AP to network integrated citizen services

V. Rishi Kumar

HYDERABAD, Dec. 3

HAVING designed a scalable platform for providing integrated citizens services with the TWINS project, the Andhra Pradesh Government, which is pioneering work towards facilitating e-governance, plans to extend services across the State by networking them through fibre optic cables to the village-level, in a phased manner.

Imagine a situation where a busy man in a city has to pay electricity, water and sewerage bills, property tax, and also has to renew his driving licence. As of now in most places, to complete such a task, it may consume at least one full day or may even spill over to another day for him to complete these tasks. But this is a thing of the past with the launch of the TWINS project. Though it is under a stabilisation process, it is now possible under one roof.

Not only these services, but registration of births and deaths, issue of caste certificates, market value assistance and host of services at the State level and gradually even filing tax returns, payment of telephone bills and application for passport can be facilitated at one centre.

The State Government has integrated about 18 services offered by six departments. The Twin Cities Network Services is focussed on the common man, and aimed to provide citizens selected services and information of departments and agencies of State and Central Governments in an efficient, reliable and transparent manner on a sustained basis through easy access to a chain of ICSC (Computerised Integrated Citizen Service Centres).

Typically, ICSC will be equipped with electronic queuing systems, automatic token dispensers, electronic displays and controls. A reception desk provides all required forms, advice and assistance and a digital camera and digital pad placed in the waiting room facilitates capture of photographs and signatures. The ICSC located in Hyderabad will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. initially, but the Government plans to make it `one-stop-non-stop' service, accessible from people's homes.

About 44 applications provided by over a dozen departments were identified by the Government for the project. Of these, 18 services of six departments have been fully operational as part of this pilot initiative. The project is planned to be replicated and extended to 15 centres by July 2000 to cover the entire city. The State Government is coordinating with the Central Government to include telecom and passport services.

To achieve statewide connectivity, the AP Government has access to a 2 mbps dedicated DoT line to network district offices. This is proposed to be scaled up to all the districts in the State and later extended to mandal and village level enabling even a villager to access basic services and even transact with the Government seamlessly.

In its effort to offer services at people's doorstep, the Government also plans to rope in cable operators, private telecom service providers and corporates in the State as a concerted effort will enable the Government to reach out more people at the earliest.

These services are offered by deploying web server technology which acts as a bridge between the database of the departments located in different parts of the twin cities and the clients at the counters in the ICSC. A combination of ISDN and asynchronous lines have been established to connect the web server at the ICSC with the servers of departments.

According to Mr. J. Satyanarayana, Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh, the project has been conceived and designed to provide convenience, transparency and speed in delivery of services. The State Government plans to set up multimedia-enabled touchstone centres and kiosks to interface with citizens.

As of now the interface can be between the Government and a citizen but at a later date this is expected to be useful for even business applications, when a large number of interfaces are possible between these three arms through networked kiosks.

Though this centre is run by employees of respective department, or participating organisation, the project itself has separate identity with a distinct service-oriented culture. A user will be provided a code number and a password enabling him to interact remotely.

CMC Ltd is working in collaboration with the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDBRT), Hyderabad and the Union Ministry of Information Technology for a secure payment mechanism even on the Internet and to establish a `firewall.'

Having already computerised the entire registration department through the CARD project, the Government has taken up the computerisation of transport department through FAST (fully Automatic Services of Transport) project where district headquarters will be interconnected and linked to this project.
Source :The Business Line. January 4, 2000