Bhutan goes for Google Apps

The Prime Minister of Bhutan graced the launch of the Google Apps, coinciding with Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen’s birth anniversary, and the World Environment Day on Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s Office, Thimphu.

The initiative is an approach towards e-government master plan of Department of Information Technology & Telecom (DITT), Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC).

The Google Apps is a cloud- based suite applications which will promote a paperless working environment and a secure email system for official correspondence. It will also allow for a working collaboration across the whole of the government.

The press release from MoIC says, “The government faces significant limitation of resources, both financial and human expertise and, therefore, identified this cloud-based solution as the most appropriate and pragmatic option to start with.”

During the launch, the Minister of Information and Communications, Lyonpo D.N Dhungyel said there were debates on the need for such an application, but the ministry has gathered various view from different sectors and societies and found the need of it and assured that the apps pros will outweigh the cons.

“We wanted to make sure that what we are doing today is right, not only for the day, not only for tomorrow, but for the future,” he adds.

“Safety is guaranteed, what may not be guaranteed is the deployment, how well people know about the service,” the PM said.

The PM added that email identity is secured as it cannot be hacked, other than that the spam filter is very strong and Google Apps allow one to save and share documents which will be accessible through the electronic devices.

The PM added that with the success of the first phase of the introduction of the Google Apps, the government will decide to introduce the Apps at the national level and in the private sector.

The Head of Google Enterprise Asia, Ricky Kapur said, “We are delighted to be supporting Bhutan in its broader effort to digitize the country. By moving to the cloud,

Bhutan joins government and educational organizations around the world, who have found a more efficient, collaborative and secure way of working and learning with Google tools. It’s incredible to observe Bhutan’s rapid evolution as it preserves ancient traditions while embracing technology as a way forward and we are honored to be a part of it.”

As per the government directives, DITT, MoIC is to start deploying email ID for 5,000 priority users of Google Apps in the government at a cost of Nu 9 mn (USD $150,000) per year, while Google commits to provide the service free of cost for all students, teachers and education officials.

The press release from the ministry states this will contribute to government’s net savings as it will greatly reduce the need for equipment and travel over time, and other administrative burden eased by increased efficiency.

The MoIC plans to roll out the users in a phased manner. To grasp the challenges and minimize the risk of implementation, the Google Apps will be piloted in the MoIC and the National Land Commission for a month from June 2 this year. After the pilot testing, the ministry plans to conduct a comprehensive training with most of ICT professionals in the government for one month.

The ministry will also identify people who are keen to use the new platform and help in the transitioning phase for a month. In the final phase, the ministry plans to begin training for the remaining users.

One of the e-mail features of the Google Apps is that all branches of government and civil servants can work with the assurance that emails can be sent and received reliably and safely. Publishing Apps (docs/ sheets/slides) will create a platform to work together. The Calendar will allow proper timing for coordinating meetings for all stakeholders to come together.

The Google cloud storage (drive) enables documents to get access through smart phones, computers, etc. The Google Apps also have other features, whereby officials can share contacts, develop websites and hold video conferences.

The website www.lesspaper.gov.bt shows all the details on the application.

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