The Government of India wants Indians to build the country’s own video conferencing platform.
The Government of India wants Indians to build the country’s own video conferencing platform, something that will take on the likes of the controversy-ridden Zoom, and also more high-profile solutions like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Not only will this help promote local expertise, it will also possibly ensure greater transparency when it comes to privacy and data handling.
As opposed to giving some x, y, or z company a contract to chalk out and build a home-grown video conferencing platform, the Government of India is offering a level playing field for all developers through a first-of-its-kind ‘innovation’ challenge under the Digital India initiative.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) ‘Innovation Challenge for Development of a Video Conferencing Solution under the Digital India Programme’ will be conducted in three stages, ideation, prototype, and solution building.
Would-be competitors have until April 30 to apply for the programme. At this stage, they are not required to be registered Indian Companies or startups. They have until May 7 to submit their ideas. An ‘unspecified’ jury will shortlist 10 top ideas (on May 14), moving them to the next stage, that is prototyping. At this stage, they are required to register themselves as Indian Startups or Company. Each team will receive a funding of Rs 5 lakh to build their prototype. The jury will then shortlist three top prototypes (in mid-June), moving them to the final stage, that is building the solution. Each team will receive a funding of Rs 20 lakh to build their solution.
The winner will be picked on July 29 and receive a contract to deploy their video conferencing solution for use by the Government of India and State Government entities for a period of 4 years. MeitY notes that competing solutions will be judged on the basis of “scalability, market reach and domestic value addition.” There are also a few other requirements including encrypted network communications, that you can read here. The Government contract will entail a fixed amount of Rs 1 Crore (for deployment) for the first year and further support of Rs 10 lakh per year towards operations and maintenance.
Scores of people are using video calling/conferencing apps around the world for work, for education, or simply staying connected with their near and dear ones in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak leading to a surge in demand for such solutions. But with the surge in usage, there has also been a rise in privacy concerns. On Thursday, the Government of India came out with a detailed advisory to secure Zoom video calls deeming the service as ‘not safe.’ Whether or not India’s own solution will be secure enough is something only time will tell.