Benefits of Infrastructure Management to Local Government

So you, your children, or maybe grandchildren have been enjoying the infrastructures that your local government has constructed and maintained through the years.

I’m referring to the utilities that caters to your need for electricity, gas, sewage, transportation, leisure and entertainment and other services. There were some few glitches in infrastructure services but you understand these could happen.

The important thing, you realized that the local government is quick and adept in responding to repairs and maintenance needs. Most of all, they have qualified people and sophisticated equipment to deal with situations.

For the annual rate you’re paying the local government, you see yourself smiling even if there’s been increase lately. It’s not much, in fact insignificant for the value you’re getting from infrastructures.

The city council is trying to decongest the urban centres and plans for constructing the railway system and several skyways have been on the drawing board for many years now. The influx of immigrants, city dwellers and population growth add to the urgency of building it sooner.

Concerned with sustaining the quality of life that the citizens have been experiencing for several generations, the local government decided to tie up with reputable local and international investors.

The existing infrastructures and the future infrastructure developments you read in the local dailies make you wonder how the local government is able to achieve such undertakings. Basically, your local government is one of those who excel in infrastructure management.

They govern in the framework of managing efficiently utilities to provide best service and earn from it. From this income, they invest further on income generating ventures to enhance financial capability to maintain, improve and build public assets.

You’re astounded by the contrast in the state of infrastructures between your local council and the next town despite similar area and topography. Clearly, you’re living in a more developed town.

The infrastructures integrate well with the environment and populace and solid waste management makes your town standout. Also, the social, economic and aesthetic impacts it provide are priceless.

Because best infrastructure management practices are instituted in and by the local government for several decades now, her constituents have shown responsibility and accountability in the usage and preservation of basic infrastructures.

Looking through the benefits of infrastructure management, we see the local leadership that is empowered to develop and manage infrastructures that enable the people to experience the quality of life they wanted.

More than the financial returns the infrastructure management may be giving the local government is achieving satisfied and happy people living in the community.

How Local Governments Are Using Fleet Fuel Cards

Fleet fuel cards are a time- and resource-saving device used by many companies that employ fleets of vehicles. They allow companies to obtain better prices on fuel and they give company management clarity on their drivers’ efficiency. However, fuel cards such as this are not just for private companies. Increasingly, they are being used by government agencies for better fleet management.

The November 2008 issue of Law Enforcement Technology magazine featured an article about the Sheriff’s Office in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, which includes the city of Shreveport. In previous years, police officers in Caddo Parish were required to drive to one of four fueling locations owned by the sheriff’s office. The downside of this approach was that it often took vehicles far from their patrol routes to fuel up. In addition, fueling outside the parish required the use of credit cards, which created extra tracking and reconciliation work. Since switching to a fuel card program, however, officers are now able to refuel at any location in the parish and stay on route. Fuel cards have also helped the Caddo Parish police force to reduce paperwork and overhead.

In addition to reducing administration costs, a fleet fuel card program can help government officials make better decisions with regard to what vehicles should be in their fleets. By analyzing fuel consumption relative to the number of miles driven, it is possible to identify exactly which vehicles are most efficient. Thus, better decisions can be made and resources saved by using vehicles and drivers that are most efficient.

Another advantage for government fleets using fleet fuel cards is that they can save the cost of sales tax when making retail fuel purchases. For example, the website government-fleet.com recently reported that the Sheriff’s Office in Jefferson County, Illinois switched to a fleet card program partly to save 24 cents per gallon of gas in taxes.

In today’s economy, where government at all levels is struggling to acquire the funding necessary to provide services to which we are all accustomed, it is more important than ever that vehicles make the best use of their fuel. A fleet card program can reduce overhead and lower fuel expenses.

How to Become a Millionaire During Your National Youth Service (NYSC) Year: Employment.

Lucrative Employment

You can be posted to serve in an organization that has lucrative remuneration scheme for corps members. There are so many organizations that pay very high allowance to corpers. If you are opportune to serve in such firms, then you will definitely reach the “million mark”. Most of these organizations pay high allowances and other incentives. If you add up your monthly federal allowance with your monthly earnings minus your expenses for the month, you will become a millionaire in one year. This is attainable if you really know what you want and not what you need. You must have financial intelligence to achieve your objective using this means.

A corper once told me that his firm paid him based on his performance, that is; the higher his output the richer he becomes.

These lucrative employment opportunities are not restricted to a particular sector of the economy. You can find high-paying organization both in the public and private sector. Moreover, they are evident in the oil and gas, manufacturing, health, banking, insurance, construction, entertainment, agricultural, transport and government sectors of the economy. Almost all the economic sectors have available resources to make you a millionaire before the end of your service year.

Most corps members believe that the private sector is more lucrative than its public counterpart. It is untrue that only sectors like the banking, construction, oil and gas and other multi-nationals pay rewarding allowance. I am glad to inform you that there are a lot of money-making avenues in government ministries and agencies. A lab scientist corper who served in a general hospital told me how she made hundreds of thousands legally.

My close corper friend serving in a ministry comes home every week with a huge sum of money. He works in the commissioner’s office, so every week the commissioner gives the entire corpers in his ministry weekly bonus. Have you forgotten that Nigeria has the richest public servants in the world? Testimonies of the profitability of the public sector are too numerous; time and space will not permit me to mention them all. So never neglect a posting to any public company.

It is also important to state that great opportunities exist in the private sector. There are some firms that pay high allowances. During one of my researches, I interviewed a civil engineer corper that served in a privately own construction firm. He was even begging that the service year should be extended. He told me that his boss was so nice to him. He told me categorically that he made millions during the NYSC scheme.
My message is clear: don’t underrate any organization you are posted to serve in. That place you think is the poorest might be a goldmine in disguise. No two is the same. Corper “A” can be favored in a firm where corper “B” is struggling to survive. So never use another corpers experience as a benchmark to seek reposting. Your boss might just like you, and if you are loved, the firm’s secret treasures will be revealed to you.

Almost every corper believe that serving in a Local Government Secretariat is very humiliating. Contrarily, the local government secretariat corpers were the richest in the entire local government where I served. The local government chairman was a very nice man. He gave the corpers the privileges enjoyed by statutory local government workers.

