viraj-tyagi

We’re focused on creating common standards for Urban Governance across cities and states in India: Viraj Tyagi, eGovernments Foundation

By Anusha Ashwin

eGovernments Foundation is an organization that uses technology to solve governance challenges. Nandan Nilekani (Cofounder of Infosys) and Srikanth Nadamuni (CEO of Khosla Labs) started eGovernment Foundation in 2003, to transform urban governance, improve citizens’ interaction and enable smart cities.

The duo and their tech-team have built many OpenSource, interoperable and scalable technology solution for citizens and urban governance bodies to manage, monitor and interact using their solutions. The solutions include an ERP suite, Data Analytics, Visualization and Mobile apps. In an interaction with the CEO of eGovernments Foundation (eGov), Viraj Tyagi, a broader picture of the working of the foundation emerges. Some excerpts from the interaction: 

Voice&Data: When was eGovernments Foundation incepted and who were the key persons behind its inception?

Viraj Tyagi: eGovernments Foundation (eGov) was established in 2003 by Nandan Nilekani and Srikanth Nadhamuni to partner with city administrators in their drive to leverage technology for better service delivery and enhanced productivity. At a very fundamental level, we are like a Digital Operating System for the cities — we provide the technology and know-how to digitise services delivered, automate the internal processes like works and file management and drive revenue collection by putting robust digital applications in areas like property tax, water charges, trade licenses etc.

We have over years invested more than Rs 70 crore in building this platform. Driven by our philosophy of maximising the impact on Urban India, our platform is completely open source, and free for cities to use. I am also excited about building an ecosystem of developers and enterprises around this open platform to build new applications and solutions. 

Voice&Data: With what objective did Nandan Nilekani and Srikanth Nadhamuni establish eGovernments Foundation?

Viraj Tyagi: Nandan Nilekani and Srikanth Nadhamuni had a well-set goal to transform 2000 cities/towns by 2020 by deploying our open source technology platform and applications intending to become a default platform for Municipal e-Governance in India. By making our platform open source and free to use, we also aim to create a big ecosystem of solution providers and citizens.

eGov’s fundamental premise is to catalyse urban development for greater good by harnessing technology to drive efficient and transparent interactions between citizens and city administration. The team passionately believes that use of technology can transform how urban India interacts and holds each other accountable. Platforms like Aadhaar have already demonstrated the power of technology in driving deep impact and inclusive growth. 

Voice&Data: eGovernments Foundation offers products/services that cater to the e-municipality space. What are these services and products?

Viraj Tyagi: Our Smart City Platform is like an operating system for any city. It enables set of automated workflows, data processing, mobile apps, transaction processing and real time analytics and dashboards. It has 21 different modules available as web or mobile application, which cover all aspects of the city.

Some of the modules include: –

  • Citizen Services: Building Plan Approval, Birth & Death Certificates, Grievance Redressal, Portal
  • Revenue Assurance: Property Tax, Water Charges, Advertising Charges, Trade Licenses
  • ERP: Public works, Inventory, Assets, Payroll & Pension, Lease
  • Administration: File Management, Legal Case Management, Employee Management 

Voice&Data: Can you highlight some of the key successes recorded by eGovernments Foundation?

Viraj Tyagi: Our solutions are operating in 325+ cities and towns and more than 2.7 crore people have directly benefited by our solutions. Our system has issued more than 1 crore certificates to citizen and 24 lakh complaints have been redressed. The governments also achieve both revenue and productivity gains through our solution. In Chennai, there was 38% increase in property tax collected, average time to manage property record came down from 7 days to 1 day, the city achieved 83% complaints redressal rate. 

Voice&Data: In which major Indian states has eGovernments Foundation deployed its services?

Viraj Tyagi: Our solution is deployed in states across India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, New Delhi & Tamil Nadu. 

Voice&Data: Post demonetization, how has eGovernments Foundation enabled cashless transactions?

Viraj Tyagi: I think cashless has been core to our product design philosophy. Our solution enables cashless transaction within government departments as well as between citizens and government departments. In fact, we have played a critical role in enabling New Delhi Municipal Corporation going cashless as of December 30, 2016. 

Voice&Data: What is PuraSeva mobile app? How useful is this app and how many downloads has this accomplished?

Viraj Tyagi: PuraSeva is India’s first fully integrated Citizen and Employee Mobile Apps with mapped roles, accountability, SLA, MIS and escalation matrix. It is unique in that sense, it connects citizens directly with municipal employees.

In addition, it empowers the employees to manage their work efficiently and drives accountability. We have had more 40,000 downloads of the app in a few months and more than 1 lakh transactions.

The app currently provides the fulfilment of following services to both citizens and municipal employees:

  • Grievance Redressal
  • Seek Services
  • Pay his/her dues
  • Track Status of his applications
  • Get Certifications/Proceedings
  • Service requests reach city functionary directly for quick redressal
  • Escalations to senior officials on delays
  • Evidence based method of complaint closure
  • SLA adherence tracking as per citizen charter
  • Dashboards for Senior officials to track employee performance 

Voice&Data: How does eGovernments Foundation support PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative?

Viraj Tyagi: I would say we are a live example of Digital India unfolding. eGov Smart City Platform completely digitizes services and transactions that were earlier time consuming and paper based. Take for example property tax payments in Chennai, where our platform is operational, we have seen a six-fold increase in cashless payments of property tax in last two years; from 35,000 in 2013-14 to 2,05,000 cashless payments in 2015-16.

Another example is New Delhi -NDMC, who is our customer for the last 10 years. On Dec 25, 2016, NITI Aayog identified & awarded NDMC for rolling-out complete cashless transaction services to citizen of Delhi. 

Voice&Data: What are Smart City Dashboard and Smart City Mobility services?

Viraj Tyagi: Our Big Data Analytics engine generates Smart Dashboards to help track, monitor and visualise all key metrics in real time. Officers can query the data to understand trends by state, district, city, town wards, departments, revenue items etc, this helps in taking corrective action as the information is easily available on fingertips. Our Big Data Engine turns complex data into actionable information, drawing on our deep understanding of data availability, urban domain, communication, and emerging technologies.

We believe a smart city is a digital city – a city that offers its employees and citizens cutting edge technology and communication tools to be more productive and work together. Our eGov Smart City Platform provides city administrators visibility into the workings of various functions like water charges, building plan approval, property tax collection, employee management. Our Grievance redressal system have helped citizens and government collaborate like never before – solving civic issues as partners. eGov Smart City Platform enables citizens, all cities within a state and across hierarchy access to the same version of truth. 

Voice&Data: What are the future plans of eGovernments Foundation?

Viraj Tyagi: We went through a detailed visioning exercise recently and there were a few key themes that underpin our future plans. Firstly, we are focusing on building an inter-operable & scalable Urban Governance Platform on cloud that can be adopted by all states. A cloud-based national platform will dramatically reduce the time to adoption and total cost of ownership; we are talking about a quantum reduction in both these dimensions. In addition, it will create common standards for Urban Governance across cities and states.

The other key theme relates to building analytical sandbox to leveraging data generated by the eGov Platform to equip policy makers and administrators with tools to make better decisions. In addition to tools like real-time dashboards and reports we will also build machine learning capabilities to pick up patterns and predict events.

The third pillar of our future plans is build an open innovations ecosystem on eGov Platform. Think of eGov platform as an Android equivalent in the Urban Governance space. Everything that we are building comes with an Open API and we will foster an ecosystem of hackers, commercial partners and communities to build new applications on top of it.

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