How Government Projects Are Being Monitored by Apps

 

We all get happy whenever we hear any news about our government launching any new development projects in any sectors, such as health and education. But, many projects do not meet the deadline and get delayed by several months or even years. At the same time, there are cases where particular government initiatives failed because of inconsistent operations.

So, several governments across the world (and in India) have started capitalizing the advantage of technology to ensure better administration and monitoring of projects. One such technology is mobility. There are many intuitive mobile apps out there which help governments monitor their projects and this article will provide a list of examples of such mobile apps.

The idea is to help you think along these lines and come up with app concepts that can prove useful for different government projects or initiatives. Read on.

Tracking Teacher Attendance

The quality of education being imparted in government schools depends a lot on the work discipline maintained by the teachers, as the students are likely to follow them. So, in a bid to ensure that government teachers are regular in their schools, the Madhya Pradesh state government in India has implemented the practise of e-attendance, a GPS-based Android app.

It tracks the attendance of teachers in schools across Madhya Pradesh to ensure that no teacher can simply sign in on the attendance sheet, indicating he or she was present on days when he or she was actually absent from school. Such an app is used by the Madhya Pradesh government to accept attendance registrations and even leave applications from teachers.

Access to Comprehensive Healthcare Information

It is difficult to trace the vaccination records of kids or normal medical records of patients before any doctor visits. A mobile app (for Android and iOS) named HAAD (Health Authority Abu Dhabi) caters to the community of healthcare professionals and general public in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

For the general public, HAAD shares drug information, details of doctor appointment and related reminders, data about licensed doctors, pharmacies and hospitals, etc. It also allows them to register for m-patient and check medical records, as well as use medical calculators for checking BMI levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

Healthcare professionals can login to this app and get certificates, book relevant exams, and transfer / cancel licenses within Abu Dhabi.

Tracing Services Offered by MOI, UAE

The Ministry of Interior in UAE offers a range of services across major sectors like Traffic & Licensing, Police, Civil Defense, Residency, etc. It has come up with a mobile application (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry) named MOI UAE that provides news about MOI, UAE, apart from sharing details about service center locations. As part of its major smartphone services, the MOI UAE app covers the following:

  • Vehicles registration, plates services, traffic fines, drivers test services (under Traffic and Licensing)
  • Engineering plans and institutions licensing (under Civil Defense)
  • Police services (under Police Headquarters)
  • Entry visa services, entry permits services, residency & foreign affairs (under Naturalization and Residency)

Tracking the Rural Employment Project

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) project in the Indian state of Bihar was initiated to provide 100 days of wage-employment in a year to a rural household. However, monitoring this project and different schemes that fall under it is difficult because of the remote location of the villages and poor connectivity.

The Bizframe mobile inspector app thus allows officers to conduct construction inspections, provide daily work reports, send photographs of workers, and more all from their locations over the app. So, with this Android-powered app, the different project officers can save time that would otherwise have been spent in related clerical and reporting work, apart from traveling on a daily basis.

Monitoring the Status of the Highway Projects

For the road transport sector, the construction of highways is a critical activity in a developing nation like India. Yet, it is not a simple task to monitor these construction activities with regard to the use of funds or real-time status updates due to the involvement of multiple agencies. So, the Indian Union government has come up with online apps, including ePACE and Infracon, to increase the efficiency of such highway projects and to reduce the chances of corruption.

For example, ePace has a GIS interface for the geo-tracking of projects, while Infracon is aimed at facilitating communication between domain experts or personnel and road engineering or construction consultancy agencies for effective project supervision.

In a nutshell, the trend rising in many countries is for governments to keep an eye on their projects through effective monitoring achieved by using different types of mobile apps. So, if you are planning to develop some apps or get them developed from a third-party mobile app company, the time is ripe to think of an app idea that can be useful for your government’s projects. Not only will it give you a chance to give something back to your community, but it also gives you the opportunity to become famous if your mobile app idea is implemented at a national level.

So, what are you waiting for? Start thinking about mobile app ideas that can aid your government’s schemes or initiatives. Feel free to share your feedback or queries related to such mobile apps in the comments section below.

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Five Dubai-Based Mobile App Startups Disrupting Their Industries.

In the last decade or so, Dubai has seen tremendous growth in the IT sector, even more so than all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. With a dip in oil prices over the last few years, the government and private sector of Dubai have diversified by turning this region into a space for technological innovations. And, with the increased use of smart devices and the internet, mobile apps have fast become a necessity instead of just a luxury.

