E-projects Set For Big Leap in TN

by Sonal Desai    Jun 26, 2009

Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (Elcot), the nodal agency for ICT projects in the state, has set an ambitious plan to modernize TN in 2010 under various NIC schemes, apart from a state-owned data centre.

The state already has a data center which is managed and operated by Elcot. The second data center - tenders for which will be floated soon - will have world-class facilities, and will be a one-stop window for all e-governance activities, as also automation projects within the government offices.

In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Santhosh Babu, MD, Elcot & Director, e-governance, said that the agency will discourage service providers or service centers from setting up separate servers. "All departments are connected by us, because we have a data center. We are asking them to develop applications on stacks we provide, so that interoperability is not an issue.

"All the backend will be hosted at the new data center which will be set up at a cost of Rs 55 crore. The current data center is on IBM mainframes and runs on Linux. There are interoperability issues with the legacy system, which will be taken care of in the new one," he said.

In its endeavour, Elcot is being helped by e-governance experts and software vendors such as Wipro, TCS, C-DAC among others.

The state, which already has state wide area networks (SWANs) in place, is now addressing connectivity issues - both horizontal and vertical.  "We will be connecting 10,000 offices, upgrade the current PoPs. Even with inefficient connectivity and last mile issues, we have started offering certain services already. Plus we have a draft on T. Gigabyte in place. Modalities have to be worked out," Babu said.

Elcot is chiefly into three broad areas namely, IT promotion, IT procurement and e-governance. And as a part of the latter, it is developing applications for various organizations. Some of the examples being muster.com for the labour department, Agrisnet for agriculture, Healthdp for healthcare.

Said Babu, "We have already deployed Healthdp (an electronic patient record system) in about 48 hospitals across five districts. We want to install it in all the 270 hospitals. This software keeps a record of all patients."

"We have also developed a core banking solution for public-sector banks. Besides, three state departments namely, revenue, backward class and SC/ST welfare department have been connected with the common service centers (CSCs). We are driving five e-district projects, developing a state portal. C-DAC is developing a middleware which will convert about 200 forms which will be fed in the CSCs. Our aim is to have one CSC for three villages," he said. 

But how is Babu doing all this? "For that, we have developed e-teams. Each team takes onus. Everything is being minuted. We follow the minutes and ensure that the projects are completed on time.  We have also documented the software lifecycle, and are in the process of developing an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)- like process."

Plus, Elcot gets enabling orders from the government. Responding to a query that despite ready infrastructure in place, many e-governance projects have failed, Babu said, "Where they generally fail is because of lack of an enabling order. Although enablements are a part of the SLAs, the government too can play a pro-active role. I am also hopeful that once everything is computerized, we will have a stronger citizen charter."

With reports that the reserve price of 3G spectrum has been reserved, Babu spoke about how Elcot would like to utilize m-commerce. We are trying to create a Web solution for utility payments. We also need to talk to banks for more.

Elcot is also drawing drafts policies on cyber security, rural BPO and e-waste. With nine IT parks (some of which are in the development phase), the agency will set up an IT academy. Both Elcot and CII will shell out Rs 10 crore each at the start.

Babu concluded, "This is a critical year. But 2010 is year to modernize TN government. We want citizens not to seek government - we want them to feel the government. That is our mantra."

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