Affordable computing has long been an interest area of mine. I have written on the topic extensively over the past 7-8 years. I first experimented with a thin client-thick server in NetCore. Later, those learnings morphed into Novatium, an independent company set up with Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala from IIT-Madras and Ray Stata in Chennai. Novatium was featured in a Newsweek cover story three years ago. After many ups and downs, Novatium, led by Alok Singh, is now on a firm foundation to grow rapidly, following investments by NEA and most recently, by Ericsson.
I focused primarily on the rural computing infrastructure during my talk on the panel, and made three key points.
1. We need to set up computing infrastructure at key data collection and dissemination points.
Schools, Hospitals, Agricultural extension counters and Panchayats are the places where computing infrastructure needs to be set up. In schools, thin clients or network computers with content delivered from a local server can assist the teacher in ensuring the children get better education by making up for the lack of quality teaching staff across the country. In health and agriculture, connected computers can provide information access at the point where it is ended. Computers at panchayats can play a key role in ensuring availability of eGovernance services for citizens, as well as financial transparency on how money is being spent.
(In this context, I also said that we need to ensure that such situations don’t happen! )