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Odisha’s e-governance project likely to transform the state into an innovation and knowledge-based society

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Ashok Meena, Principal Secretary to Government of Odisha, Electronics & Information Technology Department, provides information on various IT projects undergoing in the state

The emergence of information and communication technology (ICT) has provided means for faster and better communication, retrieval of data and utilisation of information for users. E-governance assumes greater importance in the context of management of today’s governmental structures to achieve rapid economic growth and improved quality of life. The technology and methods used in /e-governance projects provide a roadmap for efficient delivery of government services to citizens, through internet at the doorstep.

Odisha is experiencing steady economic growth. The implications of e-governance make massive changes for the government to provide e-service on a citizen-friendly platform. Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, leads the Government of India’s Smart Cities list and an estimated amount of ` 10,000 crore will be invested over five years. Bhubaneswar was also recognised as the second runner-up at World Smart City Awards 2016, held in Barcelona, Spain.

Overview of IT and electronics
The vision of the Electronics and IT department is to use IT and electronics to transform Odisha into an innovation and knowledge-based society, focusing on inclusive growth through citizen-centric, participatory governance. The Government of Odisha has been following a methodical approach by preparing overarching policies like ICT policy, e-governance roadmap, promotional strategy, IT procurement procedure, ESDM policy and guidelines. The state government is also working to create an ICT-enabled environment to enable citizen-centric service delivery as well as to boost productivity and efficiency.

Odisha has an application named, ‘Odisha Secretariat Workflow Automation System (OSWAS)’, through which all file movements of the secretariat is done electronically; this automated workflow has been continuing since 2008. “The application is presently being used by all government departments including CM’s Office. We are in the process of migration to OSWAS 2.0 with improved features for an employee friendly environment,” highlights Ashok Meena, Principal Secretary to Government of Odisha, Electronics & Information Technology Department.

Unique challenges
Among the various unique challenges, reliable connectivity is one of the major issues in the state, especially in the extremist-affected hilly and forest areas. Nearly 10,000 villages don’t have mobile connectivity, which is restricting citizens to get the benefits of e-governance services. The banking business is also not penetrating most of the rural areas due to poor connectivity. “Our teledensity is 81.06 which is less than the national average of 93.23 and rural teledensity is nearly 50 per cent, which is a concern for the improvement of rural economy through digital initiatives,”
he adds.

Poor digital literacy is also a challenge in the state to bring the impact of digitisation to improve the standard of life of citizens. To improve internet connectivity, optical fibre cable (OFC) network is being laid from block to Gram Panchayats in two phases under BharatNet Phase I and II, in the underground mode and ariel mode. Both phases are expected to be completed by March 31, 2019. Various digital literacy programmes have also been taken to improve the digital literacy rate in the state. Moreover, Odisha has taken many steps for the promotion of digital payments.

“Odisha is a 100 per cent Aadhaar-enabled state and the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH), which has already been set up, is bringing transparency in public distribution system and other social security benefit schemes of the state,” informs Meena.

Role of IT department in promoting e-governance
Every department of Odisha government is now keen to develop e-governance initiatives for bringing its services closer to citizens. The government is using various ICT interventions by leveraging new, emerging technologies in key sectors like education, healthcare and infrastructure.

  • Education: In the education sector, Odisha has an e-Vidyalaya programme which covers 4,000 government schools in the first phase and 2,000 government schools in the second phase. Schools covered under this programme are provided with ICT laboratory, internet and multimedia facilities for students. There’s also an innovative initiative named ‘Student Academic Management System (SAMS)’ for e-admission to colleges across the state. Whereas, the ‘Mo School’ programme connects schools with their alumni using social media – this is a unique initiative by the state.
  • Health: Odisha has developed an application called ‘E-blood Bank’ through which citizens can get the complete blood stocks on each blood group of each blood bank, district-wise. The Hospital Management Information System (HMIS), Odisha Telemedicine, Government Doctor Management System, etc are several more initiatives in the healthcare sector, using technology.

