COVID19 – Response

Initiatives embarked and facilitated by ICTA for Government of Sri lanka during the COVID19 outbreak

ICTA has embarked and work in collaboration with many entities with the focus on facilitating government to continue its operations effectively and citizens to continue their lives with minimal disruptions via introducing digital solutions and facilitate adoption across all segments at the COVID19 outbreak.

1.MyHealth Sri Lanka app

My-Health-Sri-Lanka-1024x512 - Copy

Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka, together with Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine has taken the support of a group of volunteers to develop an application to inform, engage and react to the deadly spread of the COVID-19 under the instructions of His Excellency President Gotabhaya Rajapakse. This is in the wake of a global pandemic reaching the shores of Sri Lanka and with the steadily rising number of infected citizens, the need for a robust mobile application was felt.

Volunteers from the private sector worked tirelessly to ensure that through this app citizens will have access to a news feed that shares verified information on the current MyHealth Sri Lanka mobile app populated by data shared by medical authorities. Once downloaded through either the Google PlayStore, Huawei Appstore store and Apple app store, citizens will be prompted to record their location at the time of using the application.

The application locally maps the trail of the mobile app user’s locations travelled so that in an unfortunate event of the app user being infected with the virus, they can disclose the stored location history information with the authorities to protect their family and friends who they have associated with, in the last 14-days. All recorded location data are kept securely within the mobile, and will not be transmitted to any external systems without the consent of the mobile app user. If one has crossed paths with an infected individual, one has the option to self-register with the national disease surveillance system.

ICTA, gratefully acknowledges the contribution by volunteers in developing this application.

2.Pre-Arrival Clearance Application for arrivals at the airport

Sri Lanka has introduced a pre-arrival clearance process to immigration process at Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake. This, under the guidance of Ministries of Defence and Health has been implemented under the supervision of Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka.The application has been developed completely by a set of volunteers from the ICT industry.

The airlines have been instructed to provide further information about passengers in the manifest, in particular the origin of travel (the port of first embarked, not just last port). This process identifies passengers with high risk before they land, so the authorities can be ready to take necessary measures on their arrival.
This system integrates the pre-arrival clearance system with the Health Ministry Disease Surveillance system so that all flagged travellers are automatically registered in the disease system. Then Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) can meet flagged travellers at the gate directly and supply and install manual alert ring on the immigration counter to guide the cleared passengers to quarantine.

Entities Engaged/Sponsored – Department of Immigration and Emigration

ICTA, gratefully acknowledges the contribution by volunteers in developing this application.

3.Contact Tracing (DHIS2) 

Contact Tracing

The contact tracing app that’s built on top of the DHIS2 solution is able to visually depict the graph of people who they have associated with during an investigation by an authorized contact tracer from the Ministry of Health. The application has been developed completely by a set of volunteers from the ICT industry.

Contact Sri Lanka

The Ministry of Foreign Relations has established this web portal for all Sri Lankans overseas, either permanently on employment or for studies/travel. They are allowed to register at “Contact Sri Lanka” if they need any support from the Government of Sri Lanka or any of its missions overseas. The application has been developed completely by a set of volunteers from the ICT industry.

Registering online in the web portal will allow the Ministry to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the COVID19 outbreak. This Portal connects Sri Lankans overseas with stakeholders in Sri Lanka and the network of Sri Lanka Missions abroad.

The portal also offers emergency contact details of all Sri Lanka Missions abroad. The data provided through this portal is protected to ensure privacy of the Overseas Sri Lankans and will not be shared without the consent of the users.

In long term, it is expected to use the portal as an official source of information and will facilitate Sri Lankans overseas to obtain all services offered by the Government.

ICTA, gratefully acknowledges the contribution by volunteers in developing this application.

Web

Sri Lanka Tourism development Authority with Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintain a website particularly for all foreign nationals in Sri Lanka (around 12,500) to find information on the situation aroused with the COVID-19 outbreak. This website, in addition to COVID-19 health information (such as Daily New Cases and Daily Recoveries in Sri Lanka), provides information useful for foreign nationals like visa extension notices, special regulations of using Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Katunayake during the period and arrangements for international tourists to reach their home countries the earliest, if they wish so. The site also provides details about the special flights to and from Sri Lanka, an extremely important information for foreign nationals. It also provides contact information of the officials to be contacted in case of an emergency. Assistance to tourists will be offered through the hotline 1912.

