Advancement, evolution and innovation has all been combined to make human life easier. Technology is a blessing which makes things convenient and feasible for all those who use it in a proper way. The damp monsoon season arrived in Pakistan with a technological encounter and for the first time the high-ups will be relying on Smartphones to monitor troubles caused due to excessive rain. The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) in Lahore has given Smartphones to the Ministers of Provincial Assembly of Punjab province.
The gadgets will be used by the ministers of the most densely populated province of Pakistan for detecting water stagnation and puddles. Moreover, the notorious ‘dengue larvae’ growth will also be examined through the Smartphones. According to the managing director of the Water and Sanitation Agency, these phones can only be used for relaying images of the troubled spots and not for conversing. The Smartphones will have to be returned back to Wasa after the end of the rainy season.
It’s interesting to note that how the device will be used to achieve the monitoring aims mentioned above. The Android OS based Huawai handsets will be given to each supervisory officer working under the government. Along with recording indicators like non-functional equipment,absent staff, troubled localities and ‘dengue’ zones the
supervisors will take a self-photo that will be submitted along with the data. The submitted data will automatically pop up on a map in real-time with GPS accuracy of five meters. This data can be monitored by senior officials and back-end auditors.
The mobile based ‘data-entry’ has several benefits over the conventional paper entries. One screen, one application, is able to handle a form with as many pages/ screens as required. Electronic information entry is more reliable. Dependencies of information transfer are reduced thereby reducing chances for errors. Mobile phones with touch-screens provide the simplest user interface possible. GPS-enabled phones allow monitors/ inspectors to verify their physical location at time of report. Built-in digital cameras allow photographs of report-submitting personnel to aid authenticity of reporting. A robust mobile data network existing in rural Punjab allows for much more reliable connectivity of remote locations to central servers and information seekers.
This ‘technological dive’ for the sake of improvement in governance is a healthy sign and a laudable initiative. In addition to this, it throws light on yet another utility of cellular phones. According to renowned academic activist, Jeffry Sachs – “cellular phone is the single most transformative technology for development”. A cost-effective Smartphone with GPS and camera can make the data transmission task convenient for the government- more than any laptop or computer. The Punjab government, under the prudent leadership of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a great step!
Courtesy- Help from the formal report of Punjab Health Sector Reform – Monitoring the Monitors.
Originally published in the October- November 2012 issue of Phone World Magazine. http://www.phoneworld.com.pk