Information kiosk providers Ethinx Infocom have tied up with HCL to provide hardware support in setting up information kiosks called ‘Mahiti Ghars’ across Goa. For the first stage of the project the main PC’s will be supplied by HCL. However, discussions are ongoing with Simputer to provide customized touch screens and hand-held devices for future applications.
Ethinx will reassess the vendor tie-ups before embarking on the second phase of the project.
“Ethinx was in talks with vendors like IBM and Wipro but finalized on HCL. This was mainly because of the high level of interest shown by HCL in the project. They were very competitive in their approach,” said Zahid Shroff, Director, Ethinx Infocom.
Ethinx and the Government of Goa have partnered to set up 30 Mahiti Ghars across the State. These new Mahiti Ghars will provide an array of e-governance services through the WAN, GoaNET. Some of the services included are land records, driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, birth and death certificates, grievances and bill payments.
“Discussions are ongoing and we look forward to working with BSNL and the Electricity department to expand their customer service centers through the region, via Mahiti Ghar. The essence of the Mahiti Ghar network lay in the setting up of the WAN, GoaNET. Inaugurating GoaNET on May 30, 2003 has opened the doors for the full-fledged expansion of Mahiti Ghar,” added
As of today, 11 Mahiti Ghars are completed or nearing completion and the rest 19, will be completed by the end of this next quarter. Each Mahiti Ghar, will be equipped with at least two workstations, expandable to nine. This would give us a total network of 270 workstations.
Ethinx has also tied up with NIC for networking and BSNL for connectivity. All the networking for the initial part of the project will be handled by NIC. At the same time, as Ethinx is looking out for a networking partner to provide the necessary support and hardware and also in servicing BPO outfits. This is mainly because Ethinx has plans of using Mahiti Ghar as an ITES/BPO/Call Center facility during the night time.
On the expansion of Mahiti Ghars outside Goa, Shroff stated, “Once we establish a model programme in the state of Goa, we will look to leverage that experience and expertise to introduce Mahiti Ghars to the western region of India. A government that wants to ease the burden on the Citizens and masses would be an ideal partner for us to bring this model to their State.
Shroff also looked at seeking to work with vendors who wish to sell and distribute their products through network via electronic catalogues. ”We will facilitate sales and transactions as the customers place their orders electronically through our network receiving delivery of their goods through their nearest Mahiti Ghar. Simultaneously, it will allow the consumer to be more confident about his ‘e-commerce’ transaction, as he will have a Mahiti Ghar, instead of a ‘faceless website’ to go to in case his order needs any adjustments. Currently, we are undergoing discussions with experienced Venture Capitalists. Some thoughts regarding future expansion and promotion may include, franchising as well.”