September 2006

ICT In Public Information System

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Public data and public information system must be recognised as valuable input resources in planning, implementation and monitoring of policies.

With billion plus population, India is the second most populous country of the world, only after China. Today it is facing diverse problems such as terrorism, illiteracy, corruption, lack of infrastructure, malnutrition, health hazards, natural disasters, etc. Since independence, many social welfare programmes were introduced for the well being of citizens and the upliftment of society. Large amounts of financial and human resources were being employed for social welfare, security, infrastructure development, education, etc. Despite the continuous commitment shown by the government towards social responsibility, desirable results have not been achieved due to lack of information access to stakeholders in planning and monitoring. To achieve the target of desirable accountability, public data and public information system must be recognised as valuable input resources in planning, implementation and monitoring of policies.

Present scenario
Most of the government/private sector organisations are automating their activities at full pace in India. It has taken a boost in last decade with the technological advances and reduction in cost of hardware and software. Banks, insurance companies, telecom departments, electricity departments, development authorities, railways, airport authorities, etc are some examples, where major work in automation of activities has already been completed in major parts of the country. They have created their networked database system to provide quick and reliable services to customers. Some of them have started online services to customers via Internet. For example, Indian Railways has launched its website through which customers can see the reservation status, arrival/departure time, fares, etc. from any global position. Customer information is retrieved from the database, using some customer key, viz., account number in bank database, policy no. in insurance database, PNR number for reservation enquiry.

Problems
Customer key in databases differs from organisation to organisation. Thus, if a customer wants information from banks, insurance company and telecom department, he needs to check individual databases with different customer key or searching patterns. Customer has to remember all the keys to access different databases, which is cumbersome. Moreover, a lot of exercise and time is required to get a consolidated report of a customer from different databases.

There is no way in the present system to gather all the information with a single key. The proposed system tries to sort out these problems to a greater extent. The following things need to be done for the same.

• Every Indian citizen should be identified with a Citizen ID.
• A citizen database should be maintained consisting of basic information of citizen like Citizen ID, name, date of birth, sex, community, native place, etc.
• Database of organisations having public dealing, should modify/develop their public database with insertion of Citizen ID and provide accessibility on the Internet.
• All the organisations, where public information is required, should be equipped with facilities to access public data via Internet.
• A citizen website should be launched.

Citizen ID
Citizen ID is a code like one’s bank account number or railway reservation PNR number. Selection of Citizen ID is most important aspect in this system. Citizen ID consists of four parts as suggested below:

• code for death/alive and sex status,
• code for place of birth,
• code for date of birth,
• birth serial number.

In order to reduce the number of blocks (columns) in Citizen ID, all the four parts of Citizen ID should be coded in 32 base number system, called ‘Duotrigecimal Number System’. A duotrigecimal number system consists of numbers 0,1,…,9,A,B,C,…,V. Decimal to duotrigecimal conversion method is to be used for converting codes from decimal number system to new duotrigecimal number system. Current census data (Table 1) was considered while deciding the number of blocks needed for Citizen ID. A total number of 13 blocks are required to make the Citizen ID. Number of blocks (columns) needed to code four parts of Citizen ID are as follows:

Death/alive status and sex code (block 1): First block (column) of the Citizen ID gives status of the citizen for Male or Female and Death or Alive. For example, Male Alive (0), Female Alive (1), Male Dead (2), Female Dead (4). In duotrigecimal number system, utmost 32 characters 0,1,2…,9,A,B,….,V can be used in this block. Therefore, up to 32 different statuses can be coded in this block. Additional characters can be added in this block such as marriage, caste, religion, etc. If we take only three characters death/alive, sex, marriage, then the code for different status may be kept as follows:

Place of birth (block 2-5): All Indian places can be coded (decimal number system) with six digit pincode, in existing system. When converting it to duotrigecimal number system, it will take 4 blocks to code the place of birth. Block 2-5 are used in Citizen ID for place of birth code.

Date of birth (block 6-10): In the proposed system, date of birth has been taken in ddd/yyyy format. Thus the date of birth of a citizen, who born on 26/02/1972, can be written in ddd/yyyy format as 0571972, where 057 is the day of the year, and 1972 is the year. After conversion in base 32 system, the coded date of birth will be 0GR14. All the date of birth can be coded in duotrigecimal number system in 5 digits. Block 6-10 is used in Citizen ID to place these converted code for date of birth.

