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Making Computers Converse in Native Languages Su tra- An Intelligent Translator Tool for Incremental Localisation
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| ISSUE 9 | SEPTEMBER 2008
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SERVICES WITH CHANGING TECHNOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE M-GOVERNMENT- RULING THE HIGH TECH WAY YEH DIL MANGE MORE
CONNECTING THROUGH INTEGRATION OF SERVICES
Localisation Central to e-Governance Architecture
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Key Themes Web 2.0 • Data Management • Security • Localisation • Standards and Interoperability • Emerging Technology Trends in e-Governance • Country Perspectives • e-Governance Good Practices • e-Inclusion and Participatory Democracy • e-Procurement • Enterprise Solutions • Urban Governance • Cyber Laws
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w w w . e g o v o n l i n e . n e t | volume 4 | issue 9 | september 2008
Localisation Central to e-Governance Architecture
Barun Kumar Sahu, Director (Personnel), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
Making Computers Converse in Native Languages
Dr. M Sasikumar, Head Artiﬁcial Intelligence, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC)- Mumbai
Meghashyam Karanam, Product Manager- Vision and Localisation, Microsoft Corporation
Su tra-An Intelligent Translator Tool for Incremental Localisation
Aparna Ramamurthy Senior Staff Scientist, CDAC Mumbai, Dr M Sasikumar, Head Artiﬁcial Intelligence, CDAC Mumbai, M Santosh, Staff Scientist, CDAC Mumbai
Providing Local Language Support Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay, Red Hat
Making Connectivity Reach the Masses mServe INDIA2008 Conference Report
INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE MCONNECT
Connecting through Integration of Services Interview: Pramod Saxena, Chairman & Managing Director, Oxigen, India
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Yeh Dil Mange More Sandeep Budki, Senior Correspondent, egov Magazine
It’s Never too Late Sanjay Jaju, Vice Chairman & MD, Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra
COUNTRY PERSPECTIVE: KOREA
e-Government in Korea- An Overview Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, Government of Korea
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ov volume 4 | issue 9 | september 2008 PRESIDENT
Dr. M P Narayanan EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Localisation: Addressing Issues of Access to Technology
Maneesh Prasad Sanjay Kumar ASSISTANT EDITOR
Prachi Shirur SR. CORRESPONDENT
Sandeep Budki RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
L. Chaitanya Kishore Reddy SR. SUB EDITOR
Since the value of e-Government gets limited by the disparities in access to ICTs and digital literacy, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has placed special emphasis on the concept of e-Inclusion (UN Readiness Report 2005: From e-Government to e-Inclusion). This demonstrates a shift from a sole technology focus to a focus on equity in economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities. Localisation, or the adaptation of softwares for non-native environments, is the way forward in achieving the goal of e-Inclusion. Effective e-Government strategies need to emphasise content in the native and local languages.
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Importance of localisation is particularly important for India, where no single vernacular language is spoken by a majority. The demand for technical and cultural localisation of softwares is likely to increase with the penetration of computers to population where it is now non-existent and rare. With the growth of middle classes and the increase in the purchasing power of citizens in the developing countries, computer would spread to even larger number of people in these countries. Localisation, therefore, is likely to remain a growth industry. Governments and many private players have embarked on the projects of localising languages for their applications in several developing countries. In India, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Department of Officials Languages, Government of India, have been making localisation efforts with the ministries and departments. Bridging the language barrier is an opportunity as well as a challenge for both government and private sectors. This edition of egov magazine is woven around the theme of localisation, its importance in e-Governance, issues in localising softwares, the business case for localisation, and so forth, and has brought forth both government and private sector perspectives.
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The localisation efforts will go a long way in bringing citizens closer to the government. This was one of the objectives of the recently concluded eINDIA2008 conference, which provided a platform for all stakeholders - policymakers, practitioners, industry leaders, academicians to work towards realising a technology enabled knowledge society. This issue of egov magazine includes a special report on the egovINDIA2008 and mServe INDIA 2008 conference. Both these conferences were the seminal tracks of the annual eINDIA2008 event organised by CSDMS in association with several government ministries. Hope you would enjoy reading this edition of egov magazine.
egov does not neccesarily subscribe to the views expressed in this publication. All views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors. egov is not responsible or accountable for any loss incurred, directly or indirectly as a result of the information provided. Owner, Publisher, Printer, Ravi Gupta Printed at R P Printers, G-68, Sector - 6 Noida, U.P. and published from 710 Vasto Mahagun Manor, F-30, Sector - 50 Noida, UP Editor: Ravi Gupta
Ravi Gupta Ravi.Gupta@csdms.in 7
Localisation Central to e-Governance Architecture For e-Inclusion, and reaching to the doorsteps of the people, the e-Governance initiatives must have localisation as very central to its architecture. Localisation is not conďŹ ned to translation of contents from one language to another, but includes customisation of content and presentation of the content to appeal to the community. The need for participation of people in governance will increasingly be felt as governments use ICTs to transform themselves and the delivery of public services. Barun Kumar Sahu DIVERSITY OF THE ICT USERS TODAY
Information technology is no longer the preserve of the privileged few. The users of IT are no longer restricted to scientists, corporate executives and the rich. They are increasingly ordinary people, most ordinary people indeed. They can be homemakers searching the Internet for recipes and furniture designs. They can be poets keying in poems in vernacular languages by themselves. They can be religious preachers arranging worships online. They can be petty businesspersons filing tax returns online. They can be plumbers using mobile phones as the most important handheld device. They can be Internet game enthusiasts. Advancements in communication technology have facilitated easy and inexpensive interaction among the people and the communities across the territorial boundaries. It is not surprising that the growth and development of information technology has been characterised by internationalisation and localisation the world over.
WHAT IS LOCALISATION?
IT has facilitated and accelerated the pace of globalisation. Interestingly, the same information technology is also facilitating localisation. Localisation is often seen in conjunction with internationalisation. Internationalisation is the process of creating an application so that it can be adapted to different languages, cultures and regions with minimum or no coding changes. It is a practice of designing and developing applications, products and documents in a way that makes it easily localisable for target audience that vary in culture, region, language or technology. Localisation is the reverse process of adapting applications, products and documents to specific locales (language, region etc) by 8}
adding locale-specific components and text translations. It is the actual adaptation to meet the linguistic, cultural and other requirements of specific target user groups. Locale is a set of parameters that defines the userâ€™s language, country or region and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in his user interface. Usually, a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier. For example, HI-IN identifies locale as Hindi language in the context of India as the country. Internationalisation and Localisation may appear contradictory efforts, but they are actually complementary efforts. Internationalisation is the adaptation of products for potential use virtually everywhere, while localisation is the addition of special features for use in a specific locale. The processes are complementary, and must be combined to realise the objective of a system that works globally. Localisation is not merely translating the user interface and storage in the target language. It is much more. It refers to customisation so that the end user feels comfortable with and attached to the content, and feels that the contents have been made especially for him. Concepts relevant to localisation include support for script, support for language, language translation, local customs, local contents, cultural values, measurement systems, date/time formats, calendars, alignment of texts etc.
LOCALISATION, e-INCLUSION AND EMPOWERMENT
The process of socio-economic growth at times leads to economic disparities and social divisions. The developments in the field of technology run the risk of worsening the digital divide. However, localisation opens up the information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the marginalised and the minority groups, and reduces the social exclusion www.egovonline.net
Saka calendar in Microsoft Outlook
by facilitating access and participation. Thus, localisation promotes inclusive information society. Recognising that genuine multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, the United Nations proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages. Simply put, localisation aims at achieving equal opportunity to access in this information age irrespective of native language, culture and region. It aims to bridge the digital divide. It achieves empowerment of the people by facilitating access to the information, in and by communication in the language the community is most comfortable with. It enhances the level of peoplesâ€™ interaction and participation.
LOCALISATION AND e-GOVERNANCE
Earlier, the IT industry in the developing countries primarily catered to the markets in the developed world. Now ICTs are being used to improve the delivery of public services and the quality of the public services. Public authorities at all levels are increasingly turning to ICTs to organise and deliver services. It is vital that e-Governance meets the aspirations of all citizens, including those from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as disabled people, the elderly and those who live in economically deprived and remote areas. India is a vast country, both in area and in population, and plurality is its hallmark. It has enormous linguistic, cultural, religious and geographical diversities. The Constitution of India recognises twenty-two languages, besides English. Certain other languages are recognised at the state level. Besides, there are hundreds of other languages and dialects spoken all over the country. The central government and the state governments in India have embarked on an ambitious National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and several Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) have been identified under the NeGP. Besides MMPs, there are several other e-Governance initiatives. More and more public services are being offered online. e-Governance is not so much about technology, as it is about efficient delivery of services. Good governance means that citizens must be able to avail services ov
from the government speedily, on 24x7 basis, at a convenient location and in a cost-effective manner. e-Governance means taking government to the doorstep of the people. This implies that localisation will have to play a crucial role in e-Governance. For instance, most residents of London understand English; nonetheless, local bodies use pamphlets written in even Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu etc to reach out to the people on the issues of their concern. ICTs are now transforming the governance from being passive and unilateral to interactive and participative. Governments today are being transformed from Government 1.0 to Government 2.0 and Government 3.0. In this transformation, the governments become more and more interactive and participative; people do not remain just voters, but are active participants in the governance. In such a transformation, localisation will be an essential requirement. It has to be central to the e-Governance architecture to ensure peoplesâ€™ participation, avoiding social exclusion and promoting e-Democracy.
IS LOCALISATION FOR THE RURAL FOLKS ONLY?
Some people view the scope of localisation as limited to reaching out to and catering to the rural and semi-literate population. While reaching out to the marginalised sections of the society is one objective, the real emphasis of localisation is that the initiatives must be citizen-centric and customercentric, not officer-centric. The scope of localisation is to shift focus from the provider to the customer. For example, it is very common for books by British authors to be edited in language and style for the US market. In Europe where people are proud of their language and culture, localisation is certainly not meant for only the backward population.
Hindi version of Indian Railways website (www.trainenquiry.com) LATE START FOR INDIA-SPECIFIC LOCALISATION
Even MS-DOS and earliest versions of Windows had localised versions for East Asian, European and Arabic 9
languages. Compared to this, Language Interface Packs (LIPs) in Indian languages for Windows and Microsoft Office were available much later only with Windows XP and Microsoft 2003. One prime reason for the lack of development on localisation for Indian languages was the lack of standardisation of the code points to represent the letters and symbols of Indic languages. A large number of different legacy encodings were used. It was characterised by the absence of standardisation and uniformity, and little support at the software level. Even though Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) was developed, it was not popular due to the lack of sufficient software support.
IMPORTANCE OF MACHINE TRANSLATION IN LOCALISATION
Machine translation has greatly enhanced the scope of localisation on a large scale. Even though computer-aided translation (CAT) tools such as glossary and translation memory are used in generating local contents, improvements in machine translation has enhanced the scale of availability of local contents. Together with speech recognition (speech-to-text) and speech synthesis (text-to-speech) tools, machine translation can provide speech translation on the fly. This will make user experience with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems more enriching.
LOCALISATION FOR PERSONS OF SPECIAL NEEDS
For localisation to be all-inclusive, we must take care of the requirements of the persons with special needs. Such categories of persons include those who are illiterate, blind, deaf, colour blind, or have difficulty in movement of limbs or body parts. Persons of special needs must be capable of accessing the applications using the relevant tools and utilities. Screen Access For All (SAFA) (see http://www.nabdelhi. org) is a utility for blind people. It reads out the texts and keystrokes. It supports several languages, including Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Nepali, Gujarati, Kannada and Telugu.
DRIVING FORCES OF LOCALISATION
Bengali version of Yahoo!Maps for West Bengal
Another reason was the perceived absence of sizeable market for localised IT products and services within India in the earlier years. Indeed, the common ISCII code set was devised for the Indian languages precisely on the premise tha,t with common code and keyboard for all the Indic scripts, any software which allows ISCII codes to be used, could be used in any of the Indic scripts, enhancing its commercial viability. Furthermore, immediate transliteration between different Indian scripts was possible, just by changing the display modes without changing the codes. Today, most operating systemsâ€”whether Windows, Linux or Mac OS Xâ€”and application softwares support all the important languages of world. Perhaps the only exception is that Windows Vista does not yet support Myanmar script. .NET Framework provides support for localisation. Localisation deals with customising data and resources for specific languages. Applications created using .NET can be Windows applications, and Web applications. For the development of multilingual applications, the language or locale-dependent texts and information are no longer to be hard-coded. Rather, these should come from resource files. The texts and other information are loaded from the resource files at the runtime, which are dependent on the language or locale selected by the user or the system. 10
There have been several efforts at localisation by governments in India. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Department of Official Language in Government of India have been advocating and spearheading localisation efforts within the government and outside the government. There are several community and private initiatives also.
Machine-translation of www.egovonline.com by Google
Localisation makes a very good business sense. Localisation is as much important to the government, as it is to the corporate world. Most MNCs have websites localised to various regions and languages. Even their advertisements and strategies are country and culture-specific. In this age of Internet and interconnectivity, the readership or viewership is not confined to a particular province or even country. The content is viewed and read by people all across the globe. Software developed in one country/language may have to be adapted for another country/language for sale in that market. People may be reading the machine translated versions of the content. The meaning of a word or phrase that is eminently evident in one cultural ambience may be misunderstood in another cultural context. In today’s global context, “internationalisation” and “localisation” are important concepts. Cyber space is increasingly global and internationalised, reflecting the diverse linguistic, ethnic, social and cultural predilections of the world community. Localisation is the cardinal business mantra of the multinational companies in the globalised world. Localisation takes care of not just linguistic barrier, but even cultural and political barriers. Today, as you watch an English language cartoon channel on the cable TV, but find it difficult to follow the language, you can dynamically change the language to Hindi and continue watching the programme without any interruption. Technology has facilitated localisation. Of course, there will be a limit to the extent or granularity of the localisation. Perhaps, the market forces will set limit to this.
Dictionary on Mobile, Soon The mobile phone instrument will soon serve also as a dictionary literally at one’s fingertips, thanks to a initiative by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore, India. The dictionary service will be available in English as well as other regional languages like Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Oriya. CIIL is already in touch with mobile service providers. The plan is to ensure that a mere push of the ‘search’ button, opens up the lexicon in the language of the subscriber’s choice. Primarily, the CIIL effort is to help those involved in translation work and academic experts. At the same time, the endeavour, the institute feels, would be better served if it is made accessible to the general public, CIIL Director Uday Narayan Singh said. The service will be first started on an experimental basis in south India and depending upon the results, it would be extended to north India.
Today, not only are the devices hooked on to the network very diverse and run on diverse operating systems, the people who are communicating are also very diverse. Indeed, localisation is not an India-specific requirement. Localisation is inevitable even because of sheer market force of demand and supply. Localisation is also inevitable in the age of Government 2.0 and Government 3.0, where people will play a more active role as partners in governance. Governments the world over today seek to reach to the doorsteps of the people with better quality of public services and efficient delivery of services through the application of ICTs. It would be ridiculous to reach to the doorsteps of the people, but still not speak in their language!
Barun Kumar Sahu (barun_sahu@ yahoo.com) is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of 1992 batch. He is currently, the Director (Personnel), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. He has written five books. His book ‘Make Computers Speak Your Language’ is on text processing in multilingual environment. His sixth book, ‘Kampyutar Bolay Aapki Bhasha’ (in Hindi), also on Localisation issues, will be out very soon.
Localisation, the Way to Go! Software Localisation is definitely the way to go. On the 7th and 8th of August, a group of 300 makerere students in collaboration with Rhodes University in South Africa and a company called email@example.com were involved in a successful translation of the Mozilla User interface (wordings) into Luganda.Throughout the exercise, they were able to translate 8000 words used on the interface into Luganda. The team comprised of 100 student volunteers with a computing background from the Faculty of Computing and IT, Makerere University Kampala (MUK) and more than 100 Luganda students from the Institute of Languages.The product was amazing. The CDs having the translated application would be made available at the Faculty of Computing and IT. The challenge left is translating the technical terminologies of firefox into Luganda.To have this work continuing,a team of 4 students from the Software Incubation Center at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) have taken up this task as a six months project and would be willing to accept any help rendered.
Making Computers Converse in Native Languages Today, Indian language rendering on computers is no longer a research problem. Effective solutions are available on most browsers and operating systems. Fonts are also available for many Indian languages. Large scale e-Governance initiatives at both central and state government levels, as well as high penetration of mobile phones in the rural areas of India are waking up the non-English speaking community into the IT space. Dr M Sasikumar INTRODUCTION
Despite the high degree of linguistic diversity and a very small fraction of the population being able to use English, software localisation is still a largely unknown element in India – in any information technology or computer services (IT/CS) curricula, academia or industry. The difficulties in rendering Indian language scripts and the large number of widely spoken languages may be part of the reason. The predominantly export oriented IT industry is looking at candidates and software applications with English capability and are relatively blind to Indian language requirements. Thus, the IT education is also biased towards people learning English and using computers, rather than getting computers to converse in our native language. Today, Indian language rendering on computers is no longer a research problem. Effective solutions are available on most browsers and operating systems. Fonts are also available for many Indian languages. Large scale e-Governance initiatives at both central and state government levels, as well as high penetration of mobile phones in the rural areas of India are waking up the non-English speaking community into the IT space. Use of an intermediary to avail the e-Governance services would offset a number of major advantages of G2C services. On the other hand, large scale use of these services directly by the citizen requires a high focus on software localisation – a tough technological challenge for a highly multilingual country like India. Though, not very widely known, localisation is not totally unknown to India. There have been attempts to get GNU/ Linux desktops, office application suites, web browsers, etc fully localised into a few Indian languages. The major Department of Information Technology, Government of India initiative to release national CD in all official languages of India has popularised these efforts, in addition to encouraging ov
more focused efforts in this direction by organisations such as Centre for Advanced Computing (CDAC). However, there are no studies yet, indicating how many people have started using/exploiting ICT thanks to these efforts, who would not have otherwise used computers. One hopes that the increasing penetration of ICT applications to the rural areas will facilitate this to happen more. In this article, the author looks at the road ahead in making this happen looking at the challenges and problems, and how to address them. Indian language computing, so far largely dormant and pursued as an academic subject in a few institutions, is now picking up momentum and the associated technologies will need to play a pivotal role in this effort to make the task manageable. This article looks at primarily the translation aspect of localisation, in the context of work in the area of Indian language computing.
STAGES OF LOCALISATION
Prerequisite to localisation of any software into a given language is the availability of a suitable character encoding, fonts to display text in that language, keymap to enter text, etc. Availability of word processors and editors to create such text is also required to make this task feasible. The second – for most applications the last – stage is to modify all textual output from the application to the corresponding language. In a suitably internationalised software, such text are available in files separate from the source code files. This enables one to hand over these files to language translators who will then translate them into the desired language. They do not have to see or deal with any aspect of programming due to this separation. In theory, this is all you need to get your software in the desired language. But, in practice, this is a much harder problem. Some of these issues are discussed 13
in the next section. In general, just changing the language of display of messages do not suffice for making the software usable for the target users, namely, the relatively non-techie non-English speaking community. A third stage named cultural localisation is needed to fill this gap. This includes adapting the icons used by the application, implicit cultural references in the messages, cultural conventions used by the software, etc. This is largely an open area today, with very little work. Making these kinds of conventions explicit during the software development so as to make them amenable for localisation, is a hard problem.
