At the Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen (CBR), the Dutch Central office of Driving Certification, more than 1,600 professionals are committed to driving and road safety in the Netherlands daily.
"People come here for a driver's license, but we are also responsible for the examination of pilots or skippers on inland shipping. In total, we take up to 1.5 million exams every year. In addition, more than 8,000 driving schools are registered with the CBR and we have to deal with chain partners such as the police," says Bob van Graft, Chief Information Officer at the CBR, who is responsible for a team of 120 information technology (IT) professionals.
For the CBR, the technological developments follow each other at a rapid pace. Not only in services to customers and partners, but also in the field of driving and examination itself.
Van Graft explains: "At the moment, the examiner is the most important part of our services. But we see that technology in the car, such as the use of sensors and camera images, is increasingly playing a role. That's the future. In the future, that car will probably be better able to predict whether an exam candidate is suitable to drive a car than the examiner, because he only has a snapshot at that moment."
Van Graft started at the CBR in March 2020 and faced several challenges. "The biggest problem when I came in was a huge waiting list, a backlog of applications for renewals of the driver's licences of people over the age of 75. Politics was involved; and society was really eager for a solution.”
“This backlog was partly due to the system not performing well because the infrastructure could not actually cope. First, we invested in the infrastructure—the renewal of the server and storage environment. This gave us a much more robust system within four months,” he added.
Van Graft also wanted to simplify the management of CBR’s IT landscape. The goals were to reduce management costs and guarantee continuity, both in terms of retaining knowledge and ensuring that the systems could meet future requirements.
"In 2017, a new system was chosen for the ‘Fitness to Drive’ division – an IBM environment with very specialist software. When I joined here, I had only two internal employees running the programme but over 50 externals. This meant that there was little knowledge assurance in our own organization, and that carrying out management and maintenance could also become a problem in the future. That is why we started looking at partners in the market who could help and support us in this,” says Van Graft.
After a tender, TCS was chosen. "Of course, we focused on the knowledge and skills of the parties who were tendering. TCS was able to demonstrate very clearly that it had this expertise in-house.
“Together with TCS, a transition plan was then made which started running from day one. Initially, the people from TCS got acquainted with the organization, the systems and the strategy of the CBR. It took us three months, and from January  we turned that around and TCS actually came into the lead," explains Van Graft.
TCS first optimized the existing code, allowing systems to work faster and more effectively. Thanks to the resulting performance improvements, there is now extra capacity to introduce new functionality, so that the user benefits more from the system, all without making additional investments in the infrastructure.
Now that the infrastructure has been improved to allow the CBR’s 24-hour service to take place in the best possible way, Van Graft's team is only at the beginning.
"We're actually going to do two important things toward(s) improving our automation landscape. On the one hand, we will make more use of software-as-a-service, for example, for a planning system. On the other hand, we will use API management to improve the exchange of information with supply/value chain partners. And, of course, we are constantly alert to ransomware and cybersecurity. It is important that our systems are resilient to these types of attacks," he said.
What Van Graft values most about the collaboration with TCS is that it continuously comes up with proposals for improvements in the IT landscape, "not only in the field of applications themselves, but also, for example, in the areas of security or low code.”
“So, TCS is not only a party that ensures that the application landscape is taken to a higher level, but they think along with the organization. How can we further improve the services of the CBR? How are we going to improve sustainability? You're taken into a community, into developments, that we wouldn't normally see."
What exactly will the future look like? "Something is for sure. Technology, laws, regulations and support in the society, all determine where we go. As CBR, we are constantly working to respond to those requirements and wishes. For this, it is essential that the systems can move just as flexibly and that we therefore indirectly make an enormous contribution to road safety in the Netherlands," concludes Van Graft.