Tata Trusts is empowering 1,248 villages and 17 lakh Indians with its data-driven governance initiativeAparajita Choudhury
In October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, which aims to create model villages – Adarsh Grams – whose progress will be monitored via a single national-level real-time web monitoring system.
It is undertaking this effort with Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest non-sectarian philanthropic organisations, which has been working in several areas of community development for over a 100 years. It has served as a catalyst for development by giving grants to institutions in the areas of natural resources management, rural livelihoods, urban livelihoods and poverty, education, enhancing civil society and governance, health and media arts, crafts and culture. Its data-driven governance initiative, which started in April 2015 has so far collected socio-economic data of 1,248 villages from four regions covering a population of 17 lakh.
The regions include Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, and Balasore in Odisha. The objective is to create an open data platform that will facilitate a new trend in governance driven by concrete data. The process involves different technology-backed models of data collection and real-time updates. Tata Trusts uses advanced procedures of matching, triangulation, and analysis from district authorities to Central and State Ministries.
Tata Trusts has trained over 3,000 villagers to use a tablet to collect data, conduct rural appraisal processes, and develop village development plans.
“Tata Trusts has been working closely with the government under the Ministry of Rural Development to create a portal called SAANJHI (Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojna). The portal will show visual representations of village development plans and help track and update key indicators in the region. A beta version of the portal is ready and will be launched soon once the Ministry gives a go-ahead,” says Poornima Dore, Senior Manager (Programs), Tata Trusts. She has also been the part of the startup team at Tata Capital Ltd, the Group’s Financial Services division.
Joining forces with state governments
In 2015, Tata Trusts signed an MoU with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to improve overall quality of living in 264 villages in the Vijayawada region using an integrated multi-thematic approach. Areas like bamboo cultivation, fisheries, nutrition, and fortification have been covered under the deal to improve the income of farmers and generate employment.
Village development plans have been completed and handed over to the administration in Viajaywada. Dashboards to track demographics, economics, administrative indicators, infrastructure, education, and health-related indicators are in the process of being finalised as per each department’s specific requirements.
On March 31, 2016, they signed an MoU with the Government of Maharashtra. According to Poornima, a blueprint of a digital governance platform for the IT department is already in the pipeline for the state.
Since 2015, Tata Trusts has further improved the process of data collection for effective governance. The availability of application process in Hindi, Marathi, and Odiya has eased the way for officials and helped ministries make better-informed decisions to uplift particular areas. The first-of-its kind Gram Panchayat-level dashboards will use data triangulation and pull in information from diverse departments under the digital governance agenda of the state.
For Data Driven Governance initiative, Tata Trusts has tied up with Delhi-based Swaniti and SocialCops as technology partners.
Swaniti uses MOVED (Massive Organized Volunteer Exercise Data) and DATAGRAM (Data Generating Research and Administrative Mechanism) to sync, query, and maintain data. Its NoSQL database maintains multiple types of user inputs and sync in real-time simultaneously.
The system also allows field users to collect data without any network connection and sync their work periodically. Once the data is received from the back-end, the field data is verified on the server on a daily basis.
This data is used to generate a number of reporting tools via web apps for several use cases. For example, village-by-village reporting tools allow development plans to be drawn out of the data aggregated from the server. Similarly, panchayat and block-level data can be aggregated and used to develop detailed plans for the region.
SocialCops has built products on the SocialCops Collect mobile application and the SocialCops insights platform enabling the collection of data, searching through massive volumes of data, and visualisation of data for analysis.
The SocialCops Collect mobile application creates a survey on a mobile app that allows organisations to collect quality data via low-cost Android phones from remote areas.
The USP of the app is that it collects data offline, tracks time, and captures information in multiple formats – videos, audio, photos, text, location-based (GPS enabled) data, numerical data, and multiple choice questions. With the SocialCops insights platform’s integrated collect and search option, the data collected can be easily searched, filtered, and visualised.
In 2015, Tata Trusts partnered with various Central and State Ministries, District and Block Governments and Members of Parliaments, and has been working closely with them to visualise the overlapping of data sets and survey types. Other partnerships and initiatives are also underway, with a key focus on city-centric data tracking.