Public Safety & Security As Vice President of the Public Services group for SAP’s Asia Pacific Division, Adaire Fox-Martin oversees the strategic direction and activities in the area of public services in the health, education and defence sectors across the region and executive relationships with customers and partners. Ms. FoxMartin is a key member of the SAP leadership team and plays a lead role in delivering SAP’s offering to public sector customers. A respected thought leader, Ms. Fox-Martin continues to be invited at seminars and conferences by the media and analysts to address public services issues ranging from e-Government transformation and reengineering of Government processes to public service policies. She is regularly featured and quoted in numerous publications throughout Asia and Australia. Ms. Fox-Martin has over 20 years of experience in the field of information technology and management. Effective e-Governance can take information technology (IT) to the common man, while helping Governments to regulate their services in line with the changing needs of both citizens and stakeholders, as well as develop the economy. An IT-driven e-Governance system involves the creation, storage, analysis, dissemination and use of information. Recognizing the growing importance of e-Governance and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in public administration today, we bring you a much needed, regular, interactive platform, where your questions on a pre-defined theme can be answered by Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President, Public Services, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan. This unique column provides a forum for advocacy, exchange of information, viewpoints and enables a discussion on current concerns and issues in the area. SAP is the leading provider of enterprise business solutions to Governments worldwide, with more than 1,500 customers in over 70 countries. In this issue, we focus on a few questions around “Public Safety and Security” in the backdrop of terror attacks, which have increasingly become a major area of concern since the latter half of 2008. We believe that integrated ICT can be the most potent retaliation to such attacks and acts of terror, while maintaining and enhancing public security.
What does Terrorism have to do with ICT and e-Governance? Does ICT have any role to play in preventing Terrorism and the resulting loss of lives and property? It was very evident in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai that the perpetrators of the attack used technology to the fullest for being connected and to execute their plan in a slick manner. This has been the case in most such Terrorism attacks. Obviously, the way to counter this is to decode this communication, as well as be one up on the use of ICT. ICT has a major role to play in gathering intelligence, consolidating it, analyzing it and using it in a systematic fashion for both preventive actions and emergency response against acts of terror that disrupt public safety and cause large scale damages to property. What kind of IT solutions can be deployed to help the various security agencies in the country to prevent and respond to Terrorism? The Government of India has taken various steps since 26/11 and it is now critical that we take a systematic approach to leverage IT in the war against terror. It is important that the various intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies be brought on to a common IT platform in order to ensure seamless sharing of information. Perhaps, a secure but consolidated national intelligence database could be the mechanism with complete capability to manage unstructured and varied kinds of data/information such as text, e-mails, photos, maps, SMS, Voices etc. The Government should
also build a flexible and collaborative emergency response system to respond rapidly and prevent disasters or mitigate the losses from disasters and acts of terror. There are three primary ways in which the Government can leverage ICT – intelligence analysis and sharing, emergency preparedness and response, and investigation management. Is there any international experience on using IT for public safety? Are they relevant for India? Over the last few years and particularly post-9/11, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has spent nearly USD 3.75 bn in 2004 and more than USD 11 bn in 2005 on ICT and related projects. Also, institutional mechanisms have been created for handling and using ICT. Similarly, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the U.S. leverages IT significantly for their national emergency MIS. Police organizations across the globe use IT in a big way to pattern crime behaviors, track crime records, and enable efficient and smart emergency resource planning. These are just a few examples. There is no reason why India should not leverage some of these examples to create their own ICT infrastructure for the war against terror. India is a large country both in size and numbers and it is more than imperative to leverage IT, perhaps more that several other countries. Also, India currently seems to be in the “eye of the Terrorism storm” and it would be critical for the country to implement well-considered but quick, nimble, efficient, bestpractices, and scalable and integrated ICT systems that have already proven themselves globally.
Next Month’s Topic: “ICT for Effective Social Services”. Please mail back your queries on this topic at email@example.com