Odisha: Bridging Digital Divide with Tech-Enablement

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary Electronics and Information Technology, Government of Odisha talks about the key projects under the Digital India theme and more

Odisha is on the cusp of an information & communication technology revolution. The State accords utmost importance to the adoption of technology to impact millions of citizen’s lives. In alignment with the 5T principles of good governance (Teamwork, Technology, Transparency, Time, Transformation), the State is all set to realize the vision of a digital democracy, said Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary Electronics and Information Technology, Government of Odisha in a tete-a-tete with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld. Excerpts below:

What are the key projects under the Digital India theme that are been exceptionally successful under the Odisha government?

Odisha stands out as a state that imbibes technology as a way of life in modern day governance. As per the 5T charter of good governance laid out by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik, the State is pioneering the use of tech for digitally transforming business processes and improving efficiency in public service delivery to citizens.

One of the major successful initiatives by the government is Go Swift, which is a one stop investor facilitation portal for ease of doing business in Odisha. It automates major clearances, permits and approvals required for establishment & expansion of industries in Odisha. Our Student Academic Management System is also a unified, common platform for admissions and student lifecycle management for higher education (intermediate and degree colleges) across multiple streams and colleges in Odisha.

A unique intervention by Odisha Govt. to identify genuine farmers (especially small & marginal land holders & sharecroppers) and procure paddy at minimum support price directly from producers (eliminating middlemen) is Paddy Procurement Automation System. This is a one of a kind system where the farmer registries are integrated with land records database (Bhulekh maintained by the Revenue Department).

Being rich in mines and minerals the Government of Odisha designed Integrated Mines & Minerals Management System which is a model single window ICT platform implemented by Odisha that connects all stakeholders of the major mines and minerals ecosystem.  Since its launch in 2014, this system has enhanced revenue collection, quickened clearance and permit processes and plugged leakages across the mining value chain

Lastly our State Resident Database Hub is an Integration of services with the Aadhaar platform (UIDAI) for authentication of beneficiaries for various govt. schemes. On an average, 52 % of so far prioritized 223 services (of various departments) under 5T framework have been made online. The State has mandated all departments to make identified services online by 2nd October, 2020. In addition to this, the State has announced a project for bringing all public services under a common unified portal (“Odisha One”) for the convenience of its citizens.

How is the government of Odisha leveraging information technology for promoting and implementing innovations in the space of public service delivery?
Public service delivery demands governments to have a sound understanding of citizens’ expectations, experiences and drivers of satisfaction. More importantly, it is a result of a policy framework that places citizens at the heart of governance and accords utmost importance to their feedback for increasing efficiency in service delivery. In this backdrop, one of the most landmark tech based innovations for transforming public service delivery in Odisha has been the implementation of the Mo Sarkar platform. This solution (including advanced contact centers, customer relationship & visitor management consoles) is used to collect citizen feedback on the performance of government schemes and professionalism of officials at government offices. Advanced data visualization and analytics on the data gathered is used for generating scores for appraisal of departments and identifying areas of service improvement.

Odisha has been quite active in leveraging use cases of emerging technologies to drive innovations in public service delivery. A few noteworthy examples are:

Use of Block chain in Paddy Procurement Automation System: This makes the procurement transaction records tamper proof and hence assures the farmer & millers of the correct price for their output.

Use of Predictive Analytics in CoVID Management: This gives indicators to the government on the infection trends & the risk spread so as to effectively plan for infrastructure augmentation (testing kits, isolation beds, critical care equipment such as ventilators)

Use of Drones in Mining Compliances: A POC on the usage of drones to check mining compliances – such as lease area boundaries, active mining area vs forest area – has been conducted in Odisha

Use of Biometrics for Verification: Iris recognition has been actively used for authenticating ration beneficiaries at fair price shops and facial recognition has been used for regulating visitor entry at Odisha Secretariat.

