Government websites to be mobile compliant

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 12 2011, 07:11am hrs
Services like status tracking and information like weather reports, crop prices, traffic advisories and exam results will soon be available on our mobile phones. The department of information technology (DIT) is formulating a policy framework for mobile governance which looks at ways in which mobile devices can be used to provide public services especially in rural areas.

As part of the policy, all government websites will be made mobile compliant and a Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) will be developed. The gateway will be fully integrated with existing infrastructure created under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and all ministries and departments will be able to start offering their services on this platform.

The idea behind this framework is that more people will be able to access government services through their mobile phones as the reach of the mobiles is more than the Internet, said a DIT official.

The development assumes significance as the number of mobile phone subscribers in India stands at over 771 million with the mobile teledensity at 64.7%. Out of the total mobile subscribers, the share of rural subscribers was 33.6% and the rural mobile teledensity was 31.1% in January, 2011 whereas the same for urban areas was 143.4%. The total subscriber base of mobile phone users is projected to grow to one billion by 2012.

On the other hand, the total base of Internet users in India at the end of 2009 was only 81 million and the total number of broadband subscribers (with minimum connection speeds of 256 Kbps) was only 11.21 million as on January 31, 2011. Moreover, mobiles have a much deeper and wider penetration with over 60% of the population having access to this medium.

The policy framework which is expected to be notified by June this year, seeks to formulate relevant standards for applications for mobile governance to ensure seamless interoperability of services across multiple service providers and multiple government departments and agencies besides developing an appropriate regulatory regime for mobile governance.

We want that all services which are available electronically should be accessible on mobile devices also. The policy will be finalised by June and most of the services should be rolled out by the year end, the official added. DIT will identify key public services for delivery though mobile platform through stakeholder consultations.

Currently, the mobile-based public services are limited to a few sectors in some states. For instance, in Kerala, m-health information system is used for providing information on health resources and the medical facilities available in the locality of the resident while Goa uses SMS alerts for receipt and status of various applications in its different government departments. Nationally, one can get passport application status on mobiles besides engaging in mobile banking.

On the global front, Singapore uses mobile delivery for services like gnews and information, alerts and notifications on provident fund account, passport renewal, road tax renewal while Bahrain provides 45 government services including information based services such as weather forecasts, doctor search and embassy contacts along with interactive services such as mobile blogs and polls.