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.
I’ve written about the e gov rankings before but in those instances, 2012 and 2010, the direction that Sri Lanka was taking was negative. But this year, miracles have been achieved. Sri Lanka has advanced 41 places in the biannual survey, erasing all the reverses I wrote about. Sri Lanka ranks first in Southern Asia, with the Maldives ranking in second position. The Sri Lankan government has made a substantial effort to develop its online portal which now ranks 74th in the world.
The government of Sri Lanka has adopted a policy of “Mobile First” for delivery of e government services. This makes us at LIRNEasia very happy because the evidence from our research since 2005 supports the giving of primacy to wireless platforms. We have been pushing for voice-based delivery of e gov services through widely disseminated papers and talks since 2007. So keeping to the theme of more than voice and emphasis on m apps, the talk this year seeks to put some flesh on the commendable Mobile First policy.
Last year, I wrote about how the ubiquity of mobiles had helped a Bangladeshi doctor improve vaccination rates and win a Gates Foundation Prize. Here is another story about how the ubiquity of mobiles is helping improve government service delivery in Lahore, Pakistan. Even among the poorest fifth of households, 80% now use phones, so the technology can reach almost everyone. Illiteracy is a problem, but the chief minister’s call alerts a recipient to get help, if needed, with reading the text message when it arrives. It contains a specific question: did the police respond, as required, within 15 minutes of your emergency call?
Several Sinhala newspapers and webpapers have reported that the government will henceforth give priority to delivering e gov services over mobile interfaces. I assume the English media will pick up this story in due course. This is good news for a country where mobiles are ubiquitous, but conventional desktop computer use is not. We at LIRNEasia have been hammering home the message that mobile must be given priority based on our Teleuse@BOP survey research since 2005. Specifically, this was a key message in the 2011 and 2012 Future Gov conferences in Colombo.
On Dec 2-3, 2012, the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology organized the 2nd National e Government Conference in Baghdad. Senior Research Fellow Subhash Bhatnagar made the opening presentation. I made a presentation on infrastructure along with Shahani Weerawarana who spoke on public private partnerships.
The 2012 UN e government survey is out. Sri Lanka is still second in the South Asian region, behind the Maldives. But its world ranking has slipped even further. Now it’s 115th. It was 111th in 2010.
After some time, we at LIRNEasia are beginning to engage again with e gov, which I like to say is an acronym for effective government. So I came across this new service provided by the government of Saudi Arabia where male guardians are sent an SMS by the govt when their wives leave the country. Earlier, it had been necessary for permanently dependent females (i.e., all females) to carry with them a “yellow clip” wherein the guardian had consented to their departure.
A high profile regional event intended to foster exchange of ideas among government officials and their suppliers attracted participants from the region as well as many from within government here in Sri Lanka. I was given the opportunity to present LIRNEasia’s research in 15 minutes in the first session. I chose to highlight the agriculture work and push a single policy recommendation: that government should free up data and information that it sat on (e.g., agricultural extension information) so that young people developing apps would have the necessary raw material.
It’s not only in developing countries that getting organizations and people to change behaviors to accommodate e gov and e commerce is a problem. Consumers who still pay bills via snail mail. Hospitals leery of making treatment records available online to their patients. Some state motor vehicle registries that require car owners to appear in person — or to mail back license plates — in order to transfer vehicle ownership. But the White House is out to fight cyberphobia with an initiative intended to bolster confidence in e-commerce.
Today I spoke at the Future Gov, Sri Lanka conference. After a long time, I had a technical glitch (I raely do, because I work with simple slides and I go early and test; I did all that but the test was not done on the conference machine, fully. Not for the lack of asking). Anyway, here are the slides and the video that was not shown. I made a case for governments freeing up basic data on a non-discriminatory basis.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, is invited to speak at the FutureGov forum Sri Lanka 2011 which will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 19-20 July, 2011. This forum will cover the strategies on how to align technology investments with agency priorities – to create necessary infrastructure and establish the enabling environment for the implementation of e-government services, thus, creating an effective and efficient e-Governance. Rohan will speak at the session “Digital inclusion”. The talk will discuss the projects that effectively and sustainably bridged the digital divide. He will also take part as a panelist in “Mobile as a main Channel of Government Service Delivery”.
When government goes online, what happens to citizens who are not? This was central to our thinking when we designed e Sri Lanka. That is why such importance was placed on voice access, on the government information center. But it looks like it has not been fully thought through in the US, according to this NYT story. “You often hear people talk about broadband from a business development perspective, but it’s much more significant than that,” Mr.
CPRsouth Chair and LIRNEasia international advisory board member, Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala was on a blue-ribbon panel discussing ICTs and rural access last night on NDTV. CIOL : .NET & Windows : Make bandwidth available to all, says Kalam NDTV’s Prannoy Roy moderated a discussion in which Ballmer, N R Narayana Murthy, Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Manvinder Singh of Ranbaxy participated. He started off by asking Ballmer about the contrasting personalities of the top two at Microsoft: small, shy and geeky versus flambuoyant and six feet six. Opposites make for the best partnerships was the reply.
On being asked to identify what I thought were the key on-the-horizon policy issues, I came up with the following. It would be helpful to have a web discussion on this with the intention of coming up with a ranked list that may include new items. 1. I am even more convinced that the backbone is a critical hole in the original reform thinking. Its significance is highlighted by Koreas success in broadband and everything ICT.
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.