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Mobile services launched by govt bodies allow public to give feedback. -TNP
Chelsea Lim

Wed, Jun 20, 2012
The New Paper

She had been walking past her block in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 earlier this month when she noticed a few styrofoam boxes filled with water.

Afraid that these boxes would allow mosquitoes to breed, she wanted to inform her town council.

But instead of making a phone call, Miss Oh Siok Fen, 23, snapped a picture of the scene with her iPhone.

The undergraduate then uploaded the picture onto Ang Mo Kio Town Council's iPhone app feedback feature and added a caption.

The next day, the boxes were removed.

"I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient they (town council) were. I thought they would take more than a day to clear the boxes," Miss Oh said.

"Last time, I did not know who to look for if I needed to provide feedback. But now, with this application, I know where to give instant feedback," she added.

The free app, named iConnect@AMK, is offered by the Ang Mo Kio Town Council and is one of an increasing number of mobile services provided by the Government.

These apps allow users to give immediate feedback and suggestions on estate improvements, through pictures and captions, to relevant government agencies.

Most of these apps have both the iPhone and Android versions.

Users are usually able to view the feedback reports submitted by others, so that they can avoid repetitions.

Said another user of the iConnect@AMK app, Mr Dennis Toh, 39: "Everything is very transparent. Users provide feedback on the app and everyone can see them. It makes the process much more efficient."

The senior manager added: "As long as there is consistency in the efficiency on a long-term basis, I will definitely continue using it (the app)."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had highlighted on his Facebook page last Tuesday a BBC article on similar apps used by municipal governments in US cities.

More popular

These apps are getting more popular here.

At least two town councils have such an application.

An Ang Mo Kio Town Council spokesman said they receive "about 150 to 180 cases every month" since the app was officially launched in 2010.

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said: "As the feedback goes directly to the property officers, the system further streamlines the workflow, resulting in faster response to the feedback and enhances productivity of the town council staff."

She added: "With the feature for residents to upload photos, it effectively complements the communication of describing the defect with words."

Another free app for iPhone users, eLink@Aljunied-Hougang, was launched by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council in August last year, and it has received more than 900 reports since, a spokesman said.

Statutory boards are also offering similar apps.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched an app named myENV last year.

With it, users can provide feedback to NEA on environmental issues.

An NEA spokesman said that on average, they receive "between 150 and 200 issues every month", with the numbers "increasing to 350 recently".

Issues reported last month were mainly about smoke emissions from vehicles and public cleanliness, the spokesman added.

Similar free apps include one launched two months ago by the Ministry of Manpower.

Snap@MOM allows the public to provide feedback on both unsafe and good work practices.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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