Innovation

My Vote My Right – eIndia 2013 Awards – Pl Vote in Public Choice Category

Dear Friend,

My project on Youth Voter Awareness through Social Media is nominated in eIndia 2013 Governance Awards.
It is a bold experiment to use social media and web to connect with Youth Voters and received well. I was awarded the Best Returning Officer for use of technology by Election Commission of India.
I request you to Vote in the Public Choice category and by visiting the link below. (before midnight july 14th)
Scroll down to G2C Category and select My Vote My Right and submit.
Also spread the word on facebook and email please.
More details of the project is given below.
Thanks for your support.
Nagarajan M

My Vote My Right – Youth Voter Awareness


  • Project Category
    : Governance
    Sub Category: Government to Citizens (G2C)
    Reference No.: eindia2013/awards/242

    Details of Programme /Project/Initiative:

    Brief Description:
    Voter Awareness Campaign using Social Media for maximum participation.

    Objective:
    To spread awareness about Election process, inform Voters and increase voting in elections.

    Target Group: Voters of Gujarat with focus on Youth.

    Geographical Reach within India: State of Gujarat

    Date From which the Project became Operational: 15-7-2012

    Is the Project still operational?: Yes

    Five points that make the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School innovative:

    1. Facebook Quiz application for Voter Awareness .
    2. Pledge to Vote by sending SMS.
    3. Integration of Voter Registration and Polling Booth Locator in Facebook Page.
    4. Polling booth locator, Polling Officer Locator and Voter Registration in single Website .
    5. Direct Update of Awareness activities by the Government Staff in Social Media.

    Five key achievements of the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School:

    1. Proof of concept for Engaging Youth Voters through social media.
    2. Increased Capacity of Government Staff to adapt to new age thinking and performance.
    3. Increased Voter Awareness and Participation in Elections.
    4. Introduction of New Media in reaching out to Citizens.
    5. Model for using Technology to improve Government Outreach.

    Five key challenges faced while implementing the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School and how they were overcome:

    1
    . Sensitizing Government Officers and Staff about potential of New Media.
    2. Training for behaviour change and communication management.
    3. Optimal Web Application design to achieve Campaign Objectives.
    4. Convincing Higher authorities on using Social Media in Government.
    5. Creating content that is interesting and useful in a easy to digest format.

    Five points that make the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School replicable:

    1. Built on scalable open source software.
    2. Election Rules are same across the Country. Country adoption is easy.
    3. Multi Author Multi Location Capable architecture.
    4. Simple model for using the Power of existing Social networks like Facebook and Twitter and Youtube.
    5. Even Government Staff with minimal Computer knowledge can operate.

    Five points to elaborate on the scalability of the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School:

    1. First Time Social Media has been used in an official election campaign.
    2. Proves that Social Media is not a reputation risk but useful tool.
    3. Targeted messages to audience is possible only through use of technology and analytics.
    4. Any Government Servant like Clerk can use the system all across India.
    5. Built on Open Source reliable software and uses Social Network Platforms.

    More at   http://eindia.eletsonline.com/2013/Hyderabad/Governance/my-vote-my-right-assistant-collector-tharad/

Want to Innovate in Government–Overcome these seven challenges

innovation in government

(Photo credit)

If you are an Officer in Government  who wants to find a solution to a challenge or address a pain point in his working, he turns to technology to derive a solution. But not all initiatives reach a critical milestone or scale up to full fledged solutions. Despite the passion to make a difference why only a few of the efforts work and produce outcomes. To understand this you can find out which among the following is the challenge you face and find a solution accordingly. Here we go.

1. More often than not rules prevent Officers from trying out something new. One gets punished if something goes wrong but nothing is done if one doesn’t even perform at normal levels. When ever you discuss a possible solution to a problem the common reply you will get is “ there is no provision for that”. You have to actually convince those who matter that what you say is actually doable and it is worth doing it.

2. Funding a pilot is hard because there is no earmarked scheme or source kept for new projects. Most of the time innovative projects are difficult to be justified under existing norms because the basic aim of innovation is to redefine the norms and improve them. The funding authority may not believe that your solution will actually help. Or worse she may think “why the hell should I do this?” . So it leads to point no. 1.

3. One has to depend on specialized departments which are not always enthusiastic about your demand for their resources. You are not a priority to them. The mandated departmentally approved project is. For example if I want to use a particular Content Management System (CMS) to manage my Office website its not possible for a variety of reasons. Here are some:

    • The server is windows based, so the open source Linux based CMS will not be compatible.
    • Maintenance of all websites have been contracted off to an agency so you need to contact them to make any changes. It will take you two days and ten phone calls to just reach the agency.
    • You can make your own website and update but we will not provide official domain names.
    • If you want to install your own system it has to be security audited but we will not make it easy to do it.
    • There is no policy for updation by the user office. Make a written request to the IT department. Most probably you will get a reply that it cant be done stating one of the reasons above.

4. Innovation is seen as something happening is special labs and dedicated institutions and incubators. Rather innovation is a natural and evolutionary phenomenon that happens everyday and everywhere in the organization. The need is to identify, pick and scale the right innovation that contributes to the achievement of organizational objectives. The answer: Evangelize your idea and work like a Govpreneur.

5. Lack of sharing and collaboration leads to multiple reinvention of wheel. On a given issue there are multiple experiments and innovations going on all over the country and the knowledge and experience are not shared. So everyone moves from 0 to 10 on a given issue, but nobody takes a 10 and makes it 15.

For example Many states are working on reducing dropout rates and tracking a child throughout school years with multiple projects going on simultaneously. There is no visible effort to cumulate the results and pick the best features of each approach and find the best model. Its even difficult to find out if any such project is happening elsewhere.

6. Connecting with the right people is a challenge. For example when an officer wants to explore and adopt opengov ideas and open data practices his IT department may not have the expertise or interest in such an initiative. And technology experts who are interested in such issues discuss in closed email groups and forums. So finding and accessing their expertise is difficult and when it happens, it is more a coincidence than a thoughtful effort.

7. Even if anyone succeeds in creating a worthwhile solution by working with a technical partner you cannot contract work to the  partner to directly because the financial rules come into play. One cannot favor a partner just because he has worked to create a solution for you. Then why would a private organization/person commit resources/time for you.

Most of these challenges are small but can make your next big idea remain just an idea. Once you start putting time and effort on an issue you will encounter a modified version of the challenges discussed. One needs to still work at it because all innovations in any walk of life was made by those who dared to dream and worked at it consistently no matter what. Consistency beats all odds. Good luck.