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How to explain Tamil Nadu’s 360-degree database to your peers

The state govt is putting in place a Master Data Management tool that will build the foundation for its long-coveted State Family Database.

What’s the news: The Tamil Nadu government is back with a fresh tender for a Master Data Management (MDM) and data de-duplication tool to create a 360-degree database of each resident. The database will serve as the “heart” of Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency’s (TNeGA) ‘State Family Database’ (SFDB) project.

The Public Distribution System-based (PDS) database will serve as the core data which already has demographic details of around seven crore residents. The state government departments will add their associated databases and the system integrator will assign a ‘Makkal ID’ for data exchange. Essentially, all details of one person – from phone number to Voter ID – including all the relationships based on user defined rules regardless of address will be accessible from one place.

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What is Makkal ID? Makkal ID is a unique identification number already given to each resident. The number matches a person’s information across different databases like Aadhaar, Ration card, etc. Although, unlike Aadhaar, the number may not be known to people and may only be used for backend. For example, if a government authority needs to check your property details, income details and educational details, all of it will be accessible via the Makkal ID.

Why it matters: Simply put, it’s too much data in the hands of the state government, with little to no safeguards available to the people. The data gathered for each individual in the SFDB is expected to be “current, relevant, complete, logically consistent and comprehensive.” The idea seems to be based off of the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH), an e-governance project that sought to do many things that the SFDB plans to do. But while the SRDH used Aadhaar data as its core data, SFDB uses PDS data and then adds in other databases. Considering the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 has granted many exemptions to government departments to process personal data, the idea of a single database holding all possible information on an individual is daunting to say the least.

TNeGA eager to create a ‘Golden Record’: As per the tender, a golden record is a single, well-defined view across multiple SFDB database systems with or without unique identifier and other trusted sources of external information. The MDM will create such a record and map it to each Makkal ID. The MDM will also prepare a family tree for each golden record. The TNeGA called it “a Single Version of Truth.”

“[It] will host the details of the state’s residents and will be the single source of truth on all details with respect to the state’s residents,” said the tender.

The government claimed that by enabling cross-department data harmonization and synchronization, the SFDB will not only streamline government service delivery, but help policy-makers take the right decisions providing data-driven support.

For this, the TNeGA is inviting proposals from companies who specialize in big data, open source technologies, data analytics, data warehousing, MDM solutions.

This post is released under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. Please feel free to republish on your site, with attribution and a link. Adaptation and rewriting, though allowed, should be true to the original.

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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