Dehradun Smart City Limited: Improving Citizen Services and Social Care Using Exponential Technologies

Citizen-centric approach has been a cornerstone for Dehradun Smart City as it takes giant strides towards its aim to become more digitised

The year 2020 has been a game-changer in terms of how organisations, be it public or private accelerated their digital transformation journeys and have adopted new and novel ways to ensure they provide a seamless digital experience to the citizens. Dehradun Smart City Limited is among the frontrunners of such organisations by ensuring it is at the top of its digital transformation game, be it pre or post COVID-19.

The Smart Cities Mission of the Government is a bold, new initiative. It sets examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country. For implementing the smart cities project in Dehradun, Dehradun Smart City Limited (DSCL), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) had been incorporated. DSCL receives funds from the Government of India and Government of Uttarakhand (GoUK) for the development of Dehradun as a smart city. DSCL intends to apply part of this fund for the said procurement activities.

Ashish Kumar Srivastava, CEO, Dehradun Smart City Limited shares some insights on how the recent disruptions brought about by technological advancements and by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted their digital transformation. He says, “We started the digital transformation in Dehradun before the COVID-19 situation had struck, but COVID-19 has given this opportunity to make the employees and departments who were not very receptive about these technologies, get acquainted with them. Since I am right now the District Magistrate of Dehradun Collectorate, which is also an essential service, everybody had to come to work during the lockdown. So, our biggest problem was to ensure whether we have 60% presence or 33% presence and since you are in essential services, we had to work extra during the COVID-19 situation. So, this was the thing when we started thinking about taking the collectorate online through Dehradun Smart City Limited. In Uttarakhand, Dehradun is the first collectorate that started online file disposal through eOffice and now all our tehsils are also on eOffice. In DSCL, everything has gone online, and the developmental activities managed by the Chief Development Officer of Dehradun are also digitised now. Also, earlier I was working in the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority, and that authority has one of the first online and on-time map approval system; therefore, that authority is also completely digitised. I must say that the COVID-19 has allowed us to work on digital platforms because it has an advantage as you can work 24/7.”

Enabling better digital services for citizens

The core of the digital transformation of any public-sector organisation is to enhance and improve public service delivery, and so is the goal for DSCL. Talking about the primary business objectives that they wanted to achieve with their digital transformation initiatives, Srivastava shares, “As we are in the government, the primary objective was to facilitate the public to get the benefit of developmental schemes and different processes of the government. In Dehradun, we have not just taken everything online and digitised all the files, but we have also ensured that the process should be on time. So, now all the levels from the dealing and clerking staff to the district magistrate in the Smart City to the chief executive officers – everybody has been given definite timelines through the online system. As soon as a timeline expires, the alerts appear on topmost supervisors. It has helped in increasing transparency, accountability and providing services on time also.”

Digitalisation at the core

Dehradun Smart City Limited was selected in the third round of Smart City selection in 2017. After that, it started doing the digitisation and transformation of many public service departments including the three main departments of Municipal Corporation of Dehradun, the Collectorate of Dehradun and the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority.

As per DSCL’s aim to become more digitised, it started transforming all the public-centred services, the map approval system, and all types of transactions and services like property assessment, birth certificate, death certificate, court cases, land records, etc. “Dehradun Smart City Limited played a critical role in transforming all these services. Now we have a vision that by the end of this financial year, all district level government offices should also be digitised and they also move to online platforms. The biggest transformation that we have done in Dehradun is the map approval system, and that map approval system is one of the fastest map approval systems in the country. The average time that we take for processing a building plan is 32 to 37 hours only, which earlier took more than 60 days. And, for this initiative, we won the National eGovernance Award, which is a huge achievement for us. Moreover, we have many civil works going on, and these are now being monitored through these digital initiatives too. I think the biggest transformation that we have done is that we have reduced the time of public services and that is a major achievement for Dehradun Smart City,” shares Srivastava.

Partnerships that matter

Dehradun Smart City has been working very closely with technology leaders and these partnerships have helped them in multiple ways in achieving efficiency and managing scale along with time and cost optimisation. Srivastava shares, “VMware is one of the key Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with us and is a part of our integrated Command and Control Centre. Right now, we are in the process of implementation of this integrated centre and are certainly looking forward to more effective improvements by leveraging technologies offered by these tech organisations.”

Srivastava also shares that even in the future in terms of their next technology adoption plans, they are looking at more digitalisation and leading technology partners will undoubtedly lend a shoulder to the cause. “The core of digital transformation is the improvement in public service delivery. So, in the future as well, we are looking forward to digitising more and more government services so that the public can use them and the government can reach out to everybody’s doorstep for providing these services. Leading technology players will play a critical role in achieving these targets for us.”

Analysing achievements

At DSCL, the most significant digital initiative is the Command and Control Centre, and they are looking forward to auditing its achievements based on outcome rather than on output. Srivastava shares, “We are working on the particular point that how much has the public benefited from this. It is as if we are investing one rupee of the government’s money, then what is the outcome of that investment. The basic yardstick is how satisfied is the public with the services. We have a public feedback system also through which we gather this feedback. Ultimately, it is the public who will judge whether the initiatives are helpful for them or not.”