Mobile governance in election management and NID services

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M Alamgir Hossain, Master in Governance Studies, DU, District Election Officer, Moulvibazar. Photo: Courtesy

Mobile governance is the administration of the processes and policies that an organization uses to manage mobile device access to an organization’s network or its data. Mobile governance as a part of Good governance in election introduces a new channel for voters interactions with different stakeholders whereby reducing barriers of citizen communication or service providers could carry out interactions easily.

The Bangladesh Government has the vision to develop a Digital Bangladesh where the formation of the national ICT road map, provide ICT facilities to the doorsteps of common people, establish good governance, and expanding network of telecommunication in all parts of the country especially in election management and NID services are very much prerequisites. The rapid development of mobile technologies in the electoral process along with NID cards services insists to deliver government services to citizens in more effective and cheaper ways. Mobile-governance services are designed, based on mobile SMS, tab, IVR system, and interactive application.

Mobile governance performed by EC has made election management and NID services more efficient and dynamic. There are some significant steps for mobile governance in the electoral process.

01). To submit online nomination papers, electoral candidates get OTP from his/her mobile for successful online registration, and then OTP is being used for getting user id and password to complete the whole process. Again if nomination papers are valid after scrutinizing, the returning officer sends a confirmation message to the electoral candidates’ mobile.

02). The commission has launched a mobile phone app for the voters to get the polling station that can be downloaded from this link – https://services.nidw.gov.bd/resources/forms/PollingCenter.apk. One can now get his voter center information on his mobile phone. Voter centres can be obtained through short message service (SMS) on mobile phones. For anywhere in Bangladesh, all he needs to do is type ‘PCNID number’ and send it to ‘105’ to receive his voter center information via a return message.

03). Election officials use tablets connected to mobile for the circumstances reports of concerned vote center or time to time results of instance voting with a view to conducting electoral activities in a more transparent, flexible way.

04). For the purpose of conducting electoral training or other official training, the Electoral training institute sends SMS to participants’ mobile for availing the subject of training and residential facilities.

05). IDEA project has already introduced Interactive Voice Response (IVR) under trial for better mobile communications in this regard.
On the other hand, Election officers’ mobiles are firstly needed to start nid services by using OTP. Hotline or helpline no 105 of EC is also playing a pivotal role in providing NID cards services significantly and successfully. Mobile phone numbers of all data entry operators in the 64 districts of the country have also been given on the website of the NID wing so that the voters can communicate with them for anything necessary for the application. The people are now able to avail the NID services by visiting http://www.nidw.gov.bd/ and by sending an SMS to the hotline number 105. Hotline number 105 is remaining open for service seekers from 9 am to 3 pm on working days.

For the service seekers, Mobile governance under Hotline or Helpline group provides the following services very smoothly.

To provide The right direction for how to become a new voter online on the NID web portal (services.nidw.gov.bd).

2) To inform the latest status or location of the application after becoming a new voter online. Documents required for correction of NID information.

3) To inform the latest status of the amendment application.

4) To inform Guidelines for online NID card retrieval application on NID web portal (services.nidw.gov.bd)

5) Providing information on voter area migration and providing the latest status of the migration.

6) In case of any problem in applying for a new voter or correction online or application for lost card online on NID web portal (services.nidw.gov.bd), informing document uploading/login problem/password forgetting, etc.

07). Informing the various fees for NID Card (Correction / Loss) application. Payment of fees for correction of National Identity (NID) card, collection of duplicate NID, and all other relevant services are now paid through mobile banking.

08). To Inform whether the smart card has been printed and inform the collection process.

09). The Official number of the Thana/Upazila Election Office is provided.

10) To inform the Information on voter status, match-finding problems, fingerprint update issues, etc.

11) From now, as soon as one becomes a new voter, he or she will get the NID number on the mobile number given during the application. No needed to EC office or call 105.

Recommendations: Government moves to administrative reform and commitment to give public services easier and faster is very much required in this regard.

01). Firstly, proper planning, management, transparency, and public participation are required before starting any project of m- governance. Whether there is a change in government, but the project must continue.

02) . Secondly, the government and policymakers need to have a policy-level intervention among the small and big actors involved in the m-governance service.

03). Thirdly, A special and steering committee from an organization may work for mobile technological development. An effective committee (working for using modern technologies in the electoral process) headed by honorable election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, is working in this regards heart and soul. I would like to expect this committee would emphasize more on expanding mobile governance in the total electoral process especially in voter registration, election campaign and other voter educations.

04) Fourthly, more research and development are needed on the innovation of content development (local language text, images, and logics for voters and electoral candidates) for better understandability.

05) Need to fortify effective guidelines and enriched network systems.

M Alamgir Hossain, Master in Governance Studies, DU, District Election Officer, Moulvibazar.