TRANSLATION FOR LOCALISATION
Translation for localisation differs from translation of standard books or other literature. Mostly the pieces of text to be translated are short in length – many such as menu entries and commands are just one word long. Given the natural ambiguity of words in a language, this poses a tricky problem. For example, the word ‘close’ may mean opposite of ‘open’ (seen in File menus, for example) or opposite of ‘far’ (in the sense of near). This information is not visible just looking at the string ‘close’. In the case of normal translation, this does not create a similar problem, since the rest of the sentence or the previous/following sentences provide the clues to identify the intended meaning. This indicates the need for capturing the context of the text segment when externalising them during the development process. Defining the context is itself a difficult problem. A context is represented normally using some human understandable annotation, giving an alternative word with the same intended meaning (e.g. shut), a sentence containing the word in its intended meaning, etc. In the absence of useful annotations of this form, the translator needs to look at the source code where the text appears in order to disambiguate the word. Since those who translate and those who develop software are often disjoint groups of people, this is not desirable. Another concern is with respect to the choice between transliteration and translation. Usually, in translation tasks, proper nouns are transliterated (that is, the same word is written using the target language script), and other words are translated (that is, an equivalent word from the target language is found e.g. kaksh for classroom). However, for software applications this may not be very useful. Most technical words coined in Indian languages to correspond to usual technical vocabulary are less familiar to the users than their corresponding English words (e.g. words like phone, mobile, computer, etc), and hence, purely from a usability point of view transliteration may be more appropriate. This choice is to be carefully exercised keeping in mind multiple considerations. Consistency of translation is another aspect of concern. This again is not that serious in normal translation tasks, since normally there is adequate context for the reader to decipher the intended meaning. But, in software localisation, most of the terms have very specific meaning, and hence the term usage need to be very consistent across the software. For example, the terms teacher and faculty may not be 14
interchangeable in general. The source application itself may use these terms to mean different roles and hence separate terms need to be found for these in the target language as well. The mapping and distinction should be maintained across the entire application.
AUTOMATING LOCALISATION WITH NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING
Given the complexity and size of the localisation task – primarily caused by the translation component – there has been interest in building tools and frameworks to automate this task as far as possible. A number of commercial and open source tools are available with varying range of capabilities. Support for Indian languages is not yet common among them, perhaps due to the low current market in India. In principle, one could make use of a machine translation system to perform these translations. However, this is not likely to work for the many reasons mentioned below. 1. Machine translation is an extremely complex task involving a variety of difficulties. It has been a research problem the world over for more than half a century. There have been some notable successes; but a general purpose good quality automated translation system is still not in view for most language pairs. For most of software localisation, the translation will be from English to Indian languages. English and Indian languages are structurally very different, making the task particularly more complex. A number of experimental systems are available working on this problem. This includes the Matra system from CDAC Mumbai, the Mantra system from CDAC Pune, Shakti from International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Hyderabad and Anusarak from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur. They differ in their approaches to translation. No reliable comparative performance analysis among these are available today. Given arbitrary sentences or fragments from a random domain, none of them would perform well, illustrating the complexity of the task. In general, for practical deployment, one resorts to either restricting the domain or accepting lower quality of translation. Mantra takes the former route, where as Matra takes the latter route. 2. For software localisation, this poses a problem. A translation tool for localisation cannot restrict its domain, to healthcare, education, etc, from a practical utility point of view. This requires it to deal with open domain sentences. However, it is not possible to accept low quality translation either, since these will be used regularly by novice end users, and if the messages are not clear, the user experience can be poor. A popular approach to translation for open domains has been to follow the statistical approach. Google’s translation work is based on this approach. However, this requires a large corpus of bilingual closely matching sentences. For localisation, this is very unlikely to be available, since the sentence collection may vary widely from application to application. www.egovonline.net
3. As mentioned earlier, identifying the right choice for transforming a word – either through transliteration or translation – is a difficult issue. A widely accepted glossary of common technical and computer terms would be very helpful here. Ideally, we need glossaries at multiple levels. Firstly, we need a glossary of normal use terms (as in a dictionary) likely to be useful in software applications. This differs from dictionary in the coverage of words. Normally complex, colloquial and old-usage terms are not likely to be found in software messages. The second level would be a domain specific glossary. For example, all packages relating to education would need terms such as classroom, teacher, syllabus, curriculum, examination, etc, and this glossary could map these words into the corresponding words in the target language. This helps significantly in disambiguation of words, since most application packages are concerned with only one or two domains. For example, consider the use of the term examination in a medical application and an e-Learning application. The third level glossary would be for the particular application. This may introduce specific terms that are used only in that application. For most languages and application domains, such glossaries do not exist. For some languages, a general purpose dictionary is available. 4. Glossaries and other linguistic resources introduce another difficulty which hinders use of localisation tools across languages. This is lack of standards in creating these resources. The variation may be due to the nature of storage – relational database, Extensible Markup Language (XML) structures, simple text formats, etc. – as also in the variety of information stored per item. Formulating adequately general standards for this would help in sharing of application programmes across languages and these language resources across different applications. 5. In the context of standards, the concern is with specification of context in the externalised source text file. Context here only means any information that helps the user to disambiguate among the possible meanings of the text segment. However, this level of generality makes it hard for automated systems to make use of this information. Context handling is, in general, a hard problem in natural language processing. Specifically, in the context of software localisation an appropriate framework for this need to be worked out. All these make complete automation of translation in the context of localisation extremely difficult. Systems, therefore, normally resort to providing as much support as possible to the human translator. This can include the following: 1. Assistance with formation of inflections for select words. This can be a major issue with inflection rich languages like Hindi, Malayalam, etc. These tools derive the probable word of a given variant, enabling the user to simply select the form rather than having to type. Providing auto-completion of words given the first few characters, using a dictionary, is another useful support, reducing the keying in effort. 2. Looking up words automatically in the dictionary, and 16
providing mouse-over or tool-tip selection of the target word is also easy to provide. 3. A richer degree of help would be identifying fragments of text from earlier translated sentences which also appear in the current segment for translation. Often, common fragments in two sentences would result in similar translation, and hence can be reused. However, this is not necessarily true, and hence, once again, human discretion is required to make the final choice. Thus one finds that most commercial localisation support tools restrict their support to locating matching sentences from the memory. However, most of these are used for content localisation, where this is normally effective more often than in the case of software localisation. In the case of software localisation, the reuse can only come from prior versions of the same software, same class of software (two learning management systems from two different vendors), or software in the same application domain. If the source and target languages are grammatically similar, a higher degree of help can be provided easily, since most of the effort would be in word or phrase level translation.
India needs to see a substantial increase in the effort in the area of software localisation, to ensure that the domestic consumption and exploitation of ICT capabilities reaches the common man. We need to urgently build shareable standardised linguistic resources such as dictionaries and grammar tools. Software and content localisation is an excellent application area for research work in natural language processing, focussing on adapting the current technologies and approaches to address the problems of the sort mentioned above. One may also be able to build specialised solutions for localisation. The topic of software localisation need to find its way in the curriculum at various IT related courses, to build more awareness and get more people to work in this area. A lot of resources are available in the open source community to learn about and practice software localisation. This is also an excellent area for volunteer efforts by NGOs, etc, and for student projects in Bachelor in Engineering (BE)/ Masters in Engineering (ME)/ Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) and other computer related courses. Apart from being an interesting field, the work in this area will be a significant social contribution. The OSSRC – open source software resource centre–located at Mumbai (URL: http://ossrc.org.in) would be happy to assist any group interested in pursuing this area and in hosting your contribution to share them with potential users.
Dr M Sasikumar has been with Center for Advanced Computing (CDAC) Mumbai (formerly NCST) for over 20 years and currently heads its artificial intelligence, educational technology and open source software divisions.
Translating Success Nowhere, can the beneﬁt of localisation and public-private partnerships be seen more clearly than in e-Governance initiatives. e-Governance, by nature, is citizen-centric rather than ofﬁcer-centric. Therefore, it is necessary to be interactive, rather than just presenting information. For e-Governance to be truly effective and sustainable, it will have to go to the very doorsteps of the people - and this cannot happen without localisation. Meghashyam Karanam
Looking at India today, there exists a somewhat paradoxical situation in the country as far as the language is concerned. On one hand, almost 95 per cent people use a local language in their work and personal life; and on the other, most computing happens in English. English is also the primary language of business for the private sector; and a majority of young professionals are proficient in at least two or more languages. That does not take away the fact that for initiatives, say, in the space of e-Governance, to be effective, computing needs to happen in local languages. So bridging the language gulf is both a challenge and an opportunity for both the government and players like Microsoft. The undeniable fact is that India is a vast country - and plurality is its hallmark. Given this backdrop, localisation should probably have been the salient feature of Information Technology (IT) in the country. But in Understanding the lingo a country with a population of over LIP or Language Interface Pack It is the localized ‘skin’ for existing one billion, access to software. Based on Multi-Lingual IT is available to only User Interface (MUI) technology, about a 100 million a LIP also requires the software to people. Most of these have a base installed language are urban population, and provides users with an with a fair to excellent approximately 80 percent knowledge of English. localized user experience by So is the modest IT translating a reduced set of user penetration a cause for interface elements. the lack in localisation – some argue that there Locale has been no ‘market It is a set of parameters that need’ for it - or is the deﬁnes the user’s language, lack of localisation the country and any special variant reason computing has preferences that the user wants not been taken up by to see in their user interface. the rural masses? It’s a classic case of whatCLIP or Caption Language should-come-first, Interface Pack but each influences Provides captions in local the other. There are language to English terms on multiple reasons for the skin, uses tooltip captions the relatively low to display results penetration of IT ov
within India such as factors of affordability, accessibility and relevance. Localisation issues are a huge factor where accessibility is concerned. So, if localisation is taken as a crusade, IT penetration will definitely increase. As that happens, more and more companies and individuals will see merit in investing in the initiative.
SO WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
As a global industry leader, we believe Microsoft has a responsibility and the resources to make some difference.
Key Microsoft India localisation Initiatives • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • •
Language Interface Packs (LIPs) in 12 languages: Assamese Bengali Gujarati Hindi Kannada Konkani Malayalam Marathi Oriya Punjabi Tamil Telugu www.bhashaindia.com BhashaIndia - India’s leading Indic computing community portal, has more than 40,000 registered users. It is a one stop center for all resources related to Indian language computing. CLIP (Caption Language Interface Pack) is available for Visual Studio in Tamil Malayalam Oriya Hindi MS Ofﬁce website http://ofﬁce.microsoft.com/hi-in/ default.aspx is available in Hindi to provide a localised user interface for the four most popular applications of Ofﬁce – MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Part of the support website http://support.microsoft. com/ in Hindi if you set your location as India 17
Microsoft, under its global Unlimited Potential (UP) effort, aims to deliver computing to the next 5 billion people through accessible, relevant and affordable solutions – the three issues we identified as being bottlenecks above. In India, Unlimited Potential is a key guiding factor for our growth with regard to the middle and bottom of the pyramid populace. Language Interface Packs (LIPs) are also available for Office 2003 and Windows XP SP2. Microsoft have been working on LIPs for 7 years and today there are LIPs for 12 Indian Languages - Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Konkani, Oriya and Assamese. There is also a Sanskrit locale – san-in. As Unicode encodes more Indian languages, we are reviewing the need for support. Also, we now provide the visual studio CLIP (Caption Language Interface Pack) in four languages: Hindi, Malayalam, Oriya and Tamil. The Microsoft CLIP is a simple language translation solution that uses tool tip captions to display results – you can use it as a language aid, to see translations in your own dialect, update results in your own native tongue or use it as a learning tool. Besides, by enabling the Indian locales in Windows, Microsoft enables third party developers to offer a complete localised application on the Windows platform, thus enhancing the local languages ecosystem. Developing the ecosystem is the most imperative thing to do in this initiative. Localisation is too big an area for any of the concerned players to tackle in isolation, and obviously the results will be better and quicker if we all contribute to the same clear goals. Microsoft India’s Project Bhasha attempts to do exactly this – it is a cohesive programme for bringing together government, academia and research institutions, local Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and developers and the industry associations on a common ground for promoting local language interface packs. Nowhere, can the benefit of localisation and public-private partnerships be seen more clearly than in e-Governance initiatives. e-Governance, by nature, is citizen-centric rather than officer-centric. Therefore, it is necessary to be interactive, rather than just presenting information. For e-Governance to be truly effective and sustainable, it will have to go to the very doorsteps of the people – and this cannot happen without localisation.
In other countries, it is the government that is responsible for and provides documentation for every stage of a citizen’s life, right from birth to demise. As the services provided by the government move increasingly online, the need for making them available in local languages is crucial. At times, both the parties benefiting from the service – the citizen – as well as the service provider – for instance, a kiosk operator – is monolingual, so the very success of the application depends on the language it is presented in. The central government and the state governments have embarked on an ambitious National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and several Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) have been identified under the NeGP. Some state governments have deployed citizen services in local languages and the early benefits are clearly visible. Earlier government-tocitizen portals such as e-Seva have proved the feasibility of the model. Frost and Sullivan expects this trend to extend on both scale and scope: a wider bouquet of services will be available to a larger section of citizens. An ideal front-end of all government websites and service delivery mechanisms would be simultaneously available in twenty-three languages – the twenty-two languages recognised by the Constitution of India, plus English. Localisation has to be the building block of the NeGP architecture. As the penetration of personal computers and other electronic devices increases and connectivity becomes widespread, there will be an increasing demand for local content. A little more than a decade ago, not many of us could see the financial viability of regional channels on cable TV. Today, these channels cater successfully to a whole lot of local and special interests, while at the same time informing the viewers with news from the rest of the world. Once the barrier of language has been dealt with, every region in the world will come closer to its linguistically distant geographies. Hence, more local the information delivery, the more globalised the recipient becomes.
Meghashyam Karanam is Product Manager – Visio and Localisation, Microsoft Corporation
ICT Making Great Penetration in Kerala Availing services at the click of the mouse is no longer a service reserved for citizens of metropolitans instead, people from the villages of Kerala are also doing just that. A new initiative by the state government has seen the contact details of all types of day to day information made available on the community portals of villages in Kannur district. These portals not only give informations regarding job opportunities but also give such informations like the availability of coconut tree climbers to pluck coconuts. They have become operational in nine village panchayats and one municipal area in Kannur since last month. A pilot project by Akshaya, the ICT initiative by the government, these portals can be accessed by the links (www.entegramam.gov.in)
which is provided on the website. The contents of all these portals are in Malyalam. These community portals provide locally relevant informations on such fields like agriculture, health, education, tourism, employment, and government announcements from time to time. Each portal also has specific information relevant to that area. For example the portal of Sreekandapuram village panchayat has a list of blood donors with phone numbers and their blood group. Each portal has a section called the labour bank which contains the list of phone numbers and addresses of people in different trades. Education section has the list of schools, collages, teacher’s training programmes as also the poems and articles written by school children.
Su Tra : An Intelligent Translator Tool for Incremental Localisation One of the most important features of e-Government applications is to reach the people of the most remote corner of the country. And one of the main requirements for this is to have the interface of the application in the language of the local people. Software localisation makes this possible. More and more people are concentrating their efforts in making software applications available in multiple languages. But with new versions of applications coming out very often the translation efforts of the previous versions are rendered largely useless. SuTra is an Intelligent translation suggestion tool in Hindi, which suggests to the translators reusable parts from the older version translations. Aparna R., Dr. Sasikumar M., Santosh M. BACKGROUND
In this age of information technology, where every field is taking the benefit of the technology revolution, government organisations are not lagging behind. e-Governance applications are becoming increasingly popular, with people and government showing increased belief in setting up e-Governance applications. The railway reservation website, passport application automation system, online postal services, online systems for administration of the zilla-panchayats, etc. are some example of e-Governance applications. The beneficiaries of e-Governance applications include the actual citizen, who can avail the services from anywhere they like and the government organisations who can have more efficient ways of handling important data. A large population of the ordinary citizen users are from rural areas, where English is rarely used. It will not be very encouraging for them to first learn the language in order to use the application. Hence, it is essential to have the software applications in the language of the people. This would mean to have the entire application interface in the local language and have means to type and store data in the local language. Developing applications from scratch in multiple languages is too time consuming a process with inherent drawbacks. Localisation is a solution to this problem.
Localisation is the process of customising and adapting software to the local market. This means adapting the software interface commands, menus, messages, etc. in the local language and providing means to input and process 20 }
local language text. Locales, encoding, fonts, rendering engine and input methods are used to input, display and process any language text. One of the most important processes in localisation is translation and this is the focus of this article. In software localisation the translation process involves translating all the displayed messages, which include menu names, error messages, welcome/user messages, feature lists etc. to the local language. Software localisation and software development generally happen parallely, in order to make the localised version available at the same time as the English version is released or with minimum delay. For this purpose all the messages, menu names, etc. are extracted into separate files, called string files and the development happens independent of these string files. These string files are distributed to the various translators to translate into the respective languages. The translated files are then consolidated together and kept in the corresponding language directories from where the application reads them. For example, all English string files are kept in a directory named ‘en’ and all Hindi string files are kept in a directory named ‘hi’. When the user selects the corresponding language from the language option, in the application, the strings from the corresponding language directory are fetched. Every application has a number of string files, with the size of each file varying from 10 strings to 10,000 strings. Different applications have different representations of string files, the most common being the PO file format. Each structure minimally gives the original English string and its corresponding translation in the local language. Translation of strings is not as easy as it sounds. It is a very tedious and time consuming process. In most applications the number of words to be translated is huge for example the open office suite has approximately 120,000 words to www.egovonline.net
translate. This is coupled with the need for the translations to be complete, grammatically correct and terminology consistent across the whole application. Such and more issues make the translation process lengthy, leading to the localised version of the application being released much later than its non-localised counter part. In a world which is driven by technology and where new versions or new applications are being released every other day, this delay in localisation is not very effective for people. These problems can be reduced to a very great extent with translation assistance tools. The assistance can come in any form whether it is quick reference to context specific translation of words, or help in maintaining consistent terminology or automatic suggestions for translations of the strings. We have found that many of these are possible and especially the last part.
ISSUES IN TRANSLATION
As mentioned in the earlier section, translation of the string files have to be done with lot of care in order to ensure that there is no ambiguity for the users of the application. Before one starts the translation there are some issues that he/she needs to worry about: • Firstly, the translator should have a sound vocabulary knowledge and also have a good amount of technical knowledge. Technical knowledge is essential because many technical words are used in applications for instance the words ‘logout’ or ‘logged -in as’. These are not used in ordinary day to day scenarios. • Many a times, different translations are used for the same word (in similar context) confusing the end-user. For example, the translation of the word ‘Cancel’ in the context of • ‘Cancel Ticket’ can be either ‘jnn djuk’ or ‘fuLizHkko djuk’. One form should be used everywhere in the application. • Many a times the English word is better understood than its local counter-part. Hence the choice of translation or transliteration of the word is necessary to be decided and followed consistently throughout the application. For example, the term ‘email’ is popular as is and will be better understood than its translation. • Hard-copy translation references like dictionaries are time-consuming. Dictionaries with easy search facility with exhaustive set of context-specific translation of words will be very useful. • Person and number should be retained in translations. • Translated messages can sometimes be longer than their English counter part, thus spoiling the application interface. Such translations should be given special attention. The above issues make the translation process slow and tedious. However, there are solutions possible for many of these issues, which will help make the process more efficient. Most of the problems discussed above can be reduced to a large extent by having translation assistance systems. Assistance can range from providing glossary (a context ov
specific translation dictionary) support to suggestions on translations to automatic translations. For every word, translations used by other translators in the system should be readily visible so that they can be reused in case of the word appearing again in the application, in the same context. Also, there should be easy mechanisms to update the glossary with specific context translations. Translation assistance tools can combine one or more of these components to provide a good tool to help efficient translation. Translation assistance tools are feasible today, thanks to sophisticated natural language processing and translation memory techniques. The broad approach followed by translation assistance tools is as follows: 1. Make ready a repository of translated strings, of earlier translations. Let us call this the old version set. 2. For every string in the file to be translated, let us call this the new version file, matches are obtained from the old version set. 3. The corresponding translation of the matched words or phrases is indicated in the appropriate positions in the new version file. 4. Glossary support is provided for quick reference of context specific translations of words in the strings of new version file. Glossary also caters to the issue of inadequate familiarity with vocabulary as a translator with average vocabulary knowledge will have easy reference of the context-specific translations used by more superior translators. 5. Translators can update the glossary with more translations for future use.
