Campaigning for the IT factor

Front runners for governor are trying to show how switched on they are _ with mixed success

While Bangkok is social media central, the attention candidates for governor have given to IT policy and social media hardly seems to match that reality.

Last week, Bangkok governor candidates MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra and Suharit Siamwalla unveiled their IT plans and mobile apps that are supposed to improve the lives of Bangkokians.

Two other front runners, Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen and Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, have been using Twitter and Facebook to get in touch with voters, with differing degrees of success.

Last week, Suharit invited IT professionals to brainstorm crucial IT policies relating to Bangkok's development. They came up with the idea of an "open data platform" for sustainable development by pooling and sharing the data of agencies in Bangkok.

With more than 12 million Facebook accounts, Bangkok is one of the fastest-growing capitals of social media. Internet penetration is about 80% and there are roughly 20 million smartphone users _ almost one-third of the Thai population.

The group also proposed greater social collaboration and said the governor should effectively apply social media in communicating with the people.

It also proposed using technology to monitor corruption and upgrading the 1555, 1197, and 199 hotline services.

An intelligent map of Bangkok that can calculate traffic routes based on motorists' GPS locations was also tabled for consideration. managing director Poramate Minsiri offered the application BKK360 _ "Bangkok in your hands" _ which collects the opinion of users from social media.

Rawitat Pulum suggested that, instead of developing new mobile apps, a number of pre-existing apps could be offered as an open API (application programme interface).

Suharit said those suggestions will be combined with his "Emo-meter" policy, which he claims can gauge the happiness of Bangkok people. Suharit proposed monitoring policies by recording the promises of Bangkok governor candidates and seeing whether they are followed through.

A feature Suharit proposes called Bangkok Eyes can help report problems by taking photos and collecting information, which will be delivered to a police station. Anyone can help the traffic police by registering on Facebook.

"Bangkok Eyes can change the social dimension as anyone who is going to do something wrong will be aware that he or she is being watched," said Suharit. He added that even if he doesn't win the election on Sunday, he will still propose the ideas to whoever becomes governor.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party candidate MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra introduced the "Mayar" mobile application, an image processing programme that transforms images into video files. By downloading the application on an iOS or Android smartphone, users can scan the banner on MR Sukhumbhand's billboards and see a video clip.

"This technology will enable us to reach out to the new generations and it is a part of a policy in applying technology for the city administration," he said.

Mayar is part of MR Sukhumbhand's i-Bangkok policy to integrate the data from public complaints about the BMA's performance. The i-Bangkok channel and every social media platform will provide access to the data. The plan is for the Mayar application to improve tourism, education and creative businesses. MR Sukhumbhand also promised he will continue offering 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across Bangkok.

About the author

Writer: Sasiwimon Boonruang
Position: Life Writer