DigiLocker, the low-profile Aadhar adjunct, grows in heft and scale

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19-Sep-2016

 

Imagine not having to go through the ordeal of submitting multiple documents while taking admission in a college. Typically, if a student applies to 10 colleges, say, in Delhi University, she needs to submit in all a couple of hundred copies of relevant documents. All self-attested.

What if all your relevant documents were made available to the college you are applying to at the click of a mouse? The government’s Digital India initiative is working towards this and if things go as planned, this will soon be reality.

Application to the Delhi University, as with some other universities elsewhere in India, has already gone online with this year’s admissions that began in June. However, it still involves manually uploading a number of certificates.

What if all your relevant documents were made available to the college you are applying to at the click of a mouse?

Currently, the admission process in a DU college involves the student submitting several certificates; such as Class 10 marksheet, Class 12 marksheet, Class 10 board certificate(for date of birth verification), migration/school leaving certificate (if the student is not from Delhi), character certificate, caste certificate (if applicable), PwD or disability certificate (if applicable), sports/ extra curricular certificate (if applicable), and the admission form. The college concerned also retains the original certificates, along with attested photocopies, in order to avoid multiple admissions of the same candidate.

Sounds cumbersome, doesn’t it? It is. Hugely.

DigiLocker, an open source-based platform to store documents under the government’s Digital India program, is in talks with the University of Delhi. It aims to make the admission process digital, seamless, and paperless, the chief architect of DigiLocker, Amit Ranjan, told FactorDaily.

Launched in July last year as a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates digitally, it has slowly grown in scale and scope. It currently has over 2.5 million users registered on it and has around 345 million documents so far. A big chunk of these — some 280 million documents — came on board DigiLocker after it partnered the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for driving licences and related documents.

Launched in July last year as a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates digitally, it has slowly grown in scale and scope.

The online platform also counts the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) among its current partners. Over 2.5 million certificates (for classes 10 and 12) were issued by DigiLocker in 2016, Ranjan said.

DigiLocker makes for what is seen as the last leg of the central government’s ambitious Digital India plan, under which it aims to build a robust digital infrastructure countrywide and offer digital services to its 1.2 billion citizens. “Through the digitized elements like e-KYC, e-Sign, digitized Aadhaar information and digital locker, the entire ecosystem has now become a presence less, paperless and cashless based system,” Jay Pullur, CEO of Hyderabad-based Pramati Technologies commented late last year. “A Digital Locker enables users to have all their legal documents in a digitized format that is stored online and can be accessed from any part of the country.” Pullur is part of iSpirit, a group whose agenda is to make India a hub for software products.

How DigiLocker works

Developed under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, DigiLocker is a centralised online repository on the cloud, where all your important documents can be verified and stored. There are two primary methods of getting documents on to the platform: one, by the users who can upload documents after logging in using their Aadhar unique identity number. The sign-up involves an OTP (one-time password) verification via mobile.

Two, DigiLocker partners with ministries, organisations, institutes and other bodies to get them to upload data they have available with them. For instance, the 280 million driving licences. Individual users, after logging in, can key in details of their document and if it is already available on the platform like the driving licences, the document is automatically linked to the user’s “locker”. Ranjan took pains to explain that the document does not physically move to the individual’s locker but is only linked to the source — he called it “source of truth”.

Developed under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, DigiLocker is a centralised online repository on the cloud

DigiLocker’s tie-up with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways allows people the ease of carrying their driving licence and vehicle documents such as registration certificate (RC) in digital form on their smartphones, saving them the need to carry physical copies.

DigiLocker offers 1 GB space to each user, which is small compared to other cloud platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox, which offer 15 GB and 2 GB free space, respectively. But Ranjan explained that the space is not critical, as the idea is to have partners come on board and issue certificates or documents via the platform, which will be stored as links for citizens. Storage is not at “the core of the product,” the former Slideshare co-founder added.

The next stage of DigiLocker is a “multi-player platform” with private players, from the banking and telecom sectors, also coming into the fold. Talks with private banks ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and Yes Bank are already underway. Reliance Jio, too, “has shown interest,” Ranjan said.

Oil marketing companies India Oil, Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) are also set to come on board with their cooking gas customers, which would add 150 million documents, Ranjan said.

DigiLocker has an internal target of hitting 500 million document uploads within this month, which “it will easily achieve,” he added.

The app version is currently available on Android and the iOS version will be available in a “few months”.

The DigiLocker team is 25-strong, comprising most developers. Seven of them work out of Ranchi, Jharkhand, while the rest are in Delhi.

Update: The storage space figures of DigiLocker, Google Drive, and Dropbox have been corrected and updated.



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