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In 2018, India boasted the 2nd largest population in the world and the 7th largest GDP. Andhra Pradesh is a state located in the southwest of this rapidly growing country and in recent years, its government has begun working towards improving the well-being of its people in an effort to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Well-being is not only a measurement of the economic scale, it is an index that is also assessed based on disparity in wealth, education, health and the adequacy of social insurance, and more, which are important issues as India grows to become a true major power. India’s societal issues of effective response to natural disasters, stabilizing public safety, and enhancing public services that improve the disparity in wealth will all lead to enriching the lifestyles of its people. A pioneer among state governments in India, the government of Andhra Pradesh has announced the establishment of Real Time Governance to bring its people accurate and fast administrative services. Hitachi Consulting Software Services India, who undertook this project worked together in cooperation with Hitachi Vantara in the U.S. and India and other group companies worldwide under the banner of “One Hitachi” to develop India’s leading-edge system.
“The lack of real time data from each department in the Indian government is an issue. For example, when a cyclone hits, there is no coordination between the weather forecasting department and the evacuation planning department, which means timely evacuation guidance is impossible, and this has resulted in the sacrifice of numerous lives thus far. Whenever I see this country fall victim to a natural disaster or I am witness to the gap in wealth among its people, I am struck with a strong desire to improve society.” These are the words of Satya Alakunta of Hitachi Consulting, the company tasked with supervising the project. This epic project to reform the governing functions of the state with 53 million residents was placed in his hands. “I accepted this major role telling myself that if I give 120% of my very best and the job still cannot get done, then no one can do it.” Bolstering his courage, Satya assumed the leadership of the 200-member team.
This was India’s first attempt at real time governance. There were no precedents or surefire techniques to follow for the road to success – they were charting a new path forward. The first order of business for Satya and his team was to hold workshops for government leaders and stakeholders to thoroughly discuss what kind of system they required. “When the issue at hand got confusing, we focused on sorting the tasks that needed to be performed from the customer’s perspective or looking at it from the viewpoint of a citizen. There is something more important than business, and that is acting with sincerity to change the governance of this country and enrich the lives of its people,” says Satya.
The first thing that had to be done in order to achieve real time governance was to integrate all of the data managed separately by each government department. Next, that data was used to develop various systems to improve living. At the core of the system is the solution provided by Hitachi: the Hitachi Visualization Suite. This system centralizes management of items such as real time security and traffic camera footage, ambulances’ GPS information, temperature, humidity, water levels, smart infrastructure and agriculture sensors, and air pollution data in each locality around the state, and then visualizes the data, which is then used in risk analysis. For example, when a cyclone hits, the water levels of every river can be assessed and immediate instructions to evacuate and to where can be is issued to those residents at risk using the prediction function. In addition, as the history builds up, it offers feedback for the next time when the analysis is conducted. Disaster response accuracy, which conventionally relied solely upon human experience, was improved dramatically.
This real time governance system resolves various issues in addition to disaster prevention. For example, improved public safety. Throughout towns, 22,000 security cameras were installed and linked to a management system making it possible to prevent crime or quickly investigate crimes that did take place. Results were seen soon after the system was implemented. An incident occurred involving a newborn baby being kidnapped from a hospital, but police were able to use the video footage as a clue in their investigation leading to arresting the perpetrator within 24 hours. News of the baby’s rescue in the media received widespread attention. In the area of resolving wealth disparity, identifying and documenting those truly in need helps to ensure the proper distribution of a monthly supply of rice and beans and the provision of housing.
The system can also be used to increase agricultural productivity by installing and centrally managing water level sensors in irrigation canals to grasp drought or flood damage and to prevent damage to crops. In addition, soil, weather, and irrigation conditions can be applied to the algorithm, making it possible to determine the optimum crop for each plot of land and increase the harvest.
“Making quick decisions protects the safety of the people. Identifying people in need ensures proper monthly supply. Analyzing agricultural data maximizes the harvest. Achieving a system of real time governance is all about bringing greater happiness to the people of India,” says Satya with a sparkle in his eye.
Scaling the real time governance system to each area of administration also went through a complex development process. First, in order to clear the complex approval procedure for obtaining various data from the government, Satya’s team had to coordinate with the heads of each department. When implementing solutions to aggregate and visualize this data, a vast amount of work was required to customize the solutions in line with applications such as disaster management, crime prevention, and agriculture. The Solution Development Team engaged in prolonged teleconference discussions that bridged the distance with staff members located around the world.
On a project like this where a countless number of such processes are involved, even small delays can build up, and will cause a major impact on the schedule later on. As the project reached its delivery date, it was a fierce battle against the clock for Satya’s team. “We lived away from our families for weeks. We went without sleep for the 36 hours prior to delivery. But when the system was complete and we flipped the switch to turn it on, I will never forget that moment we all celebrated together,” reflects Manoj Jajoo, Solution Development Manager.
“We faced countless challenges, but giving up was never an option for our team because we were convinced that greater development of Indian technology meant greater health and safety in the lives of its people,” says Satya who shares a desire along with his coworkers. They have grand ambitions to extend this real time governance system to every state in India and all of its more than 1.3 billion citizens. This pioneering spirit became the bond that created the Harmony among the team members that helped them to persevere unwaveringly through the myriad of hardships.
While there is enormous potential for India’s development, the issues it faces are also immense. There are still issues such as transportation, air pollution, and a shortage of water that needs to be addressed. We can say with confidence that resolving these issues will bring a huge sense of accomplishment. “Real time governance cannot stop here because no matter where you are born in the world, where you live in the world, everyone has the right to happiness.” The enthusiasm beaming from Satya’s eyes is already looking toward the next endeavor.
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