NASSCOM Submits its Recommendations on National Open Digital Ecosystems
On 31 May, 2020 NASSCOM submitted its feedback to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on the National Open Digital Ecosystems (NODE) Whitepaper.
We provide below an overview of the key recommendations made in our submission:
- Use of distributed ledger technology to unlock the potential of NODE– The government should explore the use of blockchain particularly in land-record and title management, payment systems, education certification management, immunisation and supply chain management. This will help mitigate the risk of malicious actors manipulating information for various front end and backend access mechanisms.
- Need for delivery platforms to be open-source– Platforms should be open sourced so that the community can collaborate and work to improve the platform. For the components or software used to build the platform/NODE, open source should be preferred, but not mandated; this will prevent the problem of vendor lock-in, and is also in line with MeitY’s ‘Policy on Adoption of Open Source for the Government of India’.
- Guiding principles for NODE and need for Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery strategy– In addition to the guiding principles for NODE which have been recognised in the White Paper, there is a need to enable users to use a single/common identity for accessing different government platforms under the NODE framework; this will make the process of accessing multiple e-governance portals hassle-free for citizens. Secondly, the NODE framework must ensure high availability of the systems architecture through a Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery (BCP & DR) strategy. The BCP & DR strategy must include elements such as risk assessment, business impact analysis, BCP, adoption of international standards, provisions related to primary data centre and disaster recovery site/data centre and cyber resilience.
- Need to amend procurement guidelines to account for opex-based buying– NODEs require continuous improvement of technology and technological upgrades. Therefore, procurement guidelines need to be amended to include cloud services and opex-based purchase mechanisms.
- Addressing infrastructure-related hurdles- To make government services delivery platforms a success, the focus should be on improving broadband infrastructure in the country. Further, the delivery platforms must be available in local languages, and built to work on low bandwidth and low end devices to cater to citizens of different socio-economic backgrounds.
- Need for all government departments to work together and break the siloes- Currently, various government departments may not share the data collected with each other because of trust deficit. This needs to change. Further, personnel in government departments should also be reskilled to ensure a certain level of technological ability so that NODE platforms are easily adopted by all levels of the government.
- Addressing privacy concerns- It is important that the privacy and data security frameworks applicable to NODEs are aligned with the provisions of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.
- Need for extensive stakeholder engagement to develop NODE strategy- A more structured and well-defined consultation process is required to build the NODE strategy further. A consultation model worth emulating is the one followed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).