EXISTING SYSTEMS AND OUR APPROACH
There are many translation tools that provide assistance at various levels. But most of them either do not handle Indian languages or support only one structure of the string files the PO format. Also, almost all the tools require the user to translate every word atleast once before making it available for reusability. These systems replace all the matching phrases in all the strings with the corresponding translations. The most popular open-source translation assistance tool is Kbabel. This is a stand-alone application which uses translation memory. The user can feed the translation memory with translated strings. Whenever the user asks for translations, from the translation memory, Kbabel will automatically replace the matched phrases with the corresponding translations. Poedit is a PO file editor which helps easy identification of translated text and fuzzy translations. It also features whitespace highlighting. visuallocalise needs the user to enter the translation of any word once and then replaces all occurances of the same word with the translation, irrespective of the context of its usage. Support for Indian languages is not present. Trados Translator’s Workbench uses translation memory to indicate translations of matching phrases. It is a Windows platform editor with no support for Indian languages. The approaches used by the systems discussed above have limitations. Most of the systems replace all occurances of any 21
phrase with the translation provided at one position, without considering the context in which they are used. Also, the matching used is primitive and can be enhanced for better results. Most of them support only PO structures and this may not allow all the application string files to be translated using the systems. Automatic translation is something that none have looked at so far. These factors motivated us to develop SuTra.
We propose a multiuser translation assistance tool, Su Tra that will make intelligent suggestions to translators on possible reuse of translations from older version systems or systems with similar domains. The translator has to open his file for translation (the new version file) in this system and also provide a zip of all translated files of earlier version/another application in similar domain (old version set). The system then computes all the possible matches for every string in the new version file, from the old version set. SuTra divides every string of the new version into the following three categories: 1. Perfect matches - These untranslated strings have an identical copy in the old version set. Hence the translation of the corresponding string from the old set can be used as it is. For example, if there is a string ‘Check the Status’ in both the old set and new version then its translation can be used as it is. 2. Partial matches - These untranslated strings have strings in the older version set which partially match it. For example, the strings ‘Check the Status’ and ‘Check the Reservation Status’ match partially and hence the translation of one can be used partially when translating the other. 3. No match - Strings for which no matches were found in the old version set. 22
Whenever the translators choose to edit a string, they will get the corresponding list of matches for the strings for reference during translation. The translators can use all or part of the corresponding translation with a simple copypaste mechanism. SuTra also provides glossary help for each word in the string. When translating the translators can also refer to the glossary entry for any word by a simple mouseover and they can use any of the entries with just one mouseclick. This mechanism has been tested and found to be very time efficient. Translators can also update the glossary with new entries. In SuTra, the partial matches are further classified into arbitrary and consecutive, based on the pattern of matches. • Arbitrary matches- Arbitrary matches of strings will have some words in them matching with the new version string, however the position of the words are irrelevant. For example, the strings ‘Book a Ticket’ and ‘Ticket Reservation Status’ qualify as arbitrary matches, because the word ‘Ticket’ occurs in both the strings. • Consecutive matches- Consecutive matches of new version strings will have some words in them matching with the new version string, with the relative position of the words the same as that in the string of the new version. For example, the strings ‘Controls the boxes that are displayed around the main content’ and ‘Customise the menus that are displayed at the top and/or bottom of the page.’ are consecutive matches with the string ‘that are displayed’ being the match. Translations of consecutively matching phrases can be better reused than words at arbitrary positions. Many a times we may find better consecutive match sets and there maybe no requirement to refer to the arbitrary match set at all. Providing this separation will save a lot of computation overhead in such cases. SuTra further has the facility for the translator to specify the minimum number of words that should match. This feature was provided keeping in mind that it may not be of much use for the translators to have only one or two words matching in a long string, because effort in reuse may not be worth it. Translators can also choose to instruct SuTra to ignore conjunctions, prepositions and articles when identifying matches. However, this feature of ignoring articles/conjunctions/ prepositions is not used when computing consecutive matches. This is because the order of words is important for considering translations of consecutive matching phrases for example the translations of ‘Ram is a boy’ and ‘Ram is the boy’ are very different. SuTra also provides the feature to change settings at runtime, for example if the translators choose to see arbitrary matches and are not happy with the match and wants to change the minimum words limit, the match to consecutive, etc. they should be able to do it. This becomes essential for better reuse of translations. SuTra also allows multiple users to work on the system at the same time. This feature was designed keeping in mind that a translation project is generally huge with multiple translators working on different files of the system at the same time. The context-specific glossary helps translators www.egovonline.net
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to maintain consistency throughout the application. Based on the existing translations, automatic translations for new strings and automatic updation of glossary will be provided by Su Tra.
2. For editing the translation of strings the translators are required to click on the edit link below ‘msgstr’ (as seen in the above figure). This will take them to the editing page as seen in the illustration 2
SUTRA AT WORK
THE PROCESS FLOW IN SU TRA
1. The translator needs to give the necessary input, which includes the file to translate, a zip of the translated files, choice of arbitrary or consecutive partial matches and the minimum number of words to be matched. Currently, the PO file format is supported by the system. The translator can also instruct to ignore articles, conjunctions, prepositions, etc. Based on this input specification, SuTra processes the strings and indicates which strings have what type of matches. The below figure shows the screen in SuTra after this processing The green bar indicates strings with perfect match. Red bar indicates strings with partial matches and black bar indicates strings with no match.
Illustration 1: Match Listing by Su TRa 24
Illustration 2: Translating a string using Su TRa
The user can enter the translation in the ‘translated Devnagiri text’ block. The ‘Keyboard’ link provides the language keyboard reference. Words highlighted in red have entries in glossary the popup menu on the word error shows the glossary entry for it. Translators just need to click on the word to use it. A list of matched strings is provided in the ‘best possible matches’ region. This list is presented in the descending order of matching words, from where the translators can reuse the translations by simple copy-paste mechanism. Currently support for Devnagiri script is provided hence translations to Hindi and Marathi are possible using this system. 3. Translators can also update the glossary with contextspecific translations using the ‘Update Glossary’ link. 4. After translating all the strings, the translator can download the translated PO file and work on the next file.
The first version of SuTra is now ready. We tested SuTra to translate gedit the open source text editor that comes with the GNU/Linux. We used two versions of gedit 2.20 and 2.22, one version translated and one untranslated. The file to be translated had 1097 strings. For a translator with above average vocabulary knowledge, the entire process took 8 hours without SuTra and 10 minutes using Sutra. This was because, most of the strings had a perfect match in the other version and there were no strings which had ‘no match’ in the other version. Further tests are in progress. Future work and Enhancements. As a part of the future work we plan to implement the following features in SuTra: • Provide support for more string file structures currently only PO file format is supported. The idea is to have a generic format for SuTra and have a converter which will convert any string file format to this format. www.egovonline.net
Provide support for more Indian language scripts. Currently only Devnagiri support is provided. It is envisaged that more Indian language support is provided and users have the option of selecting the language for translation. Improved suggestion techniques for partial matches. The idea is to provide automatic translation support using SuTra.
 Sasikumar M, Aparna R, Naveen K and Rajendra Prasad M -Guide to localisation. http://www.iosn.net, 2004.  Bret Esselink, A Practical guide to Localization. John Benjahimns publishing company, Volume 4.  Kbabel: http://www.kbabel.org  Poedit: http://www.poedit.net  visuallocalize: http://wwwvisloc.com Ulrich Drepper , Jim Meyering, Francois Pinard and Bruno Haible . GNU gettext tools, version 0.17. Native Language Support Library and Tools Edition 0.17, 31 October 2007  Leon J. Osterweil, Charles M. Schweik, Norman K. Sondheimer and Craig W. Thomas. Analyzing Processes for E-Government application development: The Emergence of process Definition Languages. http://www.haworthpress.com/web/JEG. The Haworth Press, 2004.
Aparna Ramamurthy is Senior Staff Scientist at Center for Advanced Computing (C-DAC) Mumbai. She has over five years of experience in the field of Computer Science and has been involved in the design and implementaion of a number of software projects in the areas of e-learning, localisation and health informatics. Currently she is coordinating the Open Source Software Division at C-DAC Mumbai. Dr M Sasikumar has been with CDAC Mumbai for over 20 years, and currently heads its Artificial Intelligence, Educational Technology, Open Source Software, Language Computing and Computer Graphics divisions. He has ideated and guided a number of software research and development projects, been a faculty in a number of courses, and closely associated with overall management of CDAC Mumbai activities.
M Santosh is a Staff Scientist at CDAC Mumbai. He has been working in the Open Source Software Division for the last two years. Has been actively involved in the design and implementation of SuTra and other Open Source projects. His research interest include Localisation and Open Source
Replication of Bihar RTI Call Centre Model Likely
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chief Sonia Gandhi called upon Congress Chief Ministers to adopt the model of an Right To Information (RTI) call centre run by the NDA government in Indian state - Bihar. This would enable accessibility of information to the poor and illiterate. However, the UPA government is weighing the system before replicating it at the Centre. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal agency for RTI, has given an “in principle” clearance to the call centre, but they are still unsure whether to follow the 2007 Bihar model and bear the cost of converting a phone call into an RTI application. In case the government charges the cost of the call centre to the applicant, the total amount payable would be INR 115, instead of the usual INR 10 for the regular RTI
application. Thus, there would be a 10 fold increase in the application fees. The Bihar RTI model may be soon replicated in the Congress run-states. Speaking on the non-subsidised option of filing RTI, Personnel Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that if the call centre route worked out to be more expensive, the citizen had the option of sending his RTI application by post. “Cost is not a major issue — whether for government or for the applicant,” he added. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing funds for the e-Governance project developed by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India. The agency is allocating INR 25 million for setting up infrastructure in Gurgaon (Haryana) and meeting operational costs in the first year.
Read egov articles online @ www.egovonline.net ov
Providing Local Language Support Localisation is the representation of the speciﬁc set of cultural datapoints as viewed by the operating system. Thus, it makes for technological prudence to invest resources in providing, implementing and extending a standard technology framework for localisation. Such an effort includes providing appropriately licensed Open Type Indic fonts, working to put in place a robust input method framework like SCIM (Smart Common Input Method). Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay
Localisation and the related term Internationalisation are important when talking about the concept of Native Language Support. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has included support for non English locales from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 onwards. With the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0, the base Operating System also includes Indic language locales. By localisation, one means the operation by which, in a set of programmes already internationalised, one gives the programme all needed information so that it can adapt itself to handle its input and output in a fashion which is correct for some native language and cultural habits. This is a particularisation process, by which generic methods already implemented in an internationalised programme are used in specific ways. The programming environment puts several functions to the programmers disposal which allow this runtime configuration. The formal description of specific set of cultural habits for some country, together with all associated translations targeted to the same native language, is called the locale for this language or country. Users achieve localisation of programmes by setting proper values to special environment variables, prior to executing those programmes, identifying which locale should be used. In the current releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, when users log into a computer, they usually find a significant percentage of their programmes displaying messages in their native language. This is where Red Hat’s engineering investment into Indic Native Language Support becomes important. Red Hat views localisation as two inter linked components: content localisation and framework implementation. Localisation is the representation of the specific set of cultural datapoints as viewed by the operating system. Thus, it makes for technological prudence to invest resources in providing, implementing and extending a standard technology framework for localisation. Such an effort includes providing appropriately licensed Open Type Indic fonts, working to put in place a robust input method framework like SCIM (Smart Common Input Method). Additionally, keyboard layouts that 26 }
are intuitive, allow for an improved user experience when using the operating system in the local language. Red Hat is the upstream maintainer for the Lohit series of fonts for Indian languages. Red Hat’s engineers also contribute and develop enhancements for SCIM and the various keyboard layouts that ship by default with the operating system. Working on the framework is an important investment as it is the underlying force multiplier for applications being developed on the platform. Thus, well documented and standard Application Programming Interface (APIs) are made available for application developers who wish to develop, distribute and deploy applications which are ‘language aware’. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) developing applications for the web can take advantage of the standard compliant artifacts like Firefox (as a web browser), which is shipped with the operating system. This means that issues of display-rendering and printing for Indic language content is also handled without creating a glitch for the end-user. The ISVs requires to ensure that data is on the system encoded in Unicode. It is observed that the real reason for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be ‘Indian language ready’ is the close adherence to the established standards. Hence, a significant quantum of the effort is directed towards ensuring components and their standards to be ‘Indic ready’. This translates into working towards having an accurate collation set for all the Indic locales, collaborating with existing language communities and standards bodies on sorting lexicon related issues. In a recent development, Red Hat has come up with FUEL (Frequently Used Entries for Localisation), which is a defined set of steps blended into a process of standardising local language content. Languages are rapidly evolving entities and they undergo enhancement by coinage of new terms or, modification-transformation of existing phraseology. FUEL is a process-set that can be adopted by any community desiring to assess their readiness for localisation by providing a base register of words. Since FUEL is modular, it intends to become niche word registers for specific applications. Thus, www.egovonline.net
ISVs now have a means to ensure that ‘standardisation of terms’ can be put in place. This is a step that would have a significant impact on e-Government projects, which are citizen-centric. Having a modular set of terms that can be mapped across languages leads to the creation of a glossary and a terminology register. The other part of local language effort is content localisation. A Red Hat Enterprise Linux release is content-rich - there are user interfaces, user-oriented messages, documentation. The user interface is composed of a large number of applications which are typical to a citizen centric deployment or a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) kind of usage model. All such applications come with their modules, documentation. The requirement is to provide a consistency in the quality of translations and high quality of word selection and usage. Red Hat’s language maintainers collaborate with communities of language and Open Source projects outside of the company with the aim of ensuring such high level of localisation. In addition to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system and related documentation, the management tool like Red Hat Network is also available in a select sub-set of Indian languages. To ensure that usage, administration and deployment of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system are easy, the language teams provide the user guide, installation guide and
deployment guide in the local languages. This is a scalable and well accepted model for producing content in local language. Red Hat uses an Open Source tool chain called Publican to create, transform, produce and publish content in a variety of file formats. Publican allows documentation to have a consistent look-and-feel, proper branding and being available in a print-friendly as well as editable formats. Content Production Workflow is an aspect of Red Hat’s involvement in the production of local language content. Red Hat’s view into localisation is based on providing an Open Standards compliant that can be built upon via a vendor indepedent, format indepedent manner. Open Standards and ‘collaborate to innovate’ have been the cornerstone of the Indic localisation efforts. Thus, Red Hat works in strong collaboration with Open Source communities, Open Source Software Projects, Language and Standards bodies at the state and local level. Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay works at Red Hat and contributes to Bengali (India) localisation for various Open Source projects. He is an active member of various Linux User Groups and professional bodies related to Free and Open Source software. Sankarshan can be reached at email@example.com
UK Parliament to Introduce e-Petitions Soon The Parliament’s Procedure Committee proposal for e-Petitions will now be accepted through the parliamentary website, as announced the Government of United Kingdom (UK). “Electronic petitions will be hosted on the parliament’s website for a limited time to enable interested individuals to add their names. Signatories could also choose to receive updates on a petition’s progress,” according to the proposal. This will ease the procedures for filing petitions. e-Petitions will require the petitioners to state that they have taken some previous action to resolve their issue. Speaking on the ocassion, the House of Commons Leader Harriet Harman said, “The government hopes that the House will endorse this way forward, allowing it to take
a significant step forward in helping to promote better engagement with the public”. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) started accepting e-Petitions since November 2006. If the proposal is passed by the Members of Parliament (MPs), then the House of Commons would follow in the footsteps of the PMO.
SBI to Launch Mobile Banking Services India’s state owned bank - State Bank of India (SBI)- has anounced that it will be offering mobile banking services to its customers very soon. Speaking on the announcement, Shiv Kumar, Chief General Manager of SBI Lucknow circle said, “We have nearly completed our trials for launching the customer-friendly mobile banking services”. The mobile banking services that would be initiated
by the bank will offer a range of services such as balance inquiries, transaction alerts. Moreover, the mobile banking will also enable the customers to transfer funds of a limited amount, added Kumar.
