Civic Innovation
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unlocking india’s digital transformation: upyog’s promise for inclusive, sustainable, and efficient governance

September 12, 2023

India’s rapid urbanization trend brings forth numerous socio-economic changes and challenges, particularly in providing essential services to this vast urban population. Traditional service delivery models are struggling to keep pace with the demands and scale of urbanization, resulting in gaps in service provision. UPYOG is positioned as a tech intervention to address emerging service challenges in cities in India.

Globally, digital transformation has emerged as a powerful catalyst for reshaping public services. Governments are leveraging technology to revolutionize their operational strategies, citizen interactions, and service delivery models. Remarkably, even though cities occupy just 3% of India’s land area, they contribute a substantial 60% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, this urbanization has also led to heightened resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change.

India is experiencing a rapid increase in its population, with a significant majority now residing in urban areas. According to the World Cities Report 2022 by UN-Habitat, India’s urban population is expected to reach 675 million by 2035, up from 483 million in 2020, constituting approximately 43.2% of the total population. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) approximates that 75% of Global carbon dioxide emissions are attributed to cities, with significant contributions coming from transportation and buildings.

Using Technology To Enhance Public Services

Countries like Estonia and Singapore have been at the forefront of using technology to enhance public services, yielding benefits such as improved accessibility, efficiency, transparency, and agility. The infusion of technology fosters innovation and collaboration, nurturing a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability to evolving citizen needs.

However, public sector entities often face challenges in accessing, analyzing, and effectively utilizing their data. This poses a hurdle in meeting citizen expectations and delivering easily accessible, user-friendly services.

Transforming public services necessitates a comprehensive approach that addresses organizational, semantic, and technological aspects of administration. Governments can accelerate their efforts toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by re-imagining processes, harmonizing semantics, and leveraging advanced technologies.

Digital Public Goods (DPGs) to attain SDGs

The UN Report on Roadmap for Digital Cooperation advocates the use of Digital Public Goods (DPGs) to attain SDGs in low- and middle-income countries. DPGs are essential components that enable nations to establish secure, reliable, and all- encompassing Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI).

Unlike numerous isolated digital solutions that are developed and implemented independently and only sustained until they are discontinued, DPGs are openly accessible for examination, customization, and replication in various settings.

Foundation of National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM)

India initiated its journey with Digital Public Goods (DPGs) in 2010 through the creation of India Stack, a set of shared digital infrastructure components enabling the delivery of digital services to Indian citizens. This infrastructure serves as a solid foundation for the National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM).

NUDM aims to develop shared digital infrastructure, including state-of-the-art urban platforms, foundational components, and data infrastructure, designed to manage essential urban data and promote seamless functioning through inter- and intra-departmental convergence within government bodies.

NUDM is structured around three core pillars: People, Processes, and Platforms. It engages, equips, and empowers various stakeholders within the urban ecosystem, mobilizing resources and capabilities to foster their active participation in urban development initiatives.

NUDM encourages states and cities to embrace digital technologies and innovative solutions in urban service delivery by providing a comprehensive framework, technical support, and various adoption modes.

NUDM enhances processes by establishing standards and frameworks that promote collaboration and generate positive impacts. Leveraging innovative platforms and solutions, cities are addressing urban challenges and delivering services that enhance residents’ overall well-being.

UPYOG, a Flagship Initiative for the Delivery of Online Governance

One of NUDM’s flagship initiatives is the Urban Platform for the delivery of Online
Governance (UPYOG), is envisioned as the national reference platform for delivering
municipal services online.

  • provides APIs and data access points adhering to semantic standards
  • facilitates interoperability and collaboration among stakeholders.
  • fosters an innovative service delivery ecosystem
  • eliminates silos and offers citizens single-window access to multiple services
  • reducing the need to navigate different departments or agencies.

The concrete progress of UPYOG is evident as 32 states and Union Territories
(UTs) in the country are at various stages of engagement and adoption, with
six of them already using the dashboards.

Additionally, a total of seven standards have been published as part of this endeavor. As India embraces digital transformation, the UPYOG promises numerous advantages for cities and citizens alike. It enhances inclusivity by providing easier access to public services for vulnerable populations and contributes to combating climate change by reducing the need for physical travel to government offices.

Technology to Serve People

Streamlined processes and the application of the ‘once-only’ principle alleviate bureaucratic hurdles, fostering ease of living and doing business, and stimulating human-centric economic growth. As digital transformation and innovation continue to reshape public services and governments, the future holds great promise for a more connected and empowered society.

Together, we can move toward a future where technology enables governments to better serve and uplift the lives of their citizens.

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