At the mbillionth awards held in Delhi on Saturday, representatives of civic bodies in India explained how they’re using digital platforms for delivery of m-governance services:

Rajeshwar Rao of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation explained how the government body is using what it calls an Offsite System for Real Time Monitoring of services. Each day, the corporation photographic images from the corporation workers as proof of attendance at work, as well as delivery of services, tracking whether the staff is in the field, how much time they’ve spent at work, how much distance has been covered, through the mobile phone. For example, for garbage disposal staff has to upload an image showing that each of the over-4000 public garbage bins have been cleared.

Along-with each photograph, information of latitude, longitude, location and timestamp is published in the form of a report. At the time that Rao was making a live demonstration, (12:11 pm on Saturday 23rd June 2011), 55% of bins had been cleaned, 9% were not cleaned, and 35% they still did not have reports (images) for. Rao said that the process of capturing real-time information helped reduce absenteeism, improve the quality of services being provided. Rao about the staff reporting their attenance, Rao said that “We didn’t ask them to come for attendance, instead we asked them to report attendance from where they were (in the field).”

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation collects images for building construction violation, for which they get alerts, along with proof in the form of images. Note that the portal is hosted at http://osrt.in:8080/igms, but inaccessible to the public.

But how did government employees and unions react to this rollout? Rao said that if the municipal body had rolled out all the features at the same time, it wouldn’t have lasted. “The success of this initiative is that it has lasted for more than a year. The casualty rates of IT initiatives in the governance field is high. There is not a week without some functionality being built into this project. It was a consideration from our side to allow people to err.”