Governments worldwide have successfully deployed mobile-based technologies for providing a wide variety of public services, and the Indian States are following suit.

A few years ago, Kerala launched ‘Dr. SMS,' an m-health information system, for providing information on medical facilities available in the locality of the resident. Goa followed, with a mobile governance initiative for issuing alerts for receipt of government applications and complaints and status tracking. Next came Maharashtra. It adopted a similar traffic management system through mobile alerts.

“It is obvious, from the way in which mobile markets have grown in India, that not only are mobile phone-based applications are popular, but they are also more inclusive in their reach because it is a medium that people are familiar with,” says Nishant Shah, director-research, Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.

A laudable initiative launched by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in September tries to use technology in an area that requires continuous monitoring. A mobile phone-based Intelligent Garbage Monitoring System enables sanitary supervisors to report the status of cleaning of garbage bins through their GPS-enabled mobile phones. Centralised reports as well as those of individual bins can be generated with the system. The map with a GIS interface spans all areas of the city. Managing the number of trips, gathering daily summary of the clearance and, most importantly, reports of the bins that are full but have not been cleared can also be obtained.

When trash is collected, each bin is photographed with a camera phone. The image is loaded on the website, where it is monitored by an administrator in the municipality office. Earlier, the clearing of bins was monitored through information from sanitary supervisors.

“The manual process consumes a lot of time. The use of information technology to monitor municipal services can also increase worker productivity,” says S. Raghavendra, administration officer, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Experts say that though mobile applications for public services delivery use light technologies, they require collaboration among all stakeholders.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012