Efficiency Unit's mobile app slower than phone
Ada Lee and Martin Wong
New technology normally speeds things up, but a new mobile phone application introduced by the government to deal with public complaints will slow the process down.
Masterminded by the government's Efficiency Unit and developed by the E-government Service Delivery, the HK$600,000 application Tellme@1823 - a name derived from the existing 1823 complaints hotline - has been available on iPhone and Android phones free of charge from Monday.
Users can lodge text complaints to with government departments with the application and make inquiries. People can provide photos, videos, recordings and GPS location to support their complaints or inquiries. The messages will then be forwarded to concerned government departments for follow-up.
Yuk Wai-fung, assistant director of the Efficiency Unit, which manages the hotline as well as the application, said staff would understand complaints better because of the extra information provided by users.
'If a user is telling us about a falling tree, the application will save him from the trouble of telling us where it is. This can get complicated sometimes,'' said Yuk.
The average waiting time for a staff member to pick up a 1823 call is 12 seconds, but users of the mobile applications will have to wait longer, as centre staff would process messages from phone calls first during busy hours.
Yuk said the message would reach them in five to 10 minutes and they would respond in an hour or two.
'It's different from calling. When the phone is ringing, you expect someone picks it up quickly, but for electronic messages, people tend to be more patient.'
He said the hotline centre had about 400 staff and that was enough to handle users of both the hotline and application around the clock. They did not expect a big surge in inquiries and complaints after the launch of the application. Last year, the hotline received 2.1 million inquiries and 290,000 complaints.
The South China Morning Post tested the application yesterday by complaining about the frequency of flush-water shortages in the Yue King Building in Leighton Road.
A confirmation e-mail with a reference code was received in five minutes, but another e-mail saying the complaint was forwarded to the Water Supplies Department did not get through until nearly two hours later.
Meanwhile, the Transport Department will launch an application to provide information on public transport in a month or two. Users would soon be able to do point-to-point route search in all public transport systems with the application, said Kenneth Cheng Kin, head of E-government Service Delivery.
Planet of the app
Responses on the mobile app can take hours, but if a person phones 1823 the response time is this many seconds: 12