To showcase the potential as well as the commitment of government organisations to mitigate the challenge of healthcare pandemic and bring newer innovation to improve the delivery of citizen-centric services, education, healthcare and mass transportation, Tech Observer magazine, in association with Tableau Software, Fortinet, Felix Advisory and Alliance Mantra organised the Digital Senate 2021 on March 18.
Under the theme — Building Resilient Digital Bharat — the virtual summit witnessed industry leaders, senior government officials, technology investors and experts participation. Over 500 delegates, speakers and experts came together on a single platform to explore technology's unexplored potential for improving resiliency, agility and ensuring equitable digital access.
The top speakers included — Dr R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority (NHA); Dr Neeta Verma, Director General, National Informatics Centre; Dr Omkar Rai, Director General, Software Technology Parks of India (STPI); Dr Dinesh Tyagi, Managing Director, CSC e-Governance, Government of India; R. Ramanan, Mission Director & Additional Secretary, Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog; Ashutosh Pandey, Additional Director General of Police — Prosecution, UP Police; Chandrasekhar Panda, Senior Director, Digital & Core Tech Strategy, McKinsey&Company; Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet; Prashant Momaya, Director, Solution Engineering, Tableau Software; Dr Avik Sarkar, Associate Professor – Data, Technology & Public Policy, Indian School of Business; Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Project, Ministry of External Affairs; and Aniruddha Shahapure, Chief Knowledge Officer, Pune Smart City Development Corporation — among others.
The speakers believed that India's deep investment in technology and progress in the digital transformation agenda of different sectors have proven to be a great boon in times of pandemic. According to them, many organisations, including the public sector, BFSI and IT/ITES, met the unprecedented requirement of remote working and business continuity plans on the go due to investment into existing IT infrastructure.
However, they said that going back to basics requires a greater focus on improving resiliency, agility, and innovation in business continuity plans that can match the pre-pandemic world's emphatical connection. The indispensable IT infra such as data centers, applications, cloud systems, departmental servers and integrated digital devices have become even more vital.
Experts said that technology leaders are tasked with providing flawless compute, storage and networking experience with enterprise-grade security to the remote workforce accessing critical applications and data to ensure uninterrupted service delivery.
Government technology leaders said that, like enterprise, they are also making pioneering efforts to improve the necessary ICT infrastructure, automate various services to enhance service delivery, and leverage next-generation technologies to boost resiliency, agility, and equity.
The summit began with the welcome address from Ankush Kumar, Editor, Tech Observer magazine. In his speech, Kumar said that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on social and physical infrastructure and that public sector leaders are putting their best effort to ensure continuity in public service delivery.
He stated, “To achieve their goals, most of them are heavily relying on technology. There has been huge repurposing of IT infrastructure. Also, despite the mammoth challenge that pandemic has brought in, it has accelerated the process of digital transformation, and now government organisations are exploring innovative ways of using technology for improving governance.”
Delivering his chief guest address, Dr R S Sharma, CEO of National Health Authority (NHA), said: “India is the vaccine capital of the world. We have a massive capacity for vaccine manufacturing; we are also exporting and helping other countries.”
He said: “If India wants to break the chain of Covid-19 infection, then we have to ensure that we can vaccinate our people as early as possible. It can only be done with the help of technology.”
Participating in the summit, Dr Neeta Verma, Director General, National Informatics Centre said: “Despite pandemic challenges, I would say, these are exciting times as we have amazing technologies at our disposal. We can use them to build applications, which were not possible earlier.”
She also explained that cybersecurity threats are not only increasing, but they are also becoming sophisticated. “Therefore, cybersecurity has to be an intrinsic part of every digital initiative,” she said.
“Flatten the curve graphic is how the whole world has come to understand the actual problem we faced with the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired the social distancing actions all over the world,” said Prashant Momaya, Director, Solution Engineering, Tableau Software.
“This data visualisation is symbolic. Not only of the pandemic but rallying call to action,” Momaya added.
He stated a new normal is setting in on the adoption of data analytics, a new normal in which data is the foundational language. “As with any language, data is becoming foundational to how we interact with each other, our government interacts with the citizen, and how corporates interact with their customers,” he said.
Momaya informed that many government departments are using Tableau Software, from tracking the pandemic to informing citizens to working on what's coming with the vaccines across the entire fabric of data that the government has.
Sharing his views on the topic of reimagining next-gen technology for New India, DG STPI Dr Omkar said: “India at large has exhibited resilience in all manner, by all means, during the difficult times of pandemic and technology came quite handy in mitigating these challenges.
Dr Rai explained that immersive technologies like animation, visual effect, augmented reality, and virtual realities will be much in demand. They have immense potential to offer an immersive experience for content consumption and educational services.
“Immersive technologies like animation, visual effect, augmented reality, and virtual realities are going to be much in demand as they have immense potential to offer an immersive experience for content consumption and educational services,” Dr Rai said.
