Delhi: The National Capital Shaping itself to be the Digital Capital of India

The Government of NCT Delhi has been working endlessly and tirelessly on its digitalisation and these initiatives have helped them face any disruptions along with the challenges brought about by the recent COVID-19 crisis

India is at the cusp of digital transformation today. The Digital India mission too is in full swing with the central and state governments putting in all efforts to push it in the right direction. In the recent past, we have seen some exemplary work done by various state governments in enabling better citizen services with the help of technology. The Delhi Government too, is giving significant impetus to ensure they are leading in their digital transformation journey with some commendable initiatives and new-age interventions.

Delhi Government’s focus on digital transformation got a great push due to the recent disruptions brought about by technological advancements and by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ajay Chagti, Special Secretary, Department of IT, Government of NCT Delhi shares that the most crucial impact of disruptive technologies has been that “digital by default” is becoming a fundamental philosophy in the delivery of citizen services. “There is an added emphasis on agility apart from efficiency and effectiveness,” he says.

Delivering better digital citizen services

Digitalisation has made its place in every aspect of life today. Digital platforms providing goods and services, including online education and telemedicine, have grown by leaps and bounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has also enabled working professionals to work from home. The true measure of digital nations is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy.

Delving deeper into the main business objectives that they wanted to achieve with their digital transformation initiatives, Chagti shares, “The key objectives of digital transformation were to provide convenient, anytime and anywhere citizen services. The objectives also included transparency and accountability, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, reduced administrative burden, efficiency within government and better interface with business and industry.” He further added that the pain areas for them included lack of ready access to updated information as well as difficulties in:

  1. submitting applications,
  2. in availing services and
  3. ineffective grievance redressal.

From building apps on the public cloud to using analytics for better service delivery, every central/ state department is looking to leverage the power of technology to transform the way it functions or delivers service significantly. As per Delhi Government’s aim to become more digitised, the key solutions that it adopted included, online service delivery through the single unified portal, use of eOffice to facilitate work from home, cloud migration, centralised hiring of services of an STQC empanelled firm for a faster security audit of departmental websites, issue of orders removing hindrances in the procurement of IT equipment and workforce, and capacity building in IT-related matters (including e-governance life cycle, GPR, Advanced analytics, blockchain, IoT, artificial intelligence etc.).

Emerging technologies changing the game

Technology is key to the vision of a Digital India. It is the foundation that will enable the Digital India vision of providing “governance and services on demand” and “digitally empowering citizens” and support the social inclusion schemes being launched by the government. Creating a digital society will be key in the competitiveness of nations in the upcoming years. Digital society is broader than ‘digital economy’. A digital society integrates all social spheres and lends a competitive edge to the overall economy.

Exponential technologies like hybrid cloud, digital workspaces, data centre modernisation, cybersecurity, etc. have played a significant role in the success of digital initiatives taken up by Delhi Government and has helped it build a comprehensive services framework, according to Chagti. “Delhi adopted a cloud-first strategy, and NIC Cloud was mostly used. Other than that, eOffice ensured that productivity was not hampered during the lockdown. The time for security audit was drastically reduced by engaging a dedicated empanelled firm and, initiatives in chatbots were taken,” he says.

Sharing some further insights on how they measure the impact of their digital initiatives, Chagti informs, “The key metrics to measure the success of our digital initiatives are (a) the number of services being delivered online, and the time taken to accept/deliver service (b) extent of back-end integration (c) user interface (d) workflow-based decision-making (e) online grievance redressal, etc. Customer experience was measured sometime back about the Act governing time-bound delivery of services. The key success metrics included a reduction in the number of visits to government departments for availing services, time saved, financial savings etc.”

A digital future beckons

Technology will be the enabler for the citizen to transcend the boundaries of departments and ministries and provide a single platform for interaction with its citizens, thus promoting participatory governance and increased transparency and revolutionising public service delivery. Technology is the most crucial enabler in India’s economic growth and trends in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector indicate demand is expected to grow fuelling growth firms in this sector.

The future will be for those who will ensure they jump onto the bandwagon of the latest technological advancements and create a complete digital ecosystem for themselves and the citizens. As per Delhi Government’s next technology adoption plans in terms of improving its digital initiatives in the future, Chagti shares that it is proposed to use blockchain technology for land records and other functional areas, chatbots are also to be deployed for more citizen services and private cloud services will be tested for end-to-end service delivery.