September 2005

news review

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India

Knowledge Commission of India working towards a comprehensive national development plan
The newly launched Knowledge Commission of India would work towards creation of a knowledge base of the country by focusing on five areas, including access to knowledge. The commission will also make proposals for creation and application of knowledge and delivery of knowledge services. According to the Chairman of the Knowledge Commission Mr. Sam Pitroda, special efforts should be made for the development of 'knowledge concepts' and latest information technology tools could be used to improve access to knowledge and provide knowledge services. The eight-member commission, launched by the Prime Minister Mr. Manomohan Singh, will submit its first set of recommendations in October. The panel proposes to synergise perspectives of people working in various fields. It will formulate the recommendations with a view to benefit young people who are the real consumers of knowledge. Emphasis will also be laid on need for e-governance in the country to facilitate the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

Indian IT firm to deploy e-Passport and e-Authentication systems in Somalia

Sobha Renaissance Information Technology (SRIT), a Bangalore based IT company has bagged a Somalian Government contract to set up e-Passport and e-Authentication systems in Somalia. This will be one of the remarkable e-governance initiatives of the African nation of Somalia. According to Hasan Ahmed Jama, deputy minister of foreign affairs in the Somalian government, ensuring national and international security is the highest priority of the present Government. SRIT will partner with the Somalian government in the implementation and deployment of a national passport program solution, execution of national ID program, automation of driver licenses, vehicle registration and national health programs.

Data collection drive of Government of India goes high tech
In a bid to make data processing more efficient, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of Government of India is planning to use Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) technology for the first time in the fifth Economic Census. The process, also known as Automated Forms Processing (AFP), enables the user to process documents from their images or directly from paper and convert them into computer readable data. The ICR will help make information deciphering more accurate and will enable high precision in data transfer. Since automated forms are designed to be scanned to a digital format so that the data on the form can be 'extracted' by the software rather than keyed by data entry personnel, the scope for errors is reduced. This also makes data processing less expensive. The fifth Economic Census is being conducted to fulfill detailed data requirements for the unorganised non-agricultural sectors of the economy.

3000 Kisan Soochna Kendras planned in Uttaranchal

The Government of Uttaranchal has entered into an agreement with Jaikisan.org, a fully owned subsidiary of Soft Core Tech of Canada to install nearly 3000 Kisan Soochna Kendras (KSK) across the state in order to provide varuious IT-enabled services to people from single kiosk. All 13 districts will be covered under the new scheme, the model for which is loosely based on e-Choulpal. A Soochna Kendra will have facilities like the Internet, basic telephony, a full-fledged home theatre, call centres and other IT-enabled services that are related to weather and agriculture. Already 45 Soochna Kendras have been installed acrposs the state. Each Pradhan of a rural panchayat will be entitled to nominate one entrepreneur who can set up the KSK at his village. A KSK would employ nearly 11 to 12 people. For the benefit of tourists, a number of Soochna Kendras will be set up on the roads leading to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri

Indian Government to leagalise on-line coal trading

Very soon coal companies in India would be trading on-line through e-auctioning. This landmark move by the Government, which is yet to be finalised, can save consumers from forced buying of coal from black market due lack of information and linkage with the industry. Currently, some companies are running e-auctioning on a trial basis to find out its feasibility and efficiency in improving business process. It is expected that by this year end Government will be giving permission to start e-auctioning of coal on a large scale.

Computers to police traffic in Bangalore
In the Indian city of Bangalore, policemen have turned to simputers to discipline wayward motorists. The system that fits into the cops' palm helps booking drivers for traffic violations on the city road where more than two million vehicles jostle for road space every day. The automated paperless spot fining system, through its Internet connectivity, also helps track down frequent offenders. It allows access to data on two-million-odd cases in less than a minute. Every breach of traffic regulation appears on the screen, with date and place, making it easy for the police to hand out a ticket on the spot

De-sanctioning of Commodity Exchange promise to boost Indian rural economy
Indian Government has recently removed the 40 years of sanction the commodity trading promises to improve market for rural population. With 70 per cent of the population in rural areas, it's pretty obvious that commodity exchanges will affect a lot more lives than the stock market. According to a study done 10 years ago on 17 commodities, if there was a common Indian market, you could unlock a wealth of $9 billion. Since commodities are concerned with about 700 million people in this country, this is the only way the country can become an economic super power.