So, a lot of entrepreneurs have initiated tech startups in Dubai to access the emerging markets and there is considerable support offered by the government and semi-government institutions that represent a variety of sectors, including health, education, and renewable energy.

The push towards making Dubai citizens dependent on mobile apps for a large demographic has been such that almost every other tech startup focuses on having an app to resolve a gap that exists in the market.

In this article, we look at some of the top mobile app startups and their corresponding apps that have influenced the different industries in Dubai.

  1. Bridg

Bridg is a consumer to merchant mobile payment platform empowered by bluetooth technology. Its Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity allows merchants to charge a customer’s mobile phone without any data connection. This mobile app is the creation of the Dubai-based startup Bridg Payment Solutions which was kickstarted to enter the mobile banking space and offer innovative alternatives to traditional banks.

The startup realized that, although Dubai enjoys an extremely high smartphone penetration rate, many of the consumers, especially those belonging to the lower income bracket, rarely use these smart devices connected over a network. Instead, they rely heavily on a WiFi connection and so there is less scope to leverage the power of mobile banking. Bridg aimed to fill this gap by using bluetooth technology to make payments using its app.

In 2016, Bridg took the top position at the Dubai Temenos Fintech Innovation Jam. With this kind of financial technology empowerment, Bridg Payment Solutions have succeeded in disrupting Dubai’s financial services sector.

  1. Careem

This multinational transport network company was founded in 2012 and has been able to expand to over 26 cities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as Pakistan. It started its operations as an app-based chauffeur driver car booking service company in Dubai (where its headquarters are located). And, when the company was launched, it only had website-based car booking services for corporates, but it later targeted individuals with its mobile app versions.

Users simply have to download the Careem Android app or Careem iOS app and start booking a ride. The bookings can be made for immediate pickups or even for a scheduled date and time.

Clearly, the Careem mobile apps have made the lives of the people in Dubai a lot easier by allowing them to book a cab quickly with the tap of their fingers. More importantly, the apps are also linked to mobile payments which means that users have the liberty of making cashless transactions.

  1. Dubai Health Authority

This may be a government organization in Dubai, but it has initiated an array of health-based mobile apps for Android and iOS in the last few years to aid the people of Dubai with regard to healthcare and medicine.

For example, the Dubai Doctors app offers users the ability to search for healthcare professionals and facilities in Dubai. Another app named Tifli is aimed at expectant parents (mostly pregnant women) by offering them relevant information related to pregnancy, motherhood, and so on.

With the continuous introduction of such mobile apps, the Dubai Health Authority has indeed had a major technological impact on the Dubai healthcare industry.

  1. Souq.com

Souq.com is rightly touted as the Amazon of the Middle East, since it serves as an online marketplace for the majority of the consumer needs across a wide range of product categories. It was launched in 2005 as an auction site which was eventually converted to an online shopping model in 2011.

This ecommerce company realized that more citizens of Dubai (and even of other countries where Souq exists) can easily be captured by making the online marketplace shopping experience available in the form of apps. This led to the emergence of the Souq.com mobile apps for the Android, iOS, and Windows platforms. Now, all Dubai citizens using a mobile phone think about the Souq app whenever they have to buy a product.

  1. Dubizzle

This is one of the topmost classified listing portals. It was kickstarted in 2005 and eventually came up with the Android and iOS mobile apps to make it easier for the people living in Dubai to buy, sell or search for anything in their community online. Users can buy a home, sell a car or even search for a job vacancy by using the mobile apps designed for the United Arab Emirates.

Dubizzle is an OLX company, offering services in a number of countries across different continents. It also helps users get demand for underused goods and buy or sell the same without any “middlemen”.

The idea behind presenting the above examples of some of the best mobile apps and related startup companies in Dubai is to drive home the point that mobile apps are being used comprehensively in Dubai. And, with attempts being made to make Dubai the Silicon Valley of the Middle East, the number of app-based startups will increase further in the future.

What do you make of this mobile app revolution in Dubai? Leave your comments below.

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With UPIs, Who Needs a Mobile Wallet?

Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, led a demonetisation initiative in India which has been popularly considered a bold move. Without discussing whether it is positive or negative for India, we know that the aim is to become a cashless economy.

The immediate impact of going cashless could lead to significant changes to the way Indians carry out monetary transactions. And, there is a great possibility that we could see an extensive use of mobile wallets, debit cards, and credit cards in the short term. However, will such usage sustain over a long period of time or will a different payment method be invented that will be at the forefront of a cashless India?