You will never know where the gold is located until you dig. You might find the gold in the dirtiest area of a place. You will never know the benefits of an organization until you work there. You will never know until you try.

Even if there are no means of making money, you can invent one. Open your mind and you will see opportunities. The lab scientist corper I earlier talked about created the opportunity herself. She observed that the hospital lacked some medical consumables which patients have to drive several kilometers to buy. She decided to buy those consumables in large quantities. She was selling them at a very profitable rate, and patronage was high. She invented that opportunity. Hundreds of corpers had served there before her and they couldn’t see the opportunity. So open your eye, don’t just look but try to see.

Regrettably, most corpers lobby to influence their posting. They pay in cash or kind so that they can be posted to an organization they think is more lucrative. Most of them go to these choice places and discover that they are hell in disguise; it turned out to be the opposite of what they taught. Some corpers were disappointed because irrespective of their unholy act, they were never posted to their choice organization. You have to be very careful the Nigerian environment is characterized by corrupt and fraudulent acts, and the NYSC is not an exception.

Majority of the NYSC staff are credible and honest but they also have “bad eggs”. You might also be reported to the relevant authority for disciplinary measures for trying to bribe an NYSC official. In most cases, the NYSC officials who promise to influence posting in the orientation camp don’t have such powers. They just trick corps members and abandon them.

During your posting day, you will see and hear complains. On that day, I saw most corpers crying because somebody had made an empty promise to them. They were posted to places they never wanted irrespective of their financial and non-financial inducements.

Posting depends on so many factors. It is not always possible to influence your posting. Firstly, it depends on the number of corps members required by the organization. Secondly, your profession also affects it, and your sex is another factor. If a firm needs twenty engineers and three administrators only, your lobbying cannot make them increase the quota. So if you are not an engineer or administrator, then your service is not needed. The NYSC will only give them corpers based on their request.

Furthermore, there are some states that all corps members are mandated to teach in schools, let nobody deceive you, nobody can change it. You are bound to be in the class room if that is the state law. Your lobbying can never take you to a place where your service is not needed.
I will say it again that in every organization, there are opportunities to make good money. It takes your ability to identify opportunities in your organization. My humble advice is; participate actively in all the activities in the orientation camp and pray to God for His favour.

Get useful information about the firm you intend to work in. Know everything about the organizations you intend to work with. Visit their web sites so that you can be acquainted with their recruitment process. You can even apply for vacant job positions. They might call you after the service year.

Local Government Training Courses Can Cut Council Costs and Boost Efficiency

In these challenging economic times local government training courses have a vital role to play. But only if those who deliver them adopt the right strategy.

These days local councils in Britain are under enormous pressure to contain costs while providing ever improving services.

Operational challenges

Some might say that’s long been the case and what I’m describing are just the normal operational challenges councils have always faced.

But many observers feel that in 2010 the situation is more serious than ever.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of these arguments there can be no doubt that local councils in the UK face stark choices. Do they make major cuts to services, raise council taxes significantly or perhaps do both at once?

Companies involved in local government training

Organisations that work with councils need to do everything they can to support them at this difficult time. And that includes companies involved in local government training.

If you deliver local government training courses, you should look closely at your course content to see if there is potential for adapting some of the material.

Could you, for example, include more practical tips for council staff that would help them increase efficiencies?

Local government writing

It’s fair to say that those of us who run writing courses for local government are well positioned to play our part in this.

In my own organisation we have taken a close look at our writing course for local authorities and rethought some of the key messages.

The broad thrust of what we are teaching remains the same, because the general principles of good local government writing rarely change. But wherever we can, we have tried to highlight how observing these principles can help cost cutting.

Clarity and brevity

Yes, we still talk about the need for clarity and brevity in written communications. And we still show how choice of language can have a big impact on readability.

In addition, we continue to tell writers how to adjust the orientation of their writing to make it easier for readers to connect with what’s been written.

But now we also emphasise how failure to do these things can carry a cost.

Dramatic consequences

Each time a written document wrong foots a reader or creates a misunderstanding, there’s a price to be paid.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of lost time, perhaps a few minutes wasted here and there. But in other instances the consequences can be more dramatic.

In almost every aspect of council communication, there are opportunities for waste and inefficiency to be minimised. Whether you communicate with local residents, local businesses or your professional colleagues, there is scope for you to rein in council expenses.

Money-saving best practices

Simple steps such as making sure colleagues are aware of useful internal services or money-saving best practices are just two examples.

It’s also important, of course, that all council employees have the up-to-date information they need to execute their duties in a timely and cost effective manner.

And naturally all this information has to be written in a way that is accessible and readable.

Contain spending

In the battle to contain spending and avoid unnecessary wastage, the written word has always been a powerful tool in local government.

Now, with the right guidance from trainers, council employees have a chance to reap the benefits.

In this regard local government training can perform a valuable service. Not just for the local authorities themselves but also for the hard-pressed council tax payer.

Restoring Government Services After a Natural Disaster With a CMMS

In terms of natural disasters such as floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes etc., 2011 was a historic year across the nation. It has been estimated that there has been over $40 billion in damages to date, but the most far reaching impact has been the Local, State and Federal government operations that were interrupted.

Government services range from the upkeep of parks to emergency services to social services facility management and everything in between. Although no one can prevent a natural disaster from occurring, governments can take steps to make sure that services return to normal as quickly as possible.

Government Emergency Response Time Requires Asset Inspections

One way to make sure that government facilities and services restore operations as quickly as possible is for governments to implement a Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) system. A Government CMMS solution gives facility and asset managers the tools they need to make an emergency plan of action, execute that plan and do so in an efficient as well as effective manner.

The reasons a CMMS is so effective for governments is that it helps asset and maintenance managers to be proactive. For emergency preparedness CMMS solutions enable facility and maintenance managers to schedule inspections before during and after a natural disaster.

The values of inspections are priceless because they provide management with a very quick analysis of the location and condition of assets/equipment. This includes knowing whether the asset is secure, needs maintenance, requires repair or replacement and can be used to generate a work order for faster action.

