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Karnataka egovernance initiative has miles to go to fulfil promises

Anita Babu  |  Bengaluru 

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, launches the Karnataka Mobile One App in Bengaluru on Monday. Also  seen are Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, launches the Karnataka Mobile One App in Bengaluru on Monday. Also seen are Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

The much anticipated and needed initiative of the has a long road ahead before it can fulfil all its promises.

is the application of information and communication technology for delivering government services. The national plan aims to lay the foundation for growth of the service at both the Union and state levels.

In Karnataka, the multimode mobile governance service has been developed by the state government's Centre for E-governance, in association with Hyderabad-based mobile technology solutions provider Named Karnataka Mobile One, the service can be accessed on both feature phones and smartphones, including the iOS and Android platforms. had won the tender from a pool of 17 vendors which had contended to develop the project.

The total budget for the project is Rs 17 crore for five years.

"The amount has been fixed considering various modalities, including enabling costs that involve integration of departments and the cost of text messages," said Rathan U Kelkar, chief executive officer, Centre for e-Governance, Karnataka. "Our aim is to make it a self-sustaining model."

The platform is built on IMImobile's cloud-based and enterprise grade OpenHouse platform, hosted within Karnataka State Data Centre. The unified and standards-based OpenHouse platform connects telecom, digital, payments and other third-party service providers. The state government and did not divulge details on the revenue aspects. However, according to a highly-placed government source, OpenHouse platform has brought significantly down the cost, resources and time needed to deliver the services.

will be developed further and fine-tuned over the next five years. The state government and IMImobile are waiting for the volumes generated from different services. Once data for six months comes in, they plan to sign a revenue-sharing agreement.

Though the app garnered considerable attention because of the number of services it offers, only five government employees have been deployed to the project. Kelkar says plans are afoot to expand the team.

According to an IMImobile officer, they had generated around 1,00,000 users through multiple channels.

Apart from IMImobile, Mobile One has no tie-ups with other firms. They have collaborated with existing independent third-party service providers like Wipro GE Healthcare and Bengaluru-based Practo.com for specific services.

There are, however, multiple teething problems that need to be addressed. Techonological inhibitions might prove to be a difficult hurdle.

Not all the services on Mobile One are free. For instance, it lets you recharge your phone. There are both pre-paid and post-paid recharge options. However, transaction charges apply for pre-paid recharges via the app. This is directly proportional to the amount for which it is recharged. For example, the transaction charge is Rs 5 for any recharge up to Rs 500 and Rs 10 for those above Rs 500.

When there are various other better online recharge options available, this service is unlikely to be too popular.

Though the agriculture services look promising, farmers have to pay to subscribe to some of the crop alerts and solutions. The app tries to deliver a lot of services in the health care segment. The book-a-doctor facility lets one select a doctor from a list of specialists to fix an appointment. There is also an option to find a doctor or clinic by entering only the name.

However, the service failed to provide the desired results because of the lack of uniformity in the details provided. For instance, the book appointment option is available only for some doctors and the 'show number' options - is supposed to display the phone number of the doctor - often fails to show any result. But the number shows up when one clicks on the name of the doctor.

Maternal and childcare solutions, as well as Tele-Intensive Care Unit (ICU) solutions, are also provided. Tele-ICU allows a doctor at one place to monitor a patient at a different place with the help of a camera and IT solutions. This service has a lot of potential.

The other major setback for users of this service is that only Bengaluru residents can avail of the services of Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company and Water Supply and Sewarage Board, while the services from Hubblli Electricity Supply Company are only for Hubblli citizens. These can be availed by simply registering through your account number.

Banking services are available but only from Canara Bank, ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Axis Bank and State Bank of India. The service helps to open an account in any of these banks. Mobile One has also been made a tool to expand the reach of Jan Dhan Yojana.

CORRECION
Earlier version had said that Practo is a Delhi-based firm wheres it is based in Bengaluru.

First Published: Thu, December 11 2014. 00:44 IST
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