Why digital data ecosystems are critical for building a strong digital foundation

By Prasenjit Roy,  Senior Executive Vice President and CMO, NTT Netmagic

India today needs national data ecosystems more than ever. With huge amount of data being created across different platforms, there is a need to share data across platforms in a secure manner. Aadhaar is one of the best examples of what an identity platform can do for the country. Today, Aadhaar has moved beyond its original purpose of just authenticating identity and has created a massive technology infrastructure that anyone can tap into. This includes the Income Tax department which uses Aadhaar to authenticate your income tax return. It also includes many startups that can now tap into a readily-available infrastructure and compete with established companies.

A similar example can be seen from the huge success of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which has transformed the payments space in India, and has allowed service providers and product creators to build new business models. For India to progress, India needs similar data ecosystems in different sectors such as education and healthcare. If we have a national data ecosystem, then each system can leverage the data in another system. The architecture of these systems must be based on open standards to ensure interoperability.

In India, a start has been made with the India Enterprise Architecture Framework (IndEA). This is technology agnostic, and allows other technologies to co-exist and interoperate. The architecture is designed to allow autonomous evolution of other solutions. The governance structure is maintained by adhering to defined principles and standards. The MeItY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) defines IndEA as a a generic framework comprising of a set of architecture reference models, which can be converted into a Whole-of-Government Architecture for India, Ministries, States, Govt. Agencies etc. The IndEA framework is based on federated architecture approach and recognizes the need to accommodate both greenfield (new) and brownfield (existing / legacy) e-governance initiatives.

The need for a common enterprise architecture framework is extremely vital, as it can eliminate duplicate and wasteful efforts. Further, there are many data silos in many departments that can be prevented and data can be exchanged and leveraged for better efficiency and productivity gains. This can prove to be extremely useful in many states, as they can leverage national data ecosystems and frameworks to quickly rollout e-governance projects. There are many similar opportunities in sectors such as healthcare and education, where a transformational e-governance plan can make a huge difference.

As the IndEA architecture shows, once a basic foundation is in place, then government departments can leverage the framework to design and customize applications according to the unique requirements of their own state or region. Common elements such as identity authentication and payment can be quickly replicated across regions without any major change. Many state government departments in different states today have common requirements. By having a centralized digital data ecosystem, backward states can catch up with the developed states by leveraging established standards and frameworks.

If the best practices of each state is mapped and the best features are incorporated, it prevents reinventing of the wheel, and enables states to focus more on things that can improve the life of the average citizen.
India already has proven national platforms such as Aadhaar, UPI, GSTN and GeM. It is now time to replicate a similar story in important nationally relevant sectors such as healthcare, education and logistics!

e governanceIndEA
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