India: Android helps Bihar road projects

Bihar has constructed 23,000 km of roads since Nitish Kumar took over as a Chief Minister. Along with other things, this construction has led to a second term for Kumar. To improve upon this, the Bihar government has taken on the help of technology. Construction engineers will be equipped with Android phones and pictures of the construction sites will be taken every two days. This will then be uploaded to a portal from where the construction will be monitored. This will be double-checked with the GPS location of the person who has uploaded the picture, you know, just to be sure that he was actually there. The whole process will help in determining the progress of the project. Two days is a short span to observe the progress of construction projects, especially road projects.
RCD Secretary said an assistant or executive engineer will visit construction sites every two days to take pictures of under-construction roads and upload them on the RCD site. Photos taken using these phones would verify that the pictures have actually been taken at the site of the construction work. Furthermore, to ensure double-compliance, the RCD Secretary will monitor the location of the engineers using Google Maps, another application available on the phone. (MSN)
There are lot of challenges in determining the progress based on pictures alone. The government has picked three roads and eight engineers on a trial basis. If successful, this will be extended to 200 odd engineers and probably all the road projects.
There are three things which come into picture. First is the 3G enabled smartphone. 3G is necessary to do anything like this. Uploading a picture on a 2G network might take ages and immediately discourages the idea.
Then comes the Android. The same objective can be achieved by any other smartphone but the government chose to use the open source mobile software from Google. Close to 50 Android phones are available in India and the cheapest can be bought for Rs. 6,900 ($152). Which phones the Bihar government use is not known. Considering the requirements, they would need a phone with decent camera, probably a 5 megapixel one.
The third thing is the usage of a GPS. Tuk Tuk meter has used GPS to keep a check of the auto-drivers. Now the government is using GPS to keep a tab on its employees. This might sound like installing keyloggers on employees’ machines in an IT organisation. It isn’t.
Bihar has proved that monitoring a road project isn’t an expensive affair. With few simple tricks (GPS enabled smartphone) the solution can be mass-deployed. In fact with the use of technology, the costs associated with many of the government projects can be brought down. At the same time a lot of transparency can be brought in. Would other states will implement this?