Public procurement portal GeM is using high-end technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain to make the portal more dynamic and help both buyers and sellers for smooth transactions, a senior official said. The Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal was launched in August 2016 for online purchases of goods and services by all the central government ministries and departments. GeM CEO Talleen Kumar also said the number of startups registered with the portal has more than doubled to 7,900 in 2020 on account of steps being taken by the platform to attract budding entrepreneurs. “As on December 31, 2020, there are 7,900 startups now with cumulative transaction value of Rs 2,256 crore compared to 3,849 startups with a cumulative order value of Rs 938 crore a year ago,” he said.
He added that overall, there are over 49,000 buyers, 9.36 lakh sellers and over 20 lakh products at the platform. About use of modern technology tools, he said in the procurement of drugs or medicines by government organisations, GeM has identified blockchain as the go-to technology to introduce a safe, distributed infrastructure for supply chain. Procurement of drugs or medicines in bulk is currently not available on GeM as traceability and authenticity in the supply chain for drugs are paramount in the procurement by government organisations. ” A blockchain project for Proof of Concept for showcasing product supply chain visibility and traceability in procurement of medicines in bulk in two districts of Uttar Pradesh…and by establishments under the Director General, Armed Forced Medical Services (DGAFMS) is currently underway,” he told PTI. He added that this Proof of Concept exercise was undertaken to develop and demonstrate Track and Trace for drugs using blockchain wherein a certain manufacturer will move the required drugs to buyer warehouses and these drugs would subsequently be issued to associated health centres.
The projects will be completed in 4-6 weeks. Further, he said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used in the form of natural language processing for procurement planning and monitoring and for effective and efficient search. It will also be used in areas including catalogue management; automatic tagging and text description; procurement planning, predictive analytics and monitoring; market sanity, fraud and anomaly detection. Besides, the AI tool will be used for customer mapping and behaviour prediction; product recommendation engine; and customer service automation including help desk/ call centre. Currently, government departments, ministries, public sector units, state governments, and central armed police forces are allowed to carry out transactions through this portal. The portal provides a wide range of products from office stationery to vehicles. Services, including transportation, logistics, waste management, web casting and analytics, are listed on the portal.