Learner’s Submission: Social Media Channels in the Kingdom of Bahrain

20/02/2014

“Bahrain e-Government Portal (bahrain.bh) is the official and main online portal, where the majority of the public sector organizations and a number of private sector organizations are providing their services through. The project is mainly administrated by the Kingdom of Bahrain e-Government Authority.

The vision of e-Government Authority in the Kingdom of Bahrain is:

“Achieve next generation Government excellence by delivering high quality services effectively, valuing efficiency, advocating proactive customer engagement, nurturing entrepreneurship, collaborating with all stakeholders and encouraging innovation” [1]

The main targets of the e-Government Authority are:

  • Individuals
  • Business
  • Government
  • Foreign Visitors

Due to the increase of popularity of the social media in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the e-Government Authority established multiple social media channels aiming to increase the efficiency and improve the effectiveness of services provided to the targeted categories.

The main social media channels referring to the Bahrain e-Government Portal are:

  • Facebook: is an online social networking service which enable users to get connected with friends round the world, making new connections, upload pictures and share videos and links. Referring to Alexa [2], facebook comes in the second place after “google.com” in the list of the top 500 sites on the web and according to eBizMBA Guide [3], Facebook came on the first place in the list of Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites for February 2014. In Bahrain, Facebook considered as the most popular social networking website.
  • YouTube: is a video-sharing website which enable users to upload, view and share videos. Referring to Alex, YouTube comes in the third place in the list of the top 500 sites on the web.
  • Twitter: is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to post and read short messages (tweets). Referring to Alex, Twitter comes in the 11th place in the list of the top 500 sites on the web and according to eBizMBA Guide, Twitter came on the second place after Facebook in the list of Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites for February 2014.
  • Instagram: is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to upload pictures and videos, apply filters to them, and share them on other social networking services. According to eBizMBA Guide, Instegram came on the seventh place in the list of Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites for February 2014. Instagram is one of the most popular social networking services in Bahrain.
  • Linkedin: is an online social networking service which is targeting the professionals category. According to Alex, Linkedin comes in the 10th place in the list of the top 500 sites on the web.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication): it is used to keep users informed by retrieving the latest updates from the sites they are interested in. Instead of visiting the site more frequently just for the purpose of checking for new updates, the user will receive automatic alerts of the updates that have been added to that specific site. The main benefit here is to keep the user updated.
  • eGovernment Blog: the blog service was initiated as a platform for direct interaction between the public sector organizations and the public in order to receive comments and opinions about governmental policies and initiatives.

In my point of view, the activated social media channels added the following benefits:

  • Enabled open and transparent communication channels with the public.
  • Improved communication with public in cost efficient manner.
  • Targeted a wide range of audience in an effective way.

Recently, the e-Government Authority started focusing on services via smart devices and started developing application for multiple systems including:

  • IOS
  • Android
  • BlackBerry
  • Windows Mobile

 

References:

[1] Kingdom of Bahrain e-Government Authority Portal, “http://www.ega.gov.bh”.

[2] Alexa –The Web Information Company, “http://www.alexa.com”.

[3] “Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites | February 2014”, eBizMBA Guide, “http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites”.” – Khalifa Ahmed – Isa Town, Kingdom of Bahrain


Learners’ Submission: E-Governance in India

21/05/2013

E-governance has been considered as the best way for good governance. Communication and internet Technology has brought world near and has great impact on the life styles of people. The mode of obtaining services and its delivery has undergone tremendous changes with the improvement of technology that covered almost all types of services whether banking, insurance, other financial services or services from local corporations and government bodies. The relationship of service provider to that of service taker has also changed and has brought changes in quality of the service and its timely delivery.

Indian government has planned for e-Governance and initiated actions to improve delivery of Government services to citizens and businesses with the vision to make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man. Government of India decided to promote e-Governance through a centralized initiative to ensure citizen-centric orientation with decentralized implementation model. It will help realize the objective of inter-operability of various e-Governance applications and ensure optimal utilization of ICT infrastructure and resources. It also aims at identifying successful projects and replicating them with required customization wherever needed.

Accordingly the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) has been formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG). The Union Government approved the NeGP, comprising of 31 (originally 27) Mission Mode Projects (MMPs). Various Indian Union Ministries/Departments and State Governments are involved in Implementation of the e-Governance plan and the need for overall aggregation and integration at the national level was important.

