How Digital Transformation Trudges Public Services During Coronavirus in Pakistan!

The year 2020 is doomed to be an extraordinary one with the new Coronavirus raging the world and disrupting our normal life. However, in such a tough situation, we have overcome various difficulties and gone through a few online mobile phone application procedures for the very first time, which has impressed a few institutions deeply. This unforgettable experience will benefit Pakistan Digitally in the future life, Is this Pandemic a kick start?, harden the resolve to pursue digital transformation in Pakistan, and make this country more dedicated to digitizing.

Since 2014, Pakistan is trying best for digital transformation and E-Governance. The Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom, and National Information Technology Board (NITB) are striving for digital transformation in the country. At some point, Covid-19 – Pandemic has been helping a few governmental institutions, as in the current, past, and expected future Smart-lockdowns or Micro-Smart Lockdowns, People have already realized that they need a Technology usage for daily life Public Services. It is now in demand.

During this precious innovation time slot, the government also sees filling up an empty space via throwing public services apps in terms of boosting the E-Governance System in Pakistan. The adaptation of these Apps is being witnessed by NITB during the Pandemic Covid-19. People, who were not acquainted with the usage of these apps, websites, and online services, know much better now its importance, which they never realized before the arrival of Coronavirus…

E-Governance adaptation is more crucial than the implementation of E-governance. Punjab Province and KP Province are leading in on the turning point. NITB is responsible for the development strategies in at federal level public departments. This Tech Board has actively participated in the times of COVID -19 black days and explained almost all major departments and ministries that why this is the right time and the significance of technology in making the system more resourceful.

This Tech Board at the federal level believes that in Pakistan Ministries and Departments need consultancy for their enhancement and become more productive. Before it, this was tried by Academicians, Tech Savvies to convince and shift governance on electronic sources. But the Covid-19 situation made it possible by emerging E-Governance culture in all public departments and holistically develop plans, technologies, and infrastructures to boost up the performance of the public sector.

“Amid pandemic situation, technology has played a vital role in curbing the spread and creating awareness among the masses. We have used technology in devising a Resource Management System (RMS) that provides the status of resources in health care units by using a map. Our Pak Nigehbaan app helps people in locating their nearest hospital containing vacant beds and ventilators, and labs that are testing coronavirus tests. Technology has helped us a lot in implementing smart lock-down for flattening the curve, the CEO of NITB told a local media outlet in an interview published on August 24, 2020. ”

Right in the middle of the Pandemic, an application was named “City Islamabad” launched and considered by the government initial step in the digital transformation of public services.

The app is excellent and works smooth, I live in Lahore, and I have my car registration from Islamabad. This App has made an easement for me for Token Tax Payment, This App should have a card payment option also, Commented by the User on the App’s Review Section.

This E-governance online mobile application platform provides citizens of Islamabad 43 online public services. These different services are included with Car Registration, Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Token Tax, and others. Islamabad is one the first city in Pakistan that becomes almost coronavirus free city. Where Prime Minister’s Smart lockdown strategy saved millions of lives in the country, his vision of digital transformation also helped many of them. According to NITB, only this single application was made live on the 28th of March, 2020 and the total number of its downloads reached 82,000 hits. This number is still growing every day for Play Store and iOS users.

The birth certificate functionality literally is a joke and of no use. You can write there “coming soon” instead of giving a fake form with bugs in it. Your Facebook page contacted me and wasted my whole day by just asking my credentials, CNIC, name, and end up with a statement that the concerned department will contact me. It’s funny that you have no helpline number but has a lot of concerned departments. Only provide functionality when it’s actually working…Said a user on App’s Review comment.

During the Coronavirus first wave, when all shops, Bazar, Businesses put behind the bars of lock downing shutters, this app including other Public Services daily routine app helps the government and departments to stay affirm against the pandemic and keep generating incomes while keeping the best digital social distancing. The Federal City of Pakistan also generated Over 5 Million Rupees through online Public Service charges on this particular App. Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom and the National Information Technology Board (NITB) believe that this E-Governance system only for a Federal city has contributed to the National Treasure as a front liner during the country’s lockdown days of COVID-19 and badly shaken economy of Pakistan.

I was so happy to see this app. I installed the app from here, registered myself, and generated the invoice for my car token for the year 2020-21. I was so excited that now I will go to the market and will pay token tax, which is our civic duty, without standing in queues in this hot weather as coronavirus is lurking everywhere. To my utter disappointment, I found out that the franchises of e Sahulat have no idea about this system. I checked two outlets in PWD and Pakistan Town, Islamabad and they had no idea what kind of the system NADRA has devised. One chap did the biometric verification of NADRA despite me asking first “do you take ETO token payment” and he said “yes, yes” and when I showed him the tracking ID given by the govt app, he said leave it just give engine number and CNIC. I told him to put this number in your system and it will bring all the data, but they were clueless. The token tax payment in Islamabad should be independent of a third party and fully online system like the Punjab Government has now in place in which you don’t have to go to any franchise, but sitting at home pay the token tax online.

Recently, NITB online sources claimed that Token Tax Services maintenance work has been completed as anticipated in City App Islamabad and all services are fully functional.

Digital transformation is a strategic enabler it has the ability to set free Governmental Departments from the traditional AS-IS model of Public Services. The Digital Transformation vision could also benefit the country for quick economic growth overall. This is a very powerful tool for socio-economic development and uplifting the quality of public services. The physical user experience in Pakistan’s Government Departments is not very good and satisfactory, but this E-governance boost up in the country makes easy accessibility to data and information as well as fingertips public services and good governance. Once departments at the governmental level enhance and accepts technologies it prevails very easily in the public. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the evident surge in digital shift E-governance is also a hope to get rid of corruption and money laundering in the country. Pakistan should not stop here, but keep heating the momentum even after the pandemic and set more goals to be achieved in AI, Machine Learning 5G, and IOT like innovative technologies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.

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