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Mobile Computing, the 'Mantra' for connecting Bharat with India!!

A decade ago, internet changed the communication landscape by helping liberate, empower and transform the users and converting the world into a global village. Mobile computing is poised to be the next paradigm with extending the reach to rural areas and unconnected communities.

In the past one week, I received emails from four different companies informing about their innovative solutions that can go a long way in provisioning of the public services and involving the citizens for interaction with the government in an unprecedented manner. As I have been advocating earlier, the use of mobile computing for civic engagement is limited only by the imagination and initiative of the administrators. The PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) vision of our beloved president His Excellency A.P.J Abdul Kalam can be realized using the power of mobile computing as more and more of our rural cousins start to get connected to the mainstream using mobiles.

The proliferation of mobile connections and the wireless broadband technologies is beginning to provide unbridled access to information and opportunities to interact among the communities of citizens and the government. The advent of 3G and 4G technologies is beginning to make mobile computing more sophisticated and doubling up the mobile phones as computing devices than mere email and voice. SMS alone can prove to be a killer application for provisioning of informational services by the government and enhancing the civic participation. In addition, SMS can be an ideal tool for running MDG campaigns, government backed health and disease surveillance programs, education for all campaigns and corruption reporting in public sector.

 In numerous visits to different countries across the globe and discussions with their e-Government heads, it is clearly evident that at least in developed countries, government have recognized the benefits of wireless/ broadband technologies of providing socially inclusive public services. The developing countries too can benefit from the experience and leap frog to the new medium as it offers more cost effective, secure and socially exclusive solutions for e-Government. The Public Private Partnerships for mobile government are going to be more sustainable as the telecom operators are more than willing to partner with the government for innovative mobile government initiatives.

On the administration side, mobile devices such as Mobile Phones, Tablet PCs, PDAs and other mobile devices can enabled government employees to stay in touch with their colleagues and staff via SMS and e-mail well beyond the standard workday. Not only are these units convenient, they also improve productivity, particularly in the elimination of employee downtime and separation from regular communication. The government agencies can commission development of applications for their mobile devices so that employees can connect with office networks. Building inspectors, water meter readers and parking enforcement officers are just a few of the frontline employees who have been piloting and using remote devices over the past few years in the municipal context.

In order to help the government organizations develop proof of concept applications and test them in a controlled environment, we have started a Mobile Government Competence Centerand Mobile Government Helpdesk” with the support of OneWorld South Asia Foundation. I would like to invite the industry player and government agencies to join us in the initiative so that the developing countries can benefit from the new technologies and join the club of developed countries who are already enjoying the benefit of new socially inclusive and cost effective solutions.

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Vikas Kanungo ( Chief Edirtor)

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