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How Microsoft helped boost AP’s e-Governance model

Andhra Pradesh government has been at the forefront of e-Governance movement in India. When former Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu took up the e-Governance vision it was welcomed by all and rightly so, he is known more as a CEO than a chief minister. Perhaps, that is the reason why Chandrababu Naidu treated every citizen in his state as a customer. 
 
The Andhra Pradesh government was the second state government in India to set up a Happiness Index Department, a new administrative machinery to monitor the effectiveness of government policies and services at the ground level. You can sense his belief in and expectation from the new department when he said, “No government can be rated as successful or achieve desired results unless happiness prevails in society. We have to work towards achieving the dream goal of making Andhra Pradesh a happy state.”
 
Andhra Pradesh government first used Microsoft Kaizala during the 12-day Krishna Pushkaram 2016, a religious event that occurs once every 12 years and is celebrated with much glory. It is a massive event in terms of scale, involving millions of people directly in a short span of 12 days. 
 
The organizing team consisted of about 100,000 officers from different departments of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and about 10,000 volunteers including students and non-profits. Kaizala enabled the Government of Andhra Pradesh to set new benchmarks in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction in the management of the 12-day mega event involving 20 million people.
 
The state soon started deploying Kaizala across its various departments and found enthusiastic adoption across the state government employees. At the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), an autonomous society of the Department of Rural Development, in just twenty days after Kaizala was deployed, more than half of their workforce were using the chat-based mobile app for their day-to-day work. 
 
“Communicating with the field staff on various developments on a real-time basis is a challenge, especially in large organizations like SERP. It becomes immensely difficult to communicate a common idea, GOs, policy decisions etc., on a daily basis with a large number of human resources. Various technology solutions were tried before evaluating Kaizala,” said Dr. P. Krishna Mohan, former CEO, SERP. Today, the entire SERP workforce uses Kaizala as the primary channel for communication and collaboration.
 
Driving collective action and accountability
 
In spite of investments in advanced IT systems, the government’s field staff remained largely outside the digital network. To bring their field staff onto the digital network, therefore, was high on the government’s agenda. 
 
“In just a few months, Kaizala has become an indispensable tool for our field staff and project teams,” said Mr. Babu A, CEO, Real-Time Governance. “I am able to broadcast information to all my staff instantly. If I need to the status of an ongoing scheme from across the state, all it takes me is a few minutes to create and publish a poll or survey. In a matter of a few hours, sometimes even minutes, I have enough data at my disposal to get a sense of the ground reality.”
 
Whenever project reviews had to be done, the departments had to send its people into the villages with enough supply of pen and paper to bring back data. Once the data was collected, the work on compiling and consolidating the data would start. The compiled data then had to be converted into various reports. 
 
Employees had to send recurring report from the field on their daily activities and status updates. With the workforce on the field largely unconnected not only with each other but also with the central offices, offline data collection and collation was one of the biggest bottleneck that slowed down the momentum.
 
With Kaizala, departments are able to make informed choices like never before. Based on actionable insights gathered using mobile-based surveys and analyzed using Kaizala Management Portal, discrete tasks are assigned to the right team member in the right location. 
 
With a single tap, team members could share a geo-tagged picture with others to confirm that a specific task at a specific location has been completed. Effective communication between project members and cross-team collaboration has improved organizational productivity.
 
Kaizala has also helped bring in greater transparency in project implementation and monitoring. Many departments have mandated that all its project coordinators should use the ‘Photo with Location’ feature every time they are at the project location. This has ensured that the concerned stakeholders are physically present in the villages and effectively managing their work. 
 
“The turnaround time for information dissemination and data collection has drastically reduced thanks to announcement & poll/survey. We have felt a great ease in sharing documents, photographs and videos with our employees and field staff,” said another SERP official.
 
Crowdsourcing citizen feedback
 

The government was already using Twitter and Facebook as channels of crowdsourcing citizen sentiments. However, these tools provided no information on where the feedback was coming from in most cases. Furthermore, social media accounts could be faked and created by anyone. 
 
A Kaizala account is bound to the mobile number of a citizen, for which he or she undergoes a verification process. Its location awareness features enabled the government to determine the exact origination point of the feedback.
 
It was during a meeting with the Microsoft Kaizala team in February 2017 that chief minister Chandrababu Naidu set out to explore whether Kaizala could be helpful in connecting with the citizen directly. He wanted to establish a channel for citizens to share their feedback directly with him and wanted to be able to get an overall picture of citizen sentiment across the 13 administrative districts in the state. 
 
The Kaizala team from Microsoft responded to the request and came up with a solution in the form of a Public Group within Kaizala. It enabled a hub to connect directly with any number of entities and communicate with them. It took only 5 days of development work for the IT team of the government to create the group and the custom reports needed by the chief minister.
 
On 14th April 2017, the state government launched the AP CM Connect. Citizens in the state could download Kaizala and subscribe to this group with a few simple clicks. Within just 48 hours, over 30,000 citizens shared their feedback through AP CM Connect. The Chief Minister, during his tenure, used this forum consistently to seek inputs from citizens about various ongoing projects. He sent Kaizala surveys to find out how welfare schemes of the government are performing and how well public services like health and education are reaching out to the needs of the citizens. 
 
“The enthusiastic response from citizens towards the CM Connect platform from all over the state and across urban and rural regions has shown us that with an easy-to-use mobile application like Kaizala, crowdsourcing authentic citizen feedback is not only possible but also that it can be an indispensable information technology tool for all our citizen outreach programmes,” said Mr. Babu.
 
Automating internal processes
 
While receiving tens of thousands of feedback was a great achievement, it could not be brought to any good use till it seamlessly integrated with the right backend systems for proper tracking of every item reported. That’s where Kaizala APIs came in handy. 
 
Kaizala APIs enabled integrating the inputs received on Kaizala to AP government’s existing CRM system called MeeKosam. Whether the customer calls on 1100 or reports an issue on MeeKosam WebPortal or on Kaizala, all the issues are uniformly tracked in CRM and appropriately assigned to the right government officials for timely resolution.
 
“We started the CM Connect program with a Satisfaction Card but soon realized that we needed a separate card for people to report Corruption and another one for Grievances,” said Mr. Babu. “Within ten days, we were able to create these two cards, integrate it with our backend CRM system and launch them on the CM Connect group. Now, citizens can report any instance of corruption from their smartphones and we make sure that the matter is resolved in no time,” he added.
 
Kaizala APIs are being used by various departments of the AP government for a variety of process automation. For example, the Civil Supplies department sends an automated alert/show cause notice to a Fair Price Shop owner if at least 50% of the ration distribution is not completed by the 8th day of every month. 
 
Similarly, the weather department uses APIs to send automated warning messages based on predefined triggers. Other departments are using Kaizala APIs to assign automated jobs in or to trigger daily announcements.

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