Indian Railways to use radio frequency identification to track wagons

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) of Indian Railways plans to use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to improve the wagon management system of the Railways. CRIS proposes to have a RFID tag or chip embedded in all the wagons and provide sheds with handheld devices that would read these chips and thus register the data. Following this, the details can be fed into the Indian Railways system to help track wagons accurately. To start with, the autonomous body responsible for all IT-related activities of Railways plans to run a pilot project by putting RFID chips in 1,000 wagons in the East Coast Railways.

Pakistan

Revenue Department to computerise land records
The NWFP Senior Minister Siraj-ul-Haq has directed the Revenue Department to expedite work on computerisation of Patwar Khanas, circles and land records as well as command on IT for all revenue officials, including Patwaries, must be made essential to enable them deliver to the masses rather than adding to their miseries like past. It has been decided that Patwaries and other revenue officials would compulsorily have to learn in computer literacy, graphics, maps and software programming while IT expertise in all such concerns would be made essential part of their qualification and experience for future appointments.

South africa

South African Government plans to use open source software for e-Health system

The South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) plans to develop an electronic health record system (EHR) for the national Department of Health. For the nationwide adoption of the project, the department considers an open source based development and calls for tenders. SITA has extended the deadline for responses to its request for information to August 12, 2005. According to Joseph Dal Molin, a Director of WorldVistA, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to the spread of open-source software based on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), the use of open source software would come along with possibility to save a large of amount of IT expenses compared with the adoption of a proprietary solution.

Malaysia

Oracle launches e-Governance centre
Oracle Corporation has launched a centre of excellence for e-Governance at its Cyberjaya office in Malaysia. The centre at Century Square, which will see RM10 million of investment from Oracle Malaysia over the next three years, will work on prototyping and showcasing solutions. The Cyberjaya centre will invite masters degree and doctoral candidates to come and work there, hopefully bringing about exchanges of viewpoints and ideas which will lead to better solutions that can be made available internationally. It will also lead the way in developing comprehensive e-Government solutions not just in Malaysia but also around the region.

Tanzania

Government boosts ICT throughout Tanzania
The government of Tanzania has made concerted efforts to give a push to the spread of Information Communication Technology (ICT) countrywide as a key vehicle towards achievement of the Tanzanian Development Vision 2025. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication and Transport, Salim Msoma, said this in Dar es Salaam recently. Msoma said that through ICT empowerment, people's lives and business transactions were becoming even more efficient and effective. He mentioned the steps as creating a conducive environment for investing in the ICT industry and formation of a national policy, which addressed key areas that needed attention in order to realise ICT for all.

GIS News*

INDIA

Satellite maps of Pune every six months

The Pune Municipal Corporation will obtain satellite maps of the city twice a year to monitor use of urban land and also to control unauthorised constructions. Municipal Commissioner Nitin Kareer has sent a proposal to the standing committee, asking for a provision of Rs 12 lakh for the purpose. Satellite pictures of the city will be taken every six months with help from the Nagpur-based National Remote Sensing Agency. Quick Bird satellite has been selected for the work. The State government has selected eight municipal corporations so that it can get updated information on use of urban land in the state. These maps will be analysed and sent to ward offices concerned.

Digital Atlas for South India
The Tamil University in Thanjavur is involved in preparing a historical atlas of South India in digital format, in collaboration with the French Institute of Pondicherry. The Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala; Mangalore University, Mangalore; and the Central University, Hyderabad, are also involved in the project, informed Dr. C. Subramaniam, Vice-chancellor, Tamil University. Ford Foundation has offered to fund the project with a Rs. 85 lakhs grant for three years. The Vice Chancellor said that the University, in collaboration with the French Institute of Pondicherry, had already prepared a historical atlas of Tamil Nadu under a pilot project in 2004.

Under the pilot project taken up in 2001, a prototype was developed for Pudukottai (Central Tamil Nadu) region. Every village in Pudukottai district was surveyed and documented. More than a thousand inscriptions, dating from the third century BC to the Vijayanagar period, was analysed to enhance the historical geography of the region.

The Ford Foundation wanted the project to be extended to cover the entire South India and agreed to fund the project.

Satellites reveal increase of forest and tree cover

The State of Forest Report 2003, based on interpretation of data from Indian Remote Sensing satellites for the year 2002, has shown that the total forest and tree cover of India has increased to 778,229 sq. km constituting 23.68% of its geographic area, against 757,010 sq. km constituting 23.03% of geographic area in 2001 assessment. Thus, there is an increase of forest and tree cover by 21,219 sq. km, which is 0.65% of geographical area as compared to 2001 assessment. The State of Forest Report

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