October 2008

Registration Redefined

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It is  the right time to create an online system for the National Registration Department (NRD) in Malaysia. As Malaysia develops, the government must keep pace with the changes that are occurring.

The Internet is changing the way business is transacted the world over, and is now changing the way government interacts with citizens and businesses. While businesses were the first to adopt and use the information technologies, governments have followed quickly, especially in the adoption and use of the Internet. In Malaysia, the government’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project has been instrumental in providing necessary platform for change or transformation. As one of the seven MSC flagships, e-Government will contribute to the nation’s rapid development.

This article aims to study and highlight the problems with the current registration system and create a portal which will serve as one-stop center for all citizens to NRD’s key services such as certificates of birth, death, marriage, identification card, adoption, vehicle registration and citizenship. The current process of application for registration is manual, whereby citizens need to obtain the form to fill in the detail without much guidance and hassles.

The problems encountered in registration by citizens includes traveling long distances and standing in queues at an inconvenient hour; confronted by unfriendly officers; put into an endless telephone loop; standing in line for hours only to be told that your documentation is incomplete. All these happen to accomplish a menial task like renewing a car registration. People today value their time too much to be put up with the hassles of a slow and unreliable public service.

The proposed NRD’s one-stop portal will:

  • Make it easy for citizens to obtain service and interact with the government
  • Improve government efficiency and effectiveness
  • Improve government’s respon-siveness to citizens

This study focuses on the National Registration Department (NRD). NRD is a government department, which is responsible for facilitating all the registration related to birth, death, marriage, adoption, citizenship and identification card. Currently, the department provides an online service only to check status of identification card application through its website at http://www.jpn.gov.my and services to extract birth, marriage and death registration certificates from myGovernment website at http://www.gov.my. The website provides all information regarding its services including the copies of the related forms.

THE PROPOSED SYSTEM

At present, many countries have implemented online birth registration and are running successfully. Singapore’s e-Citizen Center portal is one such example. Singaporeans can order a birth certificate and find out about immunising their child through this portal www.ecitizen.gov.sg. Meanwhile, in the state of Andhra Pradesh of India, the government portal called ‘e-Seva’ at www.esevaonline.com provides application for birth registration including application for issue of birth certificate. Not only that, together with the online birth registration, it provides all related information and links related to this event of life such as school, college, hostels, studies abroad and more.

Birth Registration System

In the current scenario, whenever there is a birth, the parents will be given with the NRD form for birth registration by the hospital, at which the birth took place. The parent then fills up the form manually and personally visit NRD office for further processing, within fourteen days from the date of birth. They then must take a queue number and wait for their turn to come. The form is submitted once their turn comes. Thereafter, they wait for the approval and printed original birth certificate. Figure 1 below depicts the above scenario.

Proposed System: An online birth registration system is the system proposed by the authors. Through this portal one can submit application of birth certificate online, track the status of registration and print the actual certificate at one’s convenience. Additional supporting documents requirement, which are marriage certificate and parent’s identification card number are not required as in manual process. This information would be cross-checked by the system automatically with the NRD’s master database. Other important information is hospital birth identification number. This number would be created by the hospitals when they submit the birth details online and will be stored online using the hospital interface. This information consists of all data related to the newborn, such as weight, height, medical officer and more. Hospital registration will also create a sealed Person Identification Number (PIN) which will be printed and given to parents or informants in order to be able to log on to the NRD’s birth application interface. This PIN will be captured by the database. When the parents log on, the system will cross check the PIN with the database and allow usage. All this information will be stored in the database.

The master database will have all the information about citizen right from birth till death including marriage, adoption, and other information. With this information in the master database, their newborn child will be registered online on this portal.

The birth certificate records will be stored in parent’s MyKad (the government multi-purpose card) and the child’s MyKid. In order to upload this data, NRD must designate this information to Government Service Center (GSC) which is in charge and acts as a one-stop center for information in MyKad.

