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The utilization of emerging technologies as a tool for effective governance
Departments of Information Technology from different States and Union Territory discuss how they are making use of emerging technologies and innovations to provide their citizens with successful e-governance services
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A panel discussion on ‘Digital Transformation of States: A Modern day Face-Lift to Effective Governance through Emerging Technologies’ was held as a part of the Second Edition of Envision Digital Transformation Conclave in Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, organized by BW Businessworld on 26th September, 2019. The panel was moderated by Ajay Chagti, Special Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of NCT of Delhi and attended by Padma Jaiswal, Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of Puducherry; Prashant Kumar Mishra, Director IT & MD, Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS), Government of Karnataka; Salil Das, Director-Department of IT, Government of Tripura ; and Munish Chandan, Head-SEMT Electronics & IT Department, Government of Haryana.
Ajay Chagti initiated the discussion by giving a brief on the variety of initiatives that the governments are taking to lead governance in a much effective way. The session focused on governance with tech tools such as AI, analytics, IoT, blockchain, ML and cloud computing. Padma Jaiswal said, “I can see from the prism of IT department that every department in the government-- from health and education to agriculture is trying to solve problems with the tools of IT. The requirement is to utilize data analysis, data crunching, and generation of reports with analytical tools from the data which is collected and apply the new and emerging technologies to reap beneficial solutions.”
Information Technology has become a core front now as a major functionality. Every department from health, energy sector, communications to network security is getting tied funds for IT components under the Government of India schemes. “This also includes funds for setting up integrated command and control system in the energy transmission sector in the Power Department and funds for integrating emerging technologies in Smart Cities as well.” Added Jaiswal.
There are many pilot projects which are being undertaken by the government in emerging technologies these days. Jaiswal shared the major important pilot projects that the IT Department has taken in Puducherry. “We have tried to apply blockchain technology in keeping medical health records due to its resilience, scalability and the security that it provides through its encryption capabilites. Likewise, the Agriculture Department is also running a pilot project to deal with its supply chain distribution mechanism through blockchain technology. Similarly, a blockchain pilot project is underway for energy transmission grid as well. On the other hand, the Social Development Department is making use of robotics scavengers to collect discarded waste. We have also made our data centers more robust and strong for the swift application of all these technologies.”
Such emerging technologies like IoT (Internet of Things) are highly important for the Smart Cities Mission. Governments have been trying to install IoT components in all the Smart Cities projects since the inception of the mission. The technology is very important for collecting information through sensors which are placed in these IoT devices. She explained, “We have installed ports in the town area from which we are collecting information regarding energy, climate, and traffic congestion. These technologies have been applied in pilot basis to further take them to large scale basis for increasing the resilience and scalability of applications. Mobile applications are also being developed for the convenience of the citizens.”
Ajay said the fact that 45 per cent of jobs need to be substantially updated in skill development in the next three years shows us the requirement for knowledge creation. Prashant Kumar Mishra elaborated by saying that the State of Karnataka has been a pioneer when it comes to harnessing Information Technology and is now further making a difference by opening CoE in advanced technologies. “We are making use of emerging technologies as a tool for effective governance. We have set up several Centres of Excellence (CoE) across Karnataka which are headed by the government. We have a CoE in AI which is managed by NASSCOM, CoE in cyber security by IISC, CoE in Machine Learning & Robotics at IIITB. The idea of having these CoEs is to take another step forward for knowledge advancement and end knowledge discrimination. We are trying to identify talents at college level itself who can embrace these new technologies.
Kumar Mishra also gave an example of how KITS acts as a facilitator for various other departments in harnessing these advanced technologies for their benefits. “Forest Department of Karnataka tied up with CoE in AI to find out why most of the forest depots are not in profit while some others are. Based on the use cases, they were able to find out that the issue lied in connectivity and logistical problems and then they were given solutions as well on how to make them more connected and effective”
On the other hand, Salil Das addressed the issues of e-governance. “As the government, we device services for citizens on our perception and not on citizen’s perceptions. While our perception is that we doing the best and nothing can beat our services; the citizens on the other hand, rather have the opposite say in this. The citizens believe that the quality of administration is deteriorating and government is uncaring.” One of the issues lies in the absence of having a single source of citizen database. Citizen database should be managed by one department only. “Most of the states are managing more than 50 different types of citizen database in different departments without any interoperability which is wastage of resources.”
For obtaining any government service, a citizen is required to submit proof of address, identity, birth and other supporting documents even when all the details are already exist in the system. “To simplify the process and avoid pestering citizens, supporting documents should not be required but only government issued single document, all processes should be automatic resulting in minimal human interaction and available 24x7.” he added.
Munish Chandan spoke about the initiatives that the Haryana Government is taking, “The government of Haryana is very receptive in adapting new technologies and innovations. Recently a multi-skill development centre was established which incubates mobile hub with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) where we are working on mobile technologies in an entrepreneur app development ecosystem. We are also having a Centre of Excellence in IoT in association with NASSCOM which is working on the field of health, agriculture, water, transport, energy in coalition with the Government-Industry-Academia. We have also set-up a NASSCOM 10 place startups warehouse where we are facilitating entrepreneurs and startup.”