NeGP comprises 31 mission mode projects (MMPs), which are further classified as state, central or integrated projects. Each state government can also define five MMPs specific to its individual needs.

e-Governance in India has steadily evolved from computerization of Government Departments to initiatives that encapsulate the finer points of Governance, such as citizen centricity, service orientation and transparency. The projects are expected to reduce number of trips of service users to service provider as also the waiting period apart from reducing the corruption and providing quality service.

I am describing the e-Governance in Urban Local Bodies:

“e-Governance in Urban Local Bodies” is a unique initiative of the Government of India conceptualized under the umbrella of the overall National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) aimed at improving operational efficiencies within Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

It has been observed that

  • Presently there is very limited or no computerization across ULBs in different States.
  • There is very limited or non-existent staff with IT know-how
  • There is lack of standardization of processes; and
  • The processes are primarily operated in a manual mode

There are following services which should be provided under this MMP:

I. Citizen Services (G2C)

  1. Birth & Death Registration – Information, Application download, online application, payment and printing of certificates with Digital signature
  2. Trade Licensing –Accreditation of vendors, Licensed shop owners and technical/professional, online submission and receipts (including renewal etc.) of licenses and printing with digital signature
  3. Building Plan – Single window based – Online submission through accredited/licensed Architects, online check and permission, Field check through Handheld device (GPRS & GPS based photos and measurement device) and authentication. NOC from Various dept. would be obtained through SLA based Input screen and secured VPN links.
  4. Tax and Fees & Fine/Penalty Payment – Enquiry – GIS based system – Self calculation, payment through secured payment gateway, Printing of secured digital receipts
  5. RTI – Online application, application status tracking, pendency tracking
  6. Grievance /Service request/Feedback – Online application, application status tracking, pendency tracking.
  7. Helpdesk – ULB –wide – single helpline no

II. Employee Service:

  1. HRMS with Employee Self-service incl. leave, Personal HR (PIS) , parks and Payroll linked
  2. Smartcard/ Biometric based access system linked with HRMS

III. Shared Service /Backend Departmental Services:

  1. Double Entry Accrual based Accounting System
  2. E-Tendering
  3. HRMS with Payroll integrated with attendance system, Recruitment , Training, Assessment/Performance Management Module
  4. Inventory/Asset Management including vehicles
  5. Project Management with Field Monitoring support and Field service support
  6. Enterprise GIS  with Property Tax, Solid Waste Management  Vehicle /Fleet Management
  7. GPS/GPRS based Fleet Management
  8. Backend Intra and Inter departmental workflow, with communication, document Management, K-Bank and Portal and Information/Content Management
  9. Operational & Tactical/Mayors Dashboard” – Sachin Murari Patrikar – Maharashtra, India

Learner’s Submission: Media Channels in Ethiopia

29/04/2013

“There are different Medias in Ethiopia, which helps to provide different information’s about different issues. There are an e- government that helps the public sector organization to access information for the society. Thus, e-government can be used to provide access to government information and delivery of public services to citizens, and all other business partners and stakeholders including private sectors. E-government is citizen-centric.

According to the Institute for development Policy and Management (2008), “e-government is the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the activities of public sector organizations”. Heeks (2008) explains that e-government covers the following three main areas:

  • Improving government process / e-Administration by making processes time and cost effective, managing process performance, making strategic connections in government, and creating empowerment;
  •  Connecting citizens (e-Citizens and e-Services) by providing citizens with public sector activities details, increasing citizen input into government decisions and actions and improving public services;
  • Building external interactions by creating an e-Society, that involves improved relationships between public agencies and other public and private companies, interaction between government and business (Heeks, 2008). E-government requires internet-based technologies to provide facilitated access to government information and services, and citizens and enterprises engagement through e-government portals as a collective vision of all government activities.

In our country, Ethiopia, there are a lot of government web sites that access data for various users. And there are rules and regulations in accessing these government portals. They are all subject to the different terms and conditions. For example, they may require our agreement to access and use the site only for lawful purpose.

