Heralding a brave new era of e-government service

New portal for all state-agency mobile apps launches next month

Mobile applications have been developed to serve a variety of purposes, but sometimes they can cause headaches for users who are unable to find one that responds perfectly to their specific needs. The good news is that a partial solution may be on the way.

All mobile apps developed by government ministries and other public-sector organisations are to be gathered together under one portal, a website which will be taken care of by the Electronic Government Agency (EGA), an independent supervisory body set up a couple of years back. Operated by the newly minted Government Application Centre (GAC), this website (https://apps.go.th) will be officially launched next month.

EGA president and CEO Sak Segkhoonthod said that the GAC will act as a centre for all mobile applications developed by or linked to various sections of the government. By grouping such apps under categories such as health, education, labour, business, agriculture and so forth, the website will enable smartphone users to find the app they're interested in a lot more easily.

"State agencies have created a host of mobile apps but most of them don’t even know whether or not their apps are serving the needs of users, so the GAC will enable these agencies to create apps that fit in more with what users want," Sak explained.

According to a survey conducted by EGA staff, government agencies are currently offering around 100 mobile apps in total. On the launch date of the GAC's website next month, at least 10 new pilot mobile apps will be introduced and there will also be a relaunch of various apps that are already available but which have not proved very popular to date.

Besides offering apps that better respond to users’ requirements, the GAC has also set itself the task of boosting awareness among civil servants about the great potential of software developed for smartphones.

"There are a lot of government agencies that still have no mobile apps of their own." Sak reasoned. "Unlike websites operated by these agencies, in which users passively receive information, a mobile app requires a certain amount of interaction with users."

One of the pilot projects on which EGA is currently collaborating with the National Health Security Office is an app that allows users to check their rights vis a vis health treatments covered by the social security scheme and similar government schemes; another feature of this will be a facility that helps parents/relatives search for children who have gone missing.

Also due to be unveiled in May is an app created by Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that allows users to check whether a product they have spotted on a supermarket shelf has been certified by the FDA or not. Other pilot apps currently in the pipeline should be of great benefit to students, farmers and the unemployed (alerting users to job vacancies in places near where they live).

For applications that require user logins, the EGA is going to consolidate the systems developed by different organs of state. In the immediate future, users will be able to register once and get a single sign-on which they can then use to access any government-run app.

The EGA has also joined hands with the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) and Software Park to encourage people to create applications that meet certain minimum standards. To this end, the EGA has been working in collaboration with three software giants — Google, Microsoft and Apple — with a view to setting certain basic standards for mobile apps in order to impose some degree of consistency on the new software hitting the market here.

"This will lead to the development of user interface which is more user-friendly," Sak added. And with particularly handy apps from state agencies on the way — such as ones that alert you when it's time to pay your car tax or to renew your national ID card — Sak is hoping that the apps.go.th website will act not just as the hub for all state-run mobile apps, but also as a way of engaging with Thai app users on an ongoing basis.

"This is a whole new dimension of e-government service," he concluded.

About the author

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Writer: Sasiwimon Boonruang
Position: Life Writer