The faster that facility and maintenance managers can ascertain the condition of assets then the faster those assets can be restored to normal operation. By eliminating most paperwork, government facility and maintenance can schedule repairs faster.

A CMMS is not just for emergencies

A CMMS system is not just for emergency asset management, the same CMMS tools used for natural disaster management are also applied to non-emergency asset and maintenance management making sure that government operations are:

  • Lowering labor costs through increased automation and the reduction of time consuming manual work management processes.
  • Lowering energy costs through better preventive maintenance which will keep assets operating more efficiently requiring less power.
  • Lengthening the useful life of assets by taking better care of equipment through better organization and controls including the scheduling of preventive maintenance and ensuring there is enough time to make repairs
  • Lowering repair, replacement and refurbishment costs by tracking the work history of each asset. Asset work history can be analyzed giving government asset and maintenance management the information they need to decide if an asset needs to fixed or replaced.
  • Able to better manage vendors, contracts and documents by storing relevant documents within the CMMS. This allows for easier contract comparisons and consolidations as well reducing the costs of document handling and retrieval.

A government CMMS system enables to governments to operate with the some of the levels of efficiency as industrial organizations. Isn’t it time your government did things better?

The Localism Bill – What Does It Mean to You?

Do you know what the forthcoming Localism Bill, due for its second reading in the House of Commons on 17th January, means to you and your community? I’m amazed that it hasn’t resulted in more mainstream media attention given that it will:

- Change the way that communities influence local government including being able to veto excessive council tax proposals.
– Allow local organisations to bid to run council services.
– Bring about directly elected Mayors in the UK’s top 12 cities.
– Restore the committee system of governance to councils that want it back.

Empower community groups to buy local buildings and assets within council control in order to save them from being taken out of public use.
Alter planning decision making so that neighbourhoods may draw up development plans and even ‘grant’ development permission locally over and above the council’s involvement if 50% of local people decide as such (even in the Green Belt).

The Bill will also scrap the lethargic and ineffective Standards Board for England and Wales, favouring the electorate deciding the suitability of ‘wayward’ councillors at the ballot box.

The pay of council executives will have to be set as a policy published by the council and this measure will also apply to the fire service. Bin taxes are abolished in favour of local authorities using simplicity and informatives to join residents in recycling effectively rather than bashing them with fines for not doing so correctly.

Councils will be given the authority to decide upon their own procedures as to those qualifying for housing waiting lists.Those that are seen as ineligible for social housing can be removed from formal waiting lists and so providing a ‘true’ picture of need.

No more council houses for life, meaning that those that no longer qualify will cease to prohibit the genuinely needy from obtaining housing for their families. Each authority will also keep the income from council house rents to use as it sees fit for maintenance, as opposed to just channelling the money back to central Government.

And Home Information Packs, suspended in May, will be confined to the DCLG’s ‘bonfire of the unnecessaries’. A good job too for all, especially us Brentwood estate agents.

Putting power back into the hands of local people and their locally elected councillors is what this is all about, the brain child of Brentwood MP Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It will form a central plank to the Conservatives’ long heralded BIG SOCIETY. That society is in for a BIG change indeed. A better change it seems.

My First Great Impressions Of Government Services In Dubai: Real Stories

During my short stay in Dubai (UAE) I encountered an array of government services, and came across some sophisticated citizen’s support, which in my opinion surpass the quality level of public services in the UK or other advanced countries. It was a happy surprise every time and a WOW response. It is an indication of an excellence program being implemented in a serious manner. A quantum leap has been in the making in this small spot in the region, and I thought the Dubai phenomenon was limited to the real estate industry!

I have been staying in Dubai for over eight months. My children live and work in Dubai. I am a senior business researcher and consultant by profession and therefore I am very inquisitive by nature. I am one of the few people in Dubai who perform regularly long exploratory walks outdoors including walks in the sand. The weather was great this year so far, unusually mild with many rainy days even. Altogether it was an ideal setting for discoveries.

I am presenting various real stories of my encounters with Dubai government services. All the stories being told have taken place in 2013 in Dubai, except for one that occurred in December 2012.

Municipality of Dubai and Jafza (DMCC, JLT) / Complaint About Noise Pollution: I live in JLT (Jumeira Lakes Towers) in Dubai. This is a very quiet residential and commercial area including tens of high rise towers overlooking numerous lakes. Suddenly one day early this year I awoke to the big noise of some machine. After a few days of bearing the noise I decided to go out and pinpoint the source of the noise pollution. It turned out to be a power generator being used for the renovation of a ground floor shop in the tower opposite to mine. Upon enquiry with the workshop supervisor I understood that the tower management is not providing an electrical power-line to the workshop, and therefore they had to use the noisy power generator, even Fridays. The supervisor mentioned works would last for a couple of months. I expressed the objection due to the loud noise caused, and which is amplified by the reflections of sound by the adjacent building towers.

After raising the issue with the management of my tower I was told I should complain with the Municipality of Dubai. I tracked the website of the municipality and telephone and internet complaint procedure, and made a telephone as well as an email complaint. I did not go to the municipality. I received after a very short while a complaint number and telephone contact number and the message was sent as SMS to my mobile. I then spoke on the phone after quoting my complaint number, and the other end was taking notes of the details of my complaint again. The feedback after my telephone complaint was very prompt; I received an SMS stating that my complaint case was closed! I expected some action must have been taken. I contacted the municipality by phone and was told that for such matters in JLT it is not the jurisdiction of the municipality of Dubai but of Jafza, and I was provided info as how to locate Jafza. I had never heard of Jafza before!

I contacted Jafza by phone and I was given an email number and contact. So I sent my complaint by email. I received a prompt response from Jafza (DMCC, based in Almas Tower) stating they will send inspectors to the workshop. Then within a week I received a statement saying inspectors spoke to the workshop and to the management of the tower, and indicated they will try and convince the management of the tower to extend a power line to the workshop, and they asked the workshop to reduce the noise and to be restricted to a few hours in the day and only working days, this until a DEWA line is obtained by the workshop. The noise was slightly reduced, but a few months have gone by since my initial complaint and the workshop was still using the noisy power generator! I complained again a couple of times at DMCC by telephone and email but did not receive any feedback. More or less I got the understanding this is as far as we go. Then I complained again one day with the security personnel when the workshop was using the noisy generator after midnight! Eventually, the noisy generator was replaced with a larger but very quiet one.

