Home / Politics / Policy /  Government to give e-governance a SMAC push

New Delhi: The government is firming plans to set up departments that will govern the use of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies as part of its efforts to drive the next phase of e-governance.

“We have come up with a package of ideas, which we together call as EGP (e-governance programme) 2.0, or e-kranti," said J. Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology (IT), at Mint’s Enterprise Technology Summit 2014 on 26 February.

The information technology (IT) ministry is working with the states and some ministries in the Union government to adopt a set of procedures “to grapple with entire suite of SMAC technologies", he said.

The IT ministry sent a concept note on e-kranti last month to all state governments and so far has “received more than 20 responses", said a second government official, who declined to be named since the election model code of conduct is in force.

The concept note, this official said, focuses on using SMAC technologies and the new business models that can incorporate these practices. “We will be setting new departments specifically for this," he said, adding that an apex meeting on e-kranti is scheduled this month.

“The government is the repository of the biggest ever data. There have been 2.85 billion transactions—double the size of the Indian population—between the government and citizens since last year," said Satyanarayana, underscoring the need for analytics.

Technology services firm CMC Ltd recently implemented an intelligent transport project for the Andhra Pradesh government in Hyderabad. The project uses data gathered from global positioning systems (GPS) fitted in the city’s public buses to improve the quality of public transport.

“The data gathered by the system can be used to determine frequency and delays specific to a route, which can then be used to determine things like where new buses are needed," said R. Ramanan, managing director and chief executive officer of CMC, a subsidiary of India’s biggest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

Mobility too is important since about five million people are being reached daily both by the federal and state governments through mobile programmes, including those in healthcare and education, according to government data.

The IT ministry is also working to develop new cloud-based delivery models.

“We have created a policy for cloud in May last year. As recently as two weeks back, we launched its first phase, creating the cloud environment in our datacentre based in Delhi, with about Rs100 crore invested in it," said Satyanarayana. “The idea is to popularize the cloud within the government departments since there is reluctance among the agencies to frankly put everything on cloud due to security and privacy concerns."

Industry experts say now may be the right time for the government to start using emerging technologies for service delivery.

“India has been surprisingly adept at adopting technologies as they emerge. India is one of the leading countries in use of statistics by the government for policy making... However, we have reached a stage where we don’t need to depend solely on statistics any more," said Jaijit Bhattacharya, a noted e-governance expert.

“Given the proliferation of e-governance and other large systems that may reside outside the government, such as banks and telecom companies, we have significant direct data. Using analytics on this data gives the ability to provide personalized governance as well as help us have analytics driven policymaking," Bhattacharya said.

He explained how the government can check the number of tourists in a particular area by merely checking the visitors location registry of telecom companies. “This data would be invaluable for disaster management," said Bhattacharya.

Industry veterans like Ramanan, however, believe that using SMAC for service delivery can be challenging for the government. “SMAC needs to have a strong back-end infrastructure support. You also need to develop applications as well as software (that can be provided) as services," he said, adding that an integrated approach is needed to pull this off.

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