Onmanorama Explains | What’s K-SMART, Kerala’s brand new e-governance tool

Photo courtesy: Website/Govt of Kerala

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is set to inaugurate K-SMART (Kerala Solution for Managing Administrative Reformation and Transformation), a digital platform which provides the public timely access to services from local self government institutions across the state without ever visiting those offices.

K-SMART replaces the current myriad software with a single web portal and a mobile application. The platform proposes a seamless transition from the Integrated Local Governance Management System (ILGMS) being used in grama panchayats now. In that sense, K-SMART can also be dubbed as the second version of ILGMS. K-SMART has been developed for the local self-government institution by the Information Kerala Mission (IKM), which is an autonomous institution under the Local Self-Government Department.

How can K-SMART be beneficial for the common people?
Citizens will be able to submit applications/complaints and get status updates digitally. K-SMART has been embedded with an integrated messaging system that facilitates the delivery of acknowledgement receipts through the login ID of the applicant/complainant, WhatsApp and email. The same service can be accessed via Akshaya centers, Kudumbashree helpdesks and other citizen services centres at a nominal fee. To make this possible, a unified legal and procedural system will be implemented in all local self-government institutions.

The government claims that K-SMART will eliminate middlemen in service delivery. Citizens can access the services through a mobile/web application and a web portal. Since the platform supports video call-enabled Know Your Customer (KYC) feature, there will be no need for any other introduction or affidavits.

What are K-SMART modules?
The functioning of local bodies and services available from them are divided into 35 modules, which can be accessed by the public through the single online platform of K-SMART. Citizens can login to the web portal using individual login ids, access the respective modules and get delivery of the requisite service by providing the required details. Modules have been split based on the nature of the services and the procedures involved.

In the first phase, eight modules will be included in K-SMART:

  1. Civil Registration (birth-death-marriage registration)
  2. Business Facilitation (licenses for trade and industries)
  3. Property Tax
  4. User Management
  5. File Management System
  6. Finance Module
  7. Building and Permission Module
  8. Public Complaint Grievances

Key features of K-SMART
Know your land
The 'Know Your Land' feature in K-SMART enables the public to gain a clear idea about the kinds of constructions permissible in a particular area. The software automatically verifies that the submitted plans comply with regulations, thus simplifying field inspections and expediting the process of obtaining construction permits. K-SMART also facilitates online verification of permits by both the public and licensees at any time. A visit to the plot and scanning the area using the K-SMART application will help to evaluate whether the plot falls within the coastal regulation zone, railway/airport zones, or environmentally fragile area. The app also provides details such as the permissible height of the structure and the mandatory setback in meters. This is the first time in the country that such details are being made available to the public using spatial data under a government system.

Mass petition
In a first-of-its-kind initiative anywhere in the country, K-SMART will facilitate online mass petitioning by the public. Although a provision is now available for submitting a joint petition, this is the first time that a provision for mass petition has been introduced. Under this provision, a person will be able to share a petition prepared by him/her with more people in the form of a deep link. People can become part of that petition by simply clicking on the link. When the petition is received at the local body concerned, the exact number of petitioners will be shown. The status of the petition and details about further action taken on it will be delivered to each petitioner individually through a dedicated messaging system.

Online marriage registration
Under K-SMART, registration of marriage can be applied for and completed from anywhere in the world. This feature is in tune with the High Court verdict that a marriage under the Special Marriage Act can be registered online. Another highlight of the feature is that the wife and husband can complete the registration from two different destinations. This will be highly helpful to expatriates.

Digital building plan mapping

Although there have been previous efforts in the country to implement digital building plan mapping, Kerala will be the first state to successfully implement it. K-SMART facilitates the expedited issuance of building permits to the public by digitally preparing information on plots and buildings using GIS technology, ensuring a swift and efficient process.

How K-SMART will benefit NRIs?
With the advent of K-SMART, expatriates can access services from local self-government institutions remotely. They can complete formalities like registration of marriages from abroad by logging in using their login IDs and completing video KYC.

How privacy is safeguarded in K-SMART?

K-SMART attaches utmost sanctity to personal details provided by individuals to local self-government institutions. Hence, the platform ensures a foolproof system to protect the privacy of users. Local bodies alone will have permission to use these details. These details can be used for generating reports alone but cannot be transferred to third parties.

How does K-SMART differ from the existing digital services?
The uniform nature of the service sets K-SMART apart from other digital services. All the services of local self-government institutions become accessible from a single platform. This will benefit both the officials and the public alike. Officials of the local bodies will be able to complete the entire procedure through a single login. If need be, they will be able to make decisions on files even when they are not at the office or while traveling. Since every official works on a file using her separate login, the efficiency of their work will be recorded accurately. Officials not up to the mark can also be singled out enabling office supervisors to take corrective measures.

How digitally illiterate citizens can access K-SMART?
Citizens without computer literacy can still submit applications and complaints using their own logins with the help of another person. They can also depend on Akshaya centres, Kudumbashree helpdesks and other similar citizen service providers. They can access the services concerned from the same centres on payment of a nominal fee without going to the concerned offices.

Complaints and Redressal
Complaints and memorandums can also be submitted online through K-SMART. Monitoring is also made easier since the status of the complaints is made available real time. This will facilitate efficient, transparent and time-bound complaint redressal mechanism. Measures taken on complaints will also have uniformity and hence more transparent.

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