Raising the e-governance bar
With technology being central to citizen services delivery and internal processes, governments can't afford to stay behind. There are sustained efforts to raise the bar of focus and adoption of emerging technologies
Each passing year, with the introduction of new technologies in India – in pace with international standards – there has been a constant push by the central and state governments to raise e-governance focus to new levels. In order to achieve these levels, the government has also developed several mechanisms to help ministries, PSUs and state governments in this direction. J Satyanarayana, Chairman UIDAI and Advisor, Government of Andhra Pradesh (eGovernance, Electronics and IT), opines, “To raise the bar of e-governance, we need to think beyind systems and create ecosystems; an enterprise and global thinking is needed. Any organisation – government or private – is today all about services, so the need to create digital service standards. We also have to adopt a host of new technologies impacting us everyday; we need to create an architecture which is not shaken everytime when a new technology emerges. We need an architecture that aligns itself with these technologies and leverages them. Lastly, the digital transformation teams are crucial.”
Satyanarayana explains the need for national ecosystems in the the areas of digital ID, digital payments, healthcare, education, primary sector, smart cities, e-commerce, jobs and logistics. These ecosystems must provide scope for organic growth and permit expansion on its own, without special efforts. For instance, in the digital ID space, Aadhaar has not created just a tool, but has paved the way for formation of an entire ecosystem; it allows other systems to interoperate with itself and derives synergies. Similarly, digital payments is another area where this has been done. Likewise, in the healthcare space, Ayushman Bharat scheme is making big strides. Whereas, in taxation, GSTN is growing exponentially.
“In order to create these ecosystems, we must start with a set of architectures, which don’t just talk about the business, but also the technology to support the business. This should be followed by open standards to allow interoperability. Open data is another concept we need to work upon, subject to data security and privacy. Once data is opened up, it creates immense opportunities for innovators in the country – this is essential for rapid development of ecosystems. A viable business model is also critical to drive these ecosystems in an upward direction. Lastly, due the involvement of people’s data, regulation is crucial,” he says.
The vision of India Enterprise Architecture Framework (IndEA) is to establish best-in-class architectural governance, processes and practices with with optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure and and applications to offer ‘One Government’ experience to citizens and businesses, through digital services enabled by ‘Boundryless Information Flow’.
Explaining IndEA, Satyanarayana says, “We introduced India Enterprise Architecture Framework (IndEA) for creating architectures. This framework does almost 70 per cent of work for creating an architecture. I hope this framework will be soon notified by the government, under the IT ministry. IndEA not just benefits governments, but enterprises as well. The framework includes a set of principles and reference models useful for ministries, PSUs and the private sector with minor variations.”
Another concept, as mentioned by him, is Digital Service Standards (DSS) for a rich user experience. “Today a lot of things are happening, but people don’t have the time to go through the learning curve. In order to shorten the learning curve, we have introduced DSS, wherein we have created a set of standards. These standards span four stages and 10 steps, including definition, classification, prioritisation, design, development, delivery, governing DSS, strategies, measurement and assessment,” he states.
8 reference models in IndEA
- Business reference model (BRM)
- Application reference model (ARM)
- Data reference model (DRM)
- Technology reference model (TRM)
- Architecture governence reference model (GRM)
- Performance reference model (PRM)
- Integration reference model (IRM)
- Security reference model (SRM)
Andhra Pradesh’s story
Specifically in terms of Andhra Pradesh, e-Pragati is aimed at creating citizen centric services. Other value propositions of e-Pragati are about looking at the government as a single enterprise; and support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A lifecycle approach has been adopted by e-Pragati, which digitises all citizen centric services – right from birth to death. e-Pragati encapsulates 14 packages such as healthcare, primary sector, IT infrastructure, industry, education, etc, with 70 projects across all areas. Of the projects, several are already operational including, AP Fibernet, smart transportation, temple management, e-Cops / CCTNS, e-CM, localisation, e-Procurement and more.
Through e-Pragati, Andhra Pradesh government intends to realise the vision of ‘Sunrise AP 2022’ by providing integrated services to citizens through a common e-Pragati portal. The e-Pragati authority will achieve the goals of the project by supporting the seven development missions launched in the areas of e-governance, social empowerment, skill development, urban development, infrastructure, industrial development and the services sector.
e-Pragati Core Platform aims to deliver a proven and scalable technological foundation for the digital transformation of Government to Citizen, Government to Business, and Government to Government services, by enabling departments and organisations to streamline operations, deliver consistent service and modernise operations without interruptions.
Satyanarayana adds, “By the end of December this year, we are hoping to mark substantial progress in implementation of more projects. Critical success factors of all the projects include proactive leadership, design of enterprise architecture, developing human resource for digital transformation, and agile procurements.”
Keeping citizens at the centre, Andhra Pradesh Transport Department for instance, has embarked on digital transformation and created a ‘transport framework’. This was aimed at improving performance, controlling revenue leakages and measuring and monitoring road safety and traffic patterns. As part of this digital drive, approximately 85 business processes are re-engineered and implemented. All services are rendered using Aadhaar as primary authentication. In a first, the department is also using machine learning enabled Microsoft Bots for answering user queries in real-time. All digital payments are digitally verified. Technology interventions are done with technologies like Blockchain, ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) for vehicle and eKYC documents verification, and usage of Microsoft bots for citizen and officer assistance.
Delving into the various digital initiatives undertaken by Andhra Pradesh across an array of domains, Nara Lokesh, Minister for Technology, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh, says, “Our CM’s vision for the state is to be No 1 in per capita income by 2022. Andhra Pradesh currently has the lowest per capita income in South East Asia; however, the state’s entrepreneurship spirit will play a key role in achieving the vision. We started E-Seva in 2014 and have now embarked on Governance 2.0, wherein technology will be critical. Currently, Andhra Pradesh has close to one million active IoT devices operating across the state. Andhra Pradesh has also adopted e-office system, thereby going truly paperless. Additionally, we are working on using drones for real-time soil testing.”
He informs that technology is being extensively used in Panchayati Raj and rural areas. For instance, the state is implementing IoT devices in street lights. With this, non-working lights are replaced within 72 hours.
“We have undertaken pothole monitoring using LIDAR technology. Our core dashboard is another exciting initiative, which has helped in democratising data. Whereas, the recently launched e-Pragati Portal is helping in unifying the entire backend of the state government. We are also undertaking intense work on blockchain,” he adds.
Building skills and innovation
Across government and private sectors, there has been widespread discussions on Young India. Young professionals and technology students have several concerns amidst talks on automation and AI taking away jobs. Sharing his view on the same, J A Chowdary, IT Advisor and Special Chief Secretary to Chief Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh, says, “The manufacturing sector is getting completely automated. Even in the services sector, with the emergence of AI and bots, a significant amount of automation is happening. In the space of cyber security as well, automation is taking place with bots. In order to address this, an automated defense mechanism is needed. These factors will surely affect jobs. According to statistics, there are around 13 million unemployed youths in the country every year; this number will rise in the future.”
Chowdary also informs about the recenty started CollegeConnect programme in the state, wherein industry experts mentor students in colleges. After the launch of this sustainable connect programme, the government organised a conference on blockchain in October last year, wherein it also conducted a hackathon on the technology. “Following this, we organised several more hackathons on cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. We are also planning to run a hackathon on data, wherein students will develop various data models using the data provided by the government,” he informs.
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