City Chief Information Officers Their Role

Dr. Anupam Saraph
CIO
Software exporters association

The office of a Chief Information Officers for the urban centre is perhaps the most appropriate forum for this. Each district should also have a similar CIO. Such positions should be based on public private partnership and not part of any single authority to ensure the ability of the office to create collaborate and address the need.

The office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Pune City, is set up as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the Software Exporters Association of Pune (SEAP) and various government authorities. Pune is the first city in India to create such a position. Cites in United States have a CIO as do cities in Australia and some parts of Europe, these offices have evolved with time, have different degrees of maturity as city-wide offices and have gained increasing importance after 9/11 and Katrina calamities.

Information is the key driver of decision, planning and design. When disasters happen, information restricts the scope and the rate at which we can contain damage or help the afflicted. In normal times information, or the absence of it, impacts the quality of decisions, plans and designs.

With or without computers and automation, information usually sits in silos each point-of-transaction, department or authority keeps its own private, unshared (and often unauthenticated, unsecured and non-private) record of the business that transpired. Very few wonder that current business processes require collecting information from different departments in various forms like No Objection Certificates (NOC’s) and other certifications. It is no
surprise that this information is not trusted and needs verification or authentication. This not only limits the scope of what can be done by each office but also the rate at which it can be done.

The challenge before any CIO is, therefore, to create opportunities for establishing connections and collaborations that can change citizen experience for better, while making the business processes of the authorities far simpler and easier.

Pune’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing at seven per cent per annum in contrast with much smaller place like Surat where GDP is growing at 12 per cent per annum. If the city cannot ensure mobility, water, electricity, waste removal, good health, safety, good housing, commercial spaces, open spaces and entertainment, its GDP growth begins to slowdown as business moves to urban centres. Decisions, plans and designs that will continue to improve these experiences will help drive the growth of GDP.

The municipal bodies, city police, RTO (Road Transport office), tax commissionerates are focused on roles mandated by the acts and legislature that constitute these bodies. These acts are based on an environment that had smaller and slower growing urban centres and, little automation. They are based on a time where shared information needed to be enforced through procedures requiring exchange of documents, verifications and inspections through functions with each authority.

In today’s information era, shared services and shared information is not just a possibility, it is a reality. In keeping with the needs of the day, it is only appropriate to create platforms to strengthen each authority’s ability to serve the purposes for which they exist and ensure the continued growth of the urban centre.

A shared Geographic Information System (GIS) for the city, for example, would help each authority connect and collaborate. The schedule for digging for water pipeline, telecom, electricity, road repairs and widening and traffic redirections would all be shared as layers across authorities and departments. The property and resident information would provide a shared Know Your Customer/Citizen  (KYC) and provide the ability to better manage mobility, water, electricity and telecom services. It would also provide greater security, further the e-Commerce and e-Governance and ensure the authorities to accomplish the purposes for which they are constituted.

A shared ‘City-Card’ for each citizen, for example, would help facilitate not just a secure, safe city but also enable single point transactions and greater e-Commerce within the city. A shared infrastructure for enabling communications and updating transactions across the city in real-time would also ensure greater collaboration.

Such connection and collaboration needs to be enabled in all class I and class II urban centres. The office of a CIO for the urban centre is perhaps the most appropriate forum for this. Each district should also have a similar CIO. Such positions should be based on public private partnership and not part of any single authority to ensure the ability of the office to create collaborate and address the need.

Therefore, if city CIO’s became the best-practice in every city what would the urban centre begin to look like? What would the shared services enabled by the CIO result in? How would the experience of a city change?

With such shared services you can expect most citizens of an urban centre to use ‘City-cards’ and most of them keep track of the card-transactions through their iLife account. Less than five per cent users would prefer a quarterly paper-statement of their iLife.

You may log in as first name, last name at the city.gov.in site. This site will be the single point for your iLife. Single windows would be pass No longer would you need to go to ‘singe-windows’ at different departments or offices of the local, state or central government, you simply log into your iLife. Better still your bank, insurance company, hospital and even local grocer are iLife enabled.

The pain of providing the same information over and over at different counters would be history. The first time you registered yourself to iLife, through your computer at home, you would be asked to provide information to identify yourself. You would be requested to visit any one of the ward offices to provide a photograph and your thumb print to receive City-card, your user name and a password to access iLife. That would be it.

Your City-card would provide you with cashless bus travel, parking and entry into all electronically accessed public locations as well as electronic entry enabled private locations. It would work as a cash-card and also replace time-consuming procedures with countless forms to make applications. It would simplify and secure transactions as you can simply allow the service providers to swipe your card and take your thumb print to access information. Only information that you have marked as allow through Pune-card will be accessed at points-of-transaction. The transaction is updated in your account on iLife.

When you log in, your account would include records of every institution with whom you did a transaction, either using the City-card or directly through iLife. Government departments, businesses and service providers have registered themselves to use City-cards and iLife.  In one-step, through a single-point, they gain access to the reliable, authentic and consistent information that they need thus, enabling them to reduce the time it takes to service your requirements.

The cities would be unwired to create a device connectivity across the city through secure channels. Thousands of card-readers, traffic sensors, flow-meters, switches would communicate information or take instructions on secure channels across the city. This would enable the City-card readers to instantaneously access the iLife servers for to querries or updating information.

iLife’s open source and open standards would enable it to create an eco-system of services by diverse service providers. A whole industry of businesses would flourish providing solutions to enable their services onto iLife.

A vibrant collaboration to build the communities around local self-help through wiki-enabled web-pages would be the norm. This would help to bring world-class infrastructure standards to the city. The city would launch a collaborative development plan to identify visions for the next 20 years, the challenges for the city over the next 20 years as well as various strategies to address these challenges. The city would run a world-wide simcity based competition to ‘Design for myCity’ and generate a huge dialogue about the challenges and strategies for the city. It would also built a strong sense of belonging in the city, a commitment to common visions and a tremendous positive culture to address challenges and make visions happen.

As a result of this alignment, the city would make a transition to non-fossil-fuel based transportation systems, become energy surplus, would have a 100% water access for 24×7 and the countries best record on recycling and managing waste. It would also be able to get the largest carbon-credits through the huge corridors of greening accomplished across all the city’s watersheds.

Web 2.0 based technologies would have resulted in creating city-resource planning (CRP) across local-state and central government authorities.

Let’s look forward to such cities- the countries iCities that provide good-governance

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