In brief, I was surprised at the effectiveness of response to complaints made by telephone or by email, without having to go personally to the department, and at the initial effort focused by the authorities on solving the problem. Despite the fact that the problem has dragged on for a while, I was very impressed at the speed and professionalism of the initial feedback and speed of efforts to sort things out. This response put Dubai more or less on equal footing with advanced countries, and even surpassing them in excellence. Such responses cannot be performed with this level of quality without the proper processes and procedures in place.

Consumer Rights in Dubai (Ahlan Dubai Service, DED), And Dubai Central Laboratory (Dubai Municipality) / Testing a Shirt Fabric: On another occasion I bought a cotton shirt from a known European brand at Ibn Battuta Mall. Upon wearing, the shirt did not feel 100% cotton as stated, as it was not cool and it felt more like high ratio of synthetics and electrostatics. I contacted the European supplier by email and informed them about my doubts, but I did not receive any explanation. I had doubts whether I shall find a consumer protection department in Dubai, but I was surprised I found one called Ahlan Dubai service, part of DED. I sent a complaint by email and after filling in a form from the website, I received promptly an email reply with my complaint number, stating that my complaint will be attended to within two days. In my complaint I mentioned that I would be happy to supply a small piece of the material to test whether the shirt is 100% cotton as claimed by the supplier. Someone from the consumer rights department called immediately after, wanting to clarify what I actually wanted! I told the person I just want to test the material and see whether it is 100% cotton, as claimed on the shirt. The person suggested that I return the shirt, but I mentioned that I have some strong doubts and would like to test the material even if it cost me a little. I then received by SMS a message saying my complaint case has been closed! I contacted the department again by phone and inquired, and they indicated the case was closed because I already contacted the supplier. But I mentioned that I had no explanation from the supplier. My case was then reopened and I was informed by SMS that this was the case. Then I received again a phone-call inquiring what I actually want from the complaint! I mentioned again that I would like to test a piece of the fabric of the shirt, and I was told they do not have a test laboratory for such purposes, and my case was closed again.

I looked on the internet for a test laboratory in Dubai, and indeed I found one as part of the Dubai municipality. I was pretty confident the material was not 100% cotton. I found out that the central lab has also test facilities for textile, and they had a consumer section, and I contacted them by email with my request. I am a researcher and I am driven by curiosity and I hate it when there are discrepancies between the specs and the reality. I then received a phone call from the lab and explained what I exactly want, and I was told that a simple test can be performed quickly to establish whether the fabric is 100% cotton or not, and this for free this time. Should I request a report with detailed composition of cotton and synthetics then there will be a fee of some 150 AEU, if I recall. I found out where the lab was located and made an appointment to come next day.

I was very impressed by the setting and the organization of the central lab. I asked for the contact person at the reception, and very quickly a young female Emirati woman as test expert appeared, and I gave her the small piece of material to be tested (Which I cut out from the shirt). She disappeared for 15 minutes and came back and told me this is 100% cotton! My face showed some doubts and the civil servant suggested I come and see how the test results was established, and showed me how the material was tested. WOW. What a super and prompt service and what a super know-how. I have myself a Ph.D. in science and spent tens of years doing R&D and I was impressed. The expert explained to me that this is a cotton fabric made to show little greasing and hence feels different. She explained that after a few wash cycles the effect will be reduced gradually. Again WOW. I was given a brochure of the lab and some promotion and I left feeling dazzled. Am I in the USA? Almost the same day I received a belated email feedback from the European supplier of the shirt stating that the shirt is indeed 100% cotton but is of the finish “Easy Care” and therefore feels different! So after all this whole trouble it was indeed 100% cotton but of another finish! I still do not know what this means in terms of 100% cotton specs!

I put the Dubai sophisticated services to the test and they succeeded superbly. I still managed to find a way of repairing the shirt as I had removed a small piece of material. I admit I had not at all expected to find such advanced technical support services in Dubai. I thought most services would be limited to construction and real estate etc. I came to the conclusion that such professional feedback could not be realized without the proper vision from the top levels of the government. It could not be just coincidence.

Management of Dubai Mall / Posting a Suggestion: I was travelling by metro to the Dubai Mall, which is one of the biggest in the world. After arriving to the station you need to cross on foot this newly completed and very long suspended pedestrians’ tunnel to get to the Mall. Although there are many long electric pedestrian conveyor facilities (travelators), they are relatively slow compared to other similar facilities in the Dubai metro. I thought it would be useful to speed up the conveyor to shorten the 10 minutes duration of journey to the Mall, this without compromise to safety. When I reached the Mall, I went to the reception desk and asked whether they have some forms for suggestions. I was given one by the person at the desk and I filled a few lines with my suggestion, and gave it back to the person. I also included my mobile number as requested.

A couple of days later I received a phone-call from the management of the Dubai Mall, and the Mrs. At the other end gave her name and thanked me for the suggestion. She indicated that my suggestion was sent to the management of the mall and their feedback is that the speed of the conveyors was set by the designers and cannot be increased easily. Nevertheless the management has taken note of my suggestion and is stipulating to increase this speed through different means in the future. And she thanked me again for the suggestion! I felt this was a triple WOW. Do you get such a prompt and friendly and pro-active response in the UK or USA for that matter? I don’t think so, as I have travelled extensively to many places in the world. They did not only take note of the suggestion but they also called to acknowledge! I was taken for a while after the phone call! I was wondering what a quantum leap Dubai must have gone through to arrive to this synergetic stage of interaction with the consumer and citizen.