This web portal has been developed by the financial support of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Meet.gov.lk

With the entire working population, except for few delivering essential services, restricted to their places as a result of strict social distancing enforced by the Government of Sri Lanka, the need for reliable, secure and fast communication has arised as never before. In this unprecedented situation Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has introduced https://meet.gov.lk as a free and easy to use video conferencing platform based on Jitsi (open-source project) for Sri Lanka’s state sector. It allows one to easily build and deploy secure video conferencing solutions.

At the heart of Jitsi are Jitsi Videobridge and Jitsi Meet, which let you have conferences on the internet, while other projects in the community enable other features such as audio, dial-in, recording, and simulcasting.

The said platform, meet.gov.lk, associates all features of Jitsi, which includes passing everyone’s video and audio to all participants, rather than mixing them first, resulting in lower latency, better quality and, a much more scalable and inexpensive solution. The solution is compatible with WebRTC, the open standard for Web communication and supports advanced video routing concepts such as simulcast, bandwidth estimations and scalable video coding.

To host a meeting at meet.gov.lk, a user only has to click on the link to open page on the web browser (Firefox and Chrome are the preferred browsers). After authenticated with valid user name / password provided by Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) to complete the hosting process, a user can share the room name (or complete URL) with the remote parties. While one is connected, a desktop window (presentation) can be obtained if necessary. If a user needs a password for a room, he/she can add it, and share it with the remote parties.

Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has facilitated continuously to increase the adoption through dedicated consultation and also produced user guides to use this platform.

Entities Engaged/Sponsored – GoSL

7.Introduce collaboration tools and instant messaging across government

In a Working From Home (WFH) situation the government users require a fast, reliable and secure platform for collaboration and instant messaging across government. Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) proposed Slack for this purpose. It has been successfully used at ICTA for sometime for internal communication.

Slack provides mobile apps for iOS and Android in addition to their Web browser client and desktop clients for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

To join this communication network a user must have a valid and personal (non shared) e-mail address. This may be the official address as some organizations still have local mail server based addresses or any other email address which belongs to the respective official. There will be a central admin for the platform. Once a request is made (The user is responsible for making this request) he/she will be added to the system. The users shall be approved by the authorized person at the relevant organizations. Once in the system, the users will have all the privileges to consume the system.

All government users (irrespective of the number) will be in a central channel for general communication. Individual users (depending upon their rights) will be able to create their own user groups for individual ministries/departments/other agencies or purely on the necessity.

This procedure does not prevent anyone from using other channels. But all are encouraged to use it as it brings consistency and the highest reliability.

The system will in the first round register all heads of Ministries/Departments as Super Users. (Proposed Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Heads of Departments) They are supposed to provide the list of all possible users within 24 hours time by e-mail to admin. Once the requests are received the admin will add the users to the system.

ICTA/LGII maintains a help desk for the users. There will be a document of detailed guidelines for all levels of users in Sinhala/Tamil/English.

Entities Engaged/Sponsored – ICTA, GoSL

8. Work related to Government Circular on Delivering Government Services via Work From Home (WFH) Arrangements during the Global  Coronavirus Pandemic 

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) issued a circular instructing all government heads of organizations to adopt emergency work plans to deliver services and execute work under  remote work arrangements by using the available resources. Moreover, it emphasized Work From Home methodologies and also gave highlighted how digital technologies and tools should be consumed for the above purpose.  Since the responsibilities of most of the digital work have been assigned to ICT Agency of Sri Lanka; ICTA and the Digital Development section of Ministry of Defense have been working in collaboration to facilitate the above.

The first meeting to discuss the plans to fulfill the digital requirements was held on 2010-04-07 and a follow up meeting to review the progress was held on the 13th of April via meet.gov.lk. Multiple solutions and initiatives are being  initiated and implemented to fulfill the requirements stated in the circular including following areas.

