The project will involve sourcing for low-cost tablets and development of apps. Postmen can use these tablets to enter data such as digital signatures and delivery reports, and the department can use this data and special apps to update its databases in real time, cutting down errors and increasing efficiency.
This initiative is the next phase of ‘India Post 2012’, an INR 1877.2 crore (US$340 million) postal modernisation programme launched in 2010 that aims at “transforming the Department of Post into a technology-enabled, self-reliant market leader”.
India Post 2012 has two main focus areas: enterprise-wide IT induction, which includes development of rural ICT solutions and integration of IT services into Postal Banking and Postal Life Insurance, and modernisation of mail processing, which includes automation of mail sorting and mail network optimisation.
The department has already launched initiatives in these areas. In August 2012, the department granted a INR 700 crore (USD$126.8 million) contract to IT firm Infosys to enhance and modernise India Post financial services across 150,000 post offices in the country. The project will help the department transform its banking and insurance operations, which are currently used by 200 million customers, especially in rural areas.
The department will be provided with 1000 ATMs across the country to facilitate banking, and an electronic Content Management System to manage the massive number of documents generated everyday. 35,000 India Post employees will be trained to use the new solutions and platforms effectively. The project also includes the setting up of alternative service delivery channels such as internet and mobile banking.
“This transformational programme is expected to enhance our offerings and bring us on par with the best banking companies, and will help us expand our reach and the effectiveness of our services,” said A. S. Prasad, Deputy Director-General of Financial Services, India Post.
India Post has partnered with state-run telecom company BSNL to provide money remittance services using mobile phones. Under this scheme, when a person sends money through a post office, the receiver and the destination post office will both receive text messages with details about the transaction. The recipient can get cash from the authorised post office by showing the text message.
The postal department has also made headway in its second focus area of mail processing modernisation. The department enhanced its Automated Mail Processing Centre (AMPC) in New Delhi with a computerised sorting system that has the capacity to sort up to 55,000 items per hour. This system reads bar code or manually-written addresses on letters line-by-line using an integrated reading and video coding machine (IVR), and sorts mail accordingly. This technology is expected to significantly enhance efficiency and productivity by reducing processing time and errors. In the initial phase of this project, a massive data collection exercise was conducted that integrated more than 65,000 addressees of cities, towns and villages into a mail processing unit at the AMPC.
Pic: A. S. Prasad, Deputy Director-General of Financial Services, India Post