Delivering his speech on the topic of Digital Enablement of Digital Bharat in New Normal, Dr Dinesh Tyagi, Managing Director, CSC e-Governance stated that the focus has been that digital tools and technology should not be used only as an instrument or as an enabler, but also create an inclusive society so that everyone in the country can get the benefits, get the necessary skills and also employability in using these frameworks.'
He said that internet access was made available across the country during the pandemic, especially in rural areas. “This access was also met with ensuring the ability of the citizen to use this infrastructure under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan,” he said.
He stated that the government realises the importance of this internet and started a program called Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan to make six crore persons in rural areas across States/UTs, digitally literate.
The summit also witnessed a special panel discussion on the topic of data-driven governance in the new normal moderated by Tech Observer editor Ankush Kumar in which senior public sector leaders including — Aniruddha Shahapure, Chief Knowledge Officer, Pune Smart City Development Corporation; Prem Kumar Jha, Chief General Manager (IT), Steel Authority of India, Bhilai; Dr Rajesh Harsvardhan, Head – Department of Hospital Administration, SGPGI, Lucknow; Dr Avik Sarkar, Associate Professor – Data, Technology & Public Policy, Indian School of Business; and Prashant Momaya, Director, Solution Engineering, Tableau Software — participated.
Participating in the discussion, Aniruddha Shahapure, Chief Knowledge Officer, Pune Smart City Development Corporation, said, “I am proud to say that the Integrated Command & Control Center that we have set up is being used as a war room to mitigate the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic.
He also said, “We had ICCC set up in advance, and when the need arose, we were able to set up the entire contact tracing framework within 36 hours.”
Sharing his views, Prem Kumar Jha, Chief General Manager (IT), Steel Authority of India, Bhilai, said that the public sector organisations had set up integrated IT platforms, which helped during the pandemic in continuing various services. Now, the overall push towards digital has increased many folds.
Dr Avik Sarkar, Associate Professor – Data, Technology & Public Policy, Indian School of Business, said that the government collects many high-frequency data every day. By analysing this data, one can get a real-time view of how the economy is progressing. When people in decision-making positions are using the data, they have to have a habit of analysing and then taking their decisions, rather than doing on an ad-hoc basis.”
Dr Rajesh Harsvardhan, Head – Department of Hospital Administration, SGPGI, Lucknow, said, “Over the course of the few years, use of data and technology has grown to the extent that now clinicians, doctors and healthcare providers are using many tools and equipment to process and interpret data and with AI, it is advancing at such a rapid pace that every day it is changing the canvas and landscape real-time slowly but substantively.”
Sharing his views, Prashant Momaya, Director, Solution Engineering, Tableau Software, said, “Perhaps a decade worth of digitisation happened in the last 12-month because there is no other way to do business and to interact with stakeholders. In the future, it will be a boon because there is a certain foundation that has been put in place.”
He informed: “Tableau set up COVID-19 Data Hub, which made it very easy for people to access trusted Covid data at the most granular level from anywhere in the world.”
While delivering his keynote address on the topic of Atal Innovation Mission — Making Resilient India in New Normal, R. Ramanan, Mission Director & Additional Secretary, Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog said, “The focus of the Atal Innovation Mission has been to create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship, so, that country is able to achieve its rightful destination of social and economic growth.”
He added: “It is amazing to note that during the crisis year of Covid-19, we had 11 unicorns springing up from India, and that shows the tremendous innovative capability that is inherent in our young students.”
Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Fortinet, in his presentation, said, “We recorded 96% growth in the most emblematic merger of networking and security which is SD-WAN, the 64% of growth on our cloud offerings and 173% growth on the endpoints ability to secure the edges.”
In a panel discussion focused on building resilient security for the public sector in the post-Covid World, senior public sector leaders including Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Project, Ministry of External Affairs; Vijay Devnath, GM (IT Infra) & CISO, Centre for Railway Information Systems; Muppaneni Srinivas, Group CIO, Telangana State Cooperative Apex Bank; Abhay Bapna, Associate Vice President (IT), Adani Wilmar; Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet shared their views on how public sector organisation can build resilient cybersecurity.
The panellists were of the view that as the adoption of technology has increased during the pandemic, so does the surface of the cyberattack surface for hackers. Therefore public sector CISOs must make security an integral part of their strategy.
Delivering his keynote address on the topic of Digital Transformation of Policing in New Normal, Ashutosh Pandey, Additional Director General of Police — Prosecution, UP Police, said, “Covid-19 has been a great challenge for everyone, including for police personals. Due to lockdown guidelines, nothing was functioning. Still, police personals delivered services even during the lockdown, and that has really helped police in overhauling its image, and technology played a key role in it. During the pandemic, many portals and web apps were used to ensure business continuity for the police force.
Both Chandrasekhar Panda, Senior Director, Digital & Core Tech Strategy, McKinsey&Company and Amit Jindal, Co-Founder, Felix Advisory, emphasised the importance of digital transformation for public sector organisation and things they must ensure while embarking on a digital transformation journey.