Tech for better governance

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Sep 8 2014, 06:55am hrs
Its called the Modi effect. We are referring to the Prime Minister Narendra Modis strong emphasis on the innovative use of technology to simplify citizens day-to-day interaction with state-owned bodies and ensure hassle-free government service delivery. At the Central as well as state level, urban bodies seem to have woken up from their slumber and are actively considering to deploy a wide range of innovative technologieswireless and new media technologies, mobile devices & apps, short messaging service, etcto address rising citizen expectations and deliver efficient governance.

Take for instance, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). In its efforts to improve the quality of life through better administration and citizen services, this urban body from the Central India state has deployed solutions from the German enterprise software maker SAP, to automate and centralise public sector offerings. Available in Hindi, the solutions will help BMC manage and streamline day-to-day functions, including issuing marriage certificates, birth and death registrations, city infrastructure development and open space management, including roads, parking, traffic signals, community halls and schools.

The Bhopal municipality is looking to streamline permits, health services, water supply, lake conservation and tax collection, among other servicesusing technology from SAP. Our vision is to make our services accessible to every citizen in the language they speak and understand, Tejaswi Naik, commissioner, BMC, told FE recently. With the adoption of this technology, we are quickly transforming into one of Indias first Municipal Corporations to formulate, promote and leverage technology at a grassroots level for the benefit of citizens in general, and specifically, the underprivileged.

Speaking the language

At the grassroots level, BMC plans to deliver citizen services through its project called CityApp. This unique initiative aims to develop an SAP mobile app that will provide an easy access point for city services and will help citizens navigate through city services, stay informed and engage with their neighbours. To be available on various mobile platforms, the CityApp is intended to simplify citizens day-to-day interaction with the corporation on the mobile platform of their choice.

Across India, local governments are turning to innovative technologies to help them address the rising citizen expectations, says Mathew Thomas, vice-president, Strategic Industries in India, SAP. Wireless and new media technologies, mobile devices & apps, short messaging service, etcgovernment bodies are leveraging all kinds of technologies with an aim to widen the reach of, and access to, public services to all citizens in the country. Recently, the government also launched a new online platform called MyGov to encourage citizen participation in governance. The basic message is to drive innovation around government service delivery, he informs.

The Noida Authority has established its portal www.noidaforcitizens.com, through which it aims to fight graft and resolve residents grievances. Streetlight maintenance, property mortgage permission or housing problemsAuthority officials claim that in the next few months, this New Delhi suburb will be Indias first city where citizens can avail 152 services online from 12 departments, including housing, commercial, industrial and institutional.

Security gets a big boost

Navi Mumbai, which is in close proximity to Mumbai is a rapidly growing business hub in Maharashtra. Its urban body, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, realised the need to enhance the security of the region and was on the lookout for a comprehensive security management system that would improve the overall security cover and assist Navi Mumbai Police in managing law and order. The solution had to not only enable the civic authorities bring down the possibilities of a security breach but also ensure better safety across the city through 24x7 intelligent monitoring, quicker response time, faster access to evidence in case of a law violation.

The municipality has roped in Cisco to establish a connected physical security solution. The solution includes latest video surveillance and analytics technology which provides live camera updates and alerts and ensures that no security breaches are missed due to human error or oversight. Part of the solution are IP-based outdoor security cameras which have the ability to monitor, detect, alert and record attacks,theft,

vehicular movement, human movement etc. The video surveillance data from various cameras deployed at strategic locations in the city are stored, monitored and analysed in a centralised control room.

Among others, the Mobile Tree Census built for the Pune Municipal Corporation is a fine example where mobility, sustainability and innovation have come together in delivering better citizen outcomes. Pune is the sixth largest and fastest growing city in India. SAP has developed a mobile platform which captures the key information about the development of trees in Pune. The project has helped Pune Municipal Corporation to analyse the number of trees in the city.

Today, citizens want effective delivery of services, improved governance and transparency in the functioning of big, complex and changing cities. The good news is that civic bodies are becoming proactive and adopting innovative technology to listen, understand and engage with citizens to deliver efficient governance.

Municipalities @ work

* Bhopal Municipal Corporation

CityApp project aims to develop an mobile app that will provide an easy access point for city services and will help citizens navigate through city services, stay informed and engage with their neighbours

* Noida Authority

Streetlight maintenance, property mortgage permission or housing problems the Noida Authority aims to fight graft and resolve residents' grievances through its portal www.noidaforcitizens.com.

* Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation

Established a comprehensive security management system to ensure better safety across the city through 24x7 intelligent monitoring, quicker response time, faster access to evidence in case of a law violation

* Pune Municipal Corporation

A mobile platform captures the key information about the development of trees in Pune. The project has helped the civic body to analyse the number of trees in the city