With digitization, Indian Passport Office has significantly accelerated the process of providing passport-related services and is able to serve double the people in a day, informs Golok Kumar Simli, Principal Consultant & Head – Technology, Passport Seva, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. In an exclusive interview he tells us how digitization is transforming the delivery of government services to citizens
What are the fundamental aspects of your digital strategy and what does it encompass?
Currently, we are moving towards eGovernance or in other words we are moving closely towards using technology within the ministry. With these initiatives, we are now coming out of the boundaries and are able to reach, collaborate, empower, exchange, and replicate more. So these are some of the ideas we are working on in our next steps towards Digital India.
How have these digital initiatives helped? Can you give us some measurable statistics that show the benefits of going digital?
If we talk in measurable terms, we were providing passport-related services
to 20-25,000 people per day before digitization. Today, we are able to serve 50,000 people per day. So, with digitization, we are able to serve double the people in a day. Till 2011, we just had 37 passport office as far as reach is concerned. Today, we have 37 passport offices plus 100 Passport Seva Kendra, so the reach has increased significantly and we now cater to 23 states and 64 cities across India.
Our portal has received a tremendous response from the citizens—we are getting more than 2 crore hits on our portal per day. In terms of mobile apps, we are getting 15,000 hits per day and in terms of call center (which supports 17 different languages) we are getting almost 20,000 calls per day. Similarly, SMSes being sent from system, like police verification, passport dispatch, etc, are 35,000 per day.
These numbers would not have been possible without digitization. In addition, if we wish to improve something within the department or do a trend analysis, all this information is available at a single click due to digitization.
According to you, what are the key steps to ensure the success of a digital journey?
In all government departments, there are two key steps:
- Process, rules and regulations : Any technology that we buy today should match the future needs also. Today, the biggest challenge that the IT heads face is that the process do not match the expectations. So ICT has to fill these gaps. So in these cases, one has to talk to the top management and draft processes, rules, and regulations keeping in mind the future outlook and then work accordingly.
- Sustainability and business model-Every ICT investment we do, we don’t do it for the sake of consumption or for the sake of procuring server or network device. Thus, it is essential to make sure that the investment gives some business value. And then in that investment make sure it gives the overall benefit, how it will sustain, and then think of a business model which makes you sustain.