February 2011

UID setting trend for transparent governance

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The UID will help unlock value dormant in existing databases and gives reason for new electronic databases to be created where none existed – converting from legacy paper and fiche

Within the circles of e-Governance or business-technology initiative of  significance, the year 2010 in India will undoubtedly be remembered for the  start of the UID rollout. While there is scepticism, some well-meaning ones  seeing potential for adverse profiling and targeting of dissenters, the truth is  that it has been a humongous effort to identify the objectives, develop social  context, and evolve the architecture along with the world’s best minds not to  mention building political consensus. Achieving the planned rollout of the UID in the next 3 years will probably have the same seismic impact socially as the  development of railways and highways had decades ago. And no aspect across  education, health, infrastructure, agriculture and security will remain  untouched.

2011 and beyond may well be the year of information based services. e-Governance to begin, with rightly focussed on enhancing computing capacity  and process automation. Now, it is time to take a hard look at the data being  generated and how to benefit from it. Governance (like business operation) has created over time, mountains of data, a lot of which has not found its way into  electronic databases. Electronic records creation is a start. This data is key to  unearth historical linkage, discern important patterns and generate alerts and  strategic options for next steps. This is where an accelerator like the UID comes  in.

e-governance has made significant strides in helping the citizen    access existing government services transparently. the next step may well be to make those government services more responsive and targeted. And that can happen only when the data usage of those services are better understood

The advent of the UID immediately holds promise for hitherto unconnected,  isolated and essentially passive governance databases. Consider an example –  there are three databases storing static personal data (PDS detail, birth and  death), dynamic transaction data (tax, credit history, traffic violations) and  eligibility data (quota, entitlements). At present it is tough to analyse them  together and develop a better targeting of government subsidy. Now append  the respective UIDs to the personnel records of each database. Bingo! It  becomes the glue that connects the databases and helps integrated viewing and  analysis.

The UID will help unlock value dormant in existing databases and gives reason  for new electronic databases to be created where none existed – converting  from legacy paper and fiche. This should give rise to third party opportunities  in building and running information services based on those databases. Especially in under served areas which call for co-operative data pooling. In  industries heavy with transactions – banking, insurance, telecom and retail the  data related opportunities  are already moving up from post transaction analysis to dynamic surveillance using the last observed patterns.

e-Governance has made significant strides in helping the citizen to access  existing government services transparently. The next step may well be to make  those government services more responsive and targeted. And that can happen  only when the data usage of those services are better understood. If we  are indeed living in the information age then data is the fuel. Just like fuel  efficient cars we need to interconnect and leverage databases wherever they  are and build new ones where electronic ones don’t exist.

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