Punjab govt taking its side of the initiatives

Arrival of service to bolster, upgrade several plans of province.

Shahram Haq March 23, 2014


The impending arrival of the technology is also crucial to the Punjab government as it is swiftly introducing departmental reforms in order to improve its efficiency in governance.

It is using the current smartphone technology, in its limited form, to monitor several projects, ranging from traffic violation to crime investigations, dengue tracking and monitoring, spot-pricing, mobile health services and is also making its presence felt in the agricultural sector.

Lack of awareness over the use of smartphone technology is one of the main reasons for its low adoption among masses. However, officials believe that the arrival of 3G services would streamline the technology, resulting in a greater number of people being made aware of its benefits.

Relying on the current technology is sometimes inefficient but with the world now moving towards a digitised age, it would be easier and quicker to make the best of e-governance, said Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr Umar Saif.

The PITB is responsible for the development and implementation of consequential strategies to achieve provincial IT potential. “Currently, we are looking at 160 such projects in Punjab only,” said Saif. “The arrival of 3G services means a lot to us.”

Governmental departments have often been criticised for the lack of coordination among them but, Saif said, this would improve now. “This will give us better results and improve communication with government departments.”

The PITB is currently working on projects such as distance learning, telemedicine and a city monitoring surveillance system. All these projects need better bandwidth.

For example, in its distance or mobile education project, the department is transforming all literature and text to digital form. While it would do wonders for areas where schools are lacking, the current technology means the service cannot be truly utilised.

“With the arrival of 3G services, education would go through some transformation and will benefit distance learning especially in remote areas.”

Similarly in the telemedicine project, the PITB is looking to connect remote areas with hospitals and doctors in urban cities. The idea is to connect – in the true sense of the word – doctors so that they can guide their counterparts in remote areas.

According to Saif, this project will now start in 16 District Health Quarters (DHQ) where bandwidth is available. These DHQs will connect with Mayo Hospital Lahore and The Children’s Hospital, added the official.

The PITB is also working on security measures like the city monitoring surveillance system in which more than 2,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras would be installed at different locations. These would be connected to the central control system and would give real-time update to authorities.

The automation of the Central Police Office, crime maps and several prisons is also under way.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2014.

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