One line of code generated lakhs — possibly crores — of vaccination certificates with incorrect ages printed on them, and the power of open-source came in to find a fix
Security forms a critical part of any software application. One crucial aspect of security is managing access to an application; for citizen-facing systems that the government commissions, this becomes mission-critical: any slip up can prove to be disastrous, as exemplified by multiple instances of the leakage of sensitive information such as a data leak that hit the State Bank of India in 2019 and a large breach of the labour department of the Government of Jharkhand in 2018.
Managing access involves two distinct processes-- authentication and authorisation; terms that are often used interchangeably. This blog is the first of a series on access management in government systems. This part is aimed at explaining what these terms mean and how they are distinct. It is also a simple introduction to the concept of a Single Sign On - SSO.
To better explain the difference between authentication and authorisation, we will draw an analogy to passports and visas (this might be the closest you will get to talking about visas during this period!). We end with an explanation of the current authentication scenario in legacy software systems and how SSO can improve this landscape. Future editions in this series will speak about the implementation of access management in Indian government systems, how Aadhaar fits – and does not fit – into this picture, and what various government entities can do to implement open source auth by themselves.
As bureaucrats and politicians manage the fallout of Covid-19 and its resultant restrictions, a question different governments are grappling with is - how can communication channels such as WhatsApp be leveraged to reach out to citizens and field officials. This post is a 101 for understanding how WhatsApp, SMS, IVRS, direct calls and emails can be used to streamline governance as we move towards a new normal where proactive and personalized communication will be a basic expectation from governments.
The assumption in this post is that all users (citizens or government officials) to whom the communication is intended have mobile phones with limited network connectivity. The content in this post is structured based on Samagra’s technology principles that guide the design of our governance communication management strategy.
In the past few blogs we shared how we are Democratizing Technology Product Development for Governments and the Evolution of Samiksha, an OpenSource product designed to improve school quality control activities conducted by education department officials in government schools and the technology related decision making that went on behind the scenes to build Samiksha.
This blog post is about how we are reusing technology components to deploy multiple technology products. We will highlight how the technology architecture behind Samiksha has been reused for creating a variety of products for the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FE), Odisha and the Department of Basic Shiksha, in Uttar Pradesh and Department of Education, Himachal Pradesh. Reusing technology for governments avoids wasteful public expenditure and decreases the go-to-market time.
Samiksha is an OpenSource product designed to improve school quality control activities conducted by state education department officials in government schools. This typically includes mentoring to support teachers based on observations of their in-class teaching practices and monitoring to inspect the status of infrastructure and quality of school processes such as classroom teaching, availability of teaching learning materials, functional toilets, completion of civil works projects in the school and so on.
Samiksha consists of a mobile application, an application control console and a set of review dashboards. Since July 2019, Samiksha has been used by state education departments of two states (Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), nearly 30,000 government schools with over 14,000 active government users.
This post is about how we factored in user-centricity into the design of Samiksha.
By 2016, India had witnessed the large scale adoption of Aadhaar, one of the world’s most complex biometric systems, built using a scalable and OpenSource architecture1. Simultaneously, the potential of governments to reimagine themselves as citizen-friendly, high-tech public institutions that can deliver low-cost solutions to India’s complex challenges was becoming clearer2. It was against this backdrop that Samagra began its journey of democratizing technology product development for state governments with the aim to strengthen government functioning.
This post is about Samagra’s approach to building reusable OpenSource technology for state governments in India.