by July 1, 2005 0 comments

Systems for e-governance faces technology challenges that common enterprise systems often would not. These challenges arise out of the very nature of these systems and the fact that they need to endure for time to come. 

Add to that the fast change cycles in technology and the comparatively very extended purchase cycles in government, and you have a situation that does not need much priming for disaster. So, how does an e-governance project cope?

Tried and tested
Technology tends to get obsolete fast. And government may not be in a position to buy new servers every other year. It is better and safer to use tried and tested technologies and products for longer periods of time than the latest, bleeding edge ones. It is not for nothing that old banks still run their mainframe based applications, and keep maintaining them at huge costs. 

e-governance projects have to be designed from day one to scale. Governance is supposed to affect every citizen; and so e-governance applications have to scale up to interface with every citizen. Even the largest of corporate applications pale into insignificance in comparison.

Key challenges for e-gov apps
  • Scale of the project

  • Defining a clear scope 

  • Deployment over inhospitable terrain

  • Permanency of data and trans action trails

  • Applications in local language Obsolescence Vs purchase cycles

Governance is the mother of all businesses, and it is easy for every e-governance application to want to be the mother of all applications, encompassing everything possible. Remember that the first step in creating a good application is to define its scope very well. Everything else comes later.

Corporate networks reside on reliable and controlled networks. Governance networks have to go into all sorts of inhospitable areas. It is going to be prohibitively costly to wire up all villages in the country. So, governance systems will have to use wireless networks like existing cellular networks to reach the applications into remote areas irrespective of the terrain.

Enterprise data has a limited lifespan, of maybe a maximum of twenty or thereabout years. Banks go longer, but governance systems have to retain data and the transaction trail for time immemorial. A good example is land records, where we already have more than a century’s worth of mutation information. 

The human factor

Any good project owes its success to the people behind it, particularly the team leaders, and e-governance is no exception. The private sector has ways of ensuring continuity once the project team moves on to other responsibilities. The government sector is yet to work out ways of ensuring continuity of e-governance projects. 
What seems to be the norm is that performing leaders and teams are being retained for longer periods. While this in itself is not wrong, governments need to work out more enduring answers, given its compulsory transfer policies and the fact that many of the original trail blazers in e-governance have left to join private enterprise and that many more are waiting in the wings to follow them

Therefore, as technologies change and as systems are overhauled, care should be taken to ensure that the data in the systems are transferred and made available without errors.

Local language
Enterprise applications in India are written in English; and so are the e-governance applications. If e-governance has to gain mass acceptance, then that has to change. 

Governance has to be in local language. And the applications for enabling governance has to be in the local language, often in multiple local languages. ¨

Krishna kumar

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