While several departments and sectors in Ho Chi Minh City are already serving the public online, a top leader has requested that mobile apps replace websites as the cores of the municipal e-governance system.
Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City administration and leader of the city’s administrative reform initiative, believes that websites have fallen behind the times and fail to properly suit the needs of city dwellers.
“Only mobile apps are capable of promptly resolving complaints and petitions from the citizens,” Tuyen told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview published Thursday.
Tuyen underlined that building electronic governance, or e-governance, is a key task of the city’s administrative reform effort, as it helps cut time and increase transparency in delivering public services.
E-governance is the application of information and communication technology for providing government-to-citizen and government-to-business services, exchange of information and communication transactions.
“The system minimizes the need for citizens or businesses to make in-person contact with public servants, thus obviating possible corruption,” the official explained.
|The land-use planning app is seen on a smartphone screen in this photo taken in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Tuyen said District 1, the city’s business center, and District 12 have been selected for a pilot ‘smart city’ project, and their respective administrations have come up with several good initiatives on e-governance development.
“The municipal administration will encourage other districts to follow these examples and have their own ideas and innovation in improving the quality of public services,” he added.
Apps are proving their usefulness
On top of these improvements, Tuyen underlined that some departments and agencies have developed mobile apps to enhance their service quality, an approach all public service providers in Ho Chi Minh City are now required to adopt.
For instance, he elaborated, in December last year the Department of Planning and Architecture launched a website and an app allowing residents and investors to look up information regarding land-use planning citywide.
Users can view information regarding the state of a piece of land including its area, road width and usage planning with only a few taps on their smartphone screens.
The Department of Transport has a traffic information app, enabling commuters to monitor traffic in real time and report congestion or other infrastructure problems to authorities via their mobile devices.
“In the coming time, the Department of Construction should develop an app to provide construction guidance to citizens and investors, and its environment counterpart also needs one to help locals with land-related paperwork,” Tuyen said.
“The municipal administration’s view is that all sectors and departments service the public via apps rather than only via websites which have become outdated.”
|A screenshot of the traffic information app operated by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The Binh Thanh pioneer
As far as public service apps are concerned, the administration of Binh Thanh District has taken the lead and eventually become a successful pioneer.
Launched in April 2017, the Binh Thanh app, through which citizens can look up planning information and submit evidence of violations to authorities, has been yielding fruitful results.
Less than a year from its launch, the app has received thousands of downloads, with local authorities being committed to handling all verified complaints within 120 minutes from receipt.
The ‘whistleblowers’ will also be notified as soon as the cases are resolved.
Ward-level leaders confirmed to Tuoi Tre that the text- and photo-based evidence provided by members of the public has been of great help for authorities to tackle violations, particularly those committed by sidewalk occupants.
|The Binh Thanh public service app is seen on a tablet screen in this photo taken in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
C.M., a Binh Thanh resident who downloaded the app right after its introduction, said he has since sent a few dozen complaints, mostly about urban order violations, to officials.
“I am pleased to see that reports of those who illegally occupied the sidewalks or committed environmental offenses have been swiftly addressed and resolved,” M. told Tuoi Tre.
The citizen noted, however, that complains regarding construction violations seemed to be handled more slowly.
“I understand this matter is more complicated and takes time to be resolved, but authorities should try to handle it faster to increase public trust and encourage more reports via the app,” he added.
From the initial success of the Binh Thanh app, the Ho Chi Minh City administration is considering if it can develop a similar app on a citywide scale.