The Next Big Leap: eGovernance pushes for transparency and efficiency
Bridging the rural-urban divide by bringing citizens closer to the govt
By: HT Brand Studio
This is the perfect recipe, with all the ingredients in the right measure. Not only does India have a fast growing and young populace, but there is also an acute need to connect disparate rural hinterlands, instil confidence in government and deliver key welfare services such as education, healthcare and subsidies. Clearly then it's a no brainer that a country, which is a leader in IT services with 55% of the worldwide market share (Nasscom) and among the fastest-growing telecom markets, turns to eGovernance for solutions to everyday problems.
Mostly simply put, delivering government services directly to the citizens by leveraging IT not only increases efficiency by multiples, but creates a transparent atmosphere at a time when the nation is waging a war against graft and black money. Minimising leakages and wastages in central government sponsored schemes by removing middlemen and offering real-time monitoring of the implementation clearly is the need of the hour. .
With the Government of India picking up pace with the Digital India 2.0 project, it is now the turn of the private sector to play its role in pulling India's far-flung villages closer, and thus increasing farm efficiencies through IoT, supporting subsidy transfers, besides implementing central initiatives such as Swachh Bharat, Clean Ganga, and the Smart Cities program. .
To enable the same, homegrown player Tata Communications has rolled out India's first LoRa network starting with Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Following successful LoRaWAN network trials in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, Tata Communications and Semtech Corporation have worked together to deploy 35 IoT proofs-of-concept (PoCs) based on LoRa Technology across these cities. The PoCs cover a wide array of applications, including sensors for remotely monitoring air conditioners and safety deposit boxes, energy management systems used to optimize the use of electricity, gas and water, and multiple smart buildings and smart city applications. "Tata Communications' efforts to deploy its IoT network and recruit enterprise customers to develop strong, LoRa-based PoCs for a wide range of IoT applications will help improve the lives of India's citizens," said Francois Sforza, Senior Director of Business Development for Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Product Group. .
LoRa is a super low-power, secure, bi-directional, communication solution, which any organisation can use to connect objects and innovative applications simply and energy efficiently, overcoming high power consumption challenges with existing wireless solutions. In fact, the reach is immense – in deep water, or even 50 metres underground. .
Tata Communications, which operates undersea cables through which over 24% of the world's internet routes travel today, hopes to cover 400 million people across Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 cities in the first phase. The LoRa network has huge potential in the farm sector, with sensors measuring every detail from soil fertility, water retention, to wind speed, and even warning the farmer against shifts in weather patterns. .
Meanwhile, finance and healthcare are other key areas for eGovernance to take charge from a physical network. In the face of severe leakages in the public distribution system, direct subsidy transfers have long been a dream for the government. Today, a combination of the Aadhar social security system, biometric identification and the vast telecom network, make it possible for government support to reach the neediest of its citizens in a timely fashion. In fact, with most medical specialists concentrated in the urban spaces, even many regular diseases or illnesses in the rural areas can be treated remotely through such technology. .
White label ATMs, or ATMs not tied to any one bank, are a big step towards financial inclusion. A leader in this space, Tata Communications Payment Solutions crossed the 5,000 Indicash ATM mark last year. With 65% of these ATMs already in tier 3 or below markets, the company now aims to triple the number this year. .
Today, the Government is not only looking out, but internally as well by automating and putting several existing processes online. This include Government purchases, applications, besides using drones in the monitoring of infrastructure projects, land survey, agriculture spraying and forest survey. Smart cities, work on the first 100 of which has just been started, will go a long way in improving urban life. Better power management will lead to savings and sustainable living, while waste management will be key in maintaining the ecological balance as population pressure rises. .
Finally, in a country that has for decades lagged behind in physical infrastructure such as highways and modern railways, digitisation and modern communication technologies come today as a strong ray of hope for those on the fringes of modern society looking to enter the mainstream economy. .