Connecting through Integration of Services
â€œOur ultimate aim in all these initiatives is to connect with the mobile user because mobile telephony will continue to grow at a faster rate, as we have witnessed in the recent past. Connectivity with the customers through aggregation of telecom services is our present focus,â€? says Pramod Saxena, Chairman and Managing Director, Oxigen, India, to Chaitanya Kishore Reddy and Sandeep Budki of egov magazine 28 }
In a span of three years, Oxigen has fast grown into a one-stop online payment solution for various services using an IT enabled platform in the country. What has been the USP of Oxigen in attaining such a status in the market? From the beginning, our philosophy has been to establish a foot print in the market for providing convenience to the consumers to get a number of services at a single point. Our first service started with telecom sector where we have integrated and provided services such as mobile top up, fixed line bill payments, Internet services, long distance calling cards and direct to home services (DTH). This way, we have tried to cover the entire spectrum of services in the telecom industry and moved further to add other services related to entertainment, content and applications. In this way we are also trying to provide a platform called ‘mobibuzz, for aggregating content and applications in the same direction. The key differentiator for us in our journey has been the integration of various services including services other than the telecom services. For this we have launched a product called ‘Oxicash’ recently. It takes away the need to visit the retail stores for availing the services. Instead, by adding a top up to Oxicash wallet at a retail point, people can handle their transactions directly through Internet or mobile phones. Therefore, we have created another avenue for connecting directly with the consumers. Oxicash gives us the opportunity to integrate a large number of services. These services could be web based such as e-Commerce services or platform based services where customer pays through Oxicash and we take the responsibility of paying to the service provider. It could be a travel service through oxitravel.com or communication and entertainment related services, or SMS pay services, or bill payments for utilities. In addition to these we can also connect with other aggregators of services at our backend and offer all our services to our customers. Thus, we are going for direct connectivity with the consumer and connecting through integration of services. Our ultimate aim in all these initiatives is to connect with the mobile user because mobile telephony will continue to grow at a faster rate, as we have witnessed in the recent past. The subscriber base is likely to reach 600 million in the next three years in India. Connectivity with the customers through aggregation of telecom services is our present focus. The huge subscriber base will further provide impetus for providing more and more services to the mobile user. We have two business layers for our operations. Firstly, connectivity so that people can find a convenient location for making their payments for services. Secondly, aggregation of services so that a customer can find all of them at a single location. In a way we were intending to create a wallmart of services under one roof and continue to integrate more and more services. In content and applications we have provided a open platform for any content provider to integrate with our platform. Open platform, integration opportunity for all has been our approach to connect with the customers by providing greater choice of services. Therefore, mobile, value added services (VAS), content and application and DTH ov
form the complete spectrum of Internet communication and entertainment (ICE). What benefits do the customers derive by utilising Oxigen services? Credit cards will continue to be used by high end customers. Compared to about 10 million credit card holders in India there are 300 million mobile users out of which 90% make their payments in cash. Many of these people have no other alternative but to pay in cash. Therefore, cash being the dominant mode of payment, we believe that a mechanism to allow cash to be used in a safer manner such as Oxicash is a definite advantage. Our business target is the mass market comprising of middle, lower middle and lower segments of the pyramid where 80% of the population live. These people can avail Oxicash services through Internet and mobile phones. Internet and mobile phones together will meet the needs of the most of the people. At the moment the only technology technology that is touching the masses is the mobile. Thus, we believe a wallet, like Oxicash that integrates with mobile phones and gives access to payments is a way for ordinary people to carry out their transactions conveniently. How are the mobile recharges offered by Oxigen different from the one’s being offered by other players in the same arena? Whatever the mobile companies are offering as recharges, we are offering the same to the customers. We are connecting the service provider with the end user through our retail presence. All we are giving is a benefit to the retailer by making available various services at a single machine. This reduces their inventory, they are not required to stock industrial products of individual operators. Thus, retailers will benefit. The retailers can draw any coupon at will, there is no restriction of the territory and then they will have access to multiple services. Does Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) excite you? MVNO is good for customers in the market. We are not thinking in terms of MVNO. But, if somebody starts an MVNO our distribution system will be available to them. From home banking to network shopping and online information subscription services, security remains a growing concern. In what way do you ensure the security of these transactions? As far as top up is concerned everything is pre-paid. We buy service from the service provider and offer it to the customers. We only facilitate convenience and guarantee the service. If a bill payment is made we give our customers a confirmation of the credit bill payment. We as a company are responsible for ensuring that services are delivered to the customers whether it is a prepaid or postpaid service. We stand as a guarantor. When a Oxiash wallet is created we provide a dynamic six digit personal identification number (PIN) like a security PIN for a ATM card. We have built three levels of security; 29
Mobile Id is a better to use than any other Id. When number portability come into operation, the issue of change in mobile numbers with a change in service providers will be addressed. A no frills account of a bank requires a certain minimum know your customer (KYC) satisfaction. This can be fulfilled by KYC of a mobile number. Therefore, a Oxicash wallet can be a no frill account subject to RBI regulations permitting the opening of the wallet to disburse cash and for cash payments. At the moment this is the requirement in rural India.
at the first level the customers can reset their dynamic PIN as many times as they want. After resetting the PIN, at the second level, customers can give the mobile number of one of their family members to which the new PIN will be sent. At the third level, they can ask for a transaction by transaction PIN to transfer money. Once the transaction is successful that specific PIN dies. In the case of Oxicash the mobile number of a customer will be his or her identity. What are the various financial inclusion related services being provided by Oxigen? The Oxicash platform can be used for repayments, micropayments, micro-finance related payments, micro-insurance among other things. People who do not have access to mainstream banking system to pay can now pay through Oxicash. By using Oxicash through mobile phones, we are providing a bank like experience for using their money for transactions in a secured way. Our Oxigen terminal location can be used for disbursing of cash subject to the permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). If RBI permits money can be transferred and paid at Oxigen locations. This way people can collect money in person at these locations (retail points). Micro-loans can be repaid through Oxigen outlets and the customers can obtain receipt of payment of micro amounts such as INR 10, 15, 20 etc. This money will in turn be credited to their repayment account. These are the various methods through which Oxigen’s presence at retail points and Oxicash through the mobile phone, can be used to allow people who otherwise do not have access to financial system for payment of insurance, repayment of loans etc. How to authenticate these transactions? Respective mobile numbers will be the identity for the users. 30 }
In the domain of e-Commerce ‘Oxicash’ which is like a virtual wallet, enables customers to purchase just by the click of a mouse. What kind of impact has it made in the e-Commerce arena so far? Customers can use Oxicash wallet on the net. Many eCommerce transactions are not carried out owing to the risk involved and are carried out as a last resort. Oxicash can isolate that risk. A customer can put certain amount of money into Oxicash wallet thereby minimising the risk. The money can be transferred through internet banking and charged Oxicash wallet can be used on the net. If a customer is activating a Oxicash wallet through cash payment he/she can purchase various products available on e-Commerce sites. Oxicash can become an effective medium for payment for these services. Now m-Commerce is also picking pace because of the increased use of mobile phones. Are you focusing on localisation of content for entering rural markets? We as facilitators of the services will be packaging and aggregating content which is available in plenty from large number of content providers. It is varied and diverse and caters to the needs of the different kinds of users. It is up to the content providers or creators to focus on the generation of specific and user friendly content. We would want to see the use of local language in SMS and other transaction related communication. Transactions does not require much of language. In the course of development we would want to make the use of local language. What is your business model and channel partner strategy? We want to aggressively build our foot print of connectivity which is very important for us. We want to build and extend www.egovonline.net
our connectivity foot print all across the country. Our aim is to increase our current foot print of 50,000 to 250,000 in two years time and we will continue to build and extend beyond this in two ways: Firstly, we will place machine in individual stores and secondly, we will connect to the existing systems such as departmental stores or e-Choupals, CSCâ€™s. In addition to this we want to establish connectivity in equal number of locations through third party connectivity. We will get connected in all the new locations where these third parties enter. We believe that 250,000 of our own locations and 250,000 of the third party locations will get connected into Oxigen system. Oxigen and Oxicash will be available in all these locations. We will have small shops, tea shops, barber shops, medical stores, call centres, various offices, housing complexes etc., as our channel partners. How will the local shops earn? What is the revenue sharing in percentage terms for the retailers? Any service provided to the consumers has a cost of distribution. We are virtualising the entire distribution environment. This way we will reduce the cost of distribution for every service provider. Retail gets the major share of the distribution cost since whatever cost of distribution incurred shared with the retailer. We as the enabler of the distribution will share a cost. Our earnings are the margins on the service that a service provider provides to the customers. In most cases the customer does not have to pay a additional cost. The service provider pays for serving the customer and we share our margin from the service provider except for monopoly type of services such as electricity bills. Advertising is another huge revenue earner. Access to a mobile customer when he/she is carrying out a number of transactions through mobile is a good opportunity for advertising. Loyalty of our customers is also very significant aspect. A customer I likely ti have attachment to us than with the service provider because, we bring the services of various service providers through our channels. We give our customers reward points that can be redeemed at our thousands of locations. The fungibility of our reward points will be practical for every thing. Therefore, the customers can redeem the reward points through services or products that they are likely to use daily fro our retailers. This way they can avail the benefits of our reward points in a convenient way. Retailerâ€™s earnings depends on the service and varies from 1.5% - 5% or even more sometimes. Retailers will always get a ov
greater share as business actually happens at the retail points and they are likely to get 70-80% of the earnings/profits. Tell us about various business partners of Oxigen including the service providers in its successful journey to date and how do you plan to extend it further? We have tie ups with various service providers such as Vodafone, Reliance, Idea, Spice, Tata Indicom, Aircel, MTNL, BPL Mobile, ex-cel, Connect mobile, zapak.com, Tata Sky, dishtv, deccan fly, BSNL, IRCTC, Chorus call, World Space, Mobibuzz, Games win among many others. We enter into an agreement with all our service providers, which defines the service level and we are required to meet the
defined service levels. We collect money from the customer and take the responsibility of paying it to the service provider. Similarly, we have agreements with our retail partners for giving them the service. For this there is an integration at the back end. We operate in a highly automated environment and generate online MIS to most of our service providers. By the end of the current financial year where do you see yourself? How do you plan to increase your visibility? We are doing a lot to increase our visibility. We are using all media channels. Retail visibility is being improved by placement at retail. We went into locations where there were heavy foot falls. Our focus was to choose retails where there is heavy foot fall of pre-paid customers. When we launched Oxicash we were interacting with the customers directly. We want to provide enough visibility at the retail points where customers walk in for various services. We would rather spend money on spreading our foot print, creating connectivity at the retails, improving retailers reliability and capability to offer our services to customers than on increasing our visibility. Through Oxicash we are appealing directly to the consumers by offering thousandâ€™s of services. 31
It’s Never Too Late Effective governance demands mastery over certain essentials: far reaching vision, strategic planning, extended reach, easy accessibility, rapid turnaround, citizen delight. If ICT could bring in paradigm change in businesses everywhere, it is high time that the governments realise their potential and put their acts together. In that sense, it’s never too late. Sanjay Jaju
When was the last time you had to go to a bank or to a travel agent or to a stock exchange or a post office for getting a transaction done? I think you would be seriously starting to scratch your head to figure this no brainer out. Why only these, there is actually a big list of things that have gone into the virtual mode where our physical presence to get an act done has faded into oblivion. The transformation has been so swift and the impact so widespread that even those people who thought that Information Technology Revolution is only a passing phase and would gradually pave the way for the traditional to take over have now been reduced to a small minority. It is almost hard to imagine life without the gizmos that the communications technology has offered. Would you mind shifting back to your traditional means of existence with a land phone, thick account books and documents, having to stand in queues as somebody there is taking his own sweet time to get the calculations right with the frailities of human mind, I think the answer though pretty obvious is an astounding no. Information technology has transformed the way we conduct our lives. It has comprehensively changed the business of doing businesses globally. Although, one talks of globalisation as a discreet event, it would be futile to imagine that this event would have taken place had information technology not concomitantly evolved and grown. Every conceivable means of production has been impacted upon and the global efficiency and productivity of delivering the output has gone many notches up because of the advent and advances in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). I don’t think the 32 }
world had the capacity to support the requirements of the present population with the existing resources, had the push to convert these resources at the exponential rates not come from the ICT. We have been seeing a similar situation in India as well. Be it the mobile phone revolution that has practically swarmed the nation including the countryside or the reach of desktops and Internet, every bit of our life is practically under the perennial influence of the net. A debate that raged in this nation when the Indian Railways first introduced computerisation of its ticketing regarding the adverse impact of ICT on employment has turned practically on its head. No other sector has generated more jobs than ICT in the last twenty years in this country. In fact, it has been the service sector and the outsourced IT jobs that have catapulted India into a nation that’s beginning to be counted. Although, the impact of ICT on our nation has been far reaching to say the least, the contribution of ICT in improving governance in our country is still an unanswered question. Even here, it is not the contribution of ICT to governance which is in doubt; what is in doubt is the use to which it has been put to in the process of Governance. Governments wherever they are and at whatever level they are, leave a huge mark on the lives of the citizens. An efficiently run government that’s close to the needs of its citizens, plays a huge role in spurring growth and providing good quality of life to its people. It is this aspect of governance that can easily be transformed if right tools, techniques and methods available in ICT are applied. What is required for that is not the technology which is
available in ample but, the willingness and commitment to use that, something that is still in serious short supply. This attitude is partly because of the fact that a transparently run government would offer minimal opportunities for rent seeking behaviour and nepotism while it is also because enough pressure is not being put by the citizen groups and the electoral system on the governments to fall into line and transform themselves towards better governance. If you really ask me the one visible change that I can see in the governments over the last ten years especially on IT use, I can safely tell you that once ubiquitous typewriter has now been replaced by PCs. These PCs fully decked with multiple variants of Microsoft have made life easier for the clerk to process words and his boss to impress his political masters with colourful slideshows. In many places they have started to use emails and faxes but don’t be surprised if they ask you for a signed copy to be delivered to them physically. The governments everywhere lay a huge importance to file building, paper files of course and for them digitally signed and authenticated documents though, cleared through legislation are just not enough. Still, reams and reams of paper move from table to table to create work for everybody, work that has no bearing on the lives of the people and work that is simply avoidable and dispensable. The Business Process Reengineering and Work Flow Automation though, tried out in few places have only met with partial success. There are few islands of success but with no interoperability across the larger system, the process of governance is still saddled with red tape, delays where one has to move heaven www.egovonline.net
and earth to make the paper move from a table to another. Amidst all this, there are many success stories and the story would be incomplete if one does not talk of them. There are umpteen examples of many local bodies that have improved their citizen interface through web or through citizen service centres delivering host of civic services, the delivery of which made the citizens run from pillar to post in the past. There are many government departments that have created spunky websites to deliver bits and pieces of information. It’s albeit a different story whether these sites are updated. Although, this does add to the comfort, this would still however, be falling into ‘too little, too late’ category. In this scenario, one can only hope that at least these gains are passed across the entire cross section of the country so that what then remains is the filling up of the missing links in the jigsaw.
In today’s dynamic economy, there is an entirely new set of challenges facing policy makers, decision makers, public sector professionals and citizens. One thing that is clearly evident through all the dynamics of this information age, is the increasing need to make the public sector more responsive to the private citizen. This means, the very paradigms of traditional governance have to undergo a full-scale transformation. In the light of the fact, that, the average citizen now is more aware of his rights, more demanding of quality and more conscious of his responsibilities, the need for effective governance is more critical than ever. The recently enacted Right to Information (RTI) Act is therefore, a path breaking piece of legislation. The only challenge is to use it effectively and also that it is taken in the right spirit both by the user as well as the provider. Information technology can play a major part in
operationalisation the RTI. Effective governance demands mastery over certain essentials: far reaching vision, strategic planning, extended reach, easy accessibility, rapid turnaround, citizen delight. If ICT could bring in paradigm change in businesses everywhere, it is high time that the governments realise their potential and put their acts together. In that sense, it’s never too late. Sanjay Jaju is Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad. Jaju is an Indian Administartive Service (IAS) officer of 1992 batch and has been the Muncipal Commissioner of Hyderabad from June 2005 to July 2007. He was also the Commissioner of Vishakapatnam Muncipal Corporation from October 2000 to October 2002. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd Internet Governance Forum to be held in India The 3rd Internet Governance Forum 2008 (IGF2008) will be held from December 3-6, 2008, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh as announced by the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The Secretary General of the United Nations will be heading the meeting. It will bring in representatives from the government of the countries of the world; Chief Executive Officers and Chief Technology Officers of IT industries; representations from the user communities, NGOs and advocacy groups; academicians; and members of the media.
The four-day event will include main sessions and break out sessions in the form of workshops, dynamic coalition meetings, best practice sessions and regional meetings. The key topics of discussion for the meeting are universalisation of the Internet, low cost sustainable access, multilingualisation, implications for development policy, managing the Internet, critical internet resources, arrangements for Internet governance, global cooperation for Internet security and stability, taking stock and the way forward and emerging issues. There will be an exhibition showcasing IT infrastructure prowess and issues of Internet governance by host country and other international organisations. The past two meetings wer held at Athens in Greece and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, respectively. Approximately 1,400 delegates attend the workshops, dynamic coalition meetings and regional meetings. The Department of Information Technology (DIT), under the Ministry has invited Conference Organisers to bid for providing Conference Organising services to the department for conducting IGF2008 meeting.
Towards Joined-Up Government
eINDIA2008, the India’s largest information communication technologies event, was held from July 29-July 31, 2008, at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The conference-cum-exhibition, attended by more than 6000 participants, provided a collaborative forum to share knowledge and ideas enabling the participants to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships as well as to enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities. The eINDIA2008 conference had six seminal tracks - e-Governance, Digital Learning, Telecentre Forum, eHealth, MobileServe and e-Agriculture. The event was organised by the Centre for Science Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), with active support from the Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India, UN (Gobal Alliance of ICT for Development) GAID, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministries of Human Resource Development, Urban Development and Panchayati Raj. The different state partners for the event included the governments of Jharkhand, Manipur, West Bengal, Directorate of Higher Education, Government of National Capital Territory and Kerala State Information Technology Mission. There was also an active participation of the private sector in the conference and exhibition.
The inaugural session was graced by D Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Jainder Singh, Secretary, Department of IT, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, Subash Pani, Secretary, Planning Commission, Government of India, R Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of IT, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, Michael Rawding, Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group, Microsoft Corporation and Praveen Vishakantaiah, President, Intel India. The luminaries inaugurated the event by the traditional lighting of the lamp. Dr MP Narayanan, President, CSDMS, gave the welcome address. In her inaugural address, D Purandeswari announced the proposed plan of the central government to launch a scheme called ‘National Mission in Education through ICT’ to provide connectivity to the learners 34 }
D. Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for Higher Education Inaugurating eINDIA exhibition. L-R Dr. M. P. Narayanan, Ashis Sanyal, D. Purandeswari, Jainder Singh
so that they can link themselves to the knowledge world in cyberspace and to make these learners ‘Netizens’ in order to enhance their self learning skills and develop their capabilities for online problem solving. Emphasing the importance of Information and Communication Technologies in attaining the goal of a knowledge-based society, she said that in order to deliver the benefits of ICT-enabled learning, the National Mission would focus attention on achieving technological breakthrough by developing a very low-cost and low-power consuming access device, making available free bandwidth for education purpose to every Indian. The inaugural session concluded with the vote of thanks by Ravi Gupta, Executive Director, CSDMS, who then invited the eminent delegates to inaugurate the eINDIA2008 exhibition.
eGOV INDIA 2008
Objectives egov INDIA2008 is the fourth in its series and one of the important tracks in this annual eINDIA event. The conference provided a platform for all stakeholders, policy-makers, practitioners, industry leaders, academicians and architects of e-Government projects, to discuss the achievements, challenges, and the progress made towards achieving the goals of e-Governance. www.egovonline.net
In India, we are witnessing that some states are far ahead in e-Governance, while some have just begun their journey. egov INDIA2008 aimed to fulfill the need to create a common ground for equitable governance provision, which in turn will facilitate a process of overall development of the country. Along with the exhibition, the conference was a forum to showcase best practices, innovative technologies and ICT solutions. It also provided an opportunity to meet face to face with hundreds of potential customers in the fastest growing economies of Asia.
‘The Future of e-Governance in India: Government 2.0 and Beyond’. The session was chaired by J Satyanarayana,
The conference was attended by the Heads of e-Government, Chief Information Officers and Chief Technical Officers, IT Directors and Managers, Heads of Information and Communication, Public Administrators, IT Project Directors, Integration and Development Managers, Technical Architects, ICT Services Directors, Strategic Planners and Information Systems Managers.
The egov track conference was sponsored by Sify Technologies Limited, Sun Microsystems, Visa, HughesNet Fusion, CrimsonLogic, eSangathan, Hitachi Data Systems India Pvt. Ltd. and NIIT Technologies. The exhibitors’ for egov conference were Atom Technologies Ltd., Check Point, Dell, Digital Advantage, FINO, NexTenders, Project Management Associates and SafeNet. The exhibition provided an opportunity for updating on new advancements, solutions and services in the field of e-Governance. The conference was supported by national and international government and development agencies, such as EPF (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland), GTZ, Manufacturers Association for IT (MAIT), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES) and World Bank.
