A 2016 Gartner report stated that India was expected to spend close to $7 billion USD on various IT projects for governance, that year. The report mentions a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year (2015). While data and predictions for 2017 are not yet in, what we do know is, $7 billion is a lot of money! From massive nationwide projects like UID, to city or town level surveillance projects, technology is enabling and changing several aspects of the average citizen’s life. No doubt there’s a long way to go – meanwhile, here is a look at three interesting IT projects executed for the government sector.
City Surveillance for Nabakalebara Festival, 2015 – Puri, Odisha
The temple town of Puri, Odisha, is known for annual car (chariot) festival, but is also hosts Nabakalebara, a ritual in which the wooden idol of the Lord Jagannath is replaced with a new one. This event occurs at varying frequency. The 2015 event was after a gap of 19 years, making this an event pilgrims awaited with great fervor. The city administration expected a turnout of between four to five million people for the event. The population of Puri during non-festive times is only 0.5 million. Therefore, the town administration and infrastructure had to handle a population that was 10 times the normal. Previous large gatherings at Puri had unfortunately resulted in deaths, owing to stampede.
For the 2015 event, the Odisha Police Housing and the State Home Ministry decided to implement a Smart and Safe City project. The focus was on enabling real time visibility in areas of interest, and integrating the surveillance with police patrolling vehicles, dial 100 system, and the police control room. 220 CCTV cameras were installed in the temple areas, route of the procession, city entry and exit points, and parking areas. Simultaneously, the entire town was geo-tagged, and a wireless network was also created as a backup network.
These CCTV cameras could be monitored at control rooms set up in the temple, traffic control room, SP’s office, and in the main police control room. Apart from the video cameras, the control rooms could also track the patrolling vehicles, which too were equipped with tablets to receive notifications. The CCTV recordings and calls made to 100 were preserved for a period for 30 days.
The solution helped the Puri police avoid stampede-like situations, potentially preventing deaths (previous events had seen stampede related deaths). Traffic management was greatly aided thanks to a city-wide live feed. Another important benefit was that, additional police personnel could be dynamically deployed, depending on a disturbance or volatile situation that could be gauged by the control room looking at the live feed.
The project was executed by Schindler Electric.
Court Management System – Rajastan
Justice delayed is justice denied, goes the adage. With about three crore pending cases in Indian courts, and each case affecting multiple parties or persons, the number of Indians to whom justice is not yet served by the courts is easily twice that number! While shortage of judges is cited as the primary reason for this problem, technology is doing its bit to optimize the time available with the existing judges and courts. Equally importantly, smart use of technology helps bring in transparency in many of the courts’ processes, thereby helping restore the much needed confidence in the judicial system amongst citizens.
In Rajastan, an online software platform integrates all district and session courts across the state, bringing judges, advocates, administrators and citizens onto a common portal. The system has brought several transparency features to the courts. For example, it automatically assigns hearing dates for cases based on a ‘first-in first-out’ basis, eliminating the influence of advocates on hearing dates.
Automated system for notifications: The portal automatically sends out notices to all involved parties and tracks delivery and acknowledgement of the notices. An SMS is sent to the parties on their mobile phones.
Allocation of notices: In case of multi-bench courts, the notices are served to parties with only the bench number. The allocation of judges to benches is done to at the last moment moment to ensure fairness.
Simplifying paper work: Case files from lower courts can be viewed by higher courts without the need for physical copies. However, if a physical copy is needed, the higher court can simply order or it online. This request is sent instantly online to the lower court, which can send the physical file and close the request online, thus greatly speeding up the process of file movement from lower courts.
The portal also tracks the internal file movement to ensure that files can be tracked easily. Each file is identified by a bar code and its storage location is maintained in the system. So, when a case file is required, based on the bar code, the administrator can know in which file room and rack the file is available.
Connecting cases to caveats: When a case is filed, the system searches for relevant caveats and connects the two automatically. The caveats and filing of new cases can be done in any order and the system links them automatically.
Digital library: Judgments are captured into the portal and stored against each case. A digital library is provided to store cases for future references. A powerful search is available in the portal to enable judges to search across worthy judgments.
Citizen-centric user interface system: Citizens can access the portal by providing their mobile numbers to view the status of their case. All notifications on hearing dates and other relevant data will be informed to the citizen on their mobile devices.
The project was executed by Agile Labs.
Enabling Rural Health Workers – U.P.
One of India’s biggest challenges is delivering effective healthcare at the grassroots level in remote rural areas. Various schemes of central and state governments have been trying to address this problem, but it is widely acknowledged that gaps remain, and there is a long way to go. One of the mechanisms adopted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, is the enrolment of ‘ASHAs’ (Accredited Social Health Activists), whose primary responsibility is to educate rural populace on health, and motivate them to use available health facilities, such as maternity hospitals, etc.
In Uttar Pradesh, a mobile-based solution was introduced in five districts to reduce the maternal-infant mortality rates. The project, called mSehat, aimed to empower the ASHAs, whose were tasked with educating and motivating pregnant woman to avail hospital services. This cloud-enabled mobile platform facilitates ASHAs to enrolment beneficiaries (rural citizens) to various health services using mobile-devices.
The first stage oversaw the distribution of mobiledevices to the various stakeholders: smartphones to the 10,252 ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers and tablets to 1719 ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and 300 other people, comprising of medical officers, medical officers in-charge (MOIC) and SIFPSA staff.
ASHAs were trained in using their mobiledevices to input beneficiaries’ details, thus moving to digital records keeping, from a traditional paper-based system. The application used regional language in the UI, and there were video-aids to help the semiliterate health workers (ASHAs) use their devices efficiently. Thus, the efficiency of the frontline health worker improved. Also, it increased motivation levels through prompt, transparent incentive-pay.
Likewise, officials were educated in using analytics-based dashboards for real-time monitoring of activities, enabling target-based intervention. The analytics-driven insights from the central data repository empower public administrators in future policymaking.
mSehatenabled health workers deliver performance exceeding expectations, by registering ten-fold increase in enrolments and achieving three year targets in the first six months of using mSehat. The solution is claimed to have touched 1.2 crore lives and positively impacted over 20 lakh beneficiaries so far. When it gets extended to the remaining districts of Uttar Pradesh, it is poised to touch 20 crore lives.
This project was executed by Kellton Tech.
Case studies summarized
by Special Correspondent