Title : Pilot Census of Minor Irrigation (MI) Schemes - Rajasthan


Pilot Census of Minor Irrigation (MI) Schemes - Rajasthan

Client Name : Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India

Client Type : Central Government

Project Genesis/Description

The Census of Minor Irrigation Schemes is an important input for planning the country’s agricultural and economic growth. The ministry has so far conducted 4 such census exercises. In a recent assessment, the Ministry has observed that each Census report has been published 4.5 to 5 years after the reference year. The reliability of data collected is also questionable. There is thus a tremendous need for improvement in the conduct of the Census of Minor Irrigation Schemes. MOWR engaged the services of NISG to study the present methodology and suggest an alternative methodology with or without use of better/alternative technology to achieve higher data reliability and faster access to census results. NISG’s assessment brought out many areas of Process Re–engineering and recommendations in the Minor Irrigation Census Operations were presented in the Solution Design Report. Having gone through the Solution Design Report, MOWR decided to take up a pilot project of conducting the MI Census in one State using the mobile technology and methodology suggested in the report.

The Re-engineered MI Census process envisaged the use of NISG’s mobile technology and application framework. This technology framework envisages the use of low cost mobile phones with built-in features such as GPS, camera and GPRS as data collection devices. The mobiles phone utilizes a GPRS data plan to connect to the Internet for both downloading the mobile based questionnaire to collect field data and to upload filled records to a central server.

In around 55 calendar days a total of 11,34,512 records of MI Schemes were collected across 72 Taluks in 10 Districts and uploaded in real time into the Central server. This MI Census data was available in near real time at a central location to the various stakeholders (including NISG’s central monitoring team, MOWR and the field agencies). Web based application modules developed by NISG provided real time viewing, monitoring and reporting capabilities at the fingertips of all stakeholders.

Project Objectives

NISG had a series of discussions and meetings with MOWR. Based on the common understanding arrived at during these discussions, NISG’s role in the Pilot phase was:

  • To conduct a full-fledged Pilot Census in one State
  • On completion of the Pilot Census analyses of the Census data and prepare a detailed Pilot Census report with recommendations

The Pilot was to establish the operational feasibility / scalability of NISG recommended business process changes.

NISG's Methodology / Solution

During the Pilot, the field staff used a mobile phone device to collect data and transmit it to a central location. NISG tied up with a mobile technology vendor to develop the mobile based application. The paper based MI Schedule was translated into a mobile based form (i.e. the mobile based application) and was used by the Field Staff to capture data. The mobile based form was designed and published on a central server, from which it was available for downloading to the individual mobile phones. The mobile based application was downloaded via GPRS connectivity onto the mobile phones of the field staff before the start of the work. This also ensured that all data collectors always used the same version of the mobile form. This mobile based application was available on low-cost Java-enabled mobile phones or Android mobile phones with GPRS data connectivity. The downloaded mobile application was installed on the ‘memory card’ of the mobile phone.

While designing it was kept in mind that internet connectivity might be an issue at the time of conducting field census in remote areas, hence the functionality developed provides an option whereby a user could store the collected data in the internal phone memory for the time being and can later be uploaded to the central server, in bulk or individually, when connectivity is established. The functionality developed also has a provision for using the GPS and built in Camera features of the mobile phone thereby seamlessly combining the GPS readings and the photograph with each record.

For supervision of collected data, a supervisory workflow was also designed. In this supervisory workflow, as and when a record is allocated to a supervisor for verification, a text message is sent automatically to his registered mobile number. The supervisor can then download the already captured record on his mobile phone for verification or suitable modifications. The supervisor can take separate GPS reading and picture of the MI Scheme for verification by central monitoring team. An audit trail of the supervisor’s work is also maintained. Once a record is uploaded by a field enumerator or verifying officer, it gets deleted from the individual’s mobile phone automatically. If the record is incomplete it cannot be uploaded and is highlighted for the user to fill in the marked (incomplete) details.

Figure 1: Data Communication Diagram

The mobile based application form normally works in disconnected mode and does not need cellular connectivity while collecting data. Cellular connectivity is only required when downloading the mobile based application to the mobile device and when uploading data to the central server for data storage. This 'disconnected mode' of operation enables field staff to work in remote areas for extended periods of time where cellular connectivity may not always be available or reliable. Field staff continues to collect data and ‘save’ the collected data on their mobile phones. Memory space occupied (size) by a record with say around 20-25 questions is typically around 4-5 KB based on the options chosen (without photo) - a one GB memory card having an available space of 5 MB can store data of around 1250 records.

Current status

The Pilot project was to be completed by 31st Dec 2012. The project team met the timelines and submitted the ‘Pilot MI Census Report’ to the Ministry.

Published On : 11th July, 2013