Mobile VAS company Spice Digital* has partnered the Bangladesh government to commercially roll out Access to Information services in Bangladesh. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and SMS services been deployed by Spice on on the state owned telco Teletalk Bangladesh and private operator Robi (an Axiata company), offering information services like Passport Enquiry, Birth certificate and tax information from National Board of Revenue (NBR) with 30 more services in the pipeline, which includes 17 services based on API access from respective Government departments.
Speaking to Medianama, Varun Gupta, Lead – International Business, Spice Digital mentioned that the service is currently in a pilot phase and it will be rolling out other services based on the response received. He stated that the company plans to roll out 10-15 services across all the operators in Bangladesh by March 31, 2013.
Users can access the service by calling or sending a text message to a common short code 16364 and they will be charged at 1 Bangladeshi Taka per minute (around 67 paise per minute).
Access to Information (A2I): Access to Information is a project managed by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s Office and its Cabinet Division in a bid to improve the quality and the accessibility of the public services to the underserved communities and groups in Upazila parishads. Under this project, the government has launched various initiatives like Jatiyo e- Tothyokosh, which claims to be the largest public content depository in Bangladesh and Infokosh mService which intends to create awareness about the various polices and procedures of various Government ministries and departments using mobile platforms like IVR, SMS, USSD and Call Centres.
Similar Developments: In December 2009, Spice Digital had secured an m-Governance deal in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The company had initially rolled out six services and had later expanded it to 12 services. These services involved actual transactions, as well as information and alerts from departments. Among the services launched include an SMS-based information service pertaining to Vehicle Registration, Driving License, Senior Citizens Identity card, and Health Management. In addition to this, Spice Digital had also tied up with Zoom Developers to offer e-governance services in Common Service Centres (CSC) in Himachal Pradesh. Zoom had setup over 600 CSCs in six districts of Kangra division of Himachal Pradesh.
In November 2009, Kerala-based Mobile VAS company MobMe Wireless Solutions had also secured an m-Governance contract from Kerala state government. This contract covered 21 pilot projects over 8 months across state government departments using a single number, 537252.
Through this project, MobMe had offered various services like University exam results & related information, Vehicle details over SMS, News alerts to journalists, Insurance details, Blood donation requests sent out taking location inputs into account, Movie ticketing on mobile for Kerala State Film Development Corporation, Audio guides for tourists at hotspots, Bus route timings and Inventory tracking for Public Distribution System among others.
*Disclosure: Spice Digital is an Advertiser with Medianama