And during my working and education life I used different government portals for research and general knowledge purpose. And as a legal user of the website, I accept and agree the terms and conditions of the site. As the same time I compelled my self to comment the real situations, which I believe contribute for the development of the country. And I respect an international copyright law.” – Hiwotie Walelign Alemu – Amhara Management Institute, Ethiopia


Learner’s Submission: Indian Railway System

29/04/2013

“I have been using the online Railway Booking system frequently as I was used to do weekly up-down for long distance. The system is beneficial as it helps to save lot of time for booking and reservation process. We can feel the convenience at the finger tips. The first view of Indian Railway system (Login Page) is as in below image:

untitled

This is the login view, post entering the username and password it redirects user to the trip page. Now this page has huge amount of data. This page allows user to access railway ticket booking, air ticket booking, hotel bookings, tourist train information, cabs and customized tour packages from IRCTC. The system is very well developed but lacks at load sharing. That is only the aspect of this application needs to be improve. Locations are being suggested by entering only first four letters of location. Booking availability is being shown for 7 days. All the options for booking say for different class of coach are being shown at the same place along with their availability.

The advantage of this application is as soon as you are done with your booking it immediately send a confirmation message and e-ticket to the registered mobile number and email address. This messages and e-tickets are being considered in absence of hard copy of ticket. This helps India in “Go GREEN” Concept. The another advantage of this application is that it has helped national and state government cut down the corruption, rising in ticket booking system. Just because of this system every single Indian citizen is turning less worried for their tour planning. Their time is saved using this application.

Another Advantage this application has provided so far and will keep on providing is tour package booking, the statistics says this facility is mostly used by the foreign nationals who are on their India tour. They use this system to understand and explore India. What everyone requires is a perfect guidance to move around in India and this online service is the best option for the same. The other way around, pain area while travelling are the cabs and Hotel booking. Any layman can book the best services from this. The information along with their rates, services of class, packages if provided are made available on this. Every small item has been capitalized very well.

Every booked item can be seen anytime in booking history. Printouts can also be taken. Reference can also be given. One more advantage of this application can be said is that anyone can file their TDR from this as well.

Loyalty program on this website inspires users for the maximum utilization of this system, the benefits of this program also helps to save some amount of money also the gifting system attracts the new users.

Nevertheless the load on this application has been tremendous, which leads to dissatisfaction of users. Many times complaints and issues are logged, improvements are seen but it needs more changes in the same. Hopefully government is taking initiatives and more can be expected. ” – Harshal Purohit –  Gujarat, India


Learner’s Submission: Online Public Services in India

18/03/2013

Example of Online services – Indian Railways – Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation – (IRCTC)
India with 1,220,200,000 (1.22 billion) people is the second most populous country in the world. The figures show that India represents almost 17.31% of the world’s population. More than 50% of India’s current population is below the age of 25 and over 65% below the age of 35. About 72% of the population lives in some 660,000 villages and the rest 27.8% in about 5,480 towns and in cities. This shows that people distribution across the country and their mobility for various reasons are of vital importance. To meet the ever demanding transportation need of people Indian Railways nationalized government organization is one of the best. Indian railways also happens to be pride of India considering this to be largest in Asia and the second largest in the world.

In view of reaching out to people, Indian Railways has extensively utilized Information Technology, Mobile technology and extended Online services to people. Following paragraphs will discuss about the available Online services to Indian public:

Indian railways which has history since about April 1853. About 85 percent of the stations have interlocking system of signaling which provides greater safety, by eliminating human errors and failure. It is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track over a route of 65,000 km (40,000 mi) and 7,500 stations. As of December 2012, it transported over 25 million passengers daily In 2011, It carried over 8,900 million passengers annually or more than 24 million passengers daily (roughly half of which were suburban passengers) and 2.8 million tons of freight daily. In 2011-2012 Indian Railways earned US$18.98 billion which consists of US$12.68 billion from freight and US$5.21 billion from passengers tickets.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation – (IRCTC) is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the railways. IRCTC is better known facilitating online railway ticketing in Indi when compared to crowded railways reservation counters which existed till recently. Manned railways counters faced several problems like passengers spending away precious time in a long queues, lack of transparency, shortage of information, fatigue factor of employees leading to errors, no options for quick change in travel plans, etc.

