The Community Information Centre (well known as CIC) Project has been implemented on pilot basis in 30 blocks of the North Eastern states and Sikkim in India. State wise list of blocks for Pilot implementation is given below and the main project was inaugurated on 17th August 2002 with the dedication of 457 CICs to the people of the North-East India by Hon'ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Pramod Mahajan in Guwahati.
In view of the successful implementation of the CIC Project in the North Eastern States it was decided to extend the same to other parts of the country. The first state to be taken up was the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This was because the barriers for access to ICT, such as difficult geographical terrain and lack of infrastructure which were found in the North Eastern states were also an issue for Jammu and Kashmir. It was felt that the basic needs of citizens such as information, education, entertainment and health services can be addressed through the establishment of Community Information Centres in the state. These centres would serve as a platform for e-governance, e-learning and other IT enabled services in the state.
Each Centre is equipped with one server machine, five client systems, one each of a VSAT, Laser Printer, Dot Matrix Printer, modem, LAN hub, TV, Webcam and two UPS (1KVA, 2 KVA). At each CIC there are two CIC operators (CICOs) who manage the centers and providing services to the public. CIC operators in all states have been trained on networking equipment and software applications available at their sites.
The project is a joint effort by Department of Information Technology (DIT) under Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the State Governments of the North-Eastern states.
DIT has funded the project and has the responsibility of overall monitoring and management. NIC is the Implementation agency. Application Software development and Training of CIC Operators are a part of NIC’s responsibilities. The State Governments were entrusted with the mandate of site selection, preparation and maintenance, manpower recruitment and identification and creation of content for various services/applications to be delivered through the CICs.
In addition to the CIC Cell at DIT and the CIC group at NIC Headquarters, the project has been executed with the contribution of NIC’s State Informatics Officers (SIOs) and District Informatics Officers (DIOs) who have liaised with the state government authorities and the vendors delivering and installing the equipment at the CICs. Eight State coordinators have been appointed at NIC Headquarters to facilitate implementation at the local and central levels.
The CIC group at NIC, New Delhi has developed a comprehensive information system for the CICs wherein every aspect of the progress of the project is remotely monitored. The delivery, installation and operation status of all hardware and software is logged into this site by the SIOs and CIC Operators themselves, including post-installation malfunction of machines and applications.
The CIC group holds review meetings, twice a week, over Video Conference, with the SIOs of the North-Eastern states, vendor representatives both in Delhi and in Guwahati and Calcutta, State Coordinators and officers from other NIC divisions associated with the project such as the SATCOM division. Chat sessions are held everyday between staff from CIC group and SATCOM division at Headquarters and the CIC Operators at remote sites for troubleshooting. A Visual Monitoring system is in place whereby CICOs can send images captured with the Web Cameras to Delhi for attendance and general observation. TVs have been provided at each site to disseminate educational programmes through Doordarshan and IGNOU in addition to general entertainment which is anticipated to attract visitors to the CICs.
The establishment of the CICs has been an arduous and very challenging task.
Basic services to be provided by CICs include Internet Access and E-mail, Printing, Data entry and Word processing and Training for the local populace. In addition, several citizen-centric or Government to Citizen(G2C) services are to be delivered from the CICs. Some such services are
The number of visitors varies between 20 to 100 a week depending on location of CIC. Many CICs report over 150 visitors/week.
Training of the local population on the fundamentals of using computers and the imparting of basic working knowledge is a major activity in the Community Information Centres.
Many of the CICs, already operational, charge nominal amounts from users for services which helps them to meet day-to-day running expenses such as consumables, stationery, fuel for the Genset etc.
DIT/NIC will continue to provide manpower support to the CICs for five years and NIC will provide technical and maintenance support for this period. DIT/NIC will continue to provide satellite connectivity after five years. The Community Information Centres will then be handed over to the respective state governments. The state governments are required to evolve a viable business model to make the CICs self-sustaining during these five years. The private sector may collaborate with government for effective service delivery.
Substantive revenue generation has been achieved by many CICs such as Golaghat, Assam and Gangtok, Sikkim which pays the salaries of the operators from this revenue.
It is proposed to use the Community Information Centres for E-edutainment in the future. A select bouquet of channels could be telecast through the VSAT based network as TVs with other associated infrastructure is already available at the CICs. Other future prospects are the provision of connectivity to Schools,Hospitals and Post Offices in major habitats.