While implementing various IT initiatives in Odisha, the state is banking heavily and following the Open Standard solutions. Important applications like e-District, HRMS and OSWAS are all developed in open standards and also with open-source tools. The applications are based on an end-to-end open source platform which provides for constant upgradation and advancement. These are stable, reusable and scalable platforms, which have been seamlessly scaled to the entire state. It follows a brick-on-brick add-on model wherein additional units can be added on the go.

IT initiatives planned in the state
In order to provide more and more services to the citizens notified under Right to Public Services Delivery Act through online mode, the state government has taken a decision that every government department will earmark one per cent of its total budget for IT spending. Out of 324 services notified under Right to Public Services Delivery Act, more than 70 services have been made online till date; and others are being rolled out in a swift mode. The Electronics and IT department has been declared as the nodal department for Aadhaar enrollment. Aadhaar enrollment in the state has crossed 95 per cent and it is trying to achieve 100 per cent soon. OCAC has also been declared as the Registrar for Aadhaar enrollment in the state. The State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) for profiling of all the citizens has been set up at the State Data Centre.

Talking about the planned IT projects in the state, Meena informs, “State Wide Area Network (SWAN) connecting all government offices up to block level shall be upgraded by December 2019. The Common Data Centre (Phase II of State Data Centre) at Info Valley, to cater to the requirement of all departments for hosting their e-governance application, shall be set up by December 2019. In order to provide robust internet connectivity upto the Gram Panchayat level for e-governance applications, all the Gram Panchayats of the state shall be connected with high-speed internet connectivity by March 2019 through the BharatNet Project.”

Cybersecurity and digital transformation – a big focus
Besides the planned IT projects, the state is also working on multiple proofs of concepts (PoCs) and it is gearing up to manage and handle cybersecurity issues. Odisha is setting up a Computer Emergency Response Team of Odisha (CERT-O) to tackle cybersecurity related issues. On the same lines, Crisis Management Plan for Cyber Security had also been notified in the year 2016. The International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bhubaneswar is playing an important role in helping the state government in cybersecurity and cyber forensic related issues.
Other major project under the PoC, ‘Characterisation Lab’ is also being set up for providing a test facility to the electronic chip designer at IIIT Bhubaneswar. Other projects include monitoring of the telecom network under BharatNet, Odia Virtual Academy and Odisha Online to promote digital payments.

Scope of IT projects underway

  • e-District: The e-District project, as an MMP under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), was implemented in all districts of Odisha. Currently, eight high volume citizen-centric services are being provided at the district level, by the District Administration to enable delivery of these services through the CSCs.
  • e-Municipality: This project was implemented in all urban local bodies (ULBs) of the state to ensure online delivery of high volume citizen-centric services provided by municipalities. The Steel and Mines department of Odisha has implemented i3MS (Integrated Minerals and Mines Management System) which is a unique attempt to bring transparency to the mining process.
  • e-Admission: The state has also introduced the Student Academic Management System (SAMS), an innovative initiative for e-admission and post-admission academic administration at higher secondary and under-graduate degree levels across all the colleges in the state. SAMS was implemented to provide citizen-centric, transparent, time saving and economical platform of admission and academic administration which works on an online-offline mode.
  • Administrative services: To increase efficiency across the administrative structure, thereby improving the quality of services to citizens through a system of ICT, e-Registration, computerisation of all 316 sub registrar offices across the state has been implemented. Integrated Odisha Treasury Management Systems (iOTMS) was launched to improve the primary service delivery mechanism of the treasuries; this facilitates transparency between citizens and government, provides easier access and usage of government information and services and enables faster decisions and actions by Government officials. Now, an enhanced version of iOTMS – Integrated Finance Management System (iFMS) – is being implemented by the Finance Department. The purpose of this system is to have a Centralised Core Treasury Management System in place in the State Finance Department.
  • Telecom: There have been numerous recent Odisha mobile tower, OFC and other telecom infrastructure policies to establish the telecom infrastructure across the state to improve the ratio teledensity and provide connectivity even in remote areas of the state. The focus is on implementation across the state, after its gazette notification and single windows clearance system, to provide permits for installation of telecom infrastructure in the state.

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