  If parents require the original birth certificate for instance, to register for school, or other applications, they can choose to print out the birth certificate after the application is approved over the portal, or go personally to Government Service Centre’s (GSC) office to collect the MyKid. MyKid will not replace the birth certificate; instead it would facilitate future transactions like school registration, hospitalisation and banking. Figure 2 illustrates the process flow of the proposed system.

National Registration Identification Card Application

At present, the citizens are applying for National Registration Identification Card (NRIC)  by filling up NRD’s form JPN.KP01. They have to fill up this form and submit at the NRD’s counter. They are then requested to take a photograph and provide thumb print. After the card is ready they receive a notice from NRD to collect the card. Thereafter, NRD liaise with GSC to generate the MyKad. There are a lot of problems faced by the citizens in the current system.

This study intends to provide an interface between citizens and NRD’s officers to process the application. The system will provide a form for citizens to apply over the web. They need to fill up all the information as required in the form and submit to the system. The system will cross check the data with the master database. If the person has earlier applied for birth certificate, which actually generates an identification number, this number will be referenced. If not, the system will create a new identification card number and a reference number. This reference number is to facilitate the user to check the application status.

If the status is approved, then the user must go to any of the NRD’s kiosk to provide the thumb print and scanned photo. Once all the information is uploaded to NRD’s database and once NRD pass the information to GSC to produce the MyKad, MyKad will be ready.

The current system requires citizens to provide thumb prints and their photograph in order to process IC application. Besides giving thumb prints manually using thumb pads, thumb prints can also be given using biometric thumb scanner and related software to store it.
There are many kinds of biometric scanners in the market which can support these options. Fingerprint and thumbprint scanners are popular for their ease of use. Several of these devices integrated into mice and stand-alone scanners. BioLink’s released U-Match 3.5 fingerprint scanner and U-Match MatchBook 5.0 takes the concept one step further. These scanners contains a built-in thumb-print scanner and provides log-on security with no extra hardware on the desk. The U-Match MatchBook provides added security by combining a fingerprint scanner and smart card reader. Both devices can be used by USB port. Biolink’s biometric scanners are widely used in government departments such as for passport departments in Senegal, Maldives, sales tax department in India, department of human services in San Francisco, and a few Banks in Kazakhstan. It is not practical for citizens to acquire it in order to perform the online registration considering the high price of acquiring it. Therefore, one of the ways to capture the fingerprint is by way of placing this type of biometric scanner at NRD’s kiosks at public places so that citizens can drop by at kiosks and provide thumb prints and photo while they do their shopping. The same is applicable for loading citizens’ photo into the NRD’s database. Figure 4  shows how the thumb print can be transmitted online over the kiosk to NRD.

FEASIBILITY OF THE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION

Feasibility study is a preliminary study where the information needs of prospective users and the resource requirement, costs, benefits and feasibility of a proposed system are determined.  According to James O’Brien, feasibility studies can be categorised into four, viz., organisational feasibility, economic feasibility, technical feasibility and cost/benefit feasibility. This article will discuss the organisational feasibility and technical feasibility.

Organisational Feasibility Organisational feasibility considers the impact on people who are stakeholders in the business process. The customers of NRD, who are the citizens, will have influence to the system. System developers such as analysts, designers, programmer, etc. play the main role in extracting the user requirement and codifying it into a workable system, that is error free and user friendly.

Organisational management and system users are the most important stakeholders. Since currently, NRD officers are using existing systems such as AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)  and DRF (Data Recovery Field), the culture of doing online is already there. Therefore, transferring the manual registration processes to an online system may not pose any objection or resistance.

Technical Feasibility: Technical feasibility is to assess which system can be successfully designed, developed and installed. Depending on the processes, different tools for different stages may be required. Among others are hardware, software, database system, security systems and disaster recovery systems. The most important criteria of these elements are reliability, capability and availability. NRD has implemented some essential systems that may be integrated in the online NRD portal. AFIS is a computerised fingerprint identification system. AFIS works based on 3 technologies; data storage, image processing and workflow management.

