Thursday, 18 August 2016 09:00

ownCloud to help India build DigiLocker project

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India will depend on open source technologies to build its DigiLocker project that will allow all citizens to store their official documents in a central repository.

The project will be built by the country's National e-Governance Division, and the file access solution from the Germany-based open-source file syncing and sharing software company ownCloud will play a central role.

DigiLocker is a key project under the Digital India Initiative.

India has a national system for authentication called Aadhaar and people have a unique ID for registering, after which all official documents issued — such as birth certificates, driver's licences and educational certificates are automatically issued as digitally signed PDFs.

The digital signature makes the documents verifiable and therefore secure, according to a media release issued by ownCloud.

The documents can be accessed over virtually any Web-enabled device and there is an Android app available for this purpose.

More than two million people have connected to DigiLocker and the database holds nearly 42 million documents. The government wants 50 million Indians to use the repository within three years of going live.

India has the world's second largest population with about 1.1 billion legal residents. There are also a large number of illegals, both from neighbouring countries and further afield. There are also many people who have overstayed their visas and simply merged into the background.

The release quoted DigiLocker director Debabrata Nayak as saying: "Regardless of their education and status, DigiLocker lets every Indian citizen securely and centrally store documents that are essential to their life. By combining DigiLocker with our Aadhaar system, we have created a model for paperless delivery of eGovernance services.

"ownCloud forms a key component of this, because it allows you to add existing documents, thus transforming DigiLocker into a single comprehensive collection point for personal documents."

Registered users have automatic access to ownCloud and can upload documents themselves, updating on an ongoing basis.

ownCloud's chief operating officer Holger Dryoff said: "The DigiLocker project illustrates clearly how scalable and powerful our platform is. And more than anything else, it is very easy to use.

"Some 150 usable and customisable ownCloud apps are available directly for download. By deciding to rely on open source and focus on strong in-house development, the government of India has set the course for a project with a long-term focus, which, in my view, could also be a model for other countries."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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