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Mobile services in Kerala: clockwise from top left: the mobile portal of Kerala Tourism; mobile messaging to accelerate tax checkposts; agri-market prices through mobile; the state's SMS gateway
 
 
Kerala harnesses the m-way for governance

With almost 80 percent of her population, accessible through a mobile phone the Indian state of Kerala, has  made  the phone  the key delivery mechanism for  many citizen services

A broad spectrum of people-centric applications harnessing the mobile phone have already  been put in place -- and many more including mobile payment models are in the pipeline, the state revealed at an e-governance summit here was told  in Bangalore last week. 

Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Department of Information Technology in a keynote at the Summit on re-Governance and Digitization of Government organised by the Manufacturers' Association of Information Technology (MAIT), said the state had registered a unique SMS short code -- 537252 -- for Kerala,which was available across the networks of all 13 telecom providers in the state.

This would enable the state to offer a wide spectrum of services from
SSLC results and agricultural alerts to emergency requirements of blood  and citizen complaints to the police. A bulk SMS gateway, (http://esms.kerala.gov.in  ) had been created which allows government agencies to send instant alerts and communications in many verticals like media, farmers etc in a push and pull mode. Other departments that harnessed this m-governance backbone were the
KSRTC( for bus route information), KSEB for electricity billing, KWA ( for  water bills) and a dedicated website of Kerala Tourism for audio guides to places of interest. (http://www.m.keralatourism.org/  )

In the pipeline were mobile applications for land tax collections, public distribution system and accelerating check post operations.

With 21 million of the state’s 31 million population having a mobile phone, nearly 80 percent reach was assured by any mobile phone based service in Kerala. By 2011, the state hoped to achieve 100 percent tele-penetration, Dr Ajay Kumar said.

Kerala's m-governance initiatives drew wide wide appreciation at the
conference that was inaugurated by Karnataka governor H R Bharadwaj.

A shorter version of this story can also be found at the Kerala IT News portal http://keralaitnews.com/index.php/government-e-initiatives/110-e-governance-/756-kerala-leads-in-m-governance  
A copy of Dr Ajay Kumar’s presentation in PDF format can be accessed at the MAIT’s web site devoted to the event: http://mait.com/event_images/egovjan2010.htm 

- from Anand Parthasarathy, Bangalore January 24