Download this? 127 government apps costing HK$38 million get audited

Guidelines urged for mobile offerings as many get low usage rate or decommissioned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 2:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 3:06pm

Some government mobile apps lack useful features, virtual copy their department websites and cost tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars, according to a study by the government’s auditor, which unveiled a list of popular and unpopular apps.

In its latest report released on Wednesday, the Audit Commission found that as of last year there were 127 apps launched by 36 government departments and they cost HK$38 million in total to develop.

After testing 22 apps offered by four departments, the auditor concluded: “Some of the apps were catered for specific targeted users and may not have broad appeal”.

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The most popular studied app was MyObservatory, developed by the Hong Kong Observatory. Launched in 2010, it was the first government mobile app and its average number of downloads per month reached 88,190, with over five million downloads in total as of last year.

However, the app’s cost was unavailable.

The app singled out for having the poorest monthly download rate was Education Bureau’s Eye Care for Hong Kong Students. It averaged only 11 downloads per month, and there were only 89 downloads in total as of last year.

The next worst was a collection of apps prepared by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The department made three heritage apps called Restore King Yin Lei, [email protected] Yin Lei and [email protected] Ying Lei. However, the average monthly download rate for each offering was fewer than 20 and each tallied fewer than 300 downloads total.

The commission stated that departments with a lacklustre showing needed to “enhance the app contents to attract more people” to use them.

The auditor also examined 31 apps created by government departments for one-off events. Out of 31 such apps, 23 had already been decommissioned and the development cost of those apps amounted to HK$2.6 million.

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But it noted some of the decommissioned apps had a “low” number of downloads.

For example, the LCSD spent HK$185,000 to create a one-off app called P ortable Dunhuang Story Player in 2014. Yet in less than a year, it was decommissioned and the number of downloads stood at only 6,745.

In its conclusion, the commission recommended that the government’s chief information officer issue guidelines on the provision of mobile apps.