Indian state governments are making a push for mobile governance, particularly focused on SMS services. After MobMe Wireless inked a deal to pilot 21 services in Kerala, Spice Digital (formerly Cellebrum), has won an M-Governance deal in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Vinish Kathuria, COO, Spice Digital told MediaNama that m-governance is going to be a key strategic focus for the company, and they intend to bid for other projects as well. However, he doesn’t foresee any significant impact on revenues in the current financial year (just a quarter left), and declined to comment on how much the company will invest in its m-governance initiatives. 4-5 states are expected to float m-governance tenders soon.
He said that the companys m-governance strategy involves working with both central government departments like the IRCTC and state governments. Himachal Pradesh, Kathuria believes, offers a particularly great opportunity because it has 70 percent literacy, and is a hilly state with difficult terrain: mobile offers reach in a cost effective manner.
Spice Digital will initially launch 6 services for the government of Himachal Pradesh, and later expand it to 12 services. The services involve actual transactions, as well as information and alerts from departments regarding, for example, when a persons passport is available for collection, or information to a user that a particular document is missing from the application.
Among the services being launched are, on SMS, information pertaining to Vehicle Registration, Driving License, Senior Citizens Identity card, Health Management. Apart from this, a ‘Spice Guide to Himachal’ mobile application (download it here) is being launched, targeting tourists from India, US, Canada, UK, Australia, Middle East etc.
CSC Tie-Up With Zoom Developers
It’s also interesting to note that Spice Digital has tied up with Zoom Developers, which have set up the Common Service Centres (CSC) in Himachal Pradesh. CSCs are broadband enabled service centres being set up by the Indian government across the country, to offer e-governance services. Over 600 CSCs are being set up by Zoom in six districts of Kangra division of Himachal Pradesh.
But if Zoom Developers is offering similar services on the ground, why would Spice Digital tie up with them? Kathuria says that the CSCs will be used for user education regarding the mobile services – offering technology services is easy, but consumer education is tough. Mobile services will mitigate the need to go again and again to the CSCs, and they are also working with the government to digitize processes and institute a tracking system for requests.