Currently, bank customers who intend to send or receive money need to share their bank IFSC code which, in turn, reveals their account details. In order to avoid any misuse of such data as well as to leverage the considerably high degree of smartphone penetration (projected to rise from 150 million to 500 million in the next few years), a new payment system and interface have been designed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). This has led to the introduction of a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) app which could be a potential game changer in the world of mobile banking. For starters, UPIs are expected to make Indians’ lives easier by providing a single payment interface across all segments.

So, what is a UPI and how is it different from the existing payment methods used by bank customers?

Let us take an in-depth look at a UPI app, its key features, and the value differentiators that will help India move towards a more cashless model.

UPI Overview

A UPI is an API protocol designed or developed by the NPCI for interoperable payments in India. UPI servers are seamless payment mechanisms that empower banking customers to initiate payment requests (send and receive money) by only using a smartphone in real time without any debit or credit cards or internet banking. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) helped to launch this advanced version of Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) to allow Indians to carry out fund transfers round the clock.

At the rate at which mobile banking is being embraced by the Indian people, such a UPI app will be able to help banks reach out to a massive audience which even their numerous branches are unable to achieve. You can expect UPIs to bring about a revolution similar to the one witnessed when ATMs were first introduced a couple of decades ago.

How It Works

A UPI uses a virtual address as a payment identifier (and no bank account details) to send and receive money from a smartphone user. A customer simply has to “pay to” or “collect from” a “payment address”, such as a mobile number, Aadhar card number, virtual payment address or RuPay card, with a single click. It allows full interoperability across all identifiers (payment address options).

The payments can either be initiated by the payer (sender) or the payee (receiver) and is carried out in a secure and integrated manner. The virtual address is unique to each user and his or her personal account, while banking details will be kept hidden.

Also, the monetary transaction will be authenticated at two levels (one-click, two-factor authentication). So, the user’s mobile phone will have a mobile PIN (labelled MPIN) and a virtual identifier, both given by the provider. When the user clicks to send money, a check is performed to match the mobile PIN with the virtual address and only when the match is successful will the transaction go through.

Example

Let us consider the following example.

X has an account with ABC bank. The bank will provide him with an email-like virtual address (X@abc). X can have multiple addresses for multiple accounts across different banks. His virtual address will also be mapped to his mobile phone.

When X is at a payment counter in a mall or supermarket, he will simply share his virtual address with the person (Y) who is collecting the payment. Y will enter X’s virtual address in his system which will trigger an authentication message that is sent to X’s mobile phone.

X will enter a password to acknowledge the payment initiation and the transaction will be completed with a debit from X’s bank account.

Core Features of a UPI

  • Virtual payment addresses
  • One-click, two-factor authentication
  • Aadhaar integration
  • Secure credential capture via the payer’s smartphone

UPI – A Notch Above Mobile Wallets

With this technological advancement, a user will simply need a smartphone and the UPI app to make instant online payments:

  • To someone (over the counter) at a merchant’s establishment
  • During online shopping
  • While paying utility bills or school fees
  • When using app-based cab services

When you think about it, we have been using mobile wallets to transfer money from our bank accounts or credit cards to our wallets for years. Now, you simply make the payments to the receiver’s wallet, who must either transfer the money to his or her bank account or use the same for any relevant payments. This cashless payment method is so much easier.

UPIs will also enable us to cut the process short and ensure that we send money directly to the receiver’s bank account with a few simple taps on our smart devices. Additionally, it can execute all the functions of a debit card as well as internet banking in a more secured environment.

While UPIs have emerged with the support from the RBI and Indian Banks Association (IBA), most of the existing mobile wallets that are being used extensively by many do not have payment bank licences and have been attempting to partner with banks for a long time. However, mobile wallets have been valuable for Indians who do not have bank accounts by enabling them to transfer funds even to remote rural areas. And, the emergence of UPIs is likely to empower state-owned banks to tap into this market as well.

The use of virtual addresses with UPIs also helps to ensure privacy of customer data. Additionally, the virtual addresses can be temporary, limited to only specific payees or a particular amount or even available for a one-time use. The payment service providers implement the liberty to use multiple virtual addresses and attach a variety of authentication rules for the same. Thus, the users are assured of high security levels without any compromise on convenience, while handling the UPI app.

Most of the features discussed above provide an edge for the UPI app over mobile wallets and debit or credit cards. UPIs could play a major role in the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity and help us move closer to a digital society.

What do you think about UPIs? Feel free to share your feedback and queries (if any) in the comments section below.

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Virtual Reality Apps for Real Estate

virtual-reality-real-estate

The real estate industry is one of the few ones where a potential customer may not always get to see the final product before making the purchase decision.