The egov India conference comprised three days of key note sessions and panel discussion sessions. Session: The Future of e-Governance in India: Government 2.0 and Beyond The conference started with the key note session titled ov
Session 1 : L-R, Jaijit Bhattacharya, Basheer Hamad Shadrach, J. Satyanarayana, Oleg Petrov, Niraj Prakash
CEO, national Institute of Smart Government. He defined the joined-up government as the single face of government presented to the citizens. Government could be joined up vertically (central, state and local governments), horizontally (multiple, related departments and agencies) and functionally (domains like welfare, healthcare, education, farm sector, industry and business). According to him, the success of the joined-up government depends upon: • Achieving clarity on ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘who’ and ‘with what’ • Ensuring that success can be measured • Establishing metrics for quality of service • Designing appropriate business models • Building capacity • Creating environment for speedy decisions Oleg Petrov, Coordinator, e-Development Thematic Group, Global ICT Department, World Bank, emphasised that no reform strategy can ignore the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) today. According to him, the public sector reform strategy, which does not take fully into account the digital dimension will be outdated upon arrival. The old model of ICT implementation, Gov 1.0 involved high cost but yielded limited results. On the other hand, he defined Gov 2.0, as the newgeneration model of ICT-enabled government transformation into open, participatory, citizen-centric/driven and highly integrated government (both vertically and horizontally). This new model breaks down organisational silos, creating horizontal, whole-of-government structures, communities and practice groups, has a comprehensive back-end integration and sharing corp;orate services and systems, comprehensive process re-engineering that leverages fully the power of ICT, comprehensive change management, active participation of the citizens in policy and decision-making and service design and delivery and widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies, approaches and values. Basheerhamed Shadrach, Senior Programme Officer, telecentre.org, International Development Research Centre, talked about the correlation between corruption, poor governance and human development and gave a few recommendations to make e-Governance efforts serve the agenda of anti-corruption and thus good governance. According to him, the latest tools and the ICT revolution in themselves shall act as means to the change inflicted upon societies. Hence, taking advantage of web 2.0 tools and the 35
many new inventions in ICT field combined with citizencentric, citizen-led knowledge centres as public spaces, the governments will need to design their ICT-led e-Government tools. Jaijit Bhattacharya, Country Manager, Sun Microsystems, defined eGov 2.0 as an evolutionary step towards a more efficient, inclusive and participative government through adoption of a set of new trends in business models, operational, financial and technological models. He made a comparison between Gov 1.0 with Gov 2.0. The Gov 1.0 communities are targeted, while that of Gov 2.0 is self-organising. The bandwidth is limited for Gov 1.0 while it is widely available for Gov 2.0. The focus of Gov 1.0 is technical, while that for Gov 2.0 is creation. Niraj Prakash, General Manager, SAP India, recommended for closing the gap between strategy and execution of IT by empowering people, integrating processes, managing information, consolidating and governing IT and running and optimising IT. Consolidating and governing of IT reduces complexity and the risk of IT, while empowering and connecting people, through using web 2.0 tools among others, leads to increased user productivity and satisfaction from IT. Session: Citizen-centric e-Governance in India: How Close/Far are we from the Goal? The second key note session on citizen-centric e-Governance in India was chaired by R. Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology, (DIT). He began the session by stating the vision of National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) as making all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensuring efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable cost to realise the basic needs of the common man. The hard infrastructure in place to realise this vision is State Wide Area Network (SWAN), Common Service Centres (CSC) and State Data Centres (SDC), while the soft infrastructure required is state portal, state e-Service delivery gateway, creating and enabling e-Forms for all services and notifying standards progressively. On the other hand, the human resources required include composing state e-Mission, composite and project mission teams, and creating awareness.
Session 2 : L-R M.Raman, R. Chandrashekhar, Partha Bhattacharya, Sudhir Krishna, Pramod Saxena
According to him, the ultimate criterion for measuring progress is measuring the percentage of services e-Enabled 36
and the percentage of people having access to e-Services. Partha Bhattacharya, Chairman, Coal India Limited (CIL), talked about the implementation of ICT in CIL. He first shared the background of implementing e-Procurement in CIL. According to him, to provide a commodity like coal, which is so heavily discounted at international market, one runs the risk of black marketing. It was to solve this issue that they introduced e-Marketing. Previously, when any largevalue tender was issued by CIL, it was found that a group of suppliers formed a cartel and quoted the same price. This could be broken by resorting to e-Procurement and putting the condition that no two companies could quote the same price. As a result, CIL could do the entire procurement without getting into the hands of a cartel. With Right to Information (RTI) coming into implementation, the effort at CIL is to put as much information, about CIL, on the website, which has brought about transparency in CIL. M. Raman, Director General, Directorate General for Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), Ministry of Commerce, explained the initiation of e-Procurement system in DGS&D. DGS&D is planning to make it mandatory to submit bid applications online and submit the bills online, for some products. The Directorate is currently addressing issues like hardware, data centre, bandwidth, connectivity between various departments. However, Raman feels that till there is a change in the mindset, political will and pro-active bureaucracy, the efforts towards e-Governance would be a waste. Sudhir Krishna, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, informed about the e-Governance efforts being taken in the Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs), as part of the implementation of NeGP. The objective of the project is to make the PRIs more efficient, effective and transparent. A centrally sponsored scheme spanning three years, covers all the Panchayats at district, block and village levels (0.25 million) and cost INR 683.2 million. Two-thirds of gram panchayats (GP) and block panchayats (BP) are being provided computing facility, each identified GP is being given one computer, printer-cum-scanner, one UPS, webcam and pen drive. For capacity building, trained computer operator to each GP and BP, training is being provided to staff in GP, BP and District panchayats and orientation is being given to elected representatives about e-Governance, in general, and e-PRI project in particular. Sudhir Krishna listed some of the issues that need to be addressed in implementing the ePRI project. These include funding, last mile connectivity, involvement of private sector, integration with the ongoing development and NeGP programmes, sustainability of the programme, vertical and horizontal integration. Pramod Saxena, Chairman and Managing Director, Oxigen, India, told that there is a business model which can be operationalised to ensure services for masses in a simple and feasible way. In this regard, mobiles and wireless technology provides great access. He recommended for a simple and user friendly, tiered security for different target segments and utility providers provision service fee for viability of rural kiosks. He informed about his companyâ€™s Oxicash platform, which can be used for repayments, micro-payments, microfinance related payments, micro-insurance among other www.egovonline.net
things. Through mobile phones, Oxigen is providing a bank like experience for monetary stransactions in a secured way. Session: Government 2.0 and Beyond: The Next Generation of Government Transformation The session discussed how to transform governments and take advantage of all the features offered under Web 2.0, the next generation of e-Government. The session also included discussions from India, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and US.
Session 3 : Global Dialogue on the Future of e-Government
R Chandrashekhar started the session by talking about what he felt government’s should do to incorporate emerging technologies into e-Government. He spoke about the difficulty of managing the transitions as governments moved more of their services online. He also emphasised that collaboration does not magically come about through the use of technology, agencies and departments should be willing to share information. e-Government will have very little impact until it can be accessed and use by everyone regardless of their location. What is most important is for governments to understand what methods, processes work best for them and what is not working. They need to strategise on what is working for them and what is not. Randeep Sudan, e-Government Practice Leader, Global ICT Department (GICT), World Bank. He spoke about the need to reassess government or public sector involvement in certain sectors where the private sector had an immense advantage. However delivery of a personalised service requires that all databases converge on a single point. Interoperability is the key and this needs to be worked on. Next Randeep focused on how he thought that developing countries could benefit greatly by using cloud computing as a platform for providing the citizens with the benefits and services they required in a personalised manner. Examples of cloud computing are the applications provided by Google Apps, Word processing, spreadsheets.The benefits of using cloud computing for hosting and providing benefits and services is that it allows to store the information that users provide and also the important data points on each user and what they would need. Anthony Williams, Vice President, Government 2.0, nGenera Insight, talked about how traditional entities were being displaced by more collaborative services and how these new ecosystems necessitated working with new channels ov
and intermediaries. Governments should adopt many of the collaborative tools used by social networking and other Internet applications, such as blogging, wikis, shared bookmarks. According to him, governments need to engage in a conversation with the citizens on all issues and have a continued dialogue. In the Q&A that followed, several representatives from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and US provided an update on where they are in terms of integrating e-Government services and applications. Session: Web Quality- A Pre-requisite for Successful e-Governance The session, chaired by Dr. S L Sarnot, Director General, Standardisation, Testing and Quality Certification (STQC), had discussion on issues such as website quality assessment by STQC, website quality and international scenario by GTZ (Germany), need for standardisation, technology offering solutions for embedded website quality by industry, content standardisation and addressing citizens perspective and legal issues. Neeta Verma, Senior Technical Director, National Informatics Centre, Delhi, presented the delegates with the guidelines for Indian government websites. According to her, it is important to set up a mechanism to ensure certain minimum standard for all government websites. These guidelines aims to:
Session 4 : L-R Ashis Mehta, Ricarda Wildemann, Vakul Sharma, Neeta Verma, S.L. Sarnot, U.K. Nandwani
Improve the overall usability quotient and technical competence of the Indian Government websites vis-a-vis International Standards. • Facilitate Indian Government websites in achieving citizen-centricity while providing anytime-anywhere delivery of government information and services. • Formulate policies for sustenance and effective maintenance of the Indian Government websites • Achieve, in the long run, a certain degree of commonality and standardisation across the Indian Government websites. • Enhance the Government-Citizen Relationship The guidelines would address the complete life-cycle of the website or a portal- planning, content, design, development, hosting, promotion and management. U K Nandwani, Director, STQC, IT Services, talked about the Website Quality Certification (WQC) for government (public) websites and portals and for the private websites •
one-single data centre for the whole state or the country is needed or not. Such a data centre is going to be huge and will consume lot of power. Alternatively, government could think of having multiple data centres involving several departments, within the state. 4. As air-conditioning is a major requirement of the data centres, data centres could be located in cooler places. 5. Government data centres should be compliant with the best in the world. For assured security of government data, it would be a good idea to locate data centres in locations that are already secure and have strong physical control. 6. Data centres should be planned for expansion. They should be planned to accommodate twice the number of applications that are already there. Krishnan B. Nair, Business Development Manager, Kerala State Information Tecnology (KSIT) Mission, Government of Kerala, informed about the capacity building plan in KSIT Mission.
Session 5 : L-R Srikant Chakrapani, Patrick Kishore, Rajendra Dhavale, Prashant Pereira, Magdy El Henawy, Krishnan B Nair
Dr. Magdy El Henawy, Family Card Project Manager, Ministry for State of Administrative Development, Egypt, described the family card project in Egypt. The card guarantees various supports and services to the deserving people, namely: subsidy (commodities), solidarity pension, medical, transportation, education, and so forth. The card has been integrated with the other national databases. Twelve million families out of 17 millions have been converted into an electronic form, revised, covering all Egypt governorates. According to him, accuracy, security, and integrity are very important issues for family data. In family card project, social issues are more important than the technical issues. He informed that the biggest challenge to such a project is ensuring security and integrity of the database, which is where the government data centres comes into play. Prashant Periera, Manager Products, Sify Technologies, informed some of the challenges in different stagesdesign, implementation, sustenance and management, in implementing the data centres. In this regard, the private players can offer design as per TIA 942 (a standard developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association to define guidelines for planning and building data centres), provide best practices in all stages of data centre, high availability and security and make data centre greener, among other things. He told about Sify data centres which has a capacity of 2,00,000 sq ft, 15 MVA power, which are running successfully www.egovonline.net
for more than 8 years with 90% of load and highest levels of uptime. Rajendra Dhavale, Director, Technical-Sales, Computer Associates, explained some of the operational and management issues in data centres implementation. These are complex and constantly changing IT environment, heterogeneous operating systems, database and application environment, optimisation of data centre operations, lack of sustainable IT operations staff, server consolidation and space optimisation, common policy for standardisation/compliance and common security controls. He suggested freeware/shareware, element manager and enterprise IT management, as some of the possible approaches for managing and securing state data centres. Srikant Chakrapani, Director, Enterprise Solutions, Hitachi Data Solutions India Pvt. Ltd., told that the major issues to address while designing and operationalising data centres are operational efficiency, compliance with regulations, protection of assets and operational resiliency. He informed about the Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V, where one can create a large number of thinly provisioned volumes of all sizes - each drawing from the same pool of capacity. According to him, the service oriented storage, is responsive and agile to business needs by deploying or extending storage services, are cost efficient through consolidation and the ability to leverage or reuse storage assets for strategic value and provide consistent and reliable quality of service with proven enterprise availability and reliability. Session: State Wide Area Network: Core Infrastructure for Government Services The panel discussion on State Wide Area Network (SWAN) focussed on issues such as network performance and service level monitoring issues – the role of third party agencies, seamless integration of SWAN with other e-Governance infrastructure like SDC, Common Service Centres (CSC) and last mile connectivity, readiness / application content issues related to SWAN, bandwidth related issues, private sector players and technology stakeholders of the SWAN, success stories and pitfalls. Ashish Sanyal, Senior Technical Director, Department of Information Technology, GoI, the moderator for the discussion said that guidelines for SWAN implementation were conceptualised and put forth in October 2004. Alok Chaturvedi, IT Secretary Bihar, speaking Bihar SWAN said that three years ago Bihar was at the rock bottom of the pyramid in e-Governance preparedness. Now Bihar is among the top performers in the country. Under Bihar SWAN all its districts are connected and man power is being provided. Meticulous planning is in progress to expand connectivity through VSAT and fibre optics and possibilities for alternate back up connectivity are being explored. Request for proposals (RFP) for horizontal SWAN are being issued. On the other hand availability of power at blocks, poor quality of media (copper) being used for connectivity, man power, service operator issues remain the nagging concerns. Madhav Redddy, Senior Technical Director, National Informatics Centre (NIC) said NIC in association with National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is implementing SWAN ov
in nine states: Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura, Chandigarh, Delhi, Pondicherry, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Uttarakhand. He observed that smaller states were more aggressive in implementation and therefore implementation of SWAN went according to the plan in Sikkim, Tripura, Delhi and other smaller states. In states like Uttar Pradesh delay in decision making is the reason for delayed progress. However, UP made encouraging progress after the decisions have been taken. He further said that site preparation issues are crucial for implementing SWAN and providing connectivity. H.S. Bedi, CMD Tulip Telecom, speaking on the occasion said that Tulip implemented the SWAN for Government of Haryana and currently implementing SWAN for West Bengal and Assam. He emphasised that the biggest challenge in taking SWAN forward is its ‘application’ and data connectivity will become the key for its success. He called for competition and redundancy in service providers and suggested that complete data connectivity should be MPLS based as it will be easier to scale up and meet bandwidth demand as the applications keep coming. He also expressed concern over the delay in payments to the service providers and system integrators. Ashish Sanyal observed that whatever the government has conceptualised in 2005 regarding telecom services may not be valid today as the needs in this competitive environment
Session 6 : L-R Madhav Reddy, Y.S. Mallik, Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Alok Chaturvedi, S.K.Seth, Ashis Sanyal, H.S. Bedi
are dynamic. Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice President TCS said that TCS is involved in delivering SWAN to Bihar and Tamil Nadu. The implementation of the troika SWAN, SDC, CSC, as conceptualised under NeGP should be synchronised. He expressed that the bandwidth created for SWAN should be utilised simultaneously before the technological advancements render it obsolete. He called for a true spirit of partnership between the public and the private. He also expressed concern over the delays in payments for the service providers. He further said that there is need for rationalisation for achieving desired objectives and was critical over the governments approach which is creating delays in establishing NeGP infrastructure. Ashis Sanyal, responding to Tanmoy’s remarks said that all aspects of SWAN are greenfield areas for all the stakeholders involved. As far as technology is concerned five years is a learning time and our progress is encouraging. Sanjeev Seth, deputy Director General, (Commercial) Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), in response to the issues raised by fellow panelists said that the BSNL’s network was supposed to be a retail network to increase tele-density and voice connectivity and was never meant for this kind of 39
unparalleled project (NeGP). Bandwidth is one of the elements of infrastructure and is dependent on the availability other elements such as power, physical connectivity of exchanges etc. With due consideration of existing infrastructure. BSNL is planning to provide at least 2mbps to each and every CSC and for this we need a robust wire line network, which would also become essential to sustain NeGP infrastructure in future when bandwidth requirement will be of terra byte magnitude. He further said that the policies should be flexible to address the issues that will crop up in the course of SWAN’s evolution. YS Mallik, Commissioner and Secretary IT, Government of Haryana said that in Haryana SWAN is operational and we are on the road to establish the three pilaars as envisaged in NeGP. However, simultaneous concerns on its purpose and utility are cropping up. He called for a reduction of gap between all the stakeholders involved in this project and all the stakeholders should go for a introspection and realise that NeGP is not about adopting ICTs for development but for Good Governance. Both the public and the private should work with a true spirit of partnership. Reconciliation should be there from both the sides to break the ice and to balance the interests. Session: Capacity Building and Change Management for e-Governance S.R. Das, Senior Director, DIT, Ministry of Communications and IT, who chaired the session, talked about the capacity building plan in NeGP. According to him, states need to implement capacity building initiatives to build self-sufficiency, to overcome the inadequate expertise within the government and to supplement internal manpower. He also informed some of the challenges in implementing the capacity building plan, such as high demand for qualified manpower in the market, disparity between market salaries and government pay scales, retention of skilled manpower – high attrition rates, different skill requirement over time and from project to project, rigid career paths, lack of relevant course material, inadequate resources and diverse training needs R S Sharma, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Jharkhand, shared his experience on capacity building implementation in Jharkhand. According to him, their eGovernance projects were affected due to lack of capacity and lack of ownership by the line departments. They started having project coordinators on contract on market driven salaries on fixed term and tying up their remunerations with the project outcomes/benchmarks. According to him, they should have first done the capacity building of the government functionaries since the less developed states need capacity building much more urgently. According to N S Kalsi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, the biggest barrier for e-Governance is the lack of adequate knowledge of the government, service providers and citizens in IT. This is where the role of capacity building is most important. Oleg Petrov told that ICT is about transformation not technology and therefore, empowering human potential to the fullest needs to be the goal. He recommended shifting the balance of power to the common man, rural poor, women 40
and other disadvantaged groups and enabling one stop access to information, services and opportunities. Pranav Roach, President, Hughes Networks Systems India Ltd., informed that Hughes is participating in the NeGP and expects to enable e-Governance services over its network. In the next 6 –12 months it expects to connect over 10,000 centres across the country. Hughes is also working with several industry players to bring digital services and the benefits of ICT to rural markets and citizens. Ahmed Samir, Assistant to Minister for Country Resource Planning, Government of Egypt, talked about the Human Development Programme for the government employeesin Egypt. The programme aims to increase productivity, the ways of developing services and optimising the use of the available resources. Some of the topics on which the employees are being trained are: change management,
Session 7 : L-R Tan Sian Lip. Ahmed Samir, Pranav Roach, Oleg Petrov, R.S. Sharma, S.R. Das, N.S. Kalsi
communication skills, negotiation skills, problem solving and decision making, guidance and awareness, leadership, building the work team, time and pressure management, crisis management and marketing. Tan Sian Lip, Vice President, Solutions and Technology, CrimsonLogic Pvt. Ltd, told that capacity building leads to greater efficiency, transparency and integrity. He informed about the various CrimsonLogic change management programmes whereby it provided technology solutions for SaudiEDI project, UAE Ministry of Justice project, e-Posts and Indian Ports Association projects in India. Session: e-India Leaders’ Forum The session aimed to discuss the defining initiatives taken in use of ICT in governance and education, the major drivers for this, devising mechanism for disseminating information about status of the projects at the states, streamlining information flow, challenges in implementing ICT projects. Chaired by R. Chandrashekhar and Co-chaired by Subhas C Khuntia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the panelists of the session included Prakash Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, R. S. Sharma, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Jharkhand, Michel Van der Bel, Vice President Public Sector, Microsoft International, Alok Chaturvedi, Secretary, IT, Government of Bihar and Shantanu Prakash, Chief Executive Officer, Educomp. Session: e-Procurement for Government S N Srivastava Director, Directorate General for Supplies & www.egovonline.net
Disposals (DG S&D), Ministry of Commerce, chaired the session. He also provided a brief overview of e-Procurement system being implemented by DG S&D. The e-Procurement was initiated in DG S&D in the year 2000-02, when both manual and computerised system were being used, but from the year 2004-05, DG S&D switched over completely to the electronic mode for the end-to-end e-Procurement process. Regarding business process re-engineering (BPR), S N Srivastava informed that BPR started in 2001-02. Although, there are many challenges in implementating e-Procurement, Srivastava was optimistic that they will be overcome with the second phase of e-Procurement, that is being initiated now. William Lock, Chairman, Elcom Inc., Scotland, talked about three elements that drive success in e-Procurement. These are: transformation, collaboration and sustainability approach. According to William Lock, the implementation of an e-Procurement service should be the part of a larger-scale change programme, with the e-Procurement technology as the enabler. He informed that Visa e-Marketplace (delivered in
