Accelerating the Government Business in Punjab

Sunday, February 15, 2015
Being the largest province of Pakistan, Punjab is a house to a population of more than 100million with 9 divisions and 36 districts. To manage such a large number of people is an extremely challenging task. The farthest city of the province is 1000km away from the capital city. It takes days and months for public administrators to gather for a meeting, reach a consensus, decide, and take an action finally.
When it comes to shortening the long distances, information technology is the answer. Being the IT wing of Government of Punjab, Punjab Information Technology Board, headed by Dr. Umar Saif, envisions a mobile Punjab; enabling quick communications among public offices as well as the citizens. The board has undertaken many initiatives in this regard so far.

Connecting the government offices of 9 divisions and 36 districts with the central government in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province, was the primary challenge. Coping with the situation, state of the art video conferencing facilities were installed in more than 42 offices of commissioners, DCOs, apart from establishing a committee room in Arfa Software Technology Park, Home Secretariat, and Chief Minister Secretariat. The facility allows connecting officials from all over the province in minutes of time regardless of any physical and security barriers, while reducing the logistical costs simultaneously. In near future, it is also under consideration to connect the regional police offices to cope with emergency situations more effectively.

While Asani Markaz, a flagship project of PITB, is the establishment of citizen facilitation centers in all the divisions of Punjab. It is a one window operation from where citizens can obtain all the public documents such as birth certificate, driving license, and passport etc. The project follows a simple model. It acts as a platform accessing the databases of all the government departments for citizens. Digital communication has replaced the tedious, physical one. Citizens no longer need to visit each office individually. The center ensures quick and easy delivery of documents by saving time and effort for the government as well as the citizens.

Citizen Contact Center by PITB is a government-citizen telecom network which enables direct and timely communications between the government and the citizens. Important SMSs of government announcements, emergency alerts and news are sent via this platform to a large number of subscribers all over the province. The platform has been extremely helpful in sending alerts to masses during floods and polio campaigns. Moreover, the toll free helplines of all the government departments have also been established from this platform. It not only creates a helpline but also tracks the performance of the helpline such as how many calls were received and how many issues were resolved or the required information was provided accurately.

The new design of governance will be of an ‘instant government’ where decisions will be made on time and actions will be taken within due time. Be it the government to government, government to government and citizens, or government to citizens, there will be no communication barriers in mobilizing the government and the public. Such would be the acceleration powered by technology.