IRTC is known for Internet-based on-line rail ticket booking through its website which allowed people to register and login. This online reservation system allowed people select the trains, places and suitable optional trains and timings to travel, class of travel, fare display and dates of availability, reservation status, PNR status, payment options like credit card, debit card and other options. Finally to book the tickets and print it. Recently mobile based bookings have also been operational and SMS message has been authorized to travel and again a environmentally friendly initiative.

Ticket cancellations or modifications can also be done online. In addition to E-tickets, IRCTC also offers I-tickets that are basically like regular tickets except that they are booked online and delivered by post. The Tickets PNR Status is also made available here recently.

IRCTC’s highest ever per day booking is 5.02 lakh e-tickets on 1 March 2013. There are about 7.5 lakh people who visit IRCTC website for various purposes. 1.4 crore transactions that the website processed in February.

Example of civic agency’s Online Servicers: BBMP: Bangalore Mahanagara Palike
Bangalore is well known as silicon valley of India is in Karnataka state in southern India. Bangalore city’s population is growing faster than ever before and by the end of the year its head count is likely to cross the one-crore mark. The city’s population stands at 95,88,910 as of now. BBMP is an s the administrative body responsible for the civic and infrastructural assets of the Bangalore metropolitan area .spread across 741 Sqkm.

BBMP has introduced several online services to its citizens like Online Property Tax Payment, property tax calculations, tax submission status, GIS based Property ID (PID), online buildings plan submissions and sanctions.

Example of Income tax department In India and its Online services
Filing of IT returns electronically mandatory for individuals with annual income of Rs 10 lakh or above. This online transaction and services has helped many tax payers for hassle free filing of Income tax returns. The procedure to file online tax returns is quite simple. One has to opt for a suitable return form and fill in all the details. Once submitted system generates XML generated which must be posted to the appropriate authorities.

India has about 3.4 crore income tax payers. Personal income tax increased by 15 per cent to touch Rs 1,12114 crore, which was mainly from the salaried class. Corporate tax collections at Rs 2,78,411 crore, accounted for as much as 83 per cent of the total direct tax collections of Rs 3,36,117 crore during April-February of this fiscal.” – M. S. Rajesh – Bangalore, India


Learner’s Submission: Online Public Services in India – Access to Datasets

23/11/2012

“A few years back, this would seem distant or impossible to access official data from survey and studies conducted by official agencies. Through national daily – The Hindu, we were introduced to website – data.gov.in. This is Data portal of India.

Constructed on ‘open source’ “Drupal” website design management system Data.gov.in is earliest attempt by Indian authorities to provide access to official data and reports through easy links and downloadable formats. The survey reports are downloadable in .pdf ad .doc format. The datasets from marine and satellite data are accessible are depicted on maps. The maps are clearly marked with indices to help citizens identify and comprehend the complex satellite information being streamed at a delay of 10 minutes. The absence of real time streaming of satellite data in form of radar information along coastline is an improvement expected in coming months. The data relevance is limited to academia, media and study groups working on independent or state funded projects.

Improvements in the datasets are partially controlled by the user. Through ‘contact us’ page, the user may request the particular to provide additional datasets or make certain improvements in the datasets. While sign in and login facility is not available to general users dataset suggestions are considered, according to terms and descriptions provided on the website – data.gov.in.

Partnership with data.gov.in is in form of back-links and utilization of data for purposes which will have to be prior communicated to government through – contact us page. The back-links are easy to use and implement with alternate text and terms of use fully clarified.

As of now only a 4 ministries and few organizations of Union government have been sharing their datasets and apps through the website. Ministry for science and technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Unique identification Authority of India (UIDAI) are the organizations that have started sharing datasets. Going ahead we personally, feel the Union and state governments should share Public accounts and Union consolidated accounts, expenditure and accrual details of the expenditures and budgetary allocations. The datasets should include appropriations of state , Union government and urban and rural local bodies(functional units of decentralized structures of Indian Polity). Further the assets and liabilities of politicians, candidates standing for election to public offices, assets and liabilities of Public officials and Political executives should be shared and provided open access through the website. The Judiciary of India has to also be open to sharing the assets, liabilities and work details of the judges and advocates who have been employed at the high courts and Supreme Court of India.