Injaz Entrepreneurship: Emirati Students Competition Awards / Visiting: This Injaz event took place on the 1st of May 2013 at the conference block 1 of Knowledge Village. Different schools and universities competed, including a spectrum of business project ideas. The word Injaz stands for achievement. Prior to the ceremony, the different teams (In excess of ten) were exhibiting and promoting their projects and products in a hall assigned to the purpose and using tables and some self-made stands. There was buzz everywhere. Work on projects was going on for a few months. A few hundred people were present, mainly young female and male nationals in their traditional UAE outfit and their relatives. A number of sponsoring organizations were present too including banks, Khalifa Fund and others.

There were prizes for best innovation, for best marketing plan, for best Impact on society and even for hard work, so everybody won a prize at the end of the day. The organization was very good, and indeed WOW, and the clear message of encouraging entrepreneurship was very well conveyed. One can see that students were excited and very proud and confident of their project achievements, and looking forward to boost their project and expand. A member of each team repeated the sale’s pitch after receiving the award. Each team of pupils or students had a volunteer business coach assigned to it, and who has been supporting the development efforts from the start. The Injaz management made sure to show appreciation to the volunteers, some million times. There were many loud cheers during the ceremony and one young local presenter on stage had great sense of humor and made sure the atmosphere was a happy one. One thing is certain, there is real vision in the making here, starting from the young age.

Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Dubai World Trade Centre / Attending: I attended the summit on the 11th and 12th Dec 2012, and was very surprised at the very strong presence of the Dubai and UAE government in the exhibition, including the SME support programs such as Dubai-SME and Khalifa Fund. Top management of both organizations was present during the two days summit, including directors. But I was most impressed during the opening session of the Summit to see Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the ruler of Dubai and vice president of UAE and a number of his principal ministers participate actively with short boosting presentations each. The Sheikh was encouraging his young people and Arabs to be entrepreneurial and innovative. You would think that the head of the country does not need to participate to a business conference, but he is setting a great example to members of his government and indeed to his own people, and stressing the relevance of business and innovation for competitiveness. Great effort was made during the opening session to promote Dubai Expo 2020. It became clear who symbolizes the main driving force behind the Dubai development phenomenon.

In brief, my multiple experiences with the government services in Dubai were astonishing and satisfying. I was quite impressed every time. My quick encounters are indicative of an environment that is conducive to quality of life and prosperity. I often thought this would be the right place to work in and to conduct business. My impression is that Dubai might be even distinguished in the UAE in its government services and indeed in the Gulf States. Some million light years separate Dubai from the rest of the Arab world including services provided by the government to its people. I hope the Arab countries emerging from the Arab spring will try and emulate some of the services aspects seen in Dubai. I believe with the right will and vision everything is possible, as has been proven in this environment.

E-Governance

1.INTRODUCTION:

World economies have recognized Information Technology as an effective tool in catalyzing the economic activity in efficient governance and in developing human resource. They have made significant investments in it and successfully integrated it with the development process, thereby reaping the benefits to their society. In India also, these developments have impacted the industrial, education, service and Government sectors and their influence on various applications is increasingly being felt of
late.

As the era of digital economy is evolving, the concept of governance has assumed significant importance. The e-Governance has consequently become an accepted methodology involving the use of Information Technology in improving transparency, providing information speedily to all citizens, improving administration efficiency and improving public services such as transportation, power, health, water, security and municipal services.

India has been harnessing the benefits provided by the Information & Communication
Technologies to provide integrated governance, reach to the citizens faster,provide efficient services and citizen empowerment through access to information. The aim is to redefine governance in the ICT age to provide Smart Governance. Several significant initiatives have been taken at the Centre and the State level in this direction. At the Central level, the government has extensively promoted the use of IT in managing
its internal processes and has drawn up a ‘Minimum Agenda of e-Governance’. The
Ministries/Departments have provision of 2 to 3 percent of their annual budgets to be spent on IT related activities.

The Government has enacted IT Act 2000, which provides legal status to the information and transactions carried on the net. Several State Governments have also taken
various innovative steps to promote e-Governance and have drawn up a roadmap for IT implementation and delivery of services to the citizens online. The applications that have been implemented are targeted towards providing G2B, G2C and B2C services with emphasis on use of local language.

2.DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY’S INITIATIVES:

As part of the increased thrust on e-Governance, Ministry of Communications &
Information Technology, Department of Information Technology, Government of India
has set up a Centre for e-Governance (CEG) at its premises – Electronics Niketan in New Delhi.The Centre, first of its kind in the country,
showcases several e-Governance applications and solutions that have been successfully
deployed in various states and offers such other services like technical consultation, proof of concept and thematic presentations. Conducting programmes for creating awareness among decision makers in the Centre and State Governments and helping them in defining and
implementing process and policy changes for effective e-Governance are other important
objectives of the Centre.The primary activities of the Centre are:

o To showcase the best practices in the area of Electronic Governance, which would
encompass technology, processes as well as public policies

Conduct programs for creating awareness among decision makers in the Central and state Governments

Demonstrate the feasibility of Electronic Governance to decision makers through
workshops, demonstration programs,video/teleconferencing, etc.

Help the Central and State Governments in defining and implementing process and policy changes

To enrich the repository of best practices through continuous interaction with subject matter experts from India and abroad.

The Centre also draws upon leading companies, technical institutions and business partners in India and abroad and help initiate projects to address specific needs. The Centre continuously strives to establish strong links with similar institutions worldwide to enrich the repository of best practices through interaction and
participation.

3. SOME E-GOVERNANCE PROJECTS/APPLICATIONS OPERATIONAL ACROSS INDIA:

3.1 Bhoomi (Land Records)

Bhoomi is a self-sustainable e-governance project for the computerized delivery of 20 million rural land records to 6.7 million farmers through 177 Government owned kiosks in the Indian state of Karnataka, which has eliminated red tape and corruption in the issue of land title records, and is fast becoming the backbone for credible IT-enabled Government services for the rural population.

3.2 Stamps Registration and Archiving (SARITA)

The Stamps and Registration Department of a State is typically one of the top revenue earners for any Government. Stamp & Registration software provides efficient government citizen interface, and also enables enhanced revenue earnings for the Stamps and Registration operation. The heart of this application consists
of the Registration and Valuation module. Other modules are the Networking and Scanning modules that enable exchange of information securely across departments, and “electronic copying” of the registered documents thereby enabling return of the original document within few minutes of presentation.