Online platform with available human resource pool to facilitate government sector human resources allocation
Introduce and adopt digital collaboration tools for Gov communication
– Video conferencing
– Real time messaging
– Collaborative document shearing and storing
Reinstate Gov.lk emails for GoSL
Address public grievances – Tell president initiative
Guidelines and initiate social media interfaces for all key government organizations for citizen interaction
Facilitate distance learning for government through https://gelp.gov.lk

Minutes of the meetings

Meeting_Minutes_WFH-Update-13.04.2020

Meeting_Minutes_WFH-Update-7.04.2020

9.Stayhomestory

Stay home story

Stayhomestory’ is a joint initiative by Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), Sarvodaya Fusion and Facebook/Instagram. Through this initiative, the users are given an opportunity to ‘tell’ their experiences during the ‘lock-down’ periods through the Facebook/Instagram pages.

The objective is to encourage citizen engaged digitally, building positivism on digital adoption and keep them busy at a time many will find it too mundane to work from their homes.

Entities Engaged/Sponsored – ICTA, Sarvodaya Fusion, Face Book

10. Facilitate Digital Education

With the inevitable disturbances to normal life all over the country, one of the biggest challenges was to compensate the lost education by the students. With no means for students to meet their teachers face-to-face, the only possible solution was through educating them by distant learning modes.

E-Thaksalawa (http://e-thaksalawa.moe.gov.lk) the official E-learning portal for schools with learning content from grade 1 to grade 13 has been made accessible to all students from March 20, 2020, without data charges with the support of all operators enabling school children to study from home by MoE and TRCSL. ICTA consulted and facilitated in continuous delivery of education through the platform.

ICTA also facilitated ministry of education by introducing how distance learning can be adopted with live video conferencing in teaching and learning process for school children. Moreover, ICTA assisted and consulted in continuing school administration without disruption via online collaboration tools.

Entities Engaged/Sponsored – Ministry of Education, ICTA

Covid19

The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in collaboration with key Government Institutions, launched a National Website for COVID -19 response www.covid19.gov.lk. This was developed considering the unprecedented situation in the Country due to COVID-19, and with the objective of providing information to the public through reliable sources that is accredited by the Government of Sri Lanka. The key institutions and organizations engaged in to this initiative are The Presidential Secretariat, Health Promotion Bureau, National Operations Center for Prevention of COVID -19 Outbreak, Department of Government Information, Ministry of Defense and Sri Lanka Army.

The information or the data presented in this web portal will be fed from different government institutions and other relevant responsible parties, connected through their APIs. This will be an information hub to find all the information and activities related to COVID -19 outbreak and is seamlessly designed to help citizens to keep in touch with accurate news with the latest updates, both locally and globally.

This web portal is not limited to health related statistics and it also contains information related to economy, imports and exports, tourism, transport, expats, essential items distribution, social welfare, law & order, defence and education that citizens might find useful during this pandemic. The initiative was driven with technology support from eMarketingEye (pvt) Ltd;

Startupsl

StartupSL was an initiative by the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure & Information Technology and is currently being operated under the Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Division, Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka together with ICTA and the volunteers of the startup community. . The aim is to collectively lobby on behalf of the technology startups in the country. Therefore, we invite all technology startups in Sri Lanka to register with us at www.startupsl.lk portal. Registered startups will be given priority when considering for the proposed benefits extended by the government.

In addition, Industry Development Program also facilitated online meetings between IT SME’s and advisory groups to overcome COVID-19 related business challenges. That includes facilitation of Diversity Collective (DCLK) and Women’s Chamber for Digital Sri Lanka online discussion series for Women in IT related to Working From Home and Digital Content Creation for Women.

ICTA’s Industry Development Program Team is involved in multiple initiatives to support the industry and let economy function as normal as possible during the COVID-19 situation. ICTA also engaged with IT SME’s and Startups for their business growth.

The attempts include gathering of startups to www.startupsl.lk platform being operated under the Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Division, Ministry of Defense, Sri Lanka in order to streamline Government relief for tech startups in post COVID-19. The project management and operations of the platform is managed by ICTA with the support of individual and corporate volunteers. This platform is poised to become the single largest online platform for startups and freelancers in Sri Lanka, connecting them to other startups, as well as other key stakeholders such as investors, mentors and incubators.

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