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Impact of Mobile Technology Projects for improving the lives of common citizens

The emphasis of UNDP is on enhancing the inclusion of the most disadvantaged sections (especially Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women and other marginalized sections) in poverty alleviation programmes. UNDP India, being engaged with the Union Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in supporting national initiatives on E-Governance and use of ICT for various development sectors, enabled John to play a key role in many such initiatives.

John Borgoyary was working as a Programme Officer with the UNDP for 3 years from 2006 to 2009. During his association with UNDP the focus of responsibilities of John was on promoting the use of ICT for poverty alleviation.

The Background

åThe current scenario of widespread mobile networks provides enormous opportunities to use mobile technology for improving lives of common citizens. John was therefore interested in developing innovative projects which use cutting edge technologies (such as mobile phone-based applications) for improving access and capacities of common citizens for better livelihoods and services (government or otherwise), particularly in rural areas.

In this context, the following queries were raised and information sought by him to the members of the Solution Exchange:

  • Examples of innovative applications of mobile technology (among other cutting edge ICT tools), which have been successful in India and other countries, which use such technologies for G2C, C2C and C2B services.
  • Innovative ideas on where ICT applications based on mobiles can be used for the same.

The responses received mainly centered on the following important points:

  • Inventive ideas on using mobile phones
  • Facilitation of health service delivery
  • Improving transparency and accountability within the government
  • Right to Information Act
  • Discussing different case studies from other states

Specific Inputs

  • Members listed various E-Governance projects already using mobile technology in different parts of India.
  • The Government of West Bengal is using mobile phones to strengthen E-Governance initiatives, starting with information dissemination (health, education, sanitation schemes) and rural household survey.
  • An initiative by the Government of Madhya Pradesh enables citizens to pay their telephone and electricity bills through their mobile phones.
  • In Karnataka, a public-private-partnership project harnesses mobile phone technology for enhancing local information flows, particularly local content generation for Community Radio.
  • In Maharashtra, discussants mentioned a project where local youth use mobile phones to provide news and information to their communities
  • Other examples mentioned were LifeLines, E-chaupal, TeleCentre on Wheels, and KISSAN that have utilized ICTs to support farmers and the poor.
  • The responses received from the following persons were specifically used:
    1. R. K. Mukherjee, ACCESS Development Services, New Delhi
    2.  Ramnath Bhat, VOICES, Bangalore
    3.  Meghendra Banerjee, World Health Organization (WHO), New Delhi
    4.  Ravi Ghate, SMSOne.in, Pune
    5.  Ramesh S. Aruznachalam, Microfinance Consulting Group, Chennai
    6.  Anindya Kumar Banerjee, Independent Consultant, Kolkata
    7.  Sougata Mukherjea, Telecom Research Innovation Centre (TRIC) IBM  India Research Lab, New Delhi
  • Members of ICT gave information on www.WorldWideWeb.com, which contained many new information used by John.

Outcome

  • The various concepts and ideas of using SMS & MMS based tools for upliftment of the marginalized communities germinated and got crystallized through discussion and information received from the members of the ICT community.
  • UNDP was able to implement SMS / MMS based ICT project for Legal empowerment of marginalized communities in India (Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh).