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Ushering in the Next Era of Technology-driven Transformation of India’s Governance

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Sanjeev Gupta, Country General Manager – Public Sector, Microsoft India

Across the world four “mega” technology trends are changing how people work today.  Consumerisation of IT, cloud computing, big data and the social enterprise bring both opportunities and challenges to governments, writes Sanjeev Gupta, Country General Manager – Public Sector, Microsoft India, for Elets News Network (ENN).

As technology’s consumption continues to evolve and our work and lives are driven by devices, there is an increasing need for government departments to adopt innovative technology solutions that address citizen engagement and deliver citizen services efficiently.

We believe technology can be a powerful enabler to solve many of the challenges facing public sector bodies today as they focus on the future of the nation and its people. 

Whether inspired by political events around the world or by a pothole on their street, citizens are demanding greater access to and interaction with the government. These rising expectations are an opportunity to provide rich, personalised experiences, ultimately enabling a better-served and more engaged citizenry.

Secondly, governments around the world must respond as citizens demand more visibility, transparency, and engagement. Additionally, the landscape of the government workplace is changing rapidly, fueled by these new tech trends as well as other challenges such as a multi-generational workforce, an increasing number of mobile workers, and an ever-increasing volume of information.

Thus, three of the most pressing needs today are Service Delivery and Engagement; Insight and Accountability and Workplace Modernisation. While the ever-evolving needs of citizens and workers are common to all, every government also has unique priorities and processes – just as every society has distinct demands and aspirations.

At Microsoft, we are dedicated to helping governments transform digitally to meet these unique needs, expand social and economic opportunities, empower workers and have a real and positive impact on the citizens they serve.

Our scalable, cloud-enabled technology solutions and a global partner ecosystem while helping to ensure that government organizations have the trust, security, and compliance they need for sensitive data.

In India, we have set up three cloud data centers in Pune, Chennai, and Mumbai two years ago. The availability of local cloud services – Microsoft Azure, Dynamics, and Office 365 – is accelerating cloud innovation and opening new possibilities in e-governance and inclusive growth.

Microsoft has been working closely with several state governments in India to support their digital infrastructure, enhance their citizen services and drive efficiencies in their administrative and governance operations.

Let’s look at a few areas where we’ve seen technology utilised as a powerful lever to make a difference:

Safe Cities, City Surveillance And Law Enforcement

Given our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, we are committed to helping citizens and governments the world over make cities inclusive and safe. Digital transformation can unlock extensive new capabilities for citizen engagement, incident response and management, investigation, and operational support.  These new capabilities also enable improved collaboration across the public safety and policing authorities’ ecosystem.

Consider these examples:

Dial 100 in UP

The Uttar Pradesh Police needed to centralise, modernise, and expand its emergency management system to better protect 220 million citizens spread across 75 police districts. To address this, the organization created UP 100, an emergency management system built from the ground up in line with its mission to provide prompt integrated emergency services for public safety and security to all persons, including those with special needs, anytime, anywhere in the State.

A new statewide contact center was built with an end-to-end portfolio of Microsoft solutions to support it. Police are now able to respond to almost five times more events in just minutes; crime is down; people are objectively safer; and the public has renewed respect for a revitalised emergency force.

Lighting up the streets on JaipurThe Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) operates and maintains over 100,000 public street lights within the city. However, one in three of these lamps usually did not work and/or functioned poorly, leading to several areas of the city being in the dark.

Traffic snarls and security issues have become a major problem because of the less-than-optimal public lighting. The JMC was spending a significant amount on electricity bills every year for this inefficient system. It was keen to procure an energy-efficient system, but lacked the necessary knowledge and management capabilities.  

In partnership with SamudraLED, SMC Infrastructure and Microsoft ISV partner Precimetrix, the city is now deploying a Microsoft IoT-platform-based solution to monitor, control and manage over 2 lakh smart LED public street lights in Jaipur.

With 26,626 street lights already replaced, on completion the project is expected to benefit 1.65 million people through improved street lighting. It will also result in fiscal savings amounting to $1 million per year through a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 36,750 metric tonnes (77%)/year.

Cybersecurity: The New Norm

Cybersecurity, national, State, or local – is crucial for all government agencies. The cyber-threat landscape of today requires an ongoing and relentless focus on security in today’s hyperconnected world. The government’s focus is evident in the creation of a National Cyber Security Policy and a National Cyber Coordination Centre.

The government’s initiative to set up a Cyber Swachhta Kendra in CERT-India, which will focus on fighting malware in the country, is indeed commendable. With emphasis on projects such as Digital India and Smart Cities, which rely on digital infrastructure to store, retrieve and manage data, securing the country from cyber threats is more crucial than ever before.  Microsoft’s Cyber Security Engagement Center supports the digital and cyber security needs of all our customers and partners, that include governments, public and private organizations.

Empowerment of Employees

Digital transformation can help government front-line employees to deliver improved health, social care and other in-person services that citizens require. It can empower overall organizational efficiency, increase team collaboration and productivity and help employees work out how to deliver services more effectively and with fewer resources.

Enabling collaboration and communication using social tools can help governments be more effective. An apt example is Kaizala, a free, chat-based productivity app designed specifically for people living in remote areas of India with intermittent internet connection.

By offering seamless convergence of an instant messenger and a productivity enhancer, Kaizala helps organizations and businesses to be more efficient. Recognising its potential for real-time, citizen-driven participatory governance, the Andhra Pradesh government is using the Kaizala app for its Citizen Connect programme, which aims to strengthen collaboration between the government and citizens. The Uttar Pradesh government also deploys Kaizala during the last state elections for enhanced, real time collaboration among election officers. Kaizala’s data is hosted on local data centres based in India, which ensures data sovereignty and security.

Quality Education For All

A quality education is critical to creating tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, teachers and leaders. And it lays the groundwork for solving the world’s greatest challenges. A critical part of that education for just about every job and sector today is understanding how to harness the power of technology to transform education and inspire learning to unlock potential everywhere. I would like to cite two examples here.

SWAYAM:

SWAYAM is an online learning platform developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). It is India’s largest, free and on-demand content based education portal, aimed at offering lifelong learning for students from all walks of life across India, in their local language.  

This self-study web resource for students is expected to bridge the gap in access to quality education among students, including the most disadvantaged. What also makes it unique is the fact that students will be able to access content created by expert educators from practically any connected device whether it is a smartphone, a PC or a tablet  – anytime, anywhere and learn at their own pace. Powered by Microsoft technologies, we believe SWAYAM is a truly transformational project that will democratise education.

Machine Learning and Data Analytics to Prevent School Dropouts: Analyzing existing data where school drop-out rates are high, the state is predicting possible drop outs and take preventive action.  This solution has produced over 30,00,000 predictions so far. The results of the analysis can be viewed on a simple web portal, which comes with a database on student dropout predictions that can be accessed by the education officer in each ‘mandal’ in the State. It is now being expanded to cover lower grades in more than 60,000 schools to touch 5.2 million students this year. The government is using this intelligence to plan strategic interventions under the ‘Badi Pilusthundi’ campaign.

In my opinion, the next decade of technology led transformation of governance will focus on acceleration of the government’s digital transformation journey. Microsoft is a longstanding partner to India’s growth. We believe that innovation in technology is critical to achieving sustainable economic growth and social development and are committed to the progress of country through the power of cloud technology.

(The views expressed here are personal)

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