Interview

E-Governance Initiatives Improved Efficiency and Productivity in the State Government

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Over the past few years, Odisha has come up with innovations and initiatives in the Information Technology sector. A lot of emphasis is given on the digital infrastructure of the state to enable a citizen centric approach, says C J Venugopal, Principal Secretary, Electronics & IT, Government of Odisha in an interview with Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN).

C J Venugopal

C J Venugopal, Principal Secretary, Government of Odisha

What are some of the IT and innovation initiatives taken and implemented in Odisha?

The biggest initiative which we have enabled is the Government of Odisha Cloud or GoO Cloud. With this, we have been able to host a lot of our major applications. The Cloud is located in our State Data Centre. We have also given a lot of emphasis on our digital infrastructure. Within this, we host video conferences from the state headquarters to the offices in the 314 blocks and 30 districts. This has reduced a lot of time and energy of the officers by sparing them to travel to the headquarters for meetings or review and assessments of any particular project.

Has it improved the e-governance structure of the state to take the services to the doorstep of the people?

This initiative has created a lot of awareness among the government system cells and more applications are developed. Some of the applications are also citizen-centric and some are automated and bring end to end solutions in the lifecycle. All these have improved efficiency and boosted productivity in the governance itself. It is a continuous effort and we also need to keep improving the human resource capabilities through training programmes, capacity building and awareness programmes at regular intervals. At the same time, we must identify new cases and start developing them.

What are the steps taken to ensure the state’s cyber security?

The Cyber security plan has been implemented and the CERT-O (Computer Emergency Response Team –Odisha) is already setup. We are also organising training programmes and capacity building on cyber security for our officers. We are also in the process of building Cyber Security Operations Centre (SOC). A lot of work is being done on the cyber security operations of all our applications.

What are your plans to develop the state government’s online presence, in terms of the official website or social media presence to enable better communication with the citizens?

We do have a social media portal which is acting as a bridge to reach out to people. We receive feedback from the citizens and work on it. This is a continuous process of engaging people with us. We are planning to set up centres of excellence on the emerging technologies in multiple areas. These areas include Artificial Intelligence, block chain, robotics, drones and data analytics to name a few.

How are you planning to tap the new talent?

We have set up incubation centres in IT initiatives, Electronics System Design Manufacturing (ESDM) hardware and FAB Lab and Characterization Lab. FAB Lab is about digital fabrication, this FAB Lab consists of CAD, CAM, 3D modeling etc. We have access to 1600 FAB Labs across the world with which we are connected for knowledge exchange. The idea is, if you have a chip design centre here, you won’t need to go out of Odisha to develop it as a patentable idea by incubating it in these hardware incubation labs. We have similar incubation labs in the software as well.

While the state is taking so many IT initiatives, are you also encouraging the IT organisations and start-ups to work with the state?

We are following the best practices of the IT/ITeS and ESDM companies. We are giving a lot of incentives to both IT and electronic companies to encourage them to invest in Odisha. We have Electronic Manufacturing Cluster where hardware units can come and start their businesses. In that way, a lot of enablers have been put in place and incentives have been offered. The basic idea is that, we need to create an enabling environment for ease of doing business that will give competitive advantage over other states.

What were the challenges that you faced while implementing these initiatives and how did you cope with them?

The biggest challenge in working for the Government is that you don’t have a choice to select a team. E-governance is such an area where you have to get other users on board. This is an even bigger challenge according to me to get them on the same page on the policies and initiatives and how it would improve the entire governance. More than technology, human resource or change management is extremely important. The success of the project depends on how much ownership the team takes.

What are your plans and visions for the coming years?

We welcome more companies to come on board and invest in Odisha. We have a very robust ICT Policy which gives sufficient incentives and we welcome investors in both hardware and software sectors. Being a Tier-II city, the attrition rate is much lower; hence it is an advantage for companies to start their operations here. I believe that in the coming years, there will be more activities in the ICT space. ICT infrastructure is coming up in a big way with Data Centres, security systems like the SOC, NOC, etc., which would ensure better reach and engagement with the citizens.

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