Social Media Framework in the Stage of Finalisation: R. Chandrashekhar

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NEW DELHI: Acknowledging the need for the government to have a systemic engagement on social media, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), R. Chandrashekhar, today said the Department had prepared the draft of a social media framework.

Speaking at the plenary session on the second day of the 5th IFIP World IT Forum (WITFOR) here, he said, “The way social media and governments work, they have fundamentally different characteristics, which leads to a constant challenge. To overcome these challenges, DIT has come up with a draft social media framework which is in the stage of finalisation.”

Underlining the importance of social networks, Chandrasekhar said, “There are issues and programmes where it is imperative for the government to engage the public. For instance, programmes like NREGA, Food Security Bill and e-Governance projects need consultation with the public. This is where the government can leverage the power of social media.”

David Hume, Executive Director, Citizen Engagement, Government of British Columbia, Canada, provided insights into how his country was making use of social media. “We are harnessing social media to encourage the flow of ideas on sensitive issues like water management,’ he said.

However, Ajit Balakrishnan, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Rediff.com, cautioned against overestimating the power of social media. “Studies have revealed that only 1-5 per cent of the people on social networks create and post content. Just 5-10 percent of the people forward this content while 80-90 percent just watch the action,” he said.

The parallel sessions, post the plenary session, witnessed several relevant issues raised and discussed in the areas of e-Governance, Agriculture, ICT for Development, and Health.

Sharing her experience on how e-Governance projects were rolled out in Canada, Samantha Liscio, Corporate Chief Strategist, Ontario Public Service, Government of Ontario, said, “We have transformed our enterprise architecture in such a way that patterns can be recognised and there are 78 components that can be reused to quickly roll out applications for new projects.”

“What we also did was to get many of our government staff certified or trained on technologies so that they can be deployed on projects whenever the need arises,” she said.

During the session on agriculture, M Moni, DDG, NIC noted, “In a country with more than 500 TV channels, there is none focussed on agriculture. Rural informatics policy is required to understand where and how IT can be applied beneficially.”

Srinivas Garudachar, Director, Grameen Intel Social Business, India, opined, “It is important to focus on social impact and community ownership. Credibility and pull will follow.”

The Healthcare session saw experts discussing the theme ‘Using Information Technology to Improve Health Outcomes and Transforming Service Delivery Channels.”

Speaking on the issue, A K Azad, ADG (Planning and Development) & Director, Management Information System, Government of Bangladesh, said, “In order to ensure doctors are present at rural facilities, we implemented biometric attendance system along with Skype to visually confirm the attendance. This has reduced the absentee rate from 80-90 per cent to less than 10 per cent.”

Presenting her views during the session on ICT for Development, Sumitra Nair, said, “Computers and the Internet are not ubiquitous in India. So, digital information systems made by internal and external innovators will go a long way in helping to store information safely and faster.”

During the session on open learning and distance education, N. K. Sinha, Additional Secretary, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, said that 50 DTH channels dedicated to education will be available in the next two months.

The second plenary session of the day saw insightful presentations from Ms. Margarita Rojas, Secretary, ICT Planning, Republic of Paraguay, Dr Bong-soo Keum, Executive Director, National Information Society Agency, Republic of Korea, and Ivar Tallo, Member, Executive Board, e-Governance Academy Foundation, Estonia.

Rojas revealed how Paraguay was progressing on the journey of developing an ICT Master Plan. She said, “The Master Plan will focus on 10 core areas including infrastructure, R&D, e-governance, e-commerce and legal framework. The aim is to strengthen the state and local industry.”

Keum, on the other hand, showed how Korea was maximising its smart phone base to deliver m-government services. The Korean government was providing healthcare, transportation, policy information and law and regulatory information to the public through mobile services.

Tallo too revealed how Estonia had developed a fully functional e-government infrastructure that included digitised information, formalised exchange and electronic identity.

“As a result of our e-government initiatives, Estonia’s society can be called an e-society. All the country’s institutions’ information systems are interconnected over the network for seamless sharing of information,” he added. In the second plenary session yesterday on ‘ICT for Development’, J. Satyanarayana, Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT, said, “For real gains, it is important to institutionalise ICT at the state and national levels. To ensure this, the state and national governments should have the mandate that each project should have a strong focus on ICT especially built into it.”

Prof Geoff Walsham, Professor of Management Studies, Judge Business School, Cambridge University, UK, said, “While ICT can be valuable in collecting, analysing and reporting health data, there was also a need of increased resources, shift in attitudes of data collection, cultural changes and a long-term commitment.”

The 5th WITFOR came to a close today with the handover for WITFOR 2013 by J Satyanarayana, to Prof Benjamin Baran, Itaipu Technology Park Foundation, Republic of Paraguay. The 6th WITFOR would be held in Paraguay.

(Photo: http://behindthehustle.com/2011/11/increase-your-social-media-presence/)

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