How Tamil Nadu is using AI for better governance

    By KTP Radhika


    From AI-based face recognition for marking attendance in government schools to IoT based automated smart street monitoring, Tamil Nadu government is all set to implement the latest AI-based systems for smart governance

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    Artificial Intelligence holds great economic, social, medical, security and environmental promise. And that exactly is what the Tamil Nadu state government wanted to explore and exploit. To harness the benefit of AI, the state is rolling out a policy for safe and ethical AI. The policy aims to harness the power of AI for the public good while making it ethically compatible with human values.

    “The policy will be framed on core principles like diversity, equity and fairness, ethics, privacy & data protection, misuse protection, audit & transparency and cross geography and society, and will be rolled out in next two months,” says Santosh K Misra, CEO, (TNeGA) Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency

     TNeGA is also working on a lot of projects based on AI for social inclusion. Below are the few key AI-based projects that the government has taken up recently. 

    Face Recognition System

    Like many of the government schools, Chennai Corporation-run middle school on Triplicane High Road faced a big challenge. While the students are expected to present the school at 9.15 am, most of the students used to be latecomers. And students sometimes skip a few periods during working hours. From last September onwards things have changed for good. The school has seen an 85 per cent drop in stragglers and children are reporting on time to attend the classes. Thanks to FRS (Face Recognition System) deployed by the State Government. Artificial Intelligence-based attendance system was completely developed by TNeGA, Information Technology Department, Government of Tamil Nadu and is soon set for a statewide rollout. The education department has estimated that FRS saves almost 45 minutes a day, otherwise spent on attendance. 

    Apart from schools, the system has also been deployed in the IT department of the Government of Tamil Nadu and Indian Institute of Management Trichy. Developers say that the system can identify Indian faces even in low light conditions. 

    Pest control system

    Through an app called Uzhavan, the TNeGA pest identification system is to help farmers to diagnose the pest infection in their crops and provide them with remedial measures. 

    A farmer can click a picture of the pest infected crop even with a low-cost mobile camera and upload in the Uzhavan app. Once the photo is uploaded, the inbuilt intelligent system analyses and identifies the pest and sends the remedial measures as a text message in Tamil to the farmer’s phone. “ We are getting around 50 to 100 requests a day through this app and till now over 5 lakh farmers are using this app,” says Misra.

    Rural drinking water supply monitoring system 

    TNeGA’s low-cost rural drinking water supply monitoring system will give a daily report on drinking water supply in rural TamilNadu. “TamilNadu is a water-stressed state and ensuring equitable supply and availability of drinking water is essential especially in rural areas. So we developed a low-cost rural drinking water supply and monitoring system using cost-effective IoT sensors. This system works using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques,” says Misra. 

    Street Light monitoring system

    Monitoring the functioning of street lights and timely replacement of failed components are challenging. However, with AI-based street light monitoring system, it is an easy job. TNeGA is in the process of developing an IoT based automated smart street monitoring system to detect street light failures in real-time. “While many companies offer commercial monitorial solutions, they are very costly and requires intrusive sensors. We are designing a cost-effective solution that does not require replacing existing lamps or poles and with low-cost sensors with the help of open source technology while providing high accuracy with low error rates. The solution will be easy to deploy and does not require high maintenance,” says Misra.

    Smart conversation assistant 

    Along with Anna university, TNeGA has developed a Tamil chatbot, named Anil (squirrel in Tamil) using Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence technology. “The chatbot will guide and advise people by answering their queries and guide them to obtain government services like obtaining nativity certificates, income certificates, government certificates and so on. “This was launched in November last year and many citizens are utilizing the services,” says Misra. The project involves developing machine learning algorithms predicting water flow based on indirect parameters such as the current consumed by the pump motors, pressure value and vibration patterns. The data from sensors would be transported over a wireless network to a remote server for processing by analytics software. The insights generated will help realise equity, availability and distribution of water and equate it with population density and groundwater availability. “The project is currently in the pilot stage in 300 overhead water tanks in Ramanathapuram districts and will be soon rolled out across the state,” says Misra. 

    About the author

    KTP Radhika

    KTP Radhika writes on business and technology. She has worked with Network 18 Group, The Indian Express Group and Deccan Chronicle. Currently, she is a consultant writer with Business Today and Nasscom. Her work was shortlisted for the Shriram Awards for the year 2019.

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