ICT : Driving Economic Change (The Week Series VIII)
Puneet Gupta, Director, Public Sector, Cisco India & SAARC
Technology, with its potential to transform lives across all verticals, plays a pivotal role in enabling countries world-over to change people's lives and the way enterprises function. Countries like India which have witnessed significant economic growth over the last few years are using innovative ICT technologies to build sustainable communities that foster inclusive growth. Redefining the way people work, play, learn and live, ICT is changing the global economic landscape in the areas of infrastructure, security and safety, environment sustainability, healthcare, education, financial and citizen services.
Globally, rising real estate and energy costs are a major cause for concern. Employing technology and connecting existing building systems to an IP network makes it possible to create smart buildings(commercial and residential) which increase efficiency, support sustainability and promise safety and security to all occupants. IP connectivity provides an integrated environment where people ‘talk’ to their digital surroundings via preferred communication devices in order to reduce, manage and monitor energy consumption.
Like energy, the need for public safety and security has grown in recent times due to increased incidence of unanticipated emergencies, natural disasters, crime rates and terrorism. For the perpetrators, technology is playing a significant role in making the threats highly mobile. A secure network that is robust and includes all elements of a public security system like video surveillance , screening, security devices, wireless/wire-line/radio communication systems, and public announcement boards helps create safer communities.
Every country needs accessible, affordable, and responsive healthcare solutions in order to meet the changing medical needs of citizens. An integrated network of systems and technology helps citizens, government, and businesses to connect on a common platform and communicate with each other to make informed decisions regarding their own health, the health of others, and the healthcare system. Technology helps to facilitate these communications in a highly secure and collaborative manner.
Internet and collaboration technology, supported by faster data, voice and video transfer, facilitate remote examination and consultation for patients in a cost-effective manner. These tools enable seamless communication across geographically dispersed areas and increase access to healthcare. Establishing Electronic Health Records will go a long way in building a strong healthcare ecosystem in India; benefit patients and help doctors diagnose better and faster. Apollo Hospitals in India is using ICT to deliver remote specialist healthcare services to people and accelerate access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.
Countries like India are working closely with the IT sector to provide quality education to rural areas through remote guidance. Technology also helps to solve the problem of good quality faculty in rural areas. Advanced collaboration technologies also facilitate virtual classrooms for higher education in urban areas.
Recently, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), launched a cross-campus technology initiative named BITSConnect 2.0 which uses Immersive Telepresence, high-definition video conferencing and live streaming technologies to connect all campuses for knowledge sharing , foster new methods of collaboration, enrich the in-class experience, and better utilize school resources.
The last decade has seen a big revolution in the way financial services are delivered to the citizens Implementation of core banking, deployment of ATM’s and Internet banking have changed the way customers conduct financial transactions. Today’s customers want financial information integrated across various systems and on- the-go. The Network is at the heart of real- time and secure communication.
Innovative and cost-effective IT solutions that comply with stringent industry regulations help banks to attract/retain customers and provide a differentiated user experience. Collaborative technologies like video help facilitate seamless communication between the banks and their customers while connected banking solutions (connected ATMs) help banks connect with customers in remote locations. Like collaboration, social media can enhance customer satisfaction and help banks capitalise on up-sell opportunities.
ICT provides unprecedented opportunities to governments and public sector enterprises to deploy enhanced services for citizens across the country. The Government of India is very bullish on the NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network), which envisages providing wireless broadband connection to every village panchayat. Permeating connectivity to the grass-root level through NFON is one of the steps towards creating better governance infrastructure to enable citizens access information from any place, on any device and at any time. Other such initiatives include UID, National Population Register, NeGP programme - SWAN, SDC and SC projects.