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QR for household as new digital initiative & need of integrated planning

The governments are running multiple projects under digital initiative & transformation. Attaching QR to households and using it for managing garbage collection is one of them, undertaken under the smart city initiatives.[1][2] Though, there is a need for an “Integrated approach”. If it’s not acknowledged then it’s necessary to deliberate and implement it. Interestingly to enable a successful integrated strategy, one needs to meticulously define atomic units, out of which few form core parts and must be reusable. Reusability is the key.
Cost considerations
Imagine the cost of 1 QR card design, print, materials, attach process, validation, enablement, app/system integration, and multi-year maintenance process, costing Rs 100. For a municipality having a Rs 1.5 Lakh household, the cost would be Rs 1.5 crores. Now, imagine each sub-function of a municipality or other QR-based use cases for households, repeating the same process of issuing new QR to a household for their purposes. For even three such new initiatives, the additional overhead cost would be Rs 4.5 crores. Additionally, these systems may use SMS as a mode of communication. Even if only one SMS is used in the process, then at 20p per SMS it would cost 30 thousand per day for 1.5L households, 90 thousand per month, and 1.08 crores per year. If SMS length crosses 160 characters, then charges are double. Also, the cost adds up if there are more SMS sent in use cases. Importantly, there is a dependency on another third party (Telco) to resolve the function. Third-party integrations should be minimized in system design as much as possible as they create another layer of dependency and failure point, often out of control. When this SMS cost is extrapolated on multiple use cases (say 3 more use cases), we can see the cumulative cost is in multiples of crores a year. Instead, a multi-lingual web page should be hosted in the public domain for quick search. Eventually, enable voice-based search for users to quickly filter. Voice is more democratic. If a user has an app, then allow notifications in the app itself on each action performed on QR, for immediate reporting. We can save most of the overhead cost, by planning digital systems in an integrated way.
Integrated approach
There is a need to have a first principle understanding that “QR would represent a house”. Then repeat as many questions against the above definition.  A household needs:
  1. Garbage collection.
  2. To be marked for vaccination.
  3. To be marked as an emergency contact, such as a specialist doctor or army person.
  4. To be marked by electricity department purposes.
  5. To be marked suspicious for police cases.
  6. To be marked for delivery contacts.
  7. To pay water and house tariffs, and others.
QR must be tagged with additional meta-information to leverage further benefits:
  1. Latitude & Longitude
  2. Geofencing
An integrated system enabled by QR code should decouple functions and should be extendable to onboard increasing use cases. Each additional use case would be plugged into this system. Digital Initiative End-user assets would be
  1. Citizen App -> For personalized information & transaction management
  2. Public domain information -> Creating transparency in system and awareness.
  3. Admin Web -> Manage and augment functions.
This system can be enhanced in a DIY (no code) system where new but common use cases will be enabled by simple drag & drop features, without the need for additional development.
Digital Initiatives
Most of the digital initiatives must enable:
  1. Historical data bookkeeping via Data list.
  2. Provide a quick Search option via multi-level filters on the data list.
  3. Tracking via MIS and charts.
  4. Policies of organization and department.
  5. Alerts to be generated on anomalies or breaches of policies.
  6. Robustness and defined responsibility by integrating roaster, leaves, and attendance.
A digital initiative must not be implemented on a direct case-to-case basis. Vendors solving a particular use case like garbage collection are correct in approach to provide their end-to-end solution but it’s the responsibility of the decision-makers to keep overall perspective. Here, QR will work as a common enabler while other vendors would integrate with generic multi-purpose APIs. Cities are not less than large enterprises where every effort should be made to create reusable digital assets. An integrated approach will not only save a lot of current & incremental costs but also provides easy management, extension and solves future use-cases. Fastcurve is a software engineering firm based in Bengaluru, India. Trusted by global clients for solving complex problems, integrated solutions, and digital initiatives & transformations.

Kumar Saurabh

Building Fastcurve as a leading cloud-based software engineering firm providing services in Digital Initiatives and Transformation Previously built and managed large teams and delivered complex systems at Paytm, Times of India, hCentive, Barclays, and Infosys.

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