Digital India is a visionary program launched by the Hon’ble prime minister in July 2015 for rapid and inclusive growth of the country. The very message of the program ” bridging the gap between digital haves and have-nots by using technology for citizen” conveys the mission and vision of the program. The primary focus is development of digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen through efficient and transparent governance. This translates into various sub programs which needs to be in place to attain the ultimate objective. The entire program is well documented and can be referred at<http://meity.gov.in/content/digital-india-book> http://meity.gov.in/content/digital-india-book. The program envisions strengthening digital infrastructure with expansion of Broadband connectivity through a high speed fiber optical network across the country up to the villages along with at least one Common Service Centre (CSC) in each of the 250,000 gram panchayats. The 2016 Union budget of India announced 11 technology initiatives including the use of data analytics in the priority sectors creating a substantial opportunity through IT companies to build the robust systems that will be required for the mission.
e-Kranti – Transforming Governance
e-Kranti is an essential pillar of the Digital India and focuses on holistic view of e-Governance issues. The ultimate objective of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is to bring public services closely benefiting the citizens. India has steadily evolved from computerization of Government Departments and NeGP focuses on integrating them into a collective vision and a shared cause. A massive countrywide infrastructure in this regard has been evolving with due efforts from various sectors and large-scale digitization of records is taking place to enable easy and reliable access over the internet. E-Governance Plan (NeGP), comprises of around 44 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and covers most of the prime sectors for economic growth and citizen empowerment. Considering the critical need of e-Governance, mobile Governance and Good Governance in the country, the approach and key components of e-Kranti have been approved by the Union Cabinet with the vision of “Transforming e-Governance for Transforming Governance”. All new and on-going e-Governance projects as well as the existing projects, which are being revamped, should now follow the key principles of e-Kranti namely ‘Transformation and not Translation’, ‘Integrated Services and not Individual Services’, ‘Government Process Re-engineering (GPR) to be mandatory in every MMP’, ‘ICT Infrastructure on Demand’, ‘Cloud by Default’, ‘Mobile First’, ‘Fast Tracking Approvals’, ‘Mandating Standards and Protocols’, ‘Language Localization’, ‘National GIS (Geo-Spatial Information System)’, ‘Security and Electronic Data Preservation’.
e-Kranti and GIS go hand in hand
On critical examination of various key principals of e-Kranti it emerges that Geo-spatial technologies have a very significant role to play. Powered with revolutionary concepts, GIS focuses on enabling systems spatially. India already has a rich heritage of maps and robust space program. Best efforts are being made to explore potential areas for increased utilization of high resolution satellite images being acquired with Indian Remote Sensing Satellites. The IRS data have been made available freely for viewing through the portal “Bhuvan” as developed by DOS. Apart from imaging technologies, an equal emphasis has been paid to digitization of maps. The entire map data from Survey of India stands digitized today. These initiatives forms rich spatial data base within the country.
Bharat Maps Initiative
There has been a very major initiative in past from NIC with support from Planning Commission wherein SOI map data available in individual sheet format is mosaicked to a single map with all India coverage harmonized with similar coverage from IRS images. A standards based platform “Bharat Maps” released from NIC provides this unique data integrated with data from multiple sectors. This portal is first of its kind paving the way for the concept of National GIS. The platform has capability not only to integrate local services but also capability to ingrate global services e.g Google, Microsoft etc. GIS applications have been developed with data as available in e-Gov sectors using the common platform services and show practically how traditionally developed systems may be transformed to incorporate the spatial concepts and digital India program can be successfully implemented through the use of geospatial technologies.
Paving Way for more progress in the National GIS community
The National GIS platform is finding increasing use in location based services. Most of the MMPs focus on specific amenities e.g locations of schools, health facilities, bank facilities etc. Development of location data with the help of GPS and other spatial technologies in multiple sectors would not only strengthen delivery systems but also shall help in improving the base map which is a mammoth task. In fact, what is significant to note is not the geospatial technologies but the entire concept of National GIS. This concept has emerged through a participative process over past decade and has acquire shape of national concept. With key principals as defined from e-Kranti, it is evident that Implementation of the national GIS concept provides a sound foundation for transformation of e-Gov program under Digital India that will empower governance, enterprises, and citizens across the country.