The Experts Communication System

As part of its service to the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) provides Member States with a virtual workspace through which the PTS and States can communicate with each other in a secure, controlled and user-friendly environment. This workspace, the Experts Communication System (ECS), consists of a collection of integrated tools on a secure Internet web server. Access to the ECS is restricted - users must be nominated and approved by their respective Government.

Registered users can provide or access information, and can communicate with each other. For example, registered users can participate in or review discussions on topics relating to forthcoming meetings or on documents under preparation. The level of user participation is determined by the nominating Government. Full participants can launch and actively participate in discussions. Inputs are invited before a certain deadline. Once the deadline has been passed, the discussion is closed but remains available for viewing by the discussion participants. Monitoring participants can view all discussions, including comments that have been submitted and documents that have been uploaded to the ECS.

The ECS contains six tools. A Document Module allows the organization, cataloguing, uploading, downloading, sorting and displaying of documents. All official Commission documents are posted here. A Meeting Module allows users to add, amend, delete, sort and display information on meetings. The Discussion Board is designed for the launch, participation or display of discussions on papers, topics or agenda items. In addition, a Participants Database contains information on ECS participants, and a Notification Network allows users to send messages to other individual users or groups of users. User Settings allow registered ECS users to update and change their account information. Access to the ECS is protected by digitally signed encryption certificates and user passwords.

Although the ECS is an Internet based facility, users without Internet access may still participate by fax. Such users can receive announcements and comments, or submit their comments on an open discussion to the Discussion Coordinator, but cannot upload or download documents directly. Their input is logged into the ECS by the Discussion Coordinator or by a PTS staff member. The ECS is maintained by the Conference Services Section, which helps registered users of the ECS to disseminate documents through this medium in a timely fashion.