3.3 Versatile Online Information for Citizen Empowerment (VOICE)

Municipalities have a challenging task of providing various kinds of citizen services.VOICE caters to these challenges through the use of state-of-the-art information Technology.In addition to computerisation of the day-to-day operations,VOICE also provides a powerful Community and empowers the citizen. This application ensures a quick, transparent and efficient administration at a lower operating cost
with increased revenue collections.

3.4 e-Seva

eSeva is the first-of-its-kind of service in the country, providing a wide spectrum of citizenfriendly services that save citizen the bother of running around various departments. The services offered are Payment of Utilities Bills,Registration of Birth/Death, Issue of Birth/Death certificates, Permits/Licences, Reservations etc.
There are 35 eSeva centres (with 280 service counters) spread over the Twin Cities and
Ranga Reddy District.

3.5 Gyandoot

Gyandoot is an intranet in the tribal district of Dhar in Central India connecting rural Cybercafes catering to the everyday needs of the masses. It is a community-based, highly costeffective and financially self-reliant approach to bringing the benefits of Information Technology to the doorsteps of tribal villagers. The objective of the Gyandoot project has been to establish a community-owned, innovative and sustainable
information technology project in the most poverty stricken and tribal dominated rural
areas. The project is designed to cater to social,economic and development needs of the
villagers through an innovative G2C model.There are around 1600 villages in Dhar district and 80 information kiosks/cyber offices(Soochanalayas). Each kiosk caters to about 25 to 30 villages. The entire network of 31 kiosks covers 311 Panchayats (village committees),over 600 villages and a population of around half a million (nearly 50% of the entire district).

3.6 e-Choupal

Started by ITC’s international Business Division as a cost-effective alternative supply chain system to deal directly with the farmer to buy products for exports is getting transformed into a meta market for rural India. The tobacco giant
has already set up over 700 choupals covering 3,800 villages in four states

– which include Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra

Pradesh — dealing with products ranging from soya bean, coffee, aquaculture and wheat.

3.7 VidyaVahini

This portal provides the opportunity for schools,teachers and students all across the nation to express and share their creative and academic potential via the internet. The portal aims at creating such an environment by providing facilities for content development, content deployment and collaboration. Shiksha India – a
non- profit organisation – is working in partnership with the Ministry of Information
Technology in the project Vidya Vahini and Ministry of Human Resources under the CLASS scheme, which aims to connect 60.000 schools (approximately 20 million students) across the country in the next five years.

3.8 Aarakshi

Aarakshi is an intranet-based system for the Jaipur City Police to facilitate FIRs,criminalsrecords, vehicle thefts, missing person’s records etc. It is like a private & closed user group accessible to only authorised personnel. Its potential users are all field level officers of the city like police station, circle officers SP and even district collector.

3.9 Webciti

WebCITI (Web based Citizen-IT Interface) is an e-Governance project for building citizen-IT interface for services offered by district administration at Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab. It provides web-based interface to citizens seeking services from district administration and provides complete workflow automation in District Commissioners office. It is information dissemination system designed to facilitate public to get information about various government schemes such as eligibility criteria, procedures, contact addresses, downloadable forms etc. These include issuance of certificates
such as death/birth, caste, rural area etc.,licenses such as arms license, permission for
conferences/rallies etc., benefits from socioeconomic schemes etc. The information about
various schemes and procedures, status of an application etc. can be found through the web Interface available at the intranet counters at developmental block/revenue tehsil and kiosks.

3.10 Drishtee

Drishtee is a unique socio-technological effort towards creating an Information backbone in Indian Villages. Drishtee is a public limited company providing IT enabled, fee based services to villagers through community owned kiosks. It is a platform for rural networking and marketing services for enabling e-governance, education, health and allied IT based services. The services it enables include access to government programs & benefits, market related information and private information exchanges & transactions.

4. E-GOVERNANCE IN TAMILNADU:

Government has taken as a policy to promote e-governance initiative to
ensure transparent, speedy and responsive delivery of government services to the
citizens. E-governance initiatives were taken in major departments like Registration,
Revenue, Transport, etc. The Electronic Delivery of Services (EDS) is receiving a lot
of thrust. The payment of utility payment service charges of TNEB, Metrowater and
Chennai Corporation can be effected through the EDS centres. To promote egovernance
in the Government during 2004-05, a sum of Rs.2357.52 lakhs has
been provided in the State Budget under Part-II (new) schemes for 2004-05 of which
Rs.1836.52 lakhs is provided under Plan schemes and Rs.521 lakhs under Non-
Plan towards hardware and software for the Departments of Commercial Taxes,
Registration, Treasuries & Accounts, Survey & Settlement, BC & MBC, Town and
Country Planning & Adi-Dravida Welfare, etc.

4.1 Tamil Nadu e-governance Mission:

As part of the increased thrust on e-governance, IT department is setting up
an e-governance Directorate exclusively to work on the Policy and Planning of
Information & Communication Technology initiatives of the Government and also to
augment the e-Governance initiatives and projects of the Government of Tamil
Nadu. As a first initiative, e-governance cell at ELCOT in the name
and style of “TN e-governance Mission”, is formed which will form a part of the
Directorate later. TN e-governance Mission, from its inception has been
scouting around for the best e-governance practices world over for adoption in the
e-governance project initiatives of the Government to provide electronic delivery of
services to the citizen at a reasonable cost and for improvement of Government –
Citizen Interface.

The Tamil Nadu Government has decided to give a major push to its e-governance initiatives. Besides constituting panels at three different levels for implementation of National e-Governance Action Plan (NeGAP), it is also planning to appoint a consultant to conduct a study and prepare an information and communication technology (ICT) roadmap for e-governance.

Besides floating a global tender for appointment of the consultant, the government has constituted a State Apex Committee (SAC) that will oversee and provide policy direction to NeGAP and ensure inter-ministerial co-ordination.

There will be a State e-Governance Group (SeG) to provide overall direction, standardisation and consistency through programme management of e-governance initiatives of the state.

