Shaping Digital Future for Kerala : K Mohammed Y Safirulla

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K Mohammed Y Safirulla, Director, Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM)

In an interaction with Elets News Network, K Mohammed Y Safirulla talks about the numerous steps initiated by the government to further strengthen the e-Governance mechanism in the state

What is your strategy to increase IT investment in the state of Kerala.

The government is focussed to encourage investment in IT sector making it a preferred destination by creating IT parks and rural IT hubs, innovation zones and incubation centres, civil infrastructure and better connectivity among IT hubs, removal of infrastructural and policy bottlenecks etc. To boost investment in IT, various incentive schemes and subsidies are being offered. Our IT policy reiterates government’s commitment for transforming Kerala into a cent-per-cent e-literate and digital state.

How is the government ensuring robust delivery of services in the state of Kerala?

A number of schemes and projects are successfully running in the state. State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) project, formulated under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), is meant to fulfill the vision of providing easy and convenient services to the citizens through remote access primarily through Common Service Centres (CSCs). Some other services are also being executed through the State Portal, including e-Forms.

Citizen Call Centre (CCC) is a Kerala State IT Mission initiative, which functions as the first point of contact for citizens to obtain and disseminate information about department functions and services on a 24×7 basis. The centre provides information for around 55 government departments/projects. It also supports operations like Sutharya Keralam, check post complaints, Akshaya, state consumer helpline, Kerala women’s helpline and Aadhaar (UID)-related queries.

Please throw some light on the status of schemes like Akshaya and Aadhaar in the state.

With more than 2,300 Akshaya centres in 978 panchayats, Akshaya CSCs are taking e-governance to the citizen’s doorstep. e-District services are offered through CSCs. CHIAK-RSBY online registration done for 35 lakh families in 35 days flat. Akshaya is the only CSC in India to complete 1.7 cr Adhaar enrollments with largest accuracy in India. 1000 Akshaya centres become the banking Kiosks/micro ATMs of the state. Successfully delivering services such as entrance examination, ration card, election ID, CM’s Public grievance etc.

Kerala had touched more than 96 percent Aadhaar enrollment through CSC (Akshaya) centres. Around 6,800 bedridden people are enrolled at their homes. The government had set up more than 500 permanent enrolment centres for UID updation and enrolment. 74 percent of 72 lakh LPG consumers’ data and 96 percent of the 35 lakh school students’ data was seeded. Also, 18 lakh labour welfare members’ data seeding and 15 lakh NSAP pensioners’ data seeding was done by LSGD.

e-Office and IDEAS have been two initiatives that has really transformed the style of work in state government offices. Please share some details about these schemes.

e-Office is a Digital Workplace Solution, which comprises various modules like File Management System (eFile), Knowledge Management System (KMS), Collaboration and Messaging Services (CAMS). It is a workflow-based system that replaces the existing manual handling of files and documents with an efficient electronic system. The Government of Kerala is introducing the e-Office system in 17 departments in Phase I and 22 departments in Phase II.

Also Read: Holding Aloft the IT Flag

IDEAS is a web-based online file, petition and government order tracking system implemented by KSITM with technical support of NIC. The system also serves as a mechanism for reminding the government departments about the pending status of files and also provides a real-time status of government files/ petitions. It is developed using open source technology. 21 office of ministers and 53 government organisations are online with 1560614 petitions, 8358255 Tapals and 1611802 files online.

What have been the initiatives for the development of IT infrastructure in the state?

The Government of Kerala has established two State Data Centers (SDCs) for providing common secure IT infrastructure and is created to host state-level e-Governance applications/ data to enable seamless delivery of G2G, G2C and G2B services duly supported by State Wide Area Network. Both facilities offers various services to government departments, like Server co-hosting, server co-location, application load balancing and caching, SAN-based mass storage, automated back-up, Internet connectivity, mail services, data base administration service, web server administration service, mail server administration service, network management services.

The state has implemented KSWAN for establishing a backbone network connecting all district headquarters, block headquarters, Government offices and Taluka offices under one network, in a vertical and hierarchical structure with three Network Operating Centres (NOC) at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, 14 district headquarters & 152 block headquarters. The government offices are connected to the nearest DHQ/BHQ to achieve KSWAN connectivity. The last mile connectivity to government offices are achieved through wireless, LAN, Leased Lines and Fiber based on the feasibility.

“Kerala has established two State Data Centers to provide common secure IT infrastructure and to enable seamless delivery of G2G, G2C and G2B services”

What has been done in terms of video conferencing infrastructure?

Video conferencing infrastructure was established in 2005 and started being extensively used by more than 25 departments starting in 2006. The VC sessions are being managed with the support of C-DIT as total solutions provider. VC facility is available in Secretariat, all 14 District Collectorates, Advocate General’s Office, Kerala House, KSITM, Public Office and Vikas Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram. An average of 300 VCs of various departments is being conducted each year using this infrastructure.

Also Read: Puducherry Well on eGov Course

Kerala is successfully running e-District project for delivering various government services. How much has it expanded in the state?

The government, in accordance with the guidelines from DeitY, Government of India, made e-District services available across all the 14 districts spanning 1,700+ Village/Taluk Offices from 26th March 2013. Currently, 24 certificate services mainly from revenue department, and 500+ utility/fee payment services of the Government of Kerala can be availed online through 2,200+ Akshaya centres spread across the state or through portal. As in September ’14, more than 91 lakh e-certificates were processed through e-District and on average, more than 5 lakh per month. Besides, online RTI and Public Grievance services have also been launched.

Mobility is in thing in today’s governance scenario. Where does Kerala stand in terms of m-Governance?

Kerala is proactively embracing mobility. m-Governance or mobile governance involves the utilisation of all kinds of wireless and mobile technology services, applications and devices for Governance. m-Governance, initiated by Kerala, has started with the aim to utilise the strengths of mobile penetration in the state using the concept of ‘always-on’ connection for the delivery of government services to common people. It offers various government department services through mobile phones accessible to the citizens in the field, in the street, at home or other convenient locations on a 24×7 basis. 190 SMS-based services, IVRbased services and Outbound dialer services are presently functional. More mobile applications are in development stages which shall be made available in play stores.

What is your vision for e-Governance in Kerala in the near future?

We envision to make Kerala a 100 percent e-literate digital state. We will ensure our core IT infrastructure is equipped for the state’s exploding requirements by implementing Cloud and DR, provide connectivity to all government offices up to panchayat level through OFC by 2015, video conference penetration till taluk level, civil station WANs and OFC across hubs. We will also ensure that citizens have access to these electronic services either directly through the internet or though CSCs. We will focus on interoperability of government databases and open data for greater collaboration. We will re-engineer the government business practices and rules to suit the delivery of electronic services.

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