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Providing One-Stop-Shop to Municipalities : Dr. Bhanu M Gundugollu, Chief Technical Officer-Speck Systems Limited, India

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“The market for e-Governance in urban local bodies is expanding at a very rapid pace.   All major software service providers entered into this market and providing solutions.   In sharp contrast to the previous era, municipalities and urban local bodies are now focused on creating single window mechanism to address majority of the citizen services,” says Dr. Bhanu M Gundugollu, Chief Technical Officer, Speck Systems Limited, to egov magazine.

What is Speck’s vision and goal for e-Governancein municipalities?

Improving the citizen’s living conditions is the prime objective of municipalities and urban local bodies today. However, the processes that are currently in practice at majority of the municipalities and urban local bodies do not really leverage the technological advances.   Objectives of e-Governance is to provide better citizen services through technological means.

Non-availability of right information at right place at right time is the major factor that reduces the efficiency of administration and contributes to the long-list of problems that are faced by the growing cities and small-medium towns. Data that is available with the municipalities and urban local bodies is out-dated and thus decisions taken using such data neither address the need of citizen nor make intended impact.

e-Governance solutions are a set of software applications that can operate on large databases and greatly reduce the manual intervention and provide accurate information/service in short span of time. Built around computers and communication, e-Governance solutions function on digital data framework.  Creation of digital data base with precise information of every piece of land and developing decision making, monitoring and presentation applications to skim through the databases are essential ingredients of e-Governance. Speck believes in empowering the citizen and envisions realising this objective through the technical know-how and process understanding it has acquired over a period of time.

What are the solutions Speck is providing for urban local bodies?

Speck has designed and developed many products addressing different segments of e-Governance.  These include addressing all municipal work flow such as building permission, property-tax assessment, maintaining various records, solid waste management, transport network management, grievance redressal etc. While there are many applications built by Speck in use at various levels of e-Governance, two applications of specific importance are Speckadaster and SpeckElectrik.

SpecKadaster is supposed to help administrators in all types of land administration. Share your thought on it.

Speckadaster, a comprehensive Land Records Management solution, developed by Speck Systems Ltd. is precisely positioned to provide accurate data very quickly, thus, improving the effectiveness of government functioning manifold. Using Speckadaster, cadastral data can be entered, analysed and processed to generate individual, village, block and district level survey fields, traverse sketches and cater to create accurate and un-disputable land records.  Speckadaster, combined with the light-weight indigenously developed Speck Geographic Information System (GIS) engine, allows data import and export from/to virtually any GIS format. Land records thus imported are linked with non-spatial data and can be viewed/analysed to meet many application needs.  This product is already put to use in creating the land information system for Nizamabad district (Andhra Pradesh) and potential of the tool is realised by the survey and land records department.  Speckadaster is designed to support many popular GIS formats and enables linking attribute information collected from field or from the local bodies. This product is built on Microsoft windows platform, and thus any novice computer user can easily work on this product with little or no training.   Speckadaster empowers equally well both the municipal and urban local bodies and the common man. It empowers the municipalities to identify and develop land resources, on one side and empowers the common man by providing an identity of being a useful economic resource to the society he lives in.

What are the GIS applications that have been developed by Speck for power, telecom and water and gas sector?

Speck, over the last two decades, has assisted utilities and infrastructure companies in aligning their supply and distribution network through precision geospatial data, to build AM/FM datasets, Scalable and robust geo information datasets at various scales employing state-of-art technologies. Speck’s approach caters to all information needs viz., integration of core business functions with spatial information, scalability, lesser redundancy, improved data sharing, faster response and concurrent usage.

SpeckElectric, the indigenously built enterprise GIS solution is highly scalable and fully functional GIS based IT solution.   This solution is offered on desktop, client–server and webbased architectures. Employing a fl exible and indigenously built integration framework,  SpeckElectric integrates core GIS functionality with service-provisioning, network analysis, energy audit and asset management modules. This enterprise GIS solution can be seamlessly  interfaced with all electricspecifi c applications like load fl ow and short circuit analysis, transient stability, long-term load forecast etc.

Speck SpatialTech offers value added geospatial services to telecom utilities for their operation  and management. Creation of physical network system consisting of primary and distribution  networks and consumer information, providing customer identifi cation on the  map, service provisioning etc., are some of its features. Speck also offers comprehensive  services to water, sewerage, petroleum and gas utility companies at all stages of operations.  They include: new connection details and lateral lines, trouble call analysis – problems such as  leakage and inadequate supply, capturing leak history data useful in pipeline replacement modeling etc.,

What is the current market of e-Governance in urban local bodies and how do you see Speck contributing to it?

The market for e-Governance in urban local bodies is expanding at a very rapid pace. All  major software service providers entered into this market and providing solutions. In sharp  contrast to the previous era, municipalities and urban local bodies are now focused on  creating single window mechanism to address majority of the citizen services. This is a very  positive trend and enables the industry to provide integrated solutions and benefi ts the municipal and urban local bodies of having a unifi ed service provisioning.

Apart from proactively working based on the government initiatives like Jawaharlal Nehru  National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Speck has created a dedicated team to interact  closely with the municipal and urban local bodies to understand the localised needs and  customise the application development to meet their needs. This enabled Speck to provide  ne-stop solutions to few municipal corporations within as well as out side Andhra Pradesh.

How has been your experience with municipalities
so far?

Municipalities and urban local bodies have many legacy aspects associated with their  functioning. These are built in to their system over long period of time and to understand and appreciate the shifted paradigm is an involved effort. Speck has evolved a novel approach by  educating the people at the decision making level about the benefi ts and implementation process, and ease of use associated with the one-stop solution. This awarenss campaign is  carried out at different levels till it is cascaded to the lowest rung.

Speck also reailised that understanding the local perspective is another major aspect and it  has become an integral part of Speck approach, while addressing any new municipality or urban local body.

What are the issues and challenges that come in the way of functioning of   municipalities and urban local bodies in India and how do you think it can be overcome?

Any initiative to computerise the functionality of municipal and urban local bodies is always  perceived as a threat to the existence of the few who control the data and making them  understand that the e-Governance systems actually ease their work and with out loosing  control is the biggest challenge. Speck has evolved a participatory approach by conducting  benefi ciary workshops, explaining them and making them part of the entire change process.  This not only made them understand the advantages, but also helped them articulate their  needs in a more scientifi c way. Bringing in the local fl avour to the work fl ow is another major aspect that helped Speck tide over and enabled it to work with different municipalities  across different states, with ease.

Some of the challenges are:
1. Limited education and technology orientation of the working level people in the municipalities and urban local bodies
2. Multiple agencies to interact with to obtain data
3. Lack of standardisation of data
4. Apprehensions of the custodians to share the data
5. Local infl uences to take political mileage out of such initiatives
6. Hiring and training the locals for fi eld data collection and ensuring quality of receivables.

What are the future plans of Speck towards implementation
of ICT in municipalities and urban local bodies?

ICT in municipalities is all poised to leap-frog, with industry’s active participation. People at  the helm of affairs in the different municipalities and urban local bodies have realised the  potential of the technology and are evolving their plans around this ideology.

Public-private partnership aspects are being seriously explored to benefi t the end user – the  line departments and ultimately the citizen. There is an inherent healthy competition  between different municipalities within the state, as well as across the states that is speeding  up the pace of e-Governance activities. Serious thought is given at the apex body of the  country and considerable funding is earmarked for the e-governance initiatives across the country that is making the prospects of e-Governance very bright.

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