The average daily user visits to the websites of the Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have skyrocketed from 8.04 lakh in the first week of March to 3.24 crore in the last week of the month as people look for updated information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“...In such challenging times, citizens look up to a source of genuine information. As the current situation is unveiling, the traffic on the websites of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the ICMR has gone up significantly as people look for information about the pandemic,” a senior official from the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the IT arm of the government, told The Hindu .
During March itself, the count of visitors on these websites increased from approximately 56.3 lakh in the entire first week of the month to 22.68 crore during the last week, the official added.
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Additionally, the official said that various State centres of the NIC are working with the State governments to develop “tracking and management portals to help the State and the district administration to combat the pandemic”, similar to those already launched in Kerala and Meghalaya.
Work from home
On enabling work from home for the entire government during the lockdown, the official said there were some challenges such as configuring virtual private network (VPN) access — core to enabling government employees to work from their homes — to large number of employees in a span of three or four days was a herculean task.
“Keeping in mind the safety of our own people, most of our team members at NIC were also working from home, hence executing change at different levels was difficult with a limited manpower in the office. Availability of laptops or a home desktop for every resource was another challenge,” the official added.
With social distancing norms in place, NIC’s videoconferencing service was extensively used by government officials, including President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides Union Ministers, Governors and Chief Ministers.
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“In the month of March, the NIC helped in facilitating over 2,300 videoconferencing sessions of over 60,000 hours across the country, held at all levels of governance,” the official said.