The SAC will be headed by the Chief Secretary, with Information Technology secretary as the Chief Information Officer and the Managing Director of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) as the member secretary.

The SeG will have the Development Commissioner and Principal Secretary (Finance) as the chairman and the director of the to-be created directorate of e-Governance as the member secretary. The IT secretary, who will also be a member of the SeG, will have the lead role in advising the government on IT trends and also coordinating technology utilization

The deputy director general of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will also be a member of the SeG to provide technology expertise and to monitor new technologies, besides assessing their potential to use in the e-governance programme.

The SeG will function as a permanent advisory body to develop and implement processes for management of programmes like conflict management, audits, knowledge management, financial management, risk management, and project planning and monitoring, besides institutionalizing e-governance processes and tools.

The e-governance groups will also be set up at state government department levels, with the secretary of the department concerned as the chairman, to help the departments prepare detailed project reports, business process re-engineering, change management, financial sustainability, technology expertise and manage implementation of the project.

5. SOME OF THE IMPORTANT E-GOVERNANCE PROJECTS IN TAMILNADU:

5.1 TamilNadu InfoSystem on Land Administration and Management (Tamil NILAM):

TamilNILAM is an important e-governance initiative of Government of TamilNadu. All the taluk offices in TamilNadu have been provided with computers under this programme.

The major applications on these systems are,

§ Land Records
§ Old Age Pension Management
§ Certificates Management
§ Public Grievances Redressal
§ Personnal and Payroll system

At present twenty nine taluks were provided with the touch screen for the public use. The services offered by it are,

Land owners can view their own Land ownership and can also obtain a copy of Chitta Exact.

Birth and Death certificate particulars can be viewed and a copy of the certificate can also be obtained.

Old age pension details can also be maintained in it.

The welfare Scheme of the Revenue Department are explained with the details for availing these services and the benefits.

5.2 Simplified and Transparent Administration of Registration(STAR):
Simplified and Transparent Administration of Registration is a Citizen-centric application which has been implemented at 300 sub registrar office in TamilNadu. With the computerized system the issue of Encumbrance certificate has become quicker and easier. The documents are scanned and archived. The Data will be maintained in Tamil.

The Application software was developed by NIC TamilNadu state Unit with the active involvement of the team from Registration Department. The hardware procurement and installation has been carried out by the ELCOT.

5.3 Treasury Computerization:

The Treasury computerization is one of the earliest e-governance project developed for the Government of TamilNadu. Now the system is used in the following offices,

§ 29 District treasuries

§ 205 sub treasuries

§ 7 pay and accounts office

§ Pension Pay office, Chennai

The Daily transaction is captured in batch mode at sub treasuries and consolidated at the district treasuries. The monthly account prepared using the system by the district treasuries, pay and accounts department are submitted to the AG’s office.

6. Conclusion:

Although e-government has been around since the 1990s, many developing countries have not fully reaped its benefits because they lack the key conditions for it to thrive:

· healthy political and regulatory environments,

· well-developed IT infrastructure, and

· a large pool of Internet users.

Skeptics believe that e-government is not an appropriate tool for low-income countries with limited technical capability. But some developing countries, such as India, have successfully implemented e-government in certain areas, despite this shortcoming.

Wireless Guest Access – Guest WLAN Access for Office, Campus and Local Government Environments

Introduction

Historically, many businesses have been reluctant to offer wireless access in their offices due to the insecure nature of the technology. An often quoted example of security concerns are so called “car park snooping”, where hackers sit in the car park of a business and use the wireless network to penetrate firewalls and access the targets network.

The growth of the internet though has made access now almost mandatory in order for business to function. Guests to a site often need to be provided access to cloud applications such as salesforce.com and Google Docs or to web based demonstrations in order to support interaction and allow the business to function. The growth of tablet PCs, iPhones and other high end devices has also meant that Company executives are now demanding wireless internet connectivity as an essential ‘must have’ rather than a luxury.

Wireless access to customers, contractors, visitors and Company employees can be provided easily and without compromising corporate network security using the latest generation of wireless technologies. A well thought out guest access portal improves business productivity; increases brand loyalty, improves staff satisfaction and eliminates the burden of supporting unplanned network access by guests (and staff) to perform essential business meetings.

Types of Wireless Access

There are four main methods for controlling access to a wireless network:

- Open

- Pre-shared keys (PSK)

- Private Pre-shared keys (PPSK)

- Username and password

The following discusses the key advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Open

An open wireless network eliminates the need for configuration of guest devices. Anyone can connect to an open network. The service set identifier (SSID) is advertised via the wireless interface and can be freely discovered and connected to by users.

The downside to open guest access is that unwanted guests (e.g., neighbouring businesses) can connect to the network and can use it search for weaknesses and penetrate the corporate/secure side of the network. Since no key is passed between the wireless access point (AP) and the device when linking up then open access also means that the wireless link itself must be ‘open’ (unencrypted) enabling anyone with a modicum of knowledge to snoop the wireless link and intercept any network traffic.

As a result most network managers refuse to use open wireless links in their network, and increasingly sophisticated guest users also refuse to use them, on grounds of security.

Pre-Shared Keys

Pre-Shared Keys (PSK) allow users to access the Wireless LAN securely. In the standard configuration, anyone who knows the key can access the network. The key enables traffic between the device and the AP to be encrypted providing an accepted level of security. The key is “pre-shared” as it is statically configured before the device associates to the wireless network. Typical PSK encryption methods are WEP and (the newer/more secure) WPA2. One problem with standard PSK is that as the fixed key becomes more and more widely known by guests and 3rd parties the security is compromised. So while this methodology works well in fixed environments and provides secure wireless access between AP and device, it must be seen as endangering the corporate network over time. Whilst the PSK for the guest SSID may be regularly updated this quickly becomes challenging as the number of guests on a network increases.