For example, if a person intends to purchase a new property, he or she is more likely to invest early when the building or space is still under construction to get a better deal. But, when the construction is still ongoing, the consumer can only see the sample apartment or office space and envision what his or her own property will look like!

So, imagine a situation where the buyer simply has to wear a headset to get a virtual experience of standing right inside his or her future home or office space. Would this not be a great feature to have that would make it relatively easy for the consumer to relate better to the space being bought?

Clearly, the need of the hour is for real estate buyers to get a personalized, virtual viewing experience of the property, without even being present at the location. This is where Virtual Reality (VR) technology is already making a difference and is likely to transform the way real estate companies target potential buyers!

It is normal for such companies to prepare a video presentation of how the property (building, offices or apartments) will look in the future for their prospects. However, VR apps can empower you to showcase things that are even closer to reality.

So, in this article, we take a look at the numerous ways in which VR apps can be useful for realtors.

Going the Ecommerce Way

The availability of a variety of smart devices and a good internet connection has revolutionized the way people shop online for clothes, electronics, groceries, and more. It has helped consumers do shopping on the move or even from the comfort of their own homes and, thereby, save plenty of time.

The same cannot always be true with real estate since there is no “product return” option once a property has been purchased and the sums being spent is quite big. Also, a current challenge for realtors is that consumers will not shop online without first visiting multiple venues.

However, VR apps can transport your consumers to their future homes and give them the ability to check out every room, before deciding to purchase the property. So, there will be far fewer last minute surprises once the end consumer moves in, as he or she would already have seen most of the property through the VR headset (at the time of buying).

And, even though the potential purchaser might still wish to visit the property physically first, VR apps will surely limit the physical visits to different sites.

Also, with real estate, people can invest money in one country, even while they continue living in another. For such consumers, VR can be a boon as well. It will allow them to shortlist the properties (through an almost real property viewing experience) while in their own countries and finalize the deal with only one physical visit to the actual real estate location.

Thus, VR will play a significant role in making real estate shopping as close to the ecommerce model (for retailers) as possible, where the customers will be confident in shopping online without much hesitation.

Providing Extremely Detailed Visual Projections or Illustrations

A major difference that VR will bring to the real estate industry is the ability to view complete mock-up designs in 3D, instead of the usual 2D viewing.

VR will also save time for the real estate agents. Buyers often want to view the property at different times of the day. But, the virtual experience will allow the agents to change the time as they wish and the customers can thus observe the property during the day and at night in one go. In this way, a potential purchaser can decide upon the lighting requirements for a property in advance.

VR also equips prospective real estate buyers with the ability to take a virtual walk through every street or block in the neighborhood in which they are purchasing a property. This eliminates the need for the extra efforts of using Google Maps or Google Earth.

Offering More Value

The main benefit of VR technology is that it could provide realtors an edge over their competitors who are yet to embrace the same. This can only be achieved by building a strong connection with the clients and offering them more value.

It is a common practise today for home buyers to wait for possession of their home before planning the interiors and furniture. But, since VR apps provide almost life-like simulations, the prospects will be able to explore the internal amenities of the property, open the doors to different rooms, and even rearrange the furniture to see what suits their new home best. Such possibilities will help consumers save time and start the planning process earlier.

More importantly, the prospective buyers will be able to try out different colours, types of furniture, and so on for their home with complete ease. They will even be able to envision an exact replica of the actual space and of the interior design that will be done later.

Once a realtor starts offering such additional technology-aided services, the consumer base will start demanding the same from the rival companies as well. Those who started the trend then stand a great chance of getting the early bird advantage that could effectively lead to long-term clients.

Helping the Contractors

A key aspect of VR technology is that it can help a great deal during the planning phase itself, not just for the buyers, but also for the contractors. It can demonstrate construction and renovation plans accurately, which will go a long way in helping the contractors estimate the budget and resources needed.

It can be said that VR has tremendous potential to revolutionize the real estate industry by providing opportunities for virtual on-site visits as well as interactive campaigns. It also offers a great way for investors and buyers to save time and view more options before making that all-important purchase decision. Are you ready to provide such a realistic experience in the virtual world for your consumers?

Kindly share your feedback and opinion about how you foresee VR making an impact on the real estate industry. Also, feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below.

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Virtual Reality Apps For Ecommerce

e-commerce-virtual-reality

The ecommerce industry has seen massive transformations since its inception. For example, just when the end users were getting used to the idea of shopping online, the concept of ecommerce mobile apps started emerging. Now, many ecommerce retailers offer their products on a website as well as on a mobile app, while some have gone the “app only” route.