Use of Digital Experience Management stack in Odisha Tourism: Advanced content management, analytics and targeting tools have been used for providing an immersive experience to website visitors and converting them to tourist footfalls.

Odisha has also shown exceptional resilience in adapting to the complexities posed by the pandemic. And in this, technology has been a great enabler. As an instance, in this period, all courses of government schools have been brought online. Hybrid model of learning has been adopted to ensure that teachers, students and guardians can gradually adapt to virtual learning. Hence, school teachers have been deputed to go from village to village to deliver instructions to students. Almost 5 lakh SC/ST students studying in government schools are expected to be benefited under this program.

How is the IT department of Odisha leveraging technological innovation for leveraging healthcare services assured by the government during the current situation of Covid?
As the transmission dynamics of CoVID19 unfolded globally, the Government of Odisha was quick to identify that a storm was coming and that we had to be prepared. It had the foresight to leverage technology for closely monitoring suspect CoVID19 suspect carriers, enforcing social distancing and augmenting infrastructure capacity on testing & medical treatment to deal with the crisis. Rich datasets structured around user journeys & captured through various ICT tools implemented have proven critical for evidence-based policy making in Odisha. Command over the macro & micro level granularity of data has enabled decision makers to forecast and plan effectively for the times to come. And last but not the least, technology has enabled the government to establish transparent communication channels with its citizens to keep them safe and assured in such uncertain times.

The E&IT department of the Govt. of Odisha is the nodal department for guiding the design, conceptualization & implementation of all ICT interventions in the state. From a macro-view, the department has implemented:

Single unified portal (covid19.odisha.gov.in) that captures datasets (used by multiple departments such as Home, Health & Family Welfare, Labor, Panchayati Raj, Transport etc.) and presents a single version of truth.

* Major components covered are registration and contact tracing of suspect or at risk carriers, monitoring health & social distancing compliance of quarantined patients, sample collection & testing and patient management (including discharge details and intent to donate plasma from recovered patients)
* GIS based Infrastructure Mapping – bed capacity, availability of utilities (electricity, potable water supply, power back up), manpower strength– up to block level
* Integrated with AI based tools developed by Deloitte & Salesforce for enabling self-health assessments of citizens and flagging high risk cases for urgent medical attention.

* State of the Art CoVID Dashboard that enables decision-makers at all echelons to monitor performance of various CoVID related interventions across Odisha and plan ahead
 * Advanced Visual Representation of CoVID related KPIs such as infection spread on a timeline, demographic & geographic profiling, infrastructure availability, population dynamics (extent of inbound migrants, existing population density)
* A study by researchers from Stanford University, Tech Industry (USA) and Aerosol Industry (Switzerland) on COVID-19 data reporting ranks Odisha among the 3 best states in India for quality reporting. This has been attributed to rich visualization, accuracy in reporting and protection of privacy of citizens while reporting data on the pandemic.
* Predictive Modelling (in partnership with SAS): We have developed predictive models for forecasting susceptible population, deciding on extent of lockdown to achieve balance of public safety & economic activity, simulating risk profiles of districts & checking infrastructure preparedness for combating infection surge.

Recently the CM of Odisha launched Odisha One Portal. Please share with us how this initiative is going to streamline government to citizen delivery services and how will this be beneficial in long term? 
Stating his vision on technology leadership in Odisha, Hon’ble CM, Shri Naveen Patnaik said that access to public services should be so seamless that “no one need go to a government office unless mandated by law”. In pursuit of this “ease of access to public services”, the Government of Odisha has announced the establishment of Odisha One – a one stop platform for citizens to access all government services. All e-governance portals run by various departments shall be linked with the Odisha One portal. It been designed in such a way that various departmental applications can utilize this framework irrespective of their level of automation.

This is an integrated service delivery framework for government to citizen (G2C) services either through self-mode or through common service center (CSCs) mode. More than 300 services are to be made online on this portal. 50% has already been completed and the rest is to be brought online by October 2, 2020.

