Employees of the central and state governments will soon have their own messaging service similar to WhatsApp. This application, intended to improve confidentiality in official communications, has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and will be called the Government Instant Messaging Service (GIMS). This is an application for mobile phones and can be downloaded on both Android phones and iOS platforms. The messaging service is currently undergoing tests with some departments and ministries. As far as the states are concerned, Odisha and Gujarat government employees are using the messaging service.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is responsible for the rollout of GIMS across the country. NIC has hands-on experience developing the email service for the government which is already in use and over 2 crore emails are processed daily.
NIC uses open source software for developing these applications and is able to exercise full control over it. The messaging app too has been developed with this perspective of data security since apps like WhatsApp are liable to be hacked and the government wants to avoid that. At present, most government departments have formed their own WhatsApp groups which are used to exchange a lot of information including those which are considered confidential /sensitive.
GIMS will offer a multilingual platform enabling communications in 11 Indian languages. To begin with, it will be in English and Hindi.
At the centre, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), CBI, MeitY, Navy and Railways are all participating in the testing. In terms of sheer numbers, 6,600 persons are using the GIMS app now and around 20 lakh messages have already been sent /received.
Once GIMS is rolled out completely, it could set a new paradigm in government functioning and improve efficiency and administration.