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India’s public sector is assessing a cloud-first policy for new generation software: Debapriya Nandan, Senior Director, Oracle India

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The coming decade is going to be incredibly transformative in terms of digitization, and the government has already started taking tangible steps toward the progress of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing. The public sector as a whole is assessing a cloud-first policy for new generation software, with cloud migration being a key component, states Debapriya Nandan, Sr. Director and Head – Public Sector Business Development, Oracle India, in an exclusive interview with Express Computer

Some edited excerpts:

Accessing government services online is becoming the new norm with digitalisation at an all-time high in India. According to you, what are some actions government organizations can take to accelerate the adoption of more efficient digital technologies like cloud – so that more services can be made available online and G2C – G2B engagements can go through a major overhaul?
The coming decade is going to be incredibly transformative in terms of digitization, and the government has already started taking tangible steps toward the progress of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing. The public sector as a whole is assessing a cloud-first policy for new generation software, with cloud migration being a key component. The government has also established a list of MeitY empanelled Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) who can offer Cloud services to governments and public sector firms, to make cloud procurement easier for them.

For governance to improve and become more efficient, it is essential for the government to issue a standard operating procedure when departments initiate new projects where technology procurement is an important aspect. This can define how any department and the selected vendor should engage with the various technology partners. It must also be able to forecast requirements in the next two to three years. That way, a specific cloud vendor or cloud technology can be better prepared to scale up to the future needs of that department – enabling more opportunity and resources for the government to develop new ideas to deliver better services.

PM’s Gatishakti National Master Plan is one of the four priorities on the government’s agenda for 2022. It has been designed to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive by leveraging technology extensively. What role do you foresee technology will play to reduce cost and make processes more streamlined and optimised?
PM’s Gatishakti National Master Plan is an incredibly ambitious plan that has a heavy reliance on modern technology. The Gati Shakti Master Plan is a comprehensive strategy that connects multiple departments and agencies involved in business, culminating in an integrated system. Emerging technologies such as blockchain, analytics, AI will all play a significant role in Gati Shakti success. The plan uses technology to programmatically and comprehensively align the various government departments and services such as railways, ports, numerous state governments, the excise department, finance, customs, and even government organizations, such as the state transportation department and the National Highway Authority etc.

As the name suggests, Gati Shakti denotes the power of speed and technology that has been extensively used to drive the projects. Under this master plan, real-time analytics, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, GIS, RFID, and NFCs are all going to be extensively used to facilitate group movement, reduce the cost of transportation, decrease the cost of documentation, and provide much more transparency in the movement of goods from one part of the country to another, ultimately resulting in more exports and more streamlined exports.

As per the Union Budget 2022, the government plans to reimagine cities and push for urban planning. How can technology boost this program in our country?
India’s smart cities project is already underway in terms of urban planning and is running quite successfully. Today, government departments are able to introduce new services faster, they have a plethora of modern technology tools available to them. Special schemes have been designed where technology plays an important role.

With the advances in technologies such as 5G, a strong cloud foundation, there is now much better connectivity, allowing civic society organizations to easily set up service centers even in the most remote areas of the country. The best example of this connectivity is how departmental functions of a typical municipality are no longer concentrated to a head office or the bureau office – a lot of this has moved online, making G2C and G2B services more easily accessible to individuals and businesses.

Over the last few years, we have seen a more active involvement of technology partners like Oracle, in providing cloud technology to urban local governments and deploying citizen-facing solutions as well as modernizing their back office operations. Cloud plays a significant role in managing, segregation and utilizing vast volumes of data, such as in the case of urban security, cameras, RFID, and face recognition technologies, where massive quantities of data is generated.

Oracle has been a long-time partner, helping India’s public sector embrace emerging technologies. Can you share a few new projects you are involved in?
Oracle is a comprehensive cloud player in the Indian market with decades of experience in servicing public sector organisations. We have collaborated with various government organizations over the past three decades. Our primary goal has been to serve as a technology enabler at the local and central levels in order to assist their wider goal of fostering development and satisfying citizens.

We have collaborated on projects ranging from healthcare to urban development to logistics and commerce. One such project was a smart government initiative – the Aspirational Districts Programme . This programme uses data to identify top-performing districts based on key performance factors to improve the quality of life of citizens in 112 of India’s most backward districts. The process entails assimilating thousands of data points from various sources and formats, which then gets evaluated for data accuracy and combined for analysis and reporting. This data is provided back to administrators, district collectors, government officers, and the general public via a highly visual and intuitive dashboard. The data is accessible and intelligible by all on a real time basis. These wide data management functions are run on the Oracle Autonomous Cloud.

In the healthcare and pharma sphere, we successfully ran a pilot project with NITI Aayog, Apollo Pharmacy and Strides Pharma in which we tested the use of Oracle Blockchain Cloud technology in reducing the growing menace of fake drug production and distribution. The entire procedure and transaction are covered and recorded in a blockchain system, allowing everyone to track and trace the movement of the product, at any point in time.

Similarly, in the logistics and delivery sector, we supported the Logistics Division, under the Ministry of Commerce for a pilot project known as “Secured Logistics Document Exchange” or SLDE. This was introduced by the Ministry of Commerce with an aim to further improve ‘the ease of doing business in India and to lend more power and speed to projects by connecting all concerned departments on one platform. Our partner, CargoExchange, created the SLDE platform with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and our Blockchain Cloud Service. This solution was created to replace the current manual process of logistics document generation, exchange, and compliance with a digitised, secure, and seamless document exchange system. It is also a part of PM Gati Shakti program which targets to cut logistics costs, increase cargo handling capacity and reduce the turnaround time.

What are the top 5 technologies that government organisations should deploy as they advance in their digital journeys?
Several new technologies including Cloud, AI, Data Science, Data Analytics, etc. will find a lot of applicability in governments. These digital technologies have the potential to improve the digital journeys of India’s public sector enterprises and, ultimately our entire nation.

Cloud computing comprises a diverse bouquet of services such as Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and Software as a service (SaaS). The criteria to select these services rely on an organisations’ business objectives, the extent of their operations, security requirements, and how quickly they want to grow.

However, based on current cloud market trends, these have become critical components of their digital journeys and have been strong enablers in recent times, especially during the pandemic.  Similarly, data science, AI, and GIS-based analytics are already witnessing high demand in our country. AI and GIS-based analytics are playing a significant role in generating data-driven strategic decisions. Today’s technologies and services no longer work in silos, each service either gets input from another service or offers output to another service and is integrated to provide the best output for the department. They are all tied to the overall success of delivery.

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