Data and AI Forum explores scope of Digital Revolution by harnessing technology

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Artificial Intelligence

With the advent of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Data, the Digital Architects of India are deploying these in the governance sectors to ensure better service delivery to the citizens.  The Government of India, with its flagship scheme Digital India, aims to bring technology at the doorstep of the citizens, and also leverage the technologies to progress towards the larger goal of Making India five trillion dollar economy.

The Data and AI Forum organised by IBM in association with Elets Technomedia on September 11 in New Delhi created a platform for think tanks, policymakers and thought leaders from technology, government and PSU sectors to discuss and deliberate the scope of harnessing technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Data, Machine Learning etc. that would lead to a digital revolution.

Welcoming the Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, IBM India said, “In the last few years, there has been tremendous change in implementation of AI across the globe in different sector. Government touches every aspect of it. India today is not just the recipient of innovation but the creator.”

Delivering the inaugural address of the Data and AI Forum on the theme ‘Transformational Power of AI’, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog said, “For the last few years, we have revolutionsed the digital payment movement. We are creating vast amount of Digital Data in all aspects. Unlike America, where data is wasted in Google & Facebook and in China, where it is wasted in Alibaba, India is creating a public data highway such as Ayushman Bharat, BHIM etc. to drive huge amount of innovation.”

Talking about the huge possibility and scope for the Artificial Intelligence in India’s digital landscape, he adds, “There will be a massive amount of private entrepreneurship with the huge amount of data. Artificial Intelligence is opening up a huge paradigm shift for the Digital landscape. India has the potential of becoming world’s AI Garage for solving many domestic and global problems.”

Moderated by Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, IBM India, engaged in the Fireside Chat with Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology.

Speaking on the theme of ‘Enabling framework for development & deployment of AI’, Sawhney talked about the deployment of AI in the finance sector. “We introduced Public digital platform, by leveraging data into crafted ecosystem to enhance customer experience. With UPI we are connecting 144 banks to new-generation service. A targeted investment to change the face of financial sector,” he said.

Sharing an interesting insight on how technology is harnessed in the sector of river management and cleanliness, Prof Sharma said, “Collecting data is a big exercise. We have to treat data with respect. It needs a lot of time and effort. Geospatial data is being assessed by using drone technology. We are also mapping the Ganga basin, which will give us information on the flow of pollutants.”

Global Show n Tell

Paul Dommel, Global Director, Gov Health & Human Services, IBM delivered case studies to showcase instances of global digital governance in San Diego County and Dubai Smart City. Dommel also talked on how IBM has developed an AI based mental health application, GRIT with US Military. Summing up his address, he said, “Government is the biggest innovator in the planet. Government always brings great ideas. The challenge is can we take all those great ideas and can we replicate them in day to day things.”

India Show n Tell

In the India Show n Tell session, Kitman Cheung, CTO, Data & AI, IBM engaged in an intriguing chat with Shubhagata Kumar, Principal Commissioner, GST & Central Excise, Delhi Zone, Central Bureau of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

Talking about how technology is playing in CBIC, Kumar stated, “We have moved from being a tax collector to a service provider. GST is the greatest tax reform we have ever seen. The technology has brought tax payers close to the government. When a citizen interacts with the govt, there are always complaints. We try to answer those questions in a proper manner. I saw Watson by IBM in action in India.”

Panel Discussion

The first panel discussion of the day was on ‘Creating an Informed India: Cross-match Multiple Data Platforms’. Moderated by Subram Natarajan, the session saw participation of senior bureaucrats and policymakers who represent the departments and ministries of the Finance, Information Technology, Defence and External Affairs.

Setting the tone of the Data and AI Forum, and also stating the immense significance AI holds, be it in terms of governance as well as overall evolution of the technology, Sanjay Jaju, Joint Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Government of India stated, “Third World War is going to be about AI supremacy. The evolution of AI has mainly happened in rule-based algorithmic systems. In the next stage of evolution, we expect AI to get an embodiment.”

Prakash Kumar, CEO, Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) talked about the usage of technology in securing the citizens’ data. Sharing the concern, as well the solution, Kumar said, “Our first and foremost concern is how to combat fraud. Using data, we have to look at the patterns so that we can prevent such frauds in the future.”

Rama Hariharan, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre (NIC) talked about how NIC is acting as an enabler at the different government departments. “We are helping some of the government departments establish their own data analytics section. We are also providing them with the required hardware,” she said.

Golok Kumar Simli, Chief Technology Officer, Ministry of External Affairs raised the concern about the increase in unstructured data and data security. He said, “The growth of structured data is growing in tune with 40 to 45 percent. On the other hand, the growth of unstructured data with traditional content is 80 to 85 percent. However, there is data security concern. Our biggest concern is the amount of error and ambiguity in the data.”

The final panel discussion of the day was on the theme of ‘Emerging Technologies: Paving the way for citizen centric transformation’. Participated by policymakers and PSU leaders, the session moderated by Prativa Mohapatra, VP – Sales, Global Markets, IBM India/SA focused on how technologies like Data and AI are harnessed to deliver services to citizens.

N Sivasailam, Special Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, analysed the scope of technology utilisation in the Logistics sector. He said, “The use of technology has an impact on cost. But improvement in adoption of technology matters. Logistics is not a virtual business, but real business. If you do not have networking among different institutions, you can’t utilise technology fully. Today we don’t have business readiness to create those platforms.”

Ajay Chagti, Special Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Delhi talked about the IT deployment by the Government of Delhi in the capital city. He said, “Only 1/8 of Delhi population is availing services from online platforms. The Delhi Chief Minister has been instrumental in ensuring door to door service delivery. We are utilising Application Programming Interface for this. There is a lot of scope for startups to ensure data security with the help of technologies like Blockchain.”

Rahul Kapoor, Director, Smart Cities, talked about the massive role technologies like Data, AI, IoT are playing in the Smart Cities Mission of the Government of India. He stated, “Smart Cities Mission started a dialogue with technology and gradually technologies like IoT were deployed. However, these weren’t devoid of challenges. With limited resources, we have a humungous task of developing 100 smart cities. Technology is an enabler. With the help of AI, we are going to develop a technology which would help us track the cleanliness indicators of the cities.”

George Kuruvilla, Chairman and Managing Director, Broadcast Engineering Consultants Limited (BECIL) stated the role of BECIL in leveraging technology for enabling citizen welfare and security. “BECIL has been instrumental in executing various projects such as Command & Control centres, installing CCTV across areas to ensure citizen safety. There is a need to have Analytics, AI to take preventive measures,” Kuruvilla said.

Technology Presentations

Kitman Cheung delivered special technology presentation on ‘IBM leadership on Digital Technologies Leveraging the Power of Data and AI”.

Sujay Santra, Founder & CEO, Ikure gave an overview on the primary healthcare sector of India and how IBM Watson is deployed for it. “We have partnered with IBM Watson labs for the purpose of using AI in healthcare. We can predict the risk of heart disease in men and women. We are looking to serve more than 25 million people in the next few years. We partnered with IBM Watson Labs to build a trusted AI solution in healthcare that doctors can rely on.” he said.

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