Telangana is one of the first states in India to focus on leveraging emerging technologies for delivering citizen services, enhancing the efficiency of the overall functioning of the government and also to explore ways to increase the government’s exchequer. The government has created a vertical for emerging technologies and the objective is two-fold. One is to develop the ecosystem required for the industry and the other is to make the government departments leverage or adopt emerging technologies. “We have identified eight key emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, cloud, 3D printing, VR/AR, robotics and big data that could impact the government and businesses,” says Rama Devi Lanka, Director – Emerging Technologies, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), ITE&C Department, Government of Telangana.
The government has come up with specific policies for IoT, cyber security, data analytics and is currently working on bringing out policies for drones and blockchain. Rama Devi Lanka is anchoring the emerging technologies vertical for the government under the guidance of Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary – IT, Telangana. and applying them.
Strategy: Emerging technologies
Rama Devi decided to hold multilateral dialogues with Meity, SEMT department and other government departments, and the industry as a whole, in trying to understand the challenges faced and which technologies can plug the gaps. She also studied how other countries are solving governance related issues using technology. After concluding the study, a set of eight technologies were identified.
Telangana is currently working on policies specifically on blockchain and drones. Another important part of the strategy was to sensitise the department personnel with the required capacity building. “We have conducted workshops with various government departments on cloud computing. The state is moving to consuming cloud services and it’s important for employees to understand cloud computing,” says Rama Devi.
The objective of using emerging technologies was to solve certain challenges, pain points, improve service delivery, enhance citizen experience and improve internal efficiency of the departments. The use cases were identified to solve either of some of these objectives. The initiatives were also selected on the basis of short term and long term vision.
A Project Management Office (PMO) is being set up for co-ordinating project implementation. The intent is also to create a single window system for vendor empanelment for implementing projects.
Big data & analytics
The Road Transport department has increased its revenue for registering the second vehicle. The vehicle buyers tamper with their names in order to evade tax on buying the second vehicle, which is higher than buying the first vehicle. The multiple databases residing within various departments have been consolidated. This helps in picking up any identity manipulation attempts. In a year’s time, the department has increased tax collection from Rs 14 to Rs 21 crores.
The Commercial Taxes department has also increased the amount of taxes collected by using big data. Commercial establishments evade taxes by registering themselves as residential entities, which is subject to lesser tax slabs. The department has seen a rise in establishments registering themselves as commercial and not residential.
Land records: During land transactions, it’s difficult to ensure whether the buyer is transacting with the rightful owner of the land. The Government of Telangana (Department of Registration and Stamps) is bringing all the land records on blockchain. The advantage of the technology is its immutability and the ability to keep the records intact with hardly any scope for manipulation. Once the data is uploaded, it can be changed only after consensus with the relevant stakeholders. IL&FS is implementing the project in Telangana, in which, initially in Phase 1, the core business services will be fulfilled and in Phase 2, the entire land transaction process will be brought on blockchain.
Education: Fake certificates are used by students and employees to get admissions / jobs. Telangana is running a pilot in IIIT, Hyderabad, on uploading all educational certificates on blockchain.
Chit funds: The T-Chits project involves increasing transparency and ease of doing business using blockchain. ChitMonks, a startup company from T-Hub, is running the project.
Loans for SHGs: The Department of Rural Development runs the Stree Nidhi Credit Cooperative Federation, under which, various SHGs are disbursed loans. Currently, the government receives loan repayments from the groups, but is not able to track the individual payments from the women in these groups. “We are running a pilot using blockchain. It will enable us to keep track of the repayment from each of the SHG members. The objective is not to keep tabs and track the repayments of the individual members. The intention is to create a credit history and accordingly the members can avail loans from the mainstream financial institutions. Currently, it’s absent, because of the absence of any credit history, which is exactly what blockchain ensures for these women,” says Rama Devi.
Drug counterfeiting: For the Department of Health, Medical & Family Welfare (Drugs Control Administration), blockchain will be used to separate out counterfeit drugs. This project is still in the initial stages. Some solutions are being explored.
Blockchain District: The plan is to make Hyderabad a blockchain capital of the world. The state has partnered with Tech Mahindra, IIIT Hyderabad and many start-ups to create an ecosystem for blockchain.
Artificial intelligence: There are a couple of chatbots being worked upon. In the initial stages, they will answer factual questions and later on, will move to a conversational mode. This is currently being done for the department of tourism and road transport. A CoE has been set up for AI in Telangana, in partnership with NASSCOM, which is also the implementing agency. IIT Kharagpur has already started a research wing in AI in Hyderabad.
Drones & AI Integrated Crop Management Solution: For the department of agriculture, a pilot is being run in precision agriculture using drones. Data from the satellite, water availability, climatic conditions and drone data about the crop characteristics, helps in releasing advisory to farmers on when and which crops to sow. “I have personally visited a pilot conducted in a village in Nalgonda district. The farmers were really happy after applying these technologies, which saw the yield increase in the farms,” says Rama Devi. In future, Drone, IoT and AI will be used to track and issue advisories on crop. Drones and IoT will capture the data and AI will be used to recommend action to be taken.
Drones: An Expression of Interest (EoI) has been floated for using drones in the mining sector. “We have received 20 responses, to which 18 vendors have been shortlisted. Drones will be used to measure the area of land that is mined vis-a-vis the area approved by the Government; the total amount of material mined, etc. A policy on Drones is also in the works. A draft policy has been prepared and shared with the industry for their inputs. A Drone corridor is also being planned. It will be a one-stop-shop for all drone related infrastructure.” says Rama Devi
Cyber Security: Center of Excellence (CoE) has been setup in the area of Cyber Security, in partnership with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), which is also the implementing agency for the state.
The plan going forward is to use a combination of emerging technologies. “The convergence of Blockchain, cognitive capabilities, IoT, etc will change the way economies and businesses will function. This will be our priority,” concludes Rama Devi.
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