e-government


Few days back, I spent time at the Dompe District Hospital (a modest 100 bed hospital where people go for clinic visits but not for surgery) observing the impressive progress made in re-engineering work processes and introducing ICTs. The story is well told in Roar.lk. All the doctors worked with laptops and barcode readers. Each patient presents a barcode.
Over 80 sitting MPs of the Yangon Regional Hluttaw participated in a two day course on e-government organized by LIRNEasia and MIDO. The course took place on 22 and 23 June within the parliamentary premises and saw the participation of representatives from National League for Democracy (NLD), the Military and  Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Rohan Samarajiva and Helani Galpaya of LIRNEasia, Pranesh Prakash of CIS and Htaike Htaike Aung and Yatanar Htun of MIDO made presentations to the MPs over the two days. The presentations were well received and lively discussions followed. Many MPs also visited the digital security clinic for one to one consultations on how they could secure their social media accounts.
Many of the public services that would be delivered under Digital India are those under the purview of state governments which are not necessarily under the control of, or even aligned with, the Modi government. It’s good that they are working across the lines. Congress-ruled Karnataka wants to be the flagship for the Digital India initiative. Pushed by chief minister Siddaramaiah, the state’s e-governance department is set to roll out 376 government services under the e-district programme within the next three months. This will be four times more than BJP-ruled Maharashtra’s 85 services, the highest in the country, currently.

Citizen-centric smart cities

Posted by on November 14, 2014  /  1 Comments

I am not sure surveying current smartphone users, especially in countries where smartphone penetration is still low, is the best way to gauge the demand for smart-city services, but it is a useful input. Here are some key findings from an Ericsson study that is available on the web. The report – which surveyed over 9,000 smartphone users in nine cities (including Beijing, Delhi and Tokyo) – found that 76% of respondents would use traffic volume maps, while 70% would use energy usage monitors and 66% would use apps to check water quality. “These are services that consumers will expect cities to make available via the internet,” says Michael Bjorn, Ericsson ConsumerLab’s head of research. Bjorn adds that demand for smart-city services could also drive future concepts such as interactive road navigation, social bike/car sharing, indoor maps, as well as healthcare concepts like heart-rate monitoring rings, posture sensors and a digital health network of medical data accessible by physicians.
This World Bank blog throws in the new, new thing “big data.” But really with little substance. Some unthinking hack. Information technology can be a powerful tool to empower the citizen. In Pakistan, where mobile phone penetration is almost 70 percent, it is possible to reach even the poorest households.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Dr Keshav Man Shakya, who inaugurated the conference said that he kept thinking e governance though he was asked to speak on e democracy. In my talk, I decided to explore the interface between the two. I did not think it very useful to talk in broad generalities but wanted to bring up specific things that Nepal could do within a year or two. What is e democracy? Is it the broadest meaning of replacing representative democracy with direct democracy enabled by the ability of citizens to ostensibly vote on all matters requiring collective decisions?
I was at dinner with some people who advise governments earlier today. One said they had identified the top four apps for government. I asked who would develop them? And who decided? Without being rude, I said that innovation is like throwing 100 things at a wall and seeing what four things stick.
There was a small but high profile Government Transformation Forum organized in Kovalam, Kerala, Feb 5-6, 2012. The Kerala Chief Minister and the Minister in charge of IT made appearances and the high-profile MP of the area, Dr Shashi Tharoor, delivered the keynote address and showed deep engagement. I chaired the session on international and Indian best practices and made a presentation based primarily on the experiences of designing e Sri Lanka back in 2002-03 and LIRNEasia research. My key message was that there were no best practices that could be imported to Kerala. What were best were what fit the specific circumstances.
I was impressed when the ICT Agency made a presentation at a recent conference, that included a detailed response to concerns that Sri Lanka was dropping in international rankings in the ICT space. The presentation included action items that would address weak points and would thus result in improved rankings. e government was central to the design of e Sri Lanka and is perhaps the program area that has absorbed most of the USD 83 million funds. Therefore, the UN e gov rankings are very important. Sadly, the 2010 rankings indicate that Sri Lanka’s position has deteriorated in relative and absolute terms.
Many countries have yet to open up government information. Even India, which has a freedom of information law, has so many exceptions to the duty to release. Simply releasing information is not enough. We need to have information in usable form. This NYT article shows some good examples.
Friday, 29th May 2009, the Federation of Sri Lanka Local Government Authorities launched its platform for young Councillors, at a meeting organized at the Maharagama Youth Services Centre auditorium. I was invited to give the keynote. It was entitled “public service” and drew on examples from some of our exploratory work on e gov, specifically the successful innovations at the passport office. The pictures have been removed from the presentation: youngcouncillors__lesspics2.
The State of “Broadband” in Sri Lanka – Take 1 « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) Lirneasia’s work (in particular their BOP research, on which I have still to write on in this blog) has helped me more than any other organisation to justify my on-going work with citizen journalism and new media as a means through which one can strengthen democratic governance, peace and fundamental rights. Years ago I began work on ICT4Peace with the hunch that mobile devices / phones would change the way in which citizens communicate with governance and governance mechanisms in the swabhasha, and that wireless internet access / cloud computing and diminishing costs of access would make them producers of content instead of passive recipients and consumers of content dished out to them by e-government initiatives with a downstream emphasis. It’s heartening to see research from Lirneasia supporting the validity of these early assumptions and my continuing work in ICT and peacebuilding. Powered by ScribeFire.
A United Nations survey of global e-government readiness has found that many Asian countries are sliding down the rankings. Just one Asian country—South Korea—made the top ten coming in at sixth, with Japan next on 11th.   The next highest was Singapore at a surprisingly low 23rd, and Malaysia at 34th. The top 35 countries are otherwise dominated by Europe, Australasia and North America.  The biggest revelation was that most Asian countries are sliding down the rankings.
Chanuka Wattegama presents findings from a benchmarking study of regulatory websites. The objective of this study is to do a performance evaluation of the web sites of the Telecommunication National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) of selected countries in the Asian Pacific region and benchmark their performance as e-government service providers. Slides Points of Discussion: What is the role of a website in effectiveness of an NRA? CW – serves as a window to stakeholders RS – should have website as central organizing factor. organize yourself around putting everything up on the website.
Rapid Response Unit: 14 December 2004 LIRNEasia made a short, but productive call on Nepal’s High-Level Commission for Information Technology (HLCIT) last week, to advise on jump-starting its e government and reform processes. The visit came within less than ten days of a request for Rapid Response assistance by Mr. Sharad Chandra Shah, HLCIT’s Vice Chairman. In his three day visit, executive director Rohan Samarajiva conducted two key sessions, with HLCIT and decision making level representatives of government, private sector and civil society. The first was a seminar, concerned with how Nepal can rapidly implement e-government initiatives, drawing on experience from Sri Lanka.
The service sector drives network economies and information societies. The foundation of this sector is the communication network. As such, modern network economies depend on effective reforms in telecom infrastructure to strengthen links among local, national, regional and international networks and markets. Professor William H. Melody Technical University of Denmark London School of Economics … in his presentation on “public administration in an e-economy” to the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration.