India’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Department of Information (DoIT) has announced plans for all of its departments and agencies to develop and deploy mobile applications to provide all of their public services through mobile devices, to the extent that are feasible on mobile platforms.
The following are the main measures laid down by DoIT: -
- Web sites of all Government Departments and Agencies shall be made mobile-compliant, using the “One Web” approach.
- Open standards shall be adopted for mobile applications for ensuring the interoperability of applications across various operating systems and devices as per the Government Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance.
- Uniform/ single pre-designated numbers (long and short codes) shall be used for mobile-based services to ensure convenience. Framework for Mobile Governance
- All Government Departments and Agencies shall develop and deploy mobile applications for providing all their public services through mobile devices to the extent feasible on the mobile platform. They shall also specify the service levels for such services.
To ensure the adoption and implementation of the framework in a time-bound manner, the government will develop Mobile Services Delivery Gateway (MSDG), i.e. the core infrastructure for enabling the availability of public services through mobile devices.
What is Mobile Services Delivery Gateway (MSDG)?
The prime objective of creating the MSDG is to put in place government‐wide shared infrastructure and services to enable rapid development, mainstreaming and deployment of m-Governance services. It will enhance interoperability across various public services as well as reduce the total cost of operation of m-Governance services by providing a common pool of resources aggregating the demand for communication and e‐Governance services, and act as a platform for various Government Departments and Agencies to test, rapidly deploy, and easily maintain m-Governance services across the country.
The standards for mobile applications will be formulated and notified by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India.
Functions of MSDG:-
MSDG will have facilitates such as hardware and software to test and deploy the m-Governance applications. It will support the delivery of both voice and data services and content in a network and device independent manner to the extent possible and feasible. MSDG is proposed to be used as a shared infrastructure by the Central and State Government Departments and Agencies at nominal costs for delivering public services through mobile devices.
MSDG will support the following delivery channels for development and deployment of mobile-based applications for Government services.
- SMS (Short Message Service)
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
- WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)
- USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)
- CBC (Cell Broadcast)
- SIM Toolkit (STK)/Dynamic STK, 3G-Video
- Others (WiFi/ WLan
The department outlined its objective to “make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man”.
Besides, the plan is for the websites of all government departments and agencies to be made mobile-compliant; open standards will be adopted for mobile applications to ensure the interoperability of applications across various operating systems, and uniform pre-designated numbers shall be used for mobile-based services to ensure convenience. It will be One Web Approach enabled. This implies that all Government Web sites should be compliant with mobile devices to enable users of such devices to access the same information and services as available.
Looking at the evolvement of m-governance in India, it will be interesting to see how it connects its various departments, and integrates IT companies, developers, VAS providers and other entities. As it talks about emulating Aadhaar or UIDAI and developing suitable mechanisms to enable users to pay for public services through mobile phones, it will pave the way for digital commerce in the country.
Currently, various private companies like Apple, Nokia, BlackBerry maker Research-in-Motion, Google have application stores which allow use of various services and content that is generally not available in their handset. With the implementation of it, consumers will have an app store through which they will be able to pay taxes, bills and for other public services.
However, the success of the proposed initiative on m-Governance will greatly depend upon the ability of the Government Departments and Agencies to provide frequently needed public services to the citizens, create infrastructure for anytime anywhere mobile-based services, adopt appropriate open standards, develop suitable technology platforms, make the cost of services affordable, and create awareness, especially for people in underserved areas.