What role is Govt. of Odisha playing to further innovation and product development in the state?
Govt. of Odisha has taken a number of initiatives to make the state an Innovation & Start up Hub 2025.

Establishment of 8 STPIs (highest in among all Indian states)
Collaboration with STPI for establishment of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in niche technology where the Product Startups will be encouraged to develop solutions for Smart Cities, Healthcare, agriculture, e-learning, transport, fin-tech. This can fuel innovation & product development to address social challenges in the state.

Collaboration with STPI to establish Electropreneur Park Bhubaneswar. This shall create a holistic eco-system and encourage R&D, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in the field of IT & ESDM.
Declaration of ESDM as priority sector and establishing a dedicated Electronic Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) in Bhubaneswar. Added incentives have been provisioned by Government of Odisha over and above the MSIP benefits of Government of India.

Establishment of Fabrication Lab in collaboration with STPI for creating a maker culture among the Startups & young techno-entrepreneurs which helps in designing prototype in the field of IT, ESDM, Internet of Things (IOT).

What technology innovation and implementation is done by the department in a mission to upgrade the cities Urban Development delivery?
One of the major milestones in technological implementation for Urban development was the use of drones for the world’s largest slum rehabilitation project (“Jaga Mission”) undertaken by Odisha. The drone based aerial surveys of available land & quality of civic infrastructure provided critical inputs to the State for the distribution of land titles and planning of civic infra augmentation across Odisha. Implemented in partnership with Tata Trust, the ease of liveability achieved by this project was recognized by the prestigious UN World Habitat Award and India Geospatial Excellence Award.

Odisha has also developed a satellite imagery based solution (called BLUIS) to monitor changes in government lands and hence prevent unauthorized urban sprawl or encroachment. This makes Odisha the first state in the country to tap space technology and Artificial Intelligence for safeguarding government lands.

In a bid to transform the urban service delivery system, Odisha is introducing a full stack of municipal services such as building plan approval, utility permits, waste management, trade license application & renewal on a single web & mobile interface.

Would you share with us if there are more and more job prospects created with IT enablement in state?
Odisha is on the cusp of an information & communication technology revolution. The State accords utmost importance to the adoption of technology to impact millions of citizen’s lives. In alignment with the 5T principles of good governance (Teamwork, Technology, Transparency, Time, Transformation), the State is all set to realize the vision of a digital democracy. With the focus on connecting the entire state on a robust digital backbone and driving seamless electronic service delivery, Odisha has the potential to emerge as a global power house for “Tech for People”. As national & international markets grapple with the “digital divide”, Odisha can use its experience to unlock economic opportunities and export products and solutions in the GovTech space.

* Investing in GovTech projects (as seen for school admissions in SAMS) can have a spiralling effect on job creation- both in the private sector (in IT companies working on solutions for the government) & in the government (new age govt. workforce required to handle large scale automation). The efficiencies introduced through digitalization can also establish brand Odisha as an IT investment destination - thus generating further employment.

* Multiple ICT interventions such as creation of citizen registries at the CSC level can provide employment to semi-skilled people (not very digitally literate)

The high priority accorded by the State to skilling, entrepreneurship and innovation has nurtured the ecosystem for promoting employment.  On account of good physical & social infrastructure, warm & hospitable people, clean and safe cities, Odisha is also emerging as a preferred work destination for talent across the country. This captive pool of skilled workforce and conducive business environment is all set to turn Odisha into a BPO hub and has already started attracting investment from companies such as Tech Mahindra and Concentrix.  

Please share with us your mission going forward.
Odisha aspires to feature prominently on the global map as a preferred IT destination and be recognized as a creator of benchmark technology based products, solutions and services for the world. We aim to advance Industry 4.0 by building partnerships for applying emerging technologies such as Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Mobile Tech/5G, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. And most importantly, the State plans to continue its investment in digital infrastructure and extensive adoption of IT for transforming quality of citizens’ lives in a transparent and cost efficient manner

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