Session 8 : L-R Rajaraman Venkataramani, Sumeet Bhatt, S.N.Srivastava, Sanjeev Itagi,William Lock, Amit Kumar Jain
India with the backing of Visa and ICICI Bank) is the catalyst for wider business change. Visa offers fully-functional system that is ready to go, speeds supplier adoption, easy for buyers to use, accelerates acceptance, saves processing cost, fully tax compliant, among other benefits. Amit Kumar Jain, Deputy Chief Operating Manager/ Planning, Northern Railway, informed about the eProcurement process in the railways. The e-Procurement software allows online participation through a secured website- www.nreps.com, permits vendors to search, view and download tenders Vendors can participate and submit tenders online in a fair, secured and transparent manner. It is planned that in future tenders shall cover all types such as supply tender for procurement of goods, tenders for construction works and services and fabrication. Raja Raman Venkatramani from NIIT Technologies, listed some of the benefits of e-Procurement, which are: transparency, location independence, efficiency and consistency, standardisation, optimisation of business processes, cycle-time reduction for procurement, wide reach of suppliers and security. He also informed about NIIT’s Procure Easy e-Procurement solution, which has been used successfully by the Singapore government. Sumeet Bhatt, Director, NexTenders, suggested that the conventional wisdom on system security for e-Government ov
procurement is not adequate since the mere viewing of bid data is a fundamental compromise of security. He informed that the NexTenders e-Procurement system incorporates a unique document security feature, which enables the viewing, editing, management, and control of documents to only authorised personnel. Sanjeev K Itagi, Senior Consultant (Procurement and Transformation), Capgemini Consulting, informed about global scenario of e-Procurement. UK, US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, among many others are implementing e-Procurement for government procurement. Within India, the early movers are DG S&D, Indian Railways and Andhra Pradesh state government. He also talked about the several challenges in implementing e-Procurement, which include security, silo-approach with respect to. departments and processes, integrated approach, vision and strategy, last mile connectivity, resistance to change within departments and vendors and capacity building. Session: IT Innovations in Municipalities Vivek Bharadwaj, Special Secretary, Department of Urban Development, Government of West Bengal, chaired this session. He pointed out that it was now mandatory for corporate entities in India to file their tax returns through electronic-filing system, a mechanism developed as part of government’s efforts to foster ‘friendlier’ relations between tax authorities and assessees. In the US, the option of manual filing was still available, he remarked, adding that this said a lot about India. Sanjay Jaju, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh, expressed the opinion that one should view ICT not as a technology but as a system, an information system, which can form the base for all well-managed municipalities. Chetan Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs felt that in the conduct of governance and running of government, huge amounts of information needs to be processed every day and since the numbers are huge in municipalities, e-Governance is the way to go. On the other hand, Joe Dignan, Business, Development Manager, Microsoft, Research India, felt that ICT can be useful to curtail the huge amount of expenditure the municipalities incur for the purpose of manual data management. However, he emphasised, it can only be a facilitator and cannot replace the role of the government. In this context, he talked about the Citizen Service Platform (CSP) platform of Microsoft, aimed to support governments as they develop sustainable, flexible and extendable IT infrastructures and Internet-based services with citizen services in mind. The platform includes a suite of online services that will be available for customisation and integration into existing government solutions for the citizens. Srikant Nadhamuni, Managing Trustee, eGovernance Foundation, Bangalore, informed that eGovernments Foundation aims to improve governance in India through the effective use of technologies and government process re-engineering and to this effect has developed a family of software products and solutions that will enable the efficient working of cities and towns and hence the smoother delivery of services to its citizens. 41
Session 9 : L-R Srikant Nadhamuni, Vivek Bharadwaj, Chetan Vaidya, Sanjay Jaju, Joe Dignan
Session: e-Governance Good Practices The last session of egov India conference sought to discuss factors that facilitate the success of the e-Governance projects, change management and other challenges, benefits accrued and lessons learned. It was chaired by Prakash Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences. Sanjay Aggarwal, General Manager (Operations), Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Ministry of Railways, talked about the online railways ticketing project of the IRCTC. It has currently the largest e-Commerce website in Asia-Pacific, selling daily more than 1,00,000 tickets. The online railways ticketing system has resulted in saving of time, money and is a convenient way to buy tickets. This, apart from the adoption of cafe approach, close monitoring of the project and adoptation to challenges, are the several success factors for this project. Barun Kumar Sahu, Director (Personnel), Ministry of Home Affairs, shared the learnings of e-Governance initiatives in the Ministry of Home Affairs. He informed about the SELO initiative of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the first IT-enabled para-military force, which could be deployed for counter-insurgency operations all over the country, at a short notice (hours) and at far away places from battalion head quarters. Similarly, he mentioned about the ‘Prahari’ initiative of Border Security Force (BSF), has robust security features and can be made fully web-enabled. Among other such initiatives taken by the Home Ministry, he talked about the cyber forensic initiatives, making use of ICT tools for speaker identification: phone tapping, video authentication: morphing etc,. digital firearms signature: to identify gun license holder from used cartridge, email tracing, search of deleted files, laptops etc. and password cracking. Ankit Mittal from Programme Management Unit, Department of IT, told about the National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG), one of the mission mode projects (MMPs), being implemented under the NeGP, for seamless exchange of data with any number of departments and front ends. The project is one of its kind, which can be successfully integrated with other MMPs and other projects. He, thus, described NSDG as a strong middleware that can potentially be integrated into other projects nationwide. Dr. Ajay Kumar, Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala, informed that Kerala state has the highest Internet, telephone, mobile, computers penetration per capita, broadband coverage which reaches 80% villages and mobile coverage 42
which reaches 95% villages. Kerala is going ahead with the plan of making the state 100% broadband enabled. Dr. Kumar mentioned about the successful Akshaya project, which was aimed to make the state 100% e-Literate. It was felt that as long as the computer literacy is in English, people’s involvement with IT will be low. To address this issue, Kerala government has initiated the programme, ‘My Language for My Computer’, which enables technology in Malayalam language. In this regard, local content is also being generated. Also, the government has migrated 200 government portals from HTML to content management framework, based on open source. Regarding assessing value of the e-Government projects, Dr. Kumar stressed on developing an objective criteria for assessing any e-Governance project. Lekha Kumar, Director, (e-Governance), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, told about the e-Office project, aimed at improving the operational efficiency of the government, by transitioning to a less-paper-office within next five years. Change management (convincing the officials of the benefits of the new system), is most crucial. Interoperability (seamless data exchange) is also another important issue to be dealt with in implementing e-Office in government. The e-Manual will be tested as a pilot by DARPG and then the final standard framework of e-Office implementation procedure would be available for other ministries to take it up for implementation in their respective ministries. Ajay Ahuja, IT Architect, Sun Microsystems Ltd. talked about the field study conducted to find the status of Indian citizen’s readiness and awareness towards various e-Governance initiatives and services, amongst a sample of citizens from the Delhi state. He gave certain recommendations to spread awareness about use of IT. He suggested that media - TV, radio, newspapers- can play a significant role. IT could be promoted by making computers/ terminals available at low cost just like phones and making available the broadband, as in the case of telephone lines.
Session 10 : L-R Barun Kumar Sahu, Lekha Kumar, Prakash Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Sanjay Aggarwal, Ankit Mittal
Valedictory and Awards Ceremony In valedictory session, the eINDIA2008 Awards were presented by Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister for Panchayati Raj, Government of India, Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, R Chandrasekhar and Subhas C Khuntia. Awards were given for excellence in the field of e-Governance, MunicipalIT, Digital Learning, Telecentres, e-Health, Mobile Services and e-Agriculture. www.egovonline.net
In the field of e-Governance, the ‘Best ICT enabled Department of the Year Award’ was awarded to the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (ICT PartnerNational Information Centre) , Chhattisgarh. The department has created and made available to the public the ration card database of the city. Details of various schemes, stocks and procurements are made available to the people through the Internet. ‘The Best Government Initiative Award’ was given to the Directorate of Electronic Delivery of Citizen Services, Bangalore. The e-Governance Department (Government of Karnataka) is delivering 38 different services through telecentre operators of the Nemmadi Telecentre project. Now a citizen is not required to travel to the block/district office to get his certificates. For MunicipalIT, the ‘Best Government Initiative of the Year Award’ went to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for the project ‘On-line System of Property Tax’. The system of billing was made really simple and such that it could easily be made on-line. In 2007 0.21 million tax payers paid taxes on-line. In 2008, the number of tax payers reached 0.24 million. The Best Open Source Initiative Award in the field of MunicipalIT was given to the Geographical Information System for Dynamic Animation (GISDA), Science and Technology Park, University of Pune. The conference and the exhibition concluded with the vote of thanks by Ravi Gupta, convener of eINDIA2008 and Executive Director, CSDMS.
egov Sponsors & Partners
Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications & IT Government of India
Ministry of Urban Development Government of India
Ministry of Human Resource Development Government of India
Department of Agriculture and Cooperation Ministry of Agriculture Government of India
Ministry of Panchayati Raj Government of India
Prachi Shirur & Chaitanya Kishore Reddy
Conference Feedback from Delegates It was indeed a great pleasure to be associated with India’s largest ICT event and interact with all the esteemed speakers and delegates. Congratulations to all the organising committee members for stupendous success of this event. I would be very glad to be part of any future events that you plan to organise. Sanjeev Itagi, Sr. Consultant, Global Supply Chain Consulting, Capgemini Thank you for coordinating a good event which I enjoyed the most. Dr. Basheerhmad Shadrach, Sr. Programme Officer, Telecentre.org, IDRC I felt very happy to have attended the e-India 2008. It was very well organised. I am sure it would act as a catalyst for launching many useful and innovative activities in different walks of life. I congratulate the organisors for having successfully organised this event. Sudhir Krishna, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI It was a Great event and one of the best platform for all the stakeholders from e-Governance initiatives. Looking forward to many such interactions in future. Ajay Ahuja, IT Architect, Sun Microsystems Ltd. Thanks for inviting me to the event, it was a great pleasure to speak at this event which was highly successful. Well done! Oleg Petrov, Coordinator, e-Development Thematic Group, World Bank Thank you for all your effort which made the session on Municipal IT go like clockwork. Vivek Bharadwaj, Spl. Secretary, Department of Urban Development, Govt. of West Bengal It was a pleasure attending your conference, which was truly an eye opener for me in terms of all the different tracks on e-Governance. Cheers George Paul, Manager Marketing and Strategy, Ericsson
Read other eINDIA2008 track reports online at www.eindia.net.in ov
mSERVE INDIA 2008 REPORT
Making Connectivity Reach the Masses Usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a harbinger of development and progress. Such technologies has to percolate to the bottom of the pyramid if development has to come in its right sense. More than half the Indian population stays in rural areas and therefore connecting the unconnected becomes one of the primary challenges. With India soon to touch the 500 million mark in terms of telecommunications, it is indeed required to bring in a fruitful discussion on the major trends and challenges in the world of mobility and telecommunications. mServe India 2008 was one of the six main tracks of the e-India event, organised by Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) and Elets Technomedia Pvt. Ltd. at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 29th - 31st July 2008 which brought to the forefront some of the burning issues in providing solutions of connectivity in the last mile. Session: Mission - Rural Connectivity The common inauguration of e-India 2008 was kicked off on 29th July 2008. mServe India conference started with a full house session on – ‘Mission - Rural Connectivity’ which was chaired by R N Prabhakar, Member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The panel had speakers from the diverse telecommunication fraternity. R N Prabhakar stressed upon the fact that information is critical to the development process and telecommunications is not just a means of communications, but it provides a link in the entire developmental chain. He further said that mission ‘rural connectivity’ is the most important task for the service providers and other stakeholders, as urban areas have already got saturated and the rural tele-density is still as low as 10 per cent. Speaking on the topic, Administrator of Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), Government of India, Ajay Bhattacharya said that the funds are primarily working towards providing connectivity in the rural areas and for this purpose it is promoting infrastructure sharing. He said that the USO Funds has already set up 7,500 towers and in the second phase it plans to set up 11,000 towers. Bringing in a cross-country perspective, Parvez Iftikhar, CEO of Universal Services Funds, Pakistan highlighted the telecommunications scenario in his country. He spoke about the telecom coverage in Pakistan and informed that almost half of the unserved areas are covered either through contract or auction. Dr. D K Ghosh touched upon some of the practical aspects like providing services which are crucial at the grassroots is 44
mSERVE INDIA2008 Report
very crucial. He appreciated projects such as e-Choupal and stressed that the main aim of mobile services should be to improve the quality of life of the people. Ajay Ranjan Mishra from Nokia Siemens Networks talked about a study conducted by Nokia Siemens Networks in Association with London School of Business in 9 countries. The study revealed that the rates of benefits derived from connectivity is not proportional to the rates of connectivity per se. He further said that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), cash barriers for entry and the regulatory framework are some of the crucial factors determining universal access. George Paul from Ericsson highlighted the salient achievements of the Gramjyoti project which is successful in terms of providing connectivity and other Value Added Services (VAS) such as e-Learning and tele-medicine in rural areas. After the presentations, issues such as active infrastructure sharing was brought in. It was also said that the release of more spetcrum to the service providers will allow them to develop better business models for harnessing the
R N Prabhakar, Member, TRAI, responding to a querry
connectivity process. Issues of broadband connectivity were also raised which is lagging behind for quite long due to the issues related to spectrum and 3G policies of the government. It was stressed that localisation of content which would cater to the needs of the rural masses would enable making rural connectivity a dream come true.
An enthralled audience@mSERVE INDIA2008
Session: VAS - Key Mantra for Rural Expansion The second session of the day was ‘VAS – Key Mantra for Rural Expansion’. This session was chaired by Sudhir Gupta, Advisor (Mobile Networks), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. He reflected upon the need to move beyond the regular voice services and concentrate upon adding value to the mobile services through localisation of content. Aloke Bajpai from ixigo.com gave some practical examples such as localised information being provided to the fisherman community in Southern India through mobile phones. He further stressed that VAS bouquet should include localised language and geography. Vinay Kaul from One 97 presented his company’s work in terms of value added services. He mentioned that VAS should cater to the needs of the local population. He also highlighted upon One 97’s work with Indian Farmer’s Fertilisers Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) and Airtel in providing a portal where agriculturalists in rural India can get information related to their crops. Jagdish Mitra from CanvasM stressed that VAS companies should take lessons from FMCG companies who have dealt with localisation in a great way. The session concluded with a common view that for value added services to become fruitful there is a need to bring in seamless, easy to use, and simple technologies and applications. It was also agreed upon that content for urban masses and rural masses is different and providing value added services on the mobile device to the rural masses is much more of a challenge because there are issues involved in terms of cost of delivery, distribution and content. Therefore, special business models need to be developed. There is also a need to strengthen the relationship between the service providers and content providers. ov
Session: Workhop - ‘Connected Communities’ The closing session of the day was a workshop on ‘Connected Communities’ hosted by Intel Corporation. David Fosberg from Intel Corporation moderated the session. The objective of this workshop was to look at connected communities as a model in connecting the rural population through telecentres. David pointed out the fact that tele-centres prove to be a great model for connectivity, but the main issue involved with it is sustainability. The session had participants across the spectrum. Parvez Iftikhar from Universal Service Fund (USF), Pakistan highlighted the country perspective in terms of broadband penetration and Internet connectivity in the far flung areas. He said that broadband penetration in Pakistan does not represent a very encouraging image. He said that USF is targeting to add 1.6 million new connections by the end of 2010. He mentioned that the gap which exists between access and affordability is huge and needs to be reduced for connectivity reaching to the underserved population. The country shows a penetration of approximately 0.14 million in March 2008. Vineeta Dixit from SW Applications, a World Banks Project was one of the eminent speakers. She spoke about the Common Service Centres (CSCs) of the Government of India which is primarily entrepreneurship driven. She also mentioned that tele-centres is a good model for connectivity, however, there is a need for evaluation of the functionality and value additions, to identify the loopholes. Anamoy Ranjan from Comat Technologies presented a case study of the Common Service Centre (CSC) run in Karnataka and Haryana. They have the plans to scale it up to other states such as Uttar Pradesh. He emphasised the importance of connectivity in spreading education, providing health services in rural areas and the last mile. It has been mentioned that development models talk about several verticals in terms of health, education etc., but these verticals needs to integrated and this can happen through a horizontal intervention of tele-centres. It was also pointed out by one of the panelists that technology, especially, in terms of Information and Communication Technology is fast changing. Therefore, there has been a shift towards capacity building for skill development in order to streamline the benefits to the bottom of the pyramid. Session: Convergence - Trends and Challenges The last day of the mServe 2008 begun with the session – ‘Convergence – Trends and Challenges’. The session was chaired by S K Gupta, Member (Convergence Networks), TRAI. The chairperson gave an insight into the trends and challenges of convergence in the telecom sector. He said that the consumer today demands a seamless delivery of number of services on a single device. A mobile device can now provide multiple services such as Internet, television and payment of bills. However, the broadband and Internet connectivity in India is still low. He called for a thoughtful planning of convergence. Hemal Patel from Elitecore gave a generic perspective in terms of convergence, where he touched upon convergence 45
mSERVE INDIA 2008 REPORT
of networks such as wireless, wireline, cable and convergence in terms of services as well. He further talked about the need for convenience and the ease of use as the basic tenets of convergence. Sudhakar S Marthi from AdveNet gave a presentation on how the mobile phone will become an on-demand application, thereby replacing the personal computers. Yogesh Kochhar from Tata Teleservices talked about social convergence whereby he touched upon some of the primary aspects of telecom convergence such as affordability, accessibility and application. He talked about social drivers such as right to information, information availability in terms of providing converged services to rural counterparts. The session witnessed several issues being raised such as security and reliability in terms of convergence networks. Some of the key points being highlighted were – ease of use and affordability. A much agreed upon view was that – technology in terms of convergence should have value additions in order to sustain itself in the ever changing mobile market. Session: Broadband for All - Myth or Reality? The second session of the day was ‘Broadband for All Myth or Reality?’. This session was chaired by R N Padukone, Senior Deputy Director General, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Dr. DPS Seth, ex Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL was one of the distinguished speakers who talked about India’s broadband policy of 2004. He said that the policy had targeted to bring 9 million broadband subscriptions by 2007 end. However, in reality the figure stood at 3.3 million by the end of 2007. He further discussed some of the bottlenecks in terms of broadband penetration in the country such as non-accessibility in the last mile, content, illiteracy and non-availability of the right device for the customer. In his opinion there is a need for availability of more spectrum, policy on 3G, copper accessibility for
private operators to make broadband penetration a reality in our country. CS Rao representing Wimax Forum and Intel, said that broadband being a myth or a reality is directly dependent upon literacy levels in terms of Information Technology and the affordability factors. Rajesh Chharia from Internet and Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) put forward the case of Internet Service Providers. He said that ISPs should get some of the benefits of using unused copper, more spectrum in rural araes and allow USO fund to be used in rural penetration for ISPs. Protip Ghose from Telsima spoke about the urdles in terms of providing broadband connectivity in India. He said that there is a huge digital divide amongst the Indian population in terms of rural – urban, rich – poor, literates and illiterates. He also spoke about the economics of providing broadband for all. On one side is the demand factor and on the other is the technology factor. There is a need for a synergy between the two to arrive at providing broadband for all. He said that WiMax is the right technology for broadband and will go a long way in reducing the digital divide. Sujata Dev from Time Broadaband highlighted some of the key drivers for broadband penetration such as VAS, technology, price, content, regulation and investment. She said that a converged network will make broadband-for-all a reality. Session: m-Commerce - Is it Happening? The session saw a thoughtful discussion upon some of the major issues in terms of broadband penetration such as policy, targets and achievements, key drivers, what needs to be done in terms of policy changes, innovations and the right use of technology at the right place for making broadband a reality. The closing session of mServe India conference was marked by a session on ‘m-Commerce – Is it Happening?’. With mobile being used as a key tool in commercial activities, this session
L-R, C S Rao, Sujata Dev, R N Padukone, Rajesh Chharia, Protip Ghose, Dr. D P S Seth
was an important ingredient in the conference. This session was appreciated, as some fresh and young faces who are the prime stakeholders in the mobile commerce industry were the speakers. Unlike the other sessions, we chose not have a chairperson for this session and allow our speakers to share their thoughts and opinions to a open house. Naveen Surya from ITZ Cash said that with the high rates of mobile subscriptions there are high chances for mobile becoming a 24 X 7 equipment. This makes the mobile device market oriented. He emphasised that the collaborative task of the entities in the m-Commerce value chain is to deliver security, interoperability, transparency and speed in real-time across various payment technology modules. Ajay Adiseshann from Paymate presented the work of his company. He said that Paymate is one of the main entities behind the growth of mobile commerce. Abhijit Bose from ngpay stressed upon the key drivers for mCommerce such as easy to access, best services at minimal cost and provision of utility for the user. He also raised the issues of security and reliability associated with mobile commerce such as encryption, security of financial data, fraudulent access to information and data. Ruchi Mishra from Atom Technologies brought in the advantages of using mobile commerce over traditional means such as credit cards, cheques etc. She also emphasised upon mobile being the next generation device for mobile transactions especially with unprecedented growth in mobile subscriptions. The recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines is an indication that m-Commerce has finally reached a critical mass and momentum such that there is a need for a minimum standard of security that must be enforced. The session highlighted the issue of security as a serious concern from the customer perspective. However, the speakers said that transactions over the mobile are fool-proof. Since the technology is new, therefore there is much hype about it.
