In an earlier article, I wrote about how Pune now has a CIO, who is pushing various initiatives to make Pune the city with the best use of technology for governance.
The pain of providing the same information over and over at different counters is history. The first time I registered myself to ilife, through my computer at home, I was asked to provide information to identify myself. I was requested to visit any one of the 14 ward offices to provide a photograph and my thumbprint to receive my Pune-card, my username and a password to access ilife. That was it.
My Pune-card provides me with cashless bus-travel, parking and entry into all electronic access public locations as well as electronic entry enabled private locations. It works as a cash-card and also replaces time-consuming procedures with countless forms to make applications. It simplifies and secures transactions as I can simply allow the service providers to swipe my card and take my thumbprint to access information. Only information that I have marked as allow through Pune-card will be accessed at points-of-transaction. The transaction is updated in my account on ilife.
If you read the whole article, you’ll notice that none of the ideas contained there are futuristic, or taken from sci-fi. They are all things that can be implemented relatively easily using today’s technology. All that is needed is execution and political will. And there are indications that the political will is there.
While a vision statement might be good as an inspiration, it is worthless without concrete short-term goals and projects. Dr. Saraph has written another article that lists some of the specific projects that are already underway. There is already industry interest for some of these projects, for example, Unwire Pune, and Pune Cards. Others, like Design for Pune and MyWard, will depend more upon community participation.
This is where you come in. All of these projects can do with help. From web-design and usability, to server and database tuning. Or, if you are a non-technology person, you can help with spreading the word, or simply by participating. I am planning to start a discussion on these topics at IdeaCampPune tomorrow (Saturday). Dr. Saraph will also try and attend those discussions. (Registration for that event is now closed, so you will not be able to attend unless you’ve already registered. However, if there is a good discussion, and any concrete actions result from it, I’ll write an article on that in the next week. Stay tuned. If you’ve already registered, please note that the venue has shifted to Persistent’s Aryabhatta facility near Nal Stop.)
SEAP is already behind these initiatives (in fact, the appointment of Anupam Saraph is a joint partnership between PMC, SEAP, Dr. Saraph.) Civic commissioner Praveensinh Pardeshi is very supportive of the project. Companies like Persistent, Eclipsys, nVidia have already pitched in by providing free manpower or resources.
It is very easy to get cynical about any projects undertaken by the government. Especially PMC. And that was my first reaction too. However, I have now come to believe that a few people can make a difference. Participate. Enthusiastically. Passionately. Try to convince your friends. One out of 50 will join you. That might be enough. Isn’t it worth trying?