FRIENDS’ is an ongoing project of KSITM. It is a single window ‘no queue’ integrated remittance centre, where the citizens have the opportunity to pay all taxes and other dues to the Government, under one roof at no extra cost. An average 1000 -1050 people visit each centre every day. Payments of the Kerala State Electricity Board, Kerala Water Authority, University, Local body, Land Revenue, Civil Supplies, Motor Vehicles, BSNL, Electrical Inspectorate etc can be made at FRIENDS centres. The computerized counters work from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm, including all Sundays. The project was launched in the capital city of the State – Thiruvananthapuram, in June 2000. Vide G.O (M.S) No 4/2000/ITD dated 03.03.2000, the Government of Kerala approved the setting up of a pilot project of a computerized Integrated Service Centre at Thiruvananthapuram which would function as a multiple bill collection agency for various departments. The co-ordination and implementation of this pilot project was entrusted to the IT department. FRIENDS was replicated in thirteen district of the state in the 2001.
The Enterprise enabled ‘any-where any-payment’ system titled “FRIENDS Re-Engineered and Enterprise Enabled Software” (FREES) has been developed by National Informatics Centre, Kerala State Unit to replace the software running in individual FRIENDS centres. The centralised web enabled system will help the citizens to pay utility bills at any FRIENDS centre. The participating departments can upload the demand details (bill data) and download collection details themselves. Alternately, the participating departments can expose web-services in their servers to deliver demand details which can be consumed by FREES as and when required. Collections are made available to departmental server immediately for selected services.
FREES Application has centralised database system with the feature utility payment can be done on any FRIENDS or AKSHAYA all over Kerala with a single user interface. Through this system new services or agency can be added without changing the software. It has online data fetching and updation from and to the departmental servers- for Vehicle Tax, Water Bill and Property Tax. FREES (FRIENDS Re-engineered Enterprise Enabled System) was implemented in all FRIENDS centres and AKSHAYA centres across Kerala.
FRIENDS centers are presently intended to function as per the principle of “Collect & Remit “and ‘Receive & Forward” methods offer the following services:
• Electricity Charges
• Water Charges
• Payment to BSNL (Land Line CDR Bills, Mobile Bills, WLL Bills)
• Payments to Electrical Inspectorate
• Payments to Revenue Department
• Payments to Civil Supplies Department
• Payments to Local bodies
• Payments to Motor Vehicle Departments
• Payments to Universities
• Cultural Welfare Board
• Labour Welfare Board