatures. This is absolutely essential for e-Passports. After the President had made his statement, this PKI had to be up and running within six weeks. Despite the time pressure we answered ‘yes’, submitted an offer that was accepted and off we were to Turkey. PrimeKey was commissioned to deliver the PKI infrastructure, the necessary PKI policies and training for the PKI personnel, as a sub-contractor to our partner.
– As the time frame was extremely short, we set up a workshop with all the stakeholders in Ankara to establish the roles and responsibilities of all participants. This was an interesting experience, as we had the chance to meet the minister and the staff involved in the project. In the afternoon the whole team moved to secure premises outside Ankara to look at the facilities where the project would be implemented. When we arrived, they showed us ‘a hole in the ground’, with some iron bars and plumbing. I thought it might be some kind of joke, as they had agreed to grant us access to the premises 4 weeks later. But they managed to get the building ready for us in 4 weeks and 2 days.
– After a few very busy days, we were finally planning to go home. But things did not quite go according to plan. Some of you might recall the volcano in Iceland grounding all European flights and this had an impact on most of the project team. You could say that the challenge was actually ‘threefold’ – working with a new partner and a new customer with an extremely short turnaround time.
– After everything had been installed, checked and approved Mr H. Avni Aksoy, the current Director of the IT Division at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave the following comment; ‘I cannot think of a more aptly named company – PrimeKey has indeed been the prime key of Turkey’s success in our e-Passport project’.