Conclusion of the Event and mServe India Awards Overall, the conference ended successfully with participants from across the spectrum â€“ government, service providers, telecom and mobile associations, academia and students thereby bringing in meaningful thoughts and provocations upon the telecom industry going rural. It also highlighted that factors of accessibility and
affordability are some of the key concerns, which needs to be kept in mind while preparing a sustainable business model for rural connectivity. Although, mobile subscriptions are multiplying at rocket speed each day, the question still remains about how far will it benefit the population apart from its primary role of connectivity. Therefore, value added services in terms of mobile payments, information availability to the farmerâ€™s community or the fisherman community need to be developed. The conference was concluded with a common valedictory session. The valedictory session marked the announcement of several awards being given track-wise. The mServe India Award for Best Innovative Service Provider of the Year went to One 97. One 97 has developed and deployed the VAS platform for the
L-R, Naveen Surya and Ajay Adiseshann
Airtel IFFCO Krishna Sanchar project to connect farmers. The project provides a platform where people of a region having relevant information can share it with other members of a group. A person can share information with others by simply dialing a short code and recording the information, which is then sent out to all registered group members. Currently, 1 lakh plus subscribers are using this service. The summary for all the tracks were done in the valedictory session which marked the successful completion of the e-India event. Nilakshi Barooah email@example.com
Services with Changing Technological Landscape
â€œIndia is still a growing market in terms of mobile content/application and consumption/ adoption. However, the consumers have so far reacted very positively to the availability of a host mobile content. The Indian consumers want high quality compelling products with a high value for money quotient. Keeping this and the rapidly evolving technological landscape in mind, we as a company will continue to launch products / services that provide exciting new ways for the consumers to entertain, engage and inform themselves,â€? says Ray K. Tsuchiyama, Marketing Director, Marketing International, Global Emerging Markets, NUANCE Mobile and Consumer Services/Tegic Communications, in an email interaction to Sandeep Budki of egov magazine
In India, as voice Average Revenue per Users are falling drastically, service providers are looking at value added services (VAS) for increasing their revenues. Comment. The next phase of growth will come from services like m-Commerce and mobile entertainment. The telecom market is perhaps the fastest evolving sector on all counts. There are two key trends that I see will dominate telecom services over the next few years — Digital Media Convergence: delivery of digital media will happen through multiple channels — mobile, digital subscriber line, direct-to-home (DTH), Internet Protocol over TV (IPTV), 3G, high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), using common back end and service delivery platforms. Mobile phones are becoming more than a communication tool and it will emerge as the ubiquitous entertainment and communication device for the Indian consumers. What do you feel about the current VAS scenario in India? The Mobile VAS market in India is estimated to grow to US $2 billion in 2008, as per industry reports. Currently, mobile VAS in India accounts for 10% of the operator’s revenue, which is expected to reach 18% by 2010. The key growth drivers for VAS services are wireless network rollout, inexpensive handsets and affordability to go mobile. The youth segment will also continue to drive the market; particularly in the entertainment MVAS which include services like Music, Gaming etc. Currently, the youth segments are the key drivers of VAS led services. Going forward the Indian mobile market will foresee a growth in the services, which includes - like mobile entertainment, m-Commerce, voice led services especially for the rural customers. Also when the Indian operators are ready to launch 3G services then services like Mobile TV, Video Voice Calls will fast gain acceptance among the Indian mobile customers. Localisation of content is your focus area in India for offering VAS services. What are your offerings in India? As a company our focus for the Indian market has always been to localize content/products and services. Nuance has developed and introduced T9 dictionary in nine Indian languages-Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. T9 also offers its services in Hinglish- a mixed language of Hindi and English popularised by India’s urban youth, which has been a huge success. The T9 software offers advanced word completion functionality, wherein one has to just press a few keys to pull up the desired word. Further there is a provision of stem locking, which highlights the first few characters of a word and trims down the word choice list, helping users to identify letters and complete the intended word. Our endeavour remains to extend the T9 functionality to more vernacular languages, to encourage users to adopt texting as the preferred medium of communication. How would application offered by your company help in e-Governance? ov
In June this year, we announced the availability of 9 new Indian languages for speech recognition in the contact centre. The launch of these new languages will enable government bodies and enterprises to offer a more enriched user experience, where consumers will be able to conduct self-service transactions in the language of their choice. The new languages now available, in addition to Hindi and Indian English, are –Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telegu, Bengali, Gujrati, Oriya, and Punjabi. We are hopeful that with such voice applications available from Nuance Communications, it will largely aid the government to fortify in its initiatives for rural up-liftment. What are the applications/ services which are in the pipeline that your company plans to launch in India. Going by the current market scenario, India is still a growing market in terms of mobile content/ application consumption/ adoption. The evolution is still at a nascent stage. However, the consumers have so far reacted very positively to the availability of a host mobile content. Also, one should understand that the Indian consumer is a very discerning one. They want high quality compelling products with a high value for money quotient. Keeping this and the rapidly evolving technological landscape in mind, we as a company will continue to launch products/services that provide exciting new ways for the consumers to entertain, engage and inform themselves – provide utility based services / application. 49
m–Government : Ruling the High – Tech Way Rinku Dixit and Shailee Choudhary INTRODUCTION
for governments to provide anytime anywhere services to citizens without a stationary wired setup. Mobile government is comparatively, a broader phenomenon which is inevitable and will have a substantial influence on the generation of standard strategies, rules and functions of e-Government.
The term government refers to the act or process of governing and administration of public policy. Information delivery plays a major task for any country’s government as it is the responsibility of the government to keep its citizens informed about the government policies and working. (Right to Information Act, India, 2005) Equally important is the timely delivery of information to public as it facilitates democracy. Since the inception of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) , the government procedures have seen a sea change, with regard to the services to the citizens and businesses and also handling of the internal operations of the related government procedures. e-Governance refers to the ICT- enabled route to achieve good governance. e-Government aims to benefit from the use of most innovative forms of information technologies, particularly web-based Internet applications, in improving governments’ fundamental functions. These functions are now evolving into mobile and wireless technologies and heading Figure1: Service-Oriented Architecture of m-Government (Source: towards a new direction termed as mobile government (m- m-Government SOA, Ljupco Antovski, firstname.lastname@example.org) Government). m-Government, as already introduced in the earlier The volume of penetration of mobile devices will put paragraph, further improves the benefits introduced by e-Government through the use of wireless and mobile severe pressure on m-Government implementations. The technologies. The following article further discusses m- users will want to have government services (those which are appropriate for mobile technologies) to be delivered and Government and its various aspects in detail. accessible anywhere and anytime. Thus, development in mobile technologies and their widespread use in developing countries contribute a lot to citizens’ readiness towards TRANSITION PHASES : THE DRIVERS OF m-GOVERNMENT m-Government. Figure 1 shows the service-oriented In order to make government more accessible and citizen- architecture of the m-Government. centric, efforts were made to increase the use of ICT which resulted in the evolution of the concept called E-government. e-Government is a process of reformation of the government’s WHY m-GOVERNMENT? working and sharing its information using the web-based technologies. The emergence of e-Government offers The following are some of the attractive features that prompt potential to reshape the public sector and build relationships shift towards m-Government: between citizens and the government through provisioning Remote area access: Mobile phones, can reach those areas convenient access to government information and services, to where the infrastructure necessary for Internet services or improve the quality of the services and provide better wired phone services is difficult to setup. In the developing opportunities to participate in the democratic institutions countries mobile government applications may become a key method for reaching citizens in far and wide areas and and processes. The increase in mobile users, as compared to the Internet promoting exchange of communications. In such countries users, in the recent years, reveals a strong opportunity with insufficient conventional telecom infrastructures and 50
REGISTER NOW! Visit us at: ister www.e-asia.org/reg
ion mail us at For further informat org registration@e-asia.
ASIA 25-27 November 2008, Sunway Resort Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Through mSERVE Asia 2008 it is our endeavor to bring regulators, policy makers, service providers, content providers and infrastructure providers from different countries under one roof to discuss and churn out idea's to take telecom growth to next level. Also, visible digital divide between rural and urban population would be discussed in detail. It will also provide an opportunity for mobile professionals and innovators from operators, value-added service providers, and equipment and device manufacturers from across Asia and around the world for networking with a select circle of mobile professionals who can positively impact their business
Key Themes •Rural Connectivity &Last Mile Solution • Policy & Regulatory Issues • Localisation of Content – Value Added Services • Security •m-Marketing •m-Commerce / m-Remittances • Business Models & Unified Tariffs • Impact of 3G & Convergence • Wimax & Broadband • Low Cost Handsets / Ultra Low Costs Handsets
Call for papers! The organisers invite papers on the above mentioned conference themes. Abstracts should be submitted, in no longer than 400 words at email@example.com Last date for submissions is 7 October 2008 For sponsorship and exhibition enquiries, contact: Anuj Agarwal (+91 9911302086), firstname.lastname@example.org For opportunities and information related to e-asia 2008 event contact us at email@example.com
Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (MEWC) Government of Malaysia
knowledge for change
GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE PARTNERSHIP
GKP The World Bank
greater acceptance of mobile phones, the ability of reaching rural areas may be considered as an important feature of m-Government.
third generation (3G) services which promises to make more information available at faster speeds. Improvement on e-Government effort: Mobile government is not a replacement to e-Government but complementary to it.
ACHIEVEMENTS THROUGH m-GOVERNMENT
Low Cost: Mobile phones are a relatively low cost technology as compared to Internet technology. Ease of Learning: Usage of mobile devices is fairly simple thus making it easy for any common person to use it and to access information.. e-Development: Helps in expanding the scope of e-Governance in the areas like e-Democracy, e-Participation, e-Voting and many other forms of communication between the citizen and the government. Enhanced Network: A wide range of government services can be delivered via mobile network. According to an estimate by R.Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary (e-Gov), Government Of India, approximately 50 to 60% of government services in India can be delivered through mobile channels.
WIDE AVAILABILITY OF MOBILE PHONES
Technical Knowledge: The use of Internet requires a fairly complex set of skills and technology know how’s. There are certain requirements such as electricity, communication lines, computer workstation and in most cases a reasonable fluency in English. These requirements are difficult to be met in many e-Government applications, cannot be implemented and if implemented they fail to succeed and meet their objective. ICT Accessibility: The people’s readiness to accept ICT and Internet regularly is high in developed countries as compared to developing countries. People in many developing countries are unable to access ICT with sufficient regularity and in some places they are unable to access it at all. On the other hand mobile government applications are accessed using devices such as mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA’s) which have an added advantage of ease of use, low cost etc. Easy Infrastructure Setup: Due to the simple architecture of mobile telephony, new mobile phone networks can be easily installed in countries where infrastructure is an issue and that too without too much economic constraint. 3G Services: The shift towards higher data transfer rates and 52
A. Enabling G2C, C2G, and G2E Communication: Mobile technologies prove to be an important medium for governments to timely deliver information to its citizens, termed as Government to citizen (G2C). For instance the government in Germany has provision for sending Short Messaging Service (SMS) to all registered bus and taxi drivers to help the police in searching and tracing missing citizens and criminals. Similar applications exist to assist Citizen to Government (C2G) and Government to Employee (G2E ). In Norway, citizens via SMS with their specific code can complete the entire Tax declaration procedure (C2G). In Turkey, mobile law enforcement units query vehicle information using mobile devices in their cars. Vehicle information is then cross checked with several government agencies for road tax enquiry, criminal suspicion or owner’s identification (G2E). B. m-Democracy and m-Voting: Public opinion can be expressed via SMS e-mail, Wireless Application Protocol Government to Employee (WAP) and web forms. m-Voting has been partly introduced in certain countries in the form of information mechanism to subscribed citizens about their polling booths and subsequent SMS regarding the poll results (Implemented in Virginia, USA). C. Efficient ROI: On the spot data gathering and immediate up-load into one central database is one of the remarkable features of m-government providing substantial cost savings and Return of Investment ( ROI). Thus, mobile technology can help government officials to better manage the allocated financial and human resources. D. Location-Based Services (LBS): These have been used mainly for commercial and advertising purposes but have substantial application with regard to emergency services such as locating a near by Bank/Automated Teller Machine (ATM), information regarding traffic conditions, weather forecasting, news headlines and alerts to name a few. E. Handling Transportation through m-Government: Certain Governments have employed various services to help provision increased safety on roads. This may involve usage of Global Positioning Sysytem (GPS), LBS and Interactive Voice Reposnse (IVR) technologies and involve information regarding any road accidents in the vicinity, congestion management, alternative routes, repair services, remote diagnostics of broken vehicles, reporting dangerous driving through voice commands(operational in UK for trucks) etc. F. Education and m-Government: m-Technology enhances parent teacher communication, with regard to the ward’s progress and other regular notifications . ICT as part of students’ curricula trains them for the future work environment and Wi-Fi enabled campuses, stimulate the utilisation of wireless devices and notebooks by university students. www.egovonline.net
G. m-Health: Online consultations, SMS alerts to blood donors in case of need of a rare blood group, financial help regarding an expensive treatment etc are already a reality. The day is not far when even virtual operation would be possible where a specialist sitting in his chambers in a remote location monitors (via video conferencing) would advice his junior in emergency operations or situations.
global standardisation of content, semantics and interoperability across agencies and network. The large array of new communication technology opportunities, the rapid emergence and change of standards as well as the variety of mobile devices offering different technical capabilities call for sustainable architecture and technology frameworks in order to meet critical interoperability and scalability requirements.
CHALLENGES FOR m-GOVERNMENT
m-GOVERNMENT: FUTURE SCOPE
In spite of all benefits and advantage discussed so far, there exist challenges which need to be handled by the m-Government. A. Infrastructure: Infrastructure refers to the existence of the hardware (physical equipments, technology and network) and software (institutional arrangements and software for m-Government transactions) The hardware part already exists but only a few softwares are available for m-Government suggesting a requirement for new softwares (PacketWriter, Pocket Blue, and Pocket Rescue, developed by Aether systems ) to work with the latest technologies. The physical infrastructure exists for both wired and wireless networks in the urban areas but in rural areas the wireless infrastructure is still in its infancy. B. Privacy and Security: Associated with any wireless or mobile technology are the privacy and the security concerns. The citizens want that the government agencies should safeguard their key data from moving into the hands of unauthorized agencies or hackers, thus preventing its misuse. For example, in the online payment infrastructure, involving credit cards for online purchases is still a matter of low trust and prone to misuse of the credit card details. Wireless networks use public airwaves for transportation of secured data, making it vulnerable to hackers who can easily intercept and tamper it. Therefore, the planning stage of Mgovernment should take special note in selecting appropriate mobile devices, thus ensuring privacy and security. C. Peoples’ Readiness: One of the pre-requisite for mGovernment is the citizens’ acceptability and attitude towards it. For instance, in the developing countries, a large percentage of the population is not aware of the meaning and impact of e-Government and m-Government, thus stressing training and education requirement of the people to carry out mobile transactions via mobile technology. D. Legal Issues: Governments need to consult the public regarding the implementation of m-Government practices. Many countries around the world have not yet adopted the Law of Fair Information Practices, which spells out the rights of data subjects (citizens) and the responsibilities of the data holders (government). In some cases the law does not recognise mobile documents and transactions. Clear legal status for the government functioning, regulations, laws for online transactions, online signing and online taxable transaction needs to be formulated. E. Compatibility: Mobile services as communication channel between the authority and the citizen requires
The future of m–Government throughout the world seems extremely bright and the changes are welcome. Efforts are on towards converting all government services from e-Services to m-Services, as mobile devices move into the hands of almost every individual in the society. It seems a lot easier when trying to contact people for personal or official reasons. However, along with these positive trends there are some problems and bindings on the society and the administration. A large population equipped with mobile connections puts strain on the existing infrastructure and stresses its development and upliftment. Bandwidth issues, connectivity issues, roaming rentals, advent of new and improved mobile technology etc require focus not only by the providers but need simultaneous involvement and considerations by the government. The need for m-Services also makes it inevitable for the e-Government professionals, practitioners, and researchers to acquire necessary skills to face the new move towards m-Gvernment. Thus the future seems bright but requires tremendous upliftments of the technical infrastructure, socioeconomic acceptance, security and privacy considerations, Implementation of legal standards accepted globally and the challenges of services’ unification.
    
World Bank e-Development Thematic group, M-Government Conference – November 29, 2007. Ljupco Antovski, Marjan Gusev, Article on “M-Government”. Farshid Ghyasi, Ibrahim Kushchu, Article on “ M -Government : Cases of Developing Countries”,www.mgovlab.org. Michal Zalesak, Article on “mGov-Case Studies”, zalesak@ webprojects.cz. Ibrahim Kushchu, M. Halid Kuscu, Article on “From E-government to M-Government : Facing the inevitable”.
