- Veröffentlicht: 12. Oktober 2017
I want to share three stories.
The first story is about vaccination coverage in Punjab. For years, Pakistan has struggled with the challenge of vaccinating children in far-flung villages and dense urban centres. Enough vaccines and staff were made available without any significant improvement in coverage. The sheer scale made it impossible to monitor vaccination staff. In 2014, however, this began to change in Punjab when the abysmal coverage of 25% suddenly started to improve. A smartphone application was given to 3,700+ vaccinators to report location and children data, making them accountable for their attendance and performance. Satellite images of urban settlements were then used to deepen the coverage. Today, Punjab’s vaccination coverage stands at an impressive 97%.
The second story is about investigating terrorism incidents. Mobile phones are extensively used to plan and execute terrorist attacks. But despite seamless sharing of data by telcos, the Punjab Police had been wrestling with using this data to trace the culprits. This, however, is no more the case. Now, as soon as a terrorist attack occurs, the police obtain the detailed call records from a geo-fenced zone (a virtual boundary around the area). Software is then used to identify unusual communication patterns, such as cellphones using different SIMs within a short span of time or calls made to conspicuous foreign destinations. This information then helps the police to zero in on the suspects.
The third story is about agriculture subsidies. The government has been doling out billions to provide subsidised fertiliser to farmers. These payments were paid to fertiliser companies in the hope of reducing prices. But the success and transparency of this model was always questioned. Since last year, however, the Punjab government has started to pay directly to farmers. Computer-generated codes are inserted in fertiliser bags, which are then redeemed by farmers after verification. Payments are then made through mobile payment platforms. So far 1.3 million codes have been issued and a payment of Rs28+ million has been made against 86,000+ verified codes.
A recently-released publication of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) shared data about many such stories where technology is driving a positive change. Pakistan has had a number of failed attempts at digitising the government in the past, starting from the federal e-government directorate established in 2002. Moreover, there is nothing new about using geo-tagged data, geo-fencing for crime analysis or even using redeemable codes and yet the public sector in Pakistan had so far wrestled with adopting these technologies. So what made it possible now in Punjab?
There are three pieces of this technology puzzle — resources, capability and demand — which together can make e-governance work. In Punjab’s case, the chief minister has given his unconditional support to the PITB and ensured resource flow.
The PITB, on the other hand, provided the long needed ‘e’ in the e-governance — the capability to provide solutions for governance challenges. Dr Umar Saif, the incumbent chairman and a Cambridge PhD, has developed a massive 1,000+ team, including 100+ developers, that provide a critical mass for Punjab’s e-governance initiatives. Specifically, the capacity of the PITB’s Software Engineering Unit to churn out computer applications overnight is what apparently has resonated well with the CM.
In all of the three stories above, there was a strong demand either by the chief minister himself or a few passionate civil servants championing the cause. But where such demand is absent, the use of technology has been limited.
Going forward, there is a need to create a stronger demand and ownership for e-governance in the core of the government.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Hasaan Khawar
Quelle/Source: he Express Tribune, 05.10.2017