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Cisco Bets on e-Governance

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Puneet Gupta,
Senior Vice President, Public Sector
Business, Cisco India and SAARC

“Cisco’s objective is to create better governance infrastructure, which enables citizens to access information – any place, any device and any time,” says Puneet Gupta, Senior Vice President, Public Sector Business, Cisco India and SAARC

These days most government departments in India are implementing e-Governance to improve their efficiency and to facilitate better interactions with the public. What kinds of solutions is Cisco bringing to public administration in India?

Cisco has been involved with e-Governance initiatives in public sector for more than 10 years. The public sector vertical of Cisco’s IBSG  (Internet Business solutions Group) comprises of experts from healthcare, transportation, education, energy management,  internal  security, etc. The specialists not only understand the unique challenges of government, they also bring years of skill and  experience to help solve these challenges. Cisco has been actively involved in all the three pillars of NeGP  programme – SWAN, SDC and  SC projects.We are working with more than 25 states for rolling out SWAN projects successfully; we are also involved in  the setup of data Centres in several states. We have also been able to leverage the IP infrastructure rolled out in the states for delivery  of Data, voice  and Video services  on the same platform. The underlying IP protocol has enabled this entire infrastructure to be future ready and  support any new service deployments. Cisco is leading in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, which has now been mandated by the Department of Telecommunications. We have a team of specialist who are capable of facilitating the migration of existing network infrastructure to IPv6.

When it comes to e-Governance, what are the key areas of focus for Cisco? Tell us about the initiatives that Cisco is taking in defence, healthcare and education.

Cisco’s objective is to create better governance infrastructure, which can enable citizens to access information – any place, any device  and any time. We are committed to enabling citizens in rural India to enjoy benefits that are already available to citizens in towns and  cities. Our solutions for remote healthcare and remote education are being well received by various state  schools departments and  health authorities. National security is another key area of focus for Cisco – we support the government in protecting internal security  s  ell  as border security. We have been working with various governments to provide solutions for safe cities and better monitoring of   critical infrastructure. Cisco is working with armed forces for deployment of IP enabled solutions.

In your opinion what can be done to promote e-Governance in India? Tell us about the solutions that Cisco has developed to meet the specific needs of a country like India.

India is a land with many languages and dialects, so the solutions that we are developing are in local languages to ensure effective delivery and acceptance. Our Bengaluru development centre is the second largest outside the USA. One of the products, ASR 901 Router, completely designed and developed in India, has won the NASSCOM innovative product of the year award and The Economic Times Telecom Award this year. We also focus on developing solutions for inclusive growth as majority of our population still doesn’t have access to basic ICT services. Our Inclusive Growth team in India is working on several innovative solutions to address this segment.

Tell us about Cisco’s concept of smart connected cities and workforce for driving better efficiency in government sector. Also tell us about your solutions for achieving such high degree of interactivity.

To effectively support the growth of the cities and the new emerging cities and to provide services to them, the city departments have to automate and serve the communities in newer ways, as the traditional models will not support such growth. To address these needs, Cisco has developed the concept of Smart Connected Cities, which provide safety and services anywhere, any time and on any device. Smart & Connected Communities (S+CC) bring services delivered to people across the whole city using the network as the platform. Bringing together a broad portfolio of products, services, partners, and solutions, the initiative creates sustainable solutions for public safety and security, transportation, buildings, utilities, healthcare and education. The total concept allows high level of collaboration between various departments supporting the city infrastructure for delivery of all citizen services.

 Cisco solutions in public sector 

• Government agencies and organisations can help secure and protect citizen payment card data and comply with regulations using the Cisco Payment Card Industry (PCI) for Government solution
• From improving workforce efficiency to enhancing citizen service delivery, Cisco Unified Communications solutions transform organisations. Cisco also offers mobile unified communication solution that can help government departments extend benefits of UC by combining the convenience and flexibility of mobile communications
• Cisco Telework solutions allow government agencies and their employees to provide continuity of operations, as employees can work remotely during bad weather, disasters, or pandemics and achieve environmental stability, by reducing government environmental impact
• Cisco defence and intelligence solutions can helps to unite legacy systems, improve agility, build your virtual presence, and meet other military requirements to achieve your global mission
• Cisco security solutions for government start with securing the network as the platform. This foundation supports uniquely powerful capabilities for surveillance and securing national borders
• Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) enables the convergence of satellite communications and existing information technology infrastructure. The Cisco 18000 Space Router is a new class of networking product designed to operate on a satellite in orbit. It eliminates the need to send data to and from an extra ground station, which can be expensive and time-consuming
• Cisco provides converged network and physical security to help government agencies respond to emergencies and protect their citizens

Tell us about the solutions that Cisco is developing to make healthcare more efficient, cost effective and sustainable?

Healthcare is one of Cisco’s key priority areas. Cisco has developed  a unique tele-health solution to provide remote healthcare services. It integrates with Cisco’s collaboration solution and enables a shift from point-to-point solution to point-to multipoint solution  with any available doctor attending to a patient remotely, anytime, anywhere. This centrally hosted solution working on low bandwidth  and working with multiple medical devices has allowed Cisco to provide cost effective solutions. The solution implemented in Karnataka  and  Madhya  Pradesh is being well accepted by the people.

To enable better quality of life in urban areas we need integrated citizen services and safety, security, green energy, better buildings, timely transportation, and socio-economic solutions. Give us your views on how India can bring about improvements in its urban areas.

With the growth of cities, the need for effective management of resources becomes the top most priority for city planners and Cisco’s solution of Smart Cities effectively leverages the underlying IP infrastructure to enable better collaboration and real time sharing of data to monitor and control the citizen services. The underlying premises on which Smart Cities are building are real time sharing of data and decision making to allocate resources appropriately. Both need a secure, robust and scalable Network infrastructure. On this network highway several applications can run including smart surveillance, traffic management, etc.

Tell us about your solutions for facilitating digital education. What are the key trends that you are witnessing in digital education?

Cisco has been involved at different levels of education like primary, secondary and higher education. We engage with the education departments to provide customised services for effective and efficient delivery. Cisco is working with various state governments to bring in quality education to the rural areas through its collaboration solution platform, providing remote teachers and remote guidance to students in these areas. This has been implemented in a few locations and has been very well accepted by students, teachers, parents and the department also. Cisco also works closely with higher education institutions to respond to the demand for new learning approaches that help prepare the next workforce, and promote social equity.

What are the issues that a global giant like Cisco faces in executing major e-Governance projects? What can the government, at centre and state levels, do to mitigate these problems? Tell us about your expectations from the government.

It is a huge challenge to provide services in a vast and culturally diverse country like India. We believe that the government of India has made great progress in providing citizen services not just in the cities but across the country. One of the big challenges in executing major e-Governance projects is related to change management and adoption of the new business processes. The Government can support the e-Governance framework by skilling and training different stakeholders on the need for developing fresh perspectives on technology. The government should look at developing a robust policy framework, for speeding up the projects and rollout of new technologies and solutions like Cloud computing for efficient delivery of citizen services.

What are the top trends in e-Gov sector according to you?

Now we are having very fast developments on the NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network). This project envisages providing wireless broadband connection to every village panchayat. Permeating connectivity to the grass root level through NFON would be one important focus. Collaboration is already happening in the private sector, it will catch more traction in the public sector as well. The thing is that the e-Governance vertical has already experienced Phase 1 over the last 7-8 years; it is now looking at the next phase based on the learning from existing project implementations. Focus on Citizen centric services is increasing rapidly as there is greater confidence in technology supporting service delivery to citizens. Cisco has raised the bar in the public sector domain in all these 7-8 years

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