Rinku Dixit is a Sr. Lecturer, Manav Rachna College of Engineering, Faridabad. She has worked with Jagannath International Management School. She has written a number of articles and research papers on areas ranging from Internet Security to e-Commerce to Artificial Intelligence, which have been presented and published in national and International Seminars and Conferences. Shailee Choudhary is a Lecturer, Manav Rachna College of Engineering, Faridabad.She has also worked with Mangalmay Institute Of Management & Technology, Greater Noida affiliated to UPTEC University. Her current areas of specialisation include Programming, Systems Analysis Design and Evaluation, Software Engineering, MIS, Data Warehousing and Data Mining and Computer Languages, Software Testing and m-Government.
Yeh Dil Maange More Sandeep Budki After three long years of agonising wait, India finally announced its much awaited third generation (3G) policy for the telecom players. But there is a catch this policy has some roadblocks for both local and foreign players who want to enter the Indian telecom space. Ideally, the new policy for 3G mobile systems would bring greater consumer choice, lower prices, better competition and major opportunities for telecom players. However, with its hefty entry price and a few inconsistencies (discussed later in the article), this policy could well end up favouring Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), the two state-owned telecom players, making competition and cut-throat for private players . The 3G policy was recently unveiled by the Union Telecommunications and IT, Thiru A. Raja. It opens up opportunities for local as well as foreign players to consolidate their position in Indian telecom space and for those who could not enter telecom arena earlier to try their luck now! 3G is the third generation or the next level of mobile phone standards and technology, based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) family of standards under the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) programme, IMT-2000. It supersedes 2G, currently the most widely-used standard that is meant mainly for voice. Technically, the main difference between 3G and the earlier generation networks is the speed of sending and receiving the data. 3G networks allow data transmission at a much higher speed than 2G, which means that with 3G network access one can not only use the usual voice call (better quality) and messaging services, but also video calls, live TV, Internet access and music and video downloads. India is already late in joining 3G band wagon It is already in operation in around 40 countries, including our neighbour Pakistan. Even as India has emerged as the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, and is expected to continue the growth rate , falling call rates have resulted in major dip in Average Revenues Per User (ARPU) for telecom companies,who are betting big on Value Added Services (VAS) give big boost to their ARPU’s. Also, 3G promises to be a boon for rural India as well, as it it pitched to revolutionise social and economic development services like e-Governance, tele-education, telemedicine etc. But its effectiveness on ground is a topic of debate as initially 3G services will be launched in the metro and no time frame has been given in ternms of the availability of services for rural India. Still, it comes with a severe entry barrier. The 54
3G policy has been announced. It opens up opportunities for local as well as foreign players to consolidate their position in Indian telecom space and for those who could not enter telecom arena earlier, this is a chance they can grab
policy sets just two slots for 3G players in New Delhi and Mumbai – the two largest and most lucrative megacities in the country for telecom services – and one has been reserved for the state-owned telecom player, MTNL. “Spectrum in 2.1 GHz band will be allocated for 3G telecom services throughout the country,” Raja told a press conference, adding some 60 MHz of spectrum was available for wireless telephony in the country. He further added “We may give licences to up to 10 operators. It depends on the availability of spectrum. Initially, we will have five players. In Delhi and Mumbai, there will be two operators only. The validity of the licence will be 20 years.” www.egovonline.net
He said a reserve price of INR 1.6 billion ($40 million) had been fixed for Delhi, Mumbai and all ‘A’ category circles, half that for Kolkata and ‘B’ category circles and INR 300 million ($7.5 million) for category ‘C’ circles. The base price would add up to INR 28 billion for an all-India licence and the government expects to earn more than INR 300 billion ($7.5 billion) from the auction of spectrum for 3G services. Raja said his ministry was also in talks with the National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, who has been entrusted with the task of determining the amount of the spectrum available with the defence forces which can be used for civilian purposes. However, if one recalls, release of spectrum by defence was a major cause of delay in 3G policy. Although, the minster says that India has “set aside 60 MHz of spectrum” for rolling out 3G services, the fact is that much of this – rumoured to be 45 MHz – is still lying with the country’s defence establishment. The minister also said that “the army will release this spectrum soon,” but there are lot of ifs and buts in this. But even if 3G spectrum comes cheaper in other cities, the policy imposes a heavy burden for new players in another form. Besides paying for the 3G spectrum, new players winning the 3G bids will have to pay an additional US$392 million for a mandatory universal access service licence, which means that the new player will also have to roll out 2G along with 3G.
Then, there are other bottlenecks as well. The new players have to roll out their services to cover 90 percent of the area in cities like Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad in five years – and 50 percent in all other cities. If the roll-out obligation is not met after a grace period of another year, the spectrum allocation would be withdrawn. Details are still awaited for clarification on what happens to the money paid initially. Those who would want to roll out 3G across the country, the price is mind boggling, with the reserve set at almost half a billion dollars for a pan-India 3G licence. Another major issue that was holding 3G back was the conflict between the strong but opposing lobbies of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM)-based and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)-based operators. The two have been battling, each blaming the other for ‘sitting on spare spectrum’ acquired in the past from the government by misrepresenting requirements. These two lobbies have been fighting with the government too, demanding a resolution of this issue before ushering in any new players or services in the country. Nevertheless, even if the minister is silent on how he plans to tackle these controversies before going ahead with the 3G auction – expected to start in about six months – there are indeed a few upsides. Sandeep Budki is Senior Corenspondent, egov firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerala Government Bans Mobile Phone Usage in Schools Kerala government banned the use of mobile devices in the school premises following the rising instances of misuse of mobile phones in classrooms. State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the assembly, “What we had till now is merely a government order stating that mobile phones can’t be used in schools. But now we will introduce new laws to this effect, banning the use of mobiles in all schools.” The ban would also be implimented
in the higher secondary schools as well. This move of the government came after a girl student attempted suicide after she was allegedly trip-searched in class to check if she was carrying a mobile phone. The incident was an outcome of a paranoia that has set in among the authorities due to the rampant misuse of mobile phones. Such incidences in the last couple of months led to a growing demand for banning mobile phones in schools.
iPhone 3G Launched in India, Singapore and Phillipines At the stroke of the midnight on 22nd August 2008 iPhone 3G handsets were launched in India, Singapore and Phillipines. Enthusiastic presence of cutomers and people was witnessed at the launch parties in these countries. In Singapore, the launch was organised and held by SingTel- the first of the three carriers in the country that inked an agreement with Apple to sell the mobile
device. In India SingTel’s-affiliate Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar have contracts with Apple to bring the phone to the Indian market. Bharti has launched the same in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. While Globe Telecom has exclusive distribution rights in Philippines. Operators are offering the iPhones in two variants: 8GB and 16GB, with different prices in different markets.
e-Government in Korea : An Overview Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, Government of Korea e-GOVERNMENT BACKGROUND AND STRATEGIES Vision and Goals
President Roh Moo-hyun showed firm resolve over promoting government innovation by connecting it with the implementation of e-Government in order to maximise the effects of government innovation. “It is now necessary to improve the way the government works, and to innovate its business processes… to lead smooth transformation of government functions and organisations... Moreover, we must put our utmost efforts into achieving clear and transparent administration through e-Government. (First National Agenda meeting, April 17, 2003). In 2003, the Special Committee on e-Government was organised under the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralisation(PCGID) for establishing principles of e-Government promotion, and announced the e-Government Roadmap Projects upon expert review. The e-Government Roadmap Projects present grand ambitions for achieving the national vision and goals of Korea, which include (1) the realising of a participatory democracy, (2) establishing balanced social development, (3) promoting the era of Northeast Asia, and (4) achieving a per capita income of USD 20,000. In doing so, the goals of e-Government have been set; innovating service delivery, enhancing efficiency and transparency and promoting democracy in administration, coinciding with the vision of achieving the “World’s Best Open e-Government”. The phrase “World’s Best” refers to the realisation of Korea as one of the world’s most developed nations based on its recent achievements in ICT areas. “Open e-Government” refers to increasing citizens’ participation by realising transparent
and responsible public administration. With special focus on “transparency”, the government opens information on government policy such as its implications and policy-making processes to the public, making citizens well informed and ensuring a balanced distribution of information among the government and citizens. As described below in table 1-1, the e-Government projects have been evaluated on the basis of a result-oriented management model, comparing the level of e-Government in 2003 and the expected results to be achieved by 2008. In addition to these goals, the government set target ranks for key performance indexes provided by international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), Transparency International(TI) and International Data Corporation(IDC).
HISTORY OF e-GOVERNMENT PROMOTION e-Government Before the Roh Administration
Since 1987, Korea has made consistent efforts to achieve strategic goals set for e-Government by starting to digitise services related to matters of residence, real estate and vehicles under the National Basic Information Systems Project. The Korea Information Infrastructure (KII) Project for building an information super-highway was also launched in the 1990s, under which each ministry promoted digitisation, especially in the areas of patents, procurement, customs and national tax. In addition to this, the government selected 11 e-Government initiatives, and established common and integrated infrastructure among government agencies including single-window civil services, a comprehensive national procurement system, and a national finance system. The history of e-Government promotion in Korea is outlined in table 1-3. As a result of consistent efforts, the level of informatisation reached the advanced stage in terms of its function and ministerial unit, and such areas as civil application, tax, procurement, and customs had begun to be processed electronically, with integrated online services partially provided. Nevertheless, such results not begun to be felt by citizens due to the supplier-oriented and fragmented nature of informatisation projects. Improving work processes had www.egovonline.net
been underestimated in digitisation, while offline-based laws and customs lingered on. In addition, providing seamless one-stop service to citizens seemed to confront challenges since information-sharing among government agencies was hindered in part by a unwillingness to share, which led to little contribution to e-Government results as a tool for government innovation. Embracing more expectation for eGovernment results, the government adopted e-Government as a key national agenda in 2003.
The Technical Committee on e-Government under the PCGID carried out the development, deliberation, and coordination of the e-Government Roadmap projects during initial stages. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) provided administrative assistance while the National Information Society Agency (NIA) conducted project management along with technical advice. Each government agency was assigned to perform and implement plans that were designed by the Committee. With the necessity to strengthen the authority and position of the ministry responsible constantly being raised for efficient and responsible e-Government implementation, the development, coordination, and management of e-Government projects has been performed by MOGAHA as the projects entered into full-scale implementation. The Special Committee on e-Government focused on advising and evaluating e-Government projects.
e-GOVERNMENT IN THE ROH ADMINISTRATION
Upon his inauguration in 2003, President Roh prepared policy measures to further develop national informatisation and e-Government projects promoted by previous administrations. To promote government innovation in a more comprehensive and systematic way, the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralisation (PCGID) was established to deal with such issues as e-Government, administrative reform, local decentralisation and tax reform. In 2003, the ‘Roh Administration e-Government Vision and Principles’ was announced, followed by the ‘e-Government Roadmap’. The e-Government Roadmap is composed of four areas of innovation, 10 agendas and 31 projects as shown below in table 1-4.
The budget for informatisation in 2006 is USD 3.4 billion, of which, approximately USD 917 million (26.7%) will be invested into e-Government implementation and USD 9.5 million (2.8%) into narrowing the digital divide. The budget will be allocated, prioritising the areas that would achieve substantial results such as time saving for work processing, reduction in paper-based documents and savings in administrative and social costs. As shown in table 1-6, the budget for e-Government Roadmap projects in 2006, integrated and managed by MOGAHA, is approximately USD 276 million - 30.1% of the entire e-Government budget. During the period from 2003 to 2007, total budget of USD 981 million is expected to be allocated into e-Government implementation. Since 2005, the e-Government budget was transferred from the ICT promotion fund to the general account, and the budget for each Roadmap project is executed by the National Information Society Agency after being coordinated by MOGAHA and deliberated by a deliberation committee. 57
been evaluated under the category of ‘Service Delivery by Stages’ in the UN Global e-Government Readiness Report. Nevertheless, further service functions need to be developed in such areas as e-Commerce, e-Payment for credit card users, and feedback for e-Discussion and participation in policy-making. For better evaluation of e-Government, the indicators used by the UN could be incorporated into websites run by Korean government agencies, along with the expanding of global cooperation and PR activities. These activities also include releasing e-Government newsletters to introduce performance and good practices, and enhancing the English versions of websites. GLOBAL EVALUATION AND GLOBAL COOPERATION ON e-GOVERNMENT Global Evaluation on e-Government
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) has compiled the e-Readiness Index and e-Participation Index on e-Government since 2003 that are recognised as some of the world’s most authoritative indices in terms of eGovernment evaluation. Korea ranked fifth in the e-Readiness Index for two consecutive years, 2004 and 2005, which is a signifi cant achievement after being 13th in 2003. In terms of web-level, Korea ranked third, climbing one notch from fourth after being highly evaluated in e-Commerce and integrated processing. Korea’s ICT infrastructure index climbed from 12th to 9th. As for the human resources index, Korea came in 12th with a ranking of 0.97 point. Korea’s e-Government achieved 80 percent of utilisation at stage V, ‘networked presence’, with 90 percent at stage IV, ‘transactional presence’, which has
GLOBAL COOPERATION ON e-GOVERNMENT
International organisations such as the OECD and UN host various international events related to e-Government, recognising it as a significant tool for better citizen service delivery and efficient administration. The Korean government has and will continue to actively participate in these events.
Reflecting this international trend, the Global Cooperation Office was newly organised directly under the Office of the Vice Minister in November 2005. Since its launch, Korea hosted four different conferences, inviting e-Government experts from international organisations such as the UN and ASEAN. These international activities will offer opportunities for Korea to introduce its e-Government to the world. Korea will establish and carry out PR planning, so that Korea’s 58
e-Government activities and its status can be well known to the world. GLOBAL COOPERATION ON e-GOVERNMENT
International organisations such as the OECD and UN has and will continue to actively participate in these events. experts from international organisations such as the UN and ASEAN. These international activities will offer opportunities Index on e-Government since 2003 that are recognised as Korea ranked fifth in the e-Readiness Index for two consecutive years, 2004 and 2005, which is a signifi cant level, Korea ranked third, climbing one notch from fourth
processing. Korea’s ICT infrastructure index climbed from 12th to 9th. As for the human resources index, Korea came Korea’s e-Government achieved 80 percent of utilisation at stage V, ‘networked presence’, with 90 percent at stage IV, ‘transactional presence’, which has been evaluated under the functions need to be developed in such areas as e-Commerce, e-Payment for credit card users, and feedback for e-Discussion Korean government agencies, along with the expanding of include releasing e-Government newsletters to introduce host various international events related to e-Government, recognising it as a significant tool for better citizen service
delivery and efficient administration. The Korean government Reflecting this international trend, the Global Cooperation Office was newly organised directly under the Office of the Vice Minister in November 2005. Since its launch, Korea hosted four different conferences, inviting e-Government for Korea to introduce its e-Government to the world. Korea will establish and carry out PR planning, so that Korea’s e-Government activities and its status can be well known to the world.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR e-GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT
The paradigm for government has shifted from control and management to efficiency, transparency and participation through innovation, and the government’s function and citizens’ role in the society has changed. Taken together, the future direction for e-Government needs to be considered and refined, based on government innovation undertaken by the Roh administration. The relationship between governments and citizens would be changed into that of partners, rather than a supplier-beneficiary relationship, and the government’s role also into a coordinator, rather than a governor. For this purpose, the government of the future requires four different factors: digitisation, responsiveness, fl exibility and governance. Digitisation can be facilitated by the use of new technologies. Responsiveness means continuously seeking innovation performance, responding to rapid changes, and flexibility refers to accelerating and adapting to change. Finally governance contains the changes in the government’s role from a governor to a coordinator. The future e-Government is being developed towards seamless and consolidated services, based on the e-Government projects that have been promoted so far. In addition, a new master plan for e-Democracy where citizens can actively participate in policymaking and execution would also be necessary. The new e-Government strategies will be taken into account from various perspectives, especially in terms of strategy, e-Government services, citizens’ e-Participation and strengthened infrastructure for e-Government. In terms of the strategic side of e-Government, it fi rst should continuously evolve and develop, and its new value created. Service innovation and 59
participation expansion, being the vision and goals of the Roh administration, should evolve and develop with trends over time, and administrative efficiency and increased transparency should be maintained as to achieve substantial performance. Second, e-Government and administrative innovation should be interconnected by a framework. Aiming at providing all government information and services via the Internet, electronic services should be developed in a wide range of areas including education, employment, medical care, government procurement, business service, social security, and tax; and a close relationship between e-Government strategies and innovation is needed. Third, a performance evaluation system and feedback system on e-Government should be prepared. Goals should be clearly defined together with continuous motivation, and it is very important to establish and carry out systems that can maximise investment performance in connection with budget. In terms of e-Government services, it is necessary, first, to step up accessibility to information. Using the customisable service functions of portals, users should be able to individualise government information and services as they wish, thereby achieving enhanced service convenience. Second, administrative work and the horizontal and vertical connection of e-Government systems should be consolidated. The services of each ministry must undergo process innovation from providing services on a 1:1 relationship to seamless and integrated services on a 1:n relationship, enabling continuous and batch processing. Moreover, in order to establish services that citizens and businesses want, it is required to prepare consolidation principles and standards from a service perspective based on the government business reference model. More specific forms of business processes to provide integrated services will then be drawn up based on such principles and standards. In terms of strengthening citizen participation in e-Government, the expansion of online participation is 60
required first. By actively and comprehensively disclosing various forms of information, which have been partially disclosed so far, all administrative information on policymaking should be open electronically, and transparent administrative services developed that can gain public understanding and validity. Second, it is required that citizen-oriented e-Governance be established. By establishing an electronic path through which citizens and citizen groups can participate with responsibility and authority as partners on the same level as the government in policy-making procedures, e-Democracy should be achieved to actively guarantee public participation. Also, a foundation should be built for e-Governance, privacy protection, expansion of online participation in all the policy-making procedures, and improvement of electronic information welfare rights guaranteeing service quality. In terms of strengthening e-Government infrastructure, a government-wide information resource management system should be the fi rst precedent. Since it is necessary to promote strategies that strengthen the interconnection between innovation and informatisation, the advancement of e-Government requires active implementation of interministerial policies such as diversifying policy information, expanding the sharing of administrative databases, and constructing and operating a knowledge management system. Second, new information technologies such as ubiquitous technology should be utilised. e-Government should now actively transform to a mobile-based M-Government, which is adaptable to various mobile environmental changes, and to a TV-based T-Gov, which provides e-Government services to homes via TV. In addition to developing these technologies, it is also necessary to close the digital divide and thoroughly attend to issues on fostering security. Third, information security should be taken into consideration. In order to achieve an all-time accessible ubiquitous environment, infrastructure should be first established with information security being taken into account. As the scale of informatisation and the governmentâ€™s dependence on informatised processes increase, it is urgent to seek measures to enhance business process continuity through prioritising security in information systems and informatisation infrastructure. Fourth, it is necessary to strengthen the e-Government implementation framework. This is required to expand and institutionalise participation from leading private businesses for guiding e-Government projects and contribute to the growth of the domestic IT industry. Facilitating outsourcing in project implementation and management as well as developing diverse and active cooperative models with private businesses, which have expertise and capacity, would provide the best opportunities to enhance national strength in the era of digital convergence. In the end, the future e-Government will greatly enhance the reliability and transparency of the government, based on more efficient administration and improved service capacity for citizens. The people will be able to encounter an e-Government through which they can use government services and even participate in policy-making via diverse media anytime and anywhere. www.egovonline.net
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Published on Mar 10, 2010
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[ www.egovonline.net ] egov magazine is the Asia’s first and only print-cum-online magazine on e-Governance, focusing on the use of ICTs in...