January 2012

Taking e-Governance Part 2 Forward

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www.microsoft.com

It is now time to usher in e-Governance part 2, which will stand on the twin pillars of  democratisation of IT and cloud computing. The role of niche social networks is also going to become increasingly important

Niraj Prakash, Director, Public Sector Marketing, Microsoft

e-Governance part 2 is an idea different from Gov 2.0, which has a separate, specific  connotation. Part 2 of e-Governance will cover two important primary things. First among  these is the ‘Consumerisation or Democratisation of IT’, which is very significant. In terms of  usage of IT, the line between work and personal affairs is getting increasingly blurred. People  want to bring their own devices to the workplace and are questioning as to why these devices  cannot be used for official work as well, and provide a seamless experience. While this is the  context in the business sphere, in government, the scenario is entirely different. In terms of  e-Governance, this will most probably lead to a scenario where people will decide the mode  over which they would  consume government services. Whether or not this turns out to be a chaotic process would  depend upon the government, as the consumer is going to have access to all kinds of devices in the years to come.

Role of the Cloud

The second important component of e-Governance part 2 is the phenomenon of cloud services  or cloud computing. The basic technology and infrastructure for cloud computing is already there, but the government now needs to look at how to take this to the next level. There are  obviously other forces such as the citizens’ and civil society’s demand, and demands from  other sources, which would all have to be balanced and factored into eventual government policy.

Connectivity is the backbone over which any e-governance initiative rides, and without  which not much would be possible

Connectivity is the backbone over which any e-Governance initiative rides, and without which not much would be possible. So the basic characteristic of the cloud is that there has to  be a broad network access. The State Data Centres lend themselves extremely well to  replicable applications within the states and there are numerous examples of successful  initiatives over SDC infrastructure.

It is now pertinent to consider the path governments need to adopt in order to take the  e-governance momentum forward. Bills such as the soon-to-be implemented Electronic  Service Delivery, the new IT Policy and other such initiatives would not be of any help unless  the larger, long-term picture is also kept in mind.

How will the services be delivered online if issues related to connectivity are not resolved first?  In the absence of wide and deep reach of computer literacy, how will these services reach the masses? If we don’t have proper literacy how will the services reach masses? Such questions also need to be answered.

Social Media

Another tool for better and more effective governance is social media. Using social media for  interacting with citizens is of utmost importance today. This is the time to exploit the social  media boom and if we don’t do it now, the time will be lost. But moving further on, what we  need to do in terms of online engagements and social networks is to not just get restricted to  the popular social media networks which we have available today.

The government has to start looking at very specific networks which they can establish for specific needs. The last key component is the capacity building and public private  partnership. If public private partnership has to succeed, that enablement and that  acceptance have to happen from government’s point of view.

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