But, that’s just the beginning; technology keeps evolving and so does the digital retail scene. Online shopping companies need to look out for new innovative ways to engage their target customers. It is for this reason that you need to consider how Virtual Reality (VR) and the related apps can help you provide an enhanced and immersive experience to your consumers.

It will take time for VR ecommerce to evolve fully. But, those wishing to stay ahead of their competitors by adopting VR technology early should start understanding the ways in which it can help them provide a better buying experience to online shoppers.

So, in this article, we identify the ways in which VR apps can prove useful to ecommerce companies.

Closer to Reality

Many consumers prefer shopping via online sites or apps because they are convenient and save time. They also offer more possibilities to get discounted rates through cashback offers as well as coupons or vouchers.

However, many other people still do not shop online because they prefer the real experience of in-store shopping.

But, what if you could take your consumers to a totally different space in reality from the online medium? Well, that’s the power of VR apps.

VR technology can allow consumers to enter virtual stores by using the VR headsets. They can then view online products, which look absolutely real, from all possible angles. The VR headset will even enable customers to see how an item would look on them (in case of clothes, accessories or footwear) or in their homes (in case of furniture). Also, the online retailers can considerably enhance the way in which their products are showcased to the potential users.

For example, IKEA is already working on creating a VR kitchen that will be visible to its customers, who can select a particular product for their use and visualize how it would look in their own kitchen.

All in all, VR apps enable you to provide a user experience that is as close to reality as possible. This could have a positive impact on the decision-making process of your target audience and help you get more conversions than online sites or apps alone.

Early Bird Advantage

There is so much competition out there that you have to be on your toes to get new customers and keep the existing ones. It is here that you can gain a decisive edge over your ecommerce competition by adopting an upcoming technology like VR as early as possible.

Every business will take time to adjust to a new technology. So, the sooner you get in, the faster you’ll be able to take full advantage of VR.

For example, big players like Facebook, Google, Samsung, and Sony are already getting into the VR industry. VR-based devices, such as the Samsung Gear VR headset, Sony Playstation VR or Oculus Rift, have already started providing almost real experiences in the gaming and entertainment world. Even the Google Cardboard can quickly turn a smart device into a VR headset.

Even though some of the above examples are not relevant to ecommerce companies, it speaks volumes about VR’s immense potential as identified by such global giants.

For a more relevant example, the renowned ecommerce player, Alibaba, announced the launch of GnomeMagic Lab, a VR research lab, earlier in 2016. Alibaba aims to integrate VR into the online shopping experience and extend full support to its merchants to use VR to sell products on the Alibaba site.

Also, fashion retailers Rebecca Minkoff and River Island have successfully tried out the Google Cardboard to show their collections via the headset mode.

If such retail businesses have already started taking advantage of the limited VR technology that is available right now, it makes sense to prepare yourself to adopt VR soon. The sooner you provide such experiences to your consumers, the faster they will get addicted to them and the greater competitive edge you will have.

As per the Reinventing Retail 2015 Report by WalkerSands Communications, around 35% of consumers claim that they would do more online shopping if they can try out products virtually. And, VR apps are ideal to offer such virtual shopping experiences to the consumers.

If the experiences are as real as possible with VR, you will likely get more conversions. At the end of the day, all that matters is customer retention and sales, right?

Reducing Product Returns

A major challenge faced by many online retailers is frequent customer returns. This is due to many online products not looking as they did on the site in reality and fitting customers differently. Such problems have led to an online shopping practice where consumers purchase items in different sizes or colours and then return the ones which don’t fit well or don’t look as they had imagined.

When consumers shop in-store, there is very little scope for product return. The selection is far more precise, after the customers tried out the product in various ways. So, it’s no surprise that the rate of product returns is considerably higher online than in the offline world.

Now, VR apps possess the ability to provide a full visual experience to your customers: from how the product would look in real life to how they would look along with the product. This virtual experience can easily be personalized for each customer’s exact body size, skin tone, layout of their home, and so on. Thus, the decision-making process will become a lot easier for the consumers who will buy the exact products they want, rather than trying out a few and returning the rest.

In a nutshell, VR has tremendous potential to revolutionize how ecommerce merchants show and sell their products as well as how the end consumers shop online. It is clearly the way forward as ecommerce stores will be able to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world and provide a deep sensory experience to the end users. But, the question is whether you see VR as adding value to your online business and are you ready for it?

Please share your opinion on the topic of VR and its potential impact on ecommerce. Also, feel free to ask any queries in the comments section below.

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