In line with its smart cities programme to improve the urban amenities, the Centre has issued draft requirements for under its Digital Village initiative, which would look at providing services such as tele-medicine, tele-education and wi-fi hotspots across 100 villages in its pilot phase.
“Digital Village pilot intends to provide a platform for availability of services such as tele medicine, tele education, LED street lighting, wi-fi hotspot and skill development to the people at the gram panchayat level in select blocks across various states and union territories. This project moves away from the traditional approach of e-Governance projects (that focused on creating infrastructure) and adopts a service based approach for pilot of the Digital Village,” according to a communication issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Under the first requirement of tele-medicine, a group of rural schools is proposed to be parented by a lead school. “The lead school shall be a government school reputed for quality education delivery at block, district or state/UT level. However, the lead school can also be private school, but this will require the approval from the respective state/UT government,” according to the specifications submitted to MeitY by the National Institute of Smart Government.
Furthermore, each of these tele-education classrooms are proposed to be equipped with a video-conferencing facility. “The local teacher (where ever available) at rural school shall assist the lead school teacher in carrying out tele education sessions. The subjects, syllabus etc. to be taught over the tele-education classroom shall be decided by the concerned states/UTs,” the draft document said.
For implementation of the tele-education services empanelment of agencies would be done at the central level and the states would select the agencies from these panels. To ensure connectivity at most times in the schools, service providers responsible for the connections would be penalised up to 10 per cent of the monthly or quarterly billed amount for a particular location.
Under the tele-medicine service, a group of three Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in the pilot block are proposed to be parented by a lead hospital. Each of the PHC would have tele-medicine solution which will include medical diagnostics kit, video conferencing kit/inbuilt system for medical consultation sessions, and other IT devices/peripherals. Tele-medicine solution along with the medical kit will be used by medical/paramedical staff at PHC to provide the vital medical data of the patient to the doctor at lead hospital who would provide the medical consultancy.
States and union territories would also select the agencies for implementing the tele-medicine service in the identified pilot block. The selected agency will implement the pilot of Digital Village. For the tele-medicine services as well, the draft document has proposed penalties for lack of connectivity. However, the penalties in this case are more severe with no payment of bills if the connectivity during a said period is less than 75 per cent.