Private Pre-Shared Key

Aerohive have a private pre-shared key (PPSK) solution that overcomes some of the limitations of PSK. PPSK provides a unique (private) PSK for each user. PPSKs have several strengths:

- Individualised security

- Ease of use

- Can be provisioned and revoked one by one

- Each key can be tied to a different set of user/group policies

Guest PPSKs are typically provided to guests, if they are needed, by a receptionist as they enter the company. The receptionist uses as web interface to log details of the guest and then prints out access instructions for the guest. Since everyone knows how to use a PSK, guests use it to connect to the secure guest network. Administrators don’t have to be involved, and can automatically pre-configure guest policies (time of day, length of session, rate limits, VLANs, QoS, firewalls, etc.) as appropriate.

Corporate users can be setup to use PPSK in a similar way so they can use personal devices like phones or tablets. The pre-defined policies for staff wireless devices however may allow greater access to corporate resources such as e-mail. (as defined by the company’s usage policies).

Access may be revoked at any time by withdrawing the PPSK associated with the user. Typically guest PPSKs are timed, while corporate users may be permanent.

User name and Password

Individual user authentication provides secure access control, similar to PPSK level security but by a user name and password pair. Users connect to an open network as usual but then require the user to enter a user name and password.

Juniper SmartPass is a typical implementation of this type of system. Guest users may be setup via a web interface. Again guests may be limited to certain corporate resources, such as only able to access guest virtual LAN (VLAN), and/or by time (1hr duration). Administrators can pre-configure guest access types and, as with Aerohive, Corporate users needing WLAN access can be provided greater access to corporate resources. The user/password information may be updated or revoked at any time.

Some WLAN management systems allow self-provisioned guest access. A splash page login is used for this which simply displays within the guest user’s browser. The user is prompted to enter his credentials and the system can then automatically allow limited guest access. Many corporates however prefer an administrator approach to setting up guest access allowing a single point of verification and control, even for guest VLAN access which is theoretically isolated from the corporate network.

Access via user name and password has the limitation that WLAN access must be open. The Juniper system combats this somewhat by a “location aware” feature, allowing it to know the location of a user to within three metres. This allows geo-fencing, stopping anyone outside a particular area (say sitting in the car park) from accessing the network and also allows administrators to limit access rights to certain corporate resources based on physical location.

Summary

Visitors, consultants, and corporate users increasingly require access to wide area networks in order to access information and data held in the cloud in order to work or demonstrate solutions. In recent years senior corporate users have added to this pressure by demanding access for mobile and tablet devices which they increasingly consider essential for business. This has meant that Network Administrators and IT Managers have had to find new, more secure, methodologies to both allow wireless access and keep their networks secure.

The wireless LAN industry has taken on board the security concerns of business and incorporated advanced management features to allow safe guest access into corporate networks. The exact access security mechanisms vary and form only one aspect of choosing your WLAN solution for guest access.

Other important aspects to consider include:

- Size of the WLAN network (number of access points)

- Volume of traffic (number of users and bandwidth needs)

- Geographic location (one or many sites)

- Stability of users (rate of change of users)

- Stability of WLAN network (is it growing, is interference from other WLAN increasing?)

- Administrative overhead (who will register users?)

Specialist advice on which type of guest user access system to install is at hand from Companies like AIT who also provide expert WLAN audit and installation services. To discuss your WLAN guest access requirements please call AIT on 0845 017 7017.

Tap Into Your Local Government Advisory Service

If you are looking to start up a new business in the coming months, you are going to be looking into a number of different financing options in order to get the ball rolling. Every business owner can tell you that it takes a good chunk of liquid money to get a company off of the ground, regardless of what type of business you are going into. How does one go about getting quality financing for a business opportunity? There are quite a few ways to do this, with each one offering its own specific advantages for new business owners.

Common knowledge and conventional wisdom tells business owners that they should consult their local bank if they need financing. There, you can take out a business loan at a reasonable rate in order to get the ball rolling on your bright idea. The problem with banks in this day and age is that they aren’t being nearly as lenient with whom they are providing financing to. Because the market has seen more and more defaults on loans, lenders are tightening their credit requirements. At the same time, they are also upping their interest rates on most loans. This could combine to make banks a financing option that is out of the price range of many new entrepreneurs. If you fall into this category, what is your next move? Do you consult family and friends to try to find someone who will help? If that doesn’t sound too appealing, then there is another option that you should consider. Your Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) is out there waiting for you to call and request their help.

The Federal government took a great deal of care to create these local groups that have the best interest of your community in mind. There are a number of these organizations throughout the country and they represent your local area and community. These groups are filled with local people who have a ton of experience in running businesses and are in place to help get things going in a community. Though they also deal with other things, such as environmental concerns, these advisory service committees are ultimately charged with stimulating businesses within your locality or state.

How do you go about securing financing through the Local Government Advisory Service? You have to call them up and figure out what they have on their plate at the moment. These committee members are willing to work with you on a plan that would benefit both your business and the community. If you have an organized business plan that will ultimately provide something of value for your community or state, then the committee is much more likely to listen. Granted that they don’t have any pressing needs that have to be addressed prior to your concern, they will take your plan to heart and discuss financing possibilities with you.

All of this is ultimately dependent upon where you live. Certain local advisory services have more financing capability than others. In New York, for instance, the LGAC is in contact with millions of dollars each year which must be allocated to certain entities. Other areas of the country would probably find it very difficult to match that number, but they still feature some ability to provide a start for a business. Business owners must realize that these local committees have to keep the community’s best interest in mind, so financing might not be available for every project. Ultimately, it will be up to you to convince the committee that your business provides something meaningful and useful to your locality.

How does one go about convincing the committee that you have an idea worth considering? It all begins with organization. Take the time to sit down with your business plan and lay it out in a way that is easy to understand for everyone involved. Show how much business it might bring into a town or state. Let those folks know, in certain financial terms, the scale of the impact that your business will have. This will put the pressure on them to pull the trigger on financing for your idea. Then, everyone will benefit from your desire and ability to start a financially successful business.

If you are looking for a quality way to find financing for your upstart business, then there are always plenty of options to consider. Though it is prudent to investigate all of the options that are available to you, it would be foolish to overlook some of the things that are not always in the forefront. Your Local Government Advisory Service is out there waiting to help you. If you have a great idea that could add something constructive, then chances are good that financing help is out there for you.