As a media professional it’s a pleasure, to know, we no longer have to go through cumbersome processes to access official information. The ease of access to crucial information will ensure our presentations will be devoid of arbitrary conclusions based on assumed information or estimates. The start to this website has been modest, with around few thousand requests per day. The website loading and display is slow and sluggish, probably because of the incubating back end infrastructure. The potential is immense and we are excited and will ensure its improvement.” – Anil Dev Gopalakrishna – Karnataka, India


Learner’s Submissions: Online Public Services in India

16/11/2012

“The difficulty and trouble ordinary Bangaloreans had to undergo to pay bills and make tax payments before 2003 is no longer necessary. The truth however is that E-government has been partially realized and E-Governance has never entered the electoral politics. As a beneficiary of the automation and Informatization of Karnataka Government I’m personally extremely grateful to the great soul, among our politicians, who showed the courage and foresight to go ahead with the process.

Bangalore-ONE – online bill payment intermediary that arrived in 2001-03, arouse curiosity and drove families to search for computers and internet. Since then, the time spent on traveling, standing in long queues and amount of lost wages, due to avoidable absence from work to pay bills, have drastically come down. Bangalore-One, accessible through bangaloreone.gov.in is a comprehensive billing process which mediates between the clients/citizens and the governmental departments in collection of bill payments. The earliest services provided by Bangalore-one have been the Water Bills, Electricity Bills, Telephone Bills, parking Fine Payment, Chief Minister Relief Fund Donations. As of now they have added postpaid bills of private telecom companies and parking fee payments. The offline services of Bangalore-ONE are provided through a call center/s running in key public areas like shopping complexes and apartment complexes. They control access to Public Intranet(Karnataka Government) allow applications for Caste Certificates, Income certificates, Attestation of official documents, receive and process passport applications, Traffic fine collection, property Registration. The Entire Website and Payment Process and gateway are handled by Private operators, usually a Contractor/s. There are services like – Google drive – that provides support for printing post-script documents into .pdf format and digital storage in clouds.

Property taxes In Bangalore is paid through website – bbmp.gov.in we citizens are invited to register and pay our property taxes. Registration on the BBMP website is not voluntary and is effectuated only through an administrator approved process. Depending on the updated BBMP records of Citizens, who would in turn use their PIN (property Identity Number) or Application Number, whichever is relevant and applicable, to access the webpage for payment of Property Tax during each financial year. Despite the change, the payment processes and technology applied on the BBMP website is obsolete. The customer service is incomplete and most of times very frustrating. There have been cases of officials demanding favors for completing an incomplete process even under this electronic format.

Obsolescence of technology is one of the emerging problems in Bangalore administration. The lack of political will, policy decisions being delayed, in expectation that the council will be replaced once the new state govt is overthrown. Such thought processes have gripped Bangalore administration and have delayed tendering processes. Need for
continued pressure and “lobbying” have become essential to ensure the officials are pushed to take measures to ensure technology remains cutting edge and state of the art. The involvement of NGOs has been largely on invitation only. This exclusivity in NGO participation has made the entire process of privatization and liberalization and multiple actor participation an elitist indulgence. Inclusivity and competence is grossly lacking. The above behavioral aspects have encouraged obsolescence of technology and frequent failures of E-Governance mechanisms. There is growing cynicism among officials and citizens about the future prospects of the incumbent technology processes. The lacks of upgradation, scaling of technology have left a vacuum in E-Governance. As citizens, we are using all democratic means at our disposal to pressurize bureaucracy to take scaling, upgradation and capacity building. Not in any order, nevertheless, pursue the change to its logical goal of E-Governance.

Public key infrastructure has not been robust in India. The citizens should be exposed to Public key infrastructure so as to enable the citizens to send and receive documents in an encrypted format, reducing chances of interception and leakage of vital data to unscrupulous agents. The PKI in India is extremely immature, to obtain certificate it takes a long 3 months. Through private contractors I have obtained it for a premium of `1500. Which should be done away with? Certificates should be available for free or at a subsidized rate. The certification authority reminds me of the working of ISBN agency in India. The ISBN Agency in India takes 1 year to authorize someone to issue an ISBN. It’s very unfortunate…” – Anil Dev Gopalakrishna – Karnataka, India


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