Today we are seeing the impact of ICT in every sector of human activity. Everything we do as an economy is underpinned by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). These technologies have transformed how the nation is governed, how businesses operate, how people interact with government departments, and how they experience learning, culture, leisure, social networking and entertainment.
Any investment in ICT results in economic benefits like higher productivity, lower costs, new economic opportunities, ob creation, innovation, and increased trade. New solutions from ICT are also playing a matchless role in enabling better services in health and education, and also in strengthening social cohesion.
A Networked World
The networked world is proving to be a great equaliser. ICT innovations are both a driver and a support for the transformations that are leading to the creation of equal opportunities for people in all parts of the globe. Companies like Cisco are at the forefront of creation of systems that lead to an inter-connected world.
Essentially, any computer network operates by connecting computers and peripherals using two pieces of equipment – switches and routers. Switches and routers enable the devices that are connected to the network to communicate with each other, and with other networks. Even though they look quite similar, routers and switches perform very different
functions in a network.
Switches are used to connect multiple devices on the same network within a building or campus. For instance, a switch can connect your computers, printers and servers, creating a network of shared resources. The second valuable component of networking basics, routers, are used to tie multiple networks together. For instance, a router can be used to connect networked computers to the Internet and thereby share an Internet connection among many users.
The developments in e-Governance that we are seeing around us today would not be possible without the intricate computer networking systems. Essentially, e-Governance refers to the use by government agencies of Wide Area Networks, Internet and Mobile Computing to bring about better delivery of services to the citizens and improving the interaction between people, government departments and the industry. The focus now is on extending the reach of governance to have a major impact on the people at large.
The networked world is proving to be a great equaliser. ICT innovations are both a driver and a support for the transformations that are leading to the creation of equal opportunities for people in all parts of the globe
Managing network security is a complex problem. Identifying people on the network is also an issue. The beneficiaries of government schemes cannot be catered to properly until we have a foolproof system of identifying people. Biometrics is being used to create foolproof identification records of large sections of the population. The database being created can be perused in seconds by an array of efficient systems. There is no doubt that in the coming years, such technologies will infiltrate further into our society. Biometric systems of identification might become as commonplace as the Internet and the GPS.
We now have access to a range of solutions from ICT through which government agencies have a better chance of identifying and tracking individuals. This means that the subsidies and developmental funds can be targeted in a more efficient manner. The recipient of welfare payments can be properly identified. Antisocial elements can also be tracked by use of biometric tools. Law enforcement agencies are using these systems to identify and apprehend criminals and terrorists.
Many countries around the world have started providing their citizens with passports that are embedded with microprocessor chip that stores crucial private information such as biometrics as well as name, date and country of birth. Such e-Passports result in faster passport control at airports. With installation of systems capable of speed reading cards incorporated with biometric information, the waiting times can be cut drastically and much more data can
be processed in shorter periods of time.
Annual Resource Guide from eGov
ICT is all about doing things in new ways; it is about the ways by which we can bring more efficiency in our communications, inquiries and decision making processes. It is about the systems, tools and techniques that we use for gathering, identifying, organising and evaluating information. The Annual Resource Guide from eGov magazine is all about showcasing the ways by which Internet has now become an integral part of our governance, business and home life. In the pages that follow we have covered many important government departments that are playing a matchless role in bringing the ultimate fruits of ICT to the common man. There are views from UIDAI, NIC and NICSI.
We have spoken to IT Secretaries of states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Nagaland and West Bengal to get a state-wise view of implementation of e-Governance ideas. From Rajasthan we have an in-depth feature on the Common Service Centres (CSCs) that are coming up in the state. Within a short period of time many new CSCs have come up and this initiative is enjoying great popularity with the common citizens.
Government of India has formulated the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) with the vision of providing government services at an affordable cost, and in an integrated manner at the doorstep of the citizen. CSCs are acting as the front-end delivery points for government, private and social sector services to the citizens. CSCs are delivering services in the areas of telecom, agriculture, health, education, entertainment, FMCG products, banking and financial services, utility payments, etc. Each CSC serves a cluster of 6-7 villages, and the 100,000 CSCs thereby cover more than six lakh villages across India.
The profiles of major ICT companies that we carry in the Annual Resource Guide would be particularly interesting. The Annual Resource Guide also has the coverage some major PSUs in the country.