Usage of AFIS includes confirming the citizens’ identity by comparing between one and another, scanning new fingerprint to the system and cross checking with the records in the system, comparing among the fingerprint to avoid duplication. In short, this system makes it is feasible for NRD to implement the online registration system by using AFIS.

Disaster Recovery Facility is another system that is implemented in NRD. It is a backup system. This is an important technical requirement as the malfunction of system can imply failure of use of other systems such as AFIS and GMPC (Government Multi Purpose Card). Disaster Recovery Centre (DRC) manages the application of the disaster recovery facility.

To summarise, the online registration system is technically feasible because users and organisations are familiar with the application and technology. However, the new system must be checked for its compatibility with the existing system.

LIMITATIONS  AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Security: Password authentification is not sufficient due to the fact that the system deals with highly confidential data. Further security measures are needed in order to protect the information provided from hackers, virus and etc.

Thumb-print and Photograph: The system needs to incorporate technology to transfer thumb print and photograph, as part of the system. The suggestion to NRD to provide web-based kiosks may involve substantial infrastructure costs.

Recommendation for Future Enhancement

One-stop center for all Government / Ministries Websites: This is further incorporated with inter-department or inter-agency data transfer. For example, a birth registration will be recorded also by the statistics department for statistical purposes, education department for forecasting school enrollment and probably notification to the parents about their placement at nearby schools, health department for notification of immunisation and latest updates on medications.

Provide a Database Query or Search Option: The proposed system only provides submission of registration. The future system may provide more options to citizens as well as to government officials to query and search on data stored in database, with implementation of strict and powerful security features.

Provide Options to Lodge Loss of Certificates or IC and Apply for its Copy: Currently, every loss of certificates is registered manually and the proposed system does not provide any option to lodge the loss or application for a copy of the certificates. The future system should include these options in order to provide a complete service.
e-Payment: Create electronic payment system and incorporate it with the portal. Services such as marriage and adoption registration incur charges. This charges must be made payable to NRD. The system with e-Payment facilities will definitely provide ease of use.

My Account: Provide an account for each citizen in relation to all their details with NRD. This section should only contain information specific to that particular individual and enable them to keep their personal details updated as well as to access records related  to them.

i. Birth Registration: (Option for foreigners) Options to be made available for foreigners who reside in Malaysia and gives birth locally, to register their birth through this NRD web portal.

ii. IC Registration: (Additional information for Identification Card) All details about a citizen should be kept in the database. This includes police records. When the citizen is applying an IC, the records with police department will verify if that person has any criminal records or not.

Someday, people will log on to a website, establish their identity with a password and digital signature, and carry out their transaction with government without leaving their home. In time, the Internet will affect the public sector much more profoundly than it has the private sector, for the simple reason that people like to go out shopping whereas they dread the thought of making a trip to government office and do so only out of necessity. Using the Internet would not only make people’s lives easier, it will change the way they think about government.

The NRD Portal, specifically, will provides an online one stop service center for its services. Citizens will no longer need to stand in queues for a service when they can carry out the transaction online and without any hassle. This generation will be the last to tolerate standing in line; the next will expect to be online.

REFERENCES

  • Teruhiko Yoshimura (Ph. D),Researcher,UNCRD,“ICT Strategy and e-government in Japan: Incorporating Participatory Planning and Human Security in e-government Initiatives”.
  • ITU-T Recommendation G.981, “Broadband optical access systems based on passive optical networks (PONs),” 1998.
  • http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802/ download/802.3-2002.pdf.
  • http://www.ieee802.org/3/efm/index.html.
  • JP Morgan Securities,Inc.New York, “Broadband 2001.A Comprehensive Analysis of Demand ,Supply, Economics, and Industry Dynamics in the U.S. Broadband Market”, April 2001.

 

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