Canadian Consulting Engineer

ConsignO And PATH

Teknika HBA, a Trow Global Company based in Montreal, was the first large engineering firm in Quebec to align its practices with the province's Act to establish a legal framework for information techn...

January 1, 2009   By Jean-Marc Allard, Teknika HBA

Teknika HBA, a Trow Global Company based in Montreal, was the first large engineering firm in Quebec to align its practices with the province’s Act to establish a legal framework for information technology (R. S. Q. c. C-1.1). The Act, which became law five years ago, clearly specifies the procedure to transfer hard copies onto electronic media. It also details how individuals can be linked to a document by a signature, and if necessary how those individuals can be located.

To maintain the legal value of documents in an electronically digitized form required considerable changes to current engineering practices. Taking on this challenge, Teknika was closely involved in the design, pilot testing and implementation of digital signature software known as ConsignO. Teknika developed the system in cooperation with Notarius, a technological subsidiary of the Chamber of Notaries of Quebec. Notarius had already developed a system for the legal profession that had been in place for several years.

The design process, which involved several trials and adjustments, extended over more than a year and resulted in ConsignO, the new electronic signature software now offered by Notarius. The software is available for any engineering company.

ConsignO is programmed in Java. It allows users to sign one or several documents electronically. The signature is issued by the public key infrastructure’s certification authority. From workstations, the digital signature must be published in Microsoft’s Cryptographic Applications Programming Interface (CAPI), either through Entrust ESP or any other product authorizing CAPI’s use. Programming of the digital signature module in ConsignO also involved the use of Assembla JCE Provider for Microsoft Key store and its native functions. Once a document is signed, the digital signature confirms the identity and professional status of the individual and is permanently linked to the document. Thanks to CAPI, ConsignO also allows users to sign documents with a cryptographic token.

The PATH Applications Portal

Another IT innovation developed at Teknika is the PATH (Portail d’Applications Teknika HBA). This applications portal is a “one-stop shop” information centre available to authorized company staff such as project managers and corporate executives.

The portal is accessible via an icon representing the company logo located in the Windows system tray or directly by the corporate Intranet.

The PATH program gathers all of the company’s management tools and business processes into PATH interfaces using a workflow engine developed in-house.

Various types of workflows were created to meet the specific needs of departments. For example, in the human resources department, a workflow was created to better manage the arrival of new employees by sending notices to staff in charge of computer access, cellular phones, business cards, security cards, etc. In the engineering departments, Teknika used workflows to help project managers carry out projects in an effective and standardized way. The program reminds managers, for example, of the necessity to have a start-up meeting on any new project. It also gives them tools to see the status of a project in real time. They can then continually monitor progress and intervene immediately as soon as a problem occurs.

Based on Java, the PATH technology includes Webstart, which is used for deploying the Teknika icon on more than 300 workstations. As well, PATH uses Ajax, or AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). More than 80% of Teknika’s applications use this technology. It enables a large amount of information to be seen by users without their having to refresh their screens. Also, Ajax technology has enabled Teknika to reproduce GUI (Graphical User Interface) applications, including “client-server” in a web environment.

Jean-Marc Allard is director of information technology at Teknika-HBA, an engineering and consulting company headquartered in Montreal. Teknika is a Trow Global Company.

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To maintain the legal value of documents in an electronically digitized form required considerable changes to current engineering practices.


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