Imagine a scenario where a farmer sitting in a remote village of India getting a notification on when and where to sell his crop yield to obtain best price. This would soon be a reality if the penetration of smartphone grows beyond the urban population and reaches out to the remote villages of India.
India stands third in terms of penetration of smartphones and the number of Internet users in the country is expected to surpass that of several other developed countries in the coming years. According to The Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a non-profit industry body involved in overseeing the Internet and mobile economy of India, the number of Internet users in India is expected cross 500 million by 2017. A major portion of this progress can be attributed to the growing penetration of Smartphones in the country.
The growing usage of smartphones has given rise to greater demand for web and mobile based applications. Improved telecommunication infrastructure is proving to be a new life saver for many of the population who most of the time, do not have direct access to basic infrastructure facilities. For example, many of the individual business owners now see mobile payment gateway applications as an alternative to plastic money or banks (which they generally do not have access to). The ease of doing money transactions through mobile applications is drawing small time business owners towards the smartphones and eventually to the mobile payment applications.
The Emergence of Government Apps
Coming back to where we had started, it would not be a distant dream when a farmer in India would know the right value of his crop directly through the reliable government sources than knowing it from the hoarders, who generally misguide the farmers. And how is this going to happen?
The year of 2015 has been a giant leap for India in terms of its digital aspirations. There have been several initiatives launched like “Digital India”, “Make in India” which are expected to transform India’s technological reach. Along with this, the growing role of companies like Google and Facebook in providing quality Internet would help every part of India to stay connected to the digital world.
Based on these developments, the Government of India has also been actively pursuing its aspirations to push the usage of mobile and web applications in day-to-day government operations. It has kick started e-Gov AppStore which serves as a repository for all those unique apps which are required among the departments of the government. With this initiative, the government intends to bridge the gap that exists among different departments.
There are more than 50 e-Government applications which have been setup to ease the operational challenges in the government. These applications are mostly the Government-to-Government (G2G) and Government-to-Business (G2B) apps. The success of these apps would pave way for Government-to-Consumer (G2C) apps in the future (Many government services apps have been launched recently). This e-Gov AppStore repository is an open platform where the app developers are free to submit their applications based on certain guidelines. The greater motive behind building this application repository would be simplifying the governance.
The developed applications cater to government operations related to procurement, healthcare, data management, banking, document validation, library, administration, biometric, agricultural and several others. These applications are being effectively utilized by several central and state departments. State governments are actively seeking these applications to bring effectiveness in their administration. Administrations in Delhi, Gujrat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu have been the front runners in implementation of these applications.
As said earlier, given the potential of growth of smartphone usage in the country, it would not be a surprise if the country witnesses penetration of various Government-to-Consumer (G2C) applications which would provide quality services at fingertips to the citizens. Going forward, a deeper penetration of mobile applications among the rural population would bring them closer to the governance and this would bring more transparency and ease.
Government Apps would bring in more automation in the governance and would increase transparency in the processes. This would cut down on people spending more time by visiting government offices to get their job done. This would also increase the co-ordination among the different departments of the government resulting in better administration and less chaos. So, you would not be surprised to see that, in few years, you would be able to apply for a passport through your mobile and would receive your passport without much administrational glitches.
Some of the G2G and G2B applications that are being used:
GePNIC, e-Hospital, eOffice, CCBS, XLN, e-Granthalaya, eDistrict Kerala, eMuncipalities, e-Meeting, CAMS, MCTS, PRIASOFT, eEntryPass, ePrisons and many others
Some of the G2C applications that are being used:
MyGov App, Narendra Modi App, IRCTC Connect, MEAIndia, mPassport Seva, RTI INDIA, Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism), Rakshak App, Voter Information Search Using SMS, DGFT and many others