Serial number (block 11-13): Serial number is the number assigned for new birth/new entry corresponding to date-of-birth, place-of-birth and sex. New numbers will be started for each sex, place of birth and date of birth. For example, if serial number (in decimal system) for the 78th male birth at XYZ place in Lucknow city on 01/01/2001 is 0078, after conversion this serial number in duotrigecimal will be 02E. Block 11-13 is used to place coded serial number, which can occupy serial number up to 9999. Therefore, a maximum of 10,000 (0-9999) entries of citizens of same sex, same birth place (district) and same date of birth can be registered for Citizen ID, which is sufficient as per Census India 2000-’01. For example, a maximum of 10,000 new born male citizens, taken birth at XYZ place at Lucknow on 01/01/20001 can be provided Citizen ID.

Table 1 : Maximum district population and population growth rate in states and union territories of India

Source: Census Report of India 1991-2001

Example of Citizen ID: Citizen ID of alive married female citizen, who was born on 26/02/1972 in Harzratganj in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh (Pin code 226001) and registered as 78th citizen on that day and place will be 10IMM0GR1402E.

Citizen database
Citizen Database is the repository of citizen’s basic information. All the characters of citizen in this database will be either static or those, which will be changed occasionally. The basic information about citizen, which can be added to the database are citizen’s ID, name, date of birth, place of birth, sex, caste, religion, address, qualification, profession, designation, father citizen ID, mother’s citizen ID, annual income, identification sign (mole, curly hairs, etc), signature/thumb sign, etc. Database can be sorted and searched on any of the available citizen’s characters. For example, if one requires information of the citizens of scheduled caste who are alive, it can be acquired using caste field of the database. Citizen’s information can be gathered from a nation wide survey, current census records, election commission’s voter’s list, etc.

Citizen card
Citizen card is like the voter card issued by Election Commission of India. It consists of citizen’s basic information viz, Citizen ID, name, photograph, date of birth, address, caste, religion, identification sign, signature/thumb sign. Citizen database will be used in issuing the card. Card can be used for voter identification, entry in highly secured places (defence organisations, ministries, legislative assembly, etc), health services, public distribution system, etc. It should be mandatory for every citizen to move in public places with his/her citizen card or otherwise, should remember his/her Citizen ID.

Identification and modification/development of public databases
After completion of citizen database development, the next important step is to identify the organisations catering services to public, viz., railways, electricity department, banks, insurance companies, telecom department, airways, etc. Most of these organisations have already started computerised information system and developed databases catering to the day-to-day services. In order to access the public database through Citizen ID, this key must be added in their database.  Modification will be required in their information system application software to access the data through Citizen ID. Moreover, these organisations should provide
access to their databases on the Internet, so that public information related to that organisation can be accessed from any global point. Website of that organisation can be designed and launched for the same. Some of the organisations like railway reservation, banks, etc are already providing their database access on Internet through
their websites.

Enabling organisations to access public data
Another important aspect to cover is the identification of the organisations where public information is required. Public information plays a key role in socio-economic planning and development. Some of the organisations, where citizen information is most required are as follows:



Such organisations should be equipped with IT infrastructure facilities to access public databases at any point of time, using Citizen ID or any other searchable keys available in public database. Moreover, public Internet booths/cyber cafe may be launched at public places for quick access to information. Specially designed mobile phone/wireless phones should be manufactured for accessibility of public databases in mobility.

Citizen website
Indian citizen website should be developed to provide link to all public databases. Search facilities with important searchable keys should be provided on the site for quick search. A model website should have following contents:

• Links of all public databases like citizen database, reservation, telecom, electricity, crime, property, income tax, bank accounts, health, shopping, etc.;
• Information search based on Citizen ID and respective database access keys;
• Listing of database access keys like address, vehicle number, telephone number, name, passport number, etc.;
• Searching window to search information with key words;
• Public notices/important announcements;
• Important surveys/analysis reports.


Advantages
• Internal security: Citizen Identity checking at public places/ministries/legislative councils against criminal/terrorist, monitoring of public activities;
• Income tax: Identification of public assets and income for tax calculation, analysis, warnings, etc;
• Social welfare: Identification and analysis of people of particular income group, particular caste, literacy for proper planning in fund allocation, loaning, education, housing, subsidies, etc;
• Proper planning in production, import and export;
• Reliable Human Resource Development and Management;
• Improved Natural Resource Management;
• Identification of constituencies and voters ;
• Online and credit-based shopping;
• Market Research: Citizen data can be analysed for better marketing strategy.

 

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