The Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Chief Innovation Officer, Mrs Rosina Howe, shares her views on how technology has benefited both the consumers and LTA, and gives iN.SG a look at what else the public can expect from the ONE.MOTORING (http://www.onemotoring.com.sg/) website.
1. What technologies and features are you most proud of in ONE.MOTORING?
|Mrs Howe: One of the most significant spin-offs has been the popularity of ONE.MOTORING as a point of interaction for the community.
Mrs Rosina Howe: From a technical perspective, I would say I am most proud of the entire architecture of ONE.MOTORING - its scalability to handle high volume transactions; system robustness to process highly-secured transactions involving multi-access channels; e-payment capabilities such as eNETS, Diners Club, GIRPO and GIRO-On-Demand and kiosk payment services with digital signatures to ensure the integrity of payment messages exchanged; and the seamless integration between systems, whether these are within the organisation or with third parties across a variety of industry sectors such as finance houses, insurance companies or enforcement agencies.
This is also a case of extensive technology integration involving 50 product lines to provide key functionalities through an n-tier architecture that ensures scalability and high system availability. The underlying operating platforms range from Unix and Microsoft Windows to mainframe systems like the IBM zSeries and the support the following capabilities:
- Web-based applications based on J2EE to optimise web-based service delivery channels;
- Payment services that include integration with EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer point of sale) terminals for NETS/CashCard payment, EDC (electronic data capture) terminals for credit card payment, Internet payment services with eNETS, Diners Club, GIRO and GIRO-ON-Demand, and kiosk payment services;
- Workflow management to automate business process flows across multiple users and work activities. Additionally, secured electronic messaging facilitates the distribution of sensitive user information as well as notification of pending tasks. The collaborative technologies used include IBM Websphere MQ Workflow and Business Intelligence Message Broker;
- Business intelligence for pre-generated, ad-hoc and dynamic reporting using Hyperion reporting tools;
- Database management for operational and cross-agency exchanges, using a persistence framework that provides data object to data store mapping, with guidelines for efficient data design and data access models; and
- An Enterprise Application Integration Framework to handle systems integration with external applications and systems, including third party ones. This is based on the use of Messaging Oriented Middleware (MOM) and its associated techniques.
From a business-value perspective, the elimination of all physical documents such as the vehicle registration card, vehicle parking certificates for heavy vehicles and vehicle rebate certificates - except the road tax disc - is a key transformation. Through the innovative use of technology, many processes were streamlined and re-engineered to remove the dependency on physical documents. This quantum leap in process improvement has helped minimise commercial fraud since the physical log card can no longer be forged to transfer ownership of vehicles, and unauthorised vehicle-related rebates or fraudulent vehicle loans can no longer be secured simply because the log card does not exist except online.
From a service delivery perspective, a full range of online enquiries on vehicle-related matters are available to vehicle owners, industry partners and the general public through dedicated access channels. Depending on the sensitivity of information, access to ONE.MOTORING may require no password for general information, the use of SingPass, EASY or LTA-issued IDs to authenticate vehicle owners, or a single use transaction PIN for changes that alter registered ownership or registration status. The ease and convenience of these services are evident as a daily average of 60,000 transactions is processed with more than 20 per cent of these transactions done after
2. How important was user feedback and how was it collected and measured?
Rosina: From as early as 2000 when we first conceptualised ONE.MOTORING and positioned it as "the one stop centre for all motoring needs in Singapore", industry briefings were carried out to solicit feedback and requirements. This early start helped us to build a bond with our partners and timely intervention helped to steer all parties towards a shared goal.
This collaborative approach between LTA and industry partners has certainly shaped ONE.MOTORING to what it is today. With the official launch of e-Services@ONE.MOTORING in Feb 2006, as many as 3,000 personnel from over 750 industry partners were trained by LTA and over 50 site visits were made to private companies to verify the integration of their systems with that of LTA.
Accenture's report 2006 e-Gov Leadership in Customer Service: Building the Trust highlights how some governments are stuck in their own service processes, with executives describing how satisfaction surveys were implemented after transactions had been completed. They forget to consider what citizens really need. Advocating that governments broaden their horizons, the report singled out Singapore's Land Transport Authority as a leading government agency that involved stakeholders in every step of the process when building its e-services@ONE.MOTORING suite of services.
In an independent customer satisfaction survey carried out between July and September 2006, we received 5,000 responses with more than 90 per cent of users giving the portal the thumbs up.
3. Are there any features you are considering for ONE.MOTORING in the short term and what can we expect to see in a few years?
Rosina: In the development pipeline are some new features:
- Electronic Recall of Vehicles (EVRS): The EVRS will replace current manual processes with a view to improving the vehicle recall system. EVRS will be a web-based system incorporating imaging and workflow technology, and will be linked to our database of registered vehicles and vehicle owners as well as records of motor dealers and importers who have imported and sold these vehicles. The system will be made accessible to motor dealers and vehicle owners through the Internet. The efficiency of EVRS will enable timely notifications to be sent to affected vehicle owners and help track rectification works by LTA and the motor dealers to ensure road worthiness of vehicles on Singapore roads. Motorists will also be able to conduct self-enquiries on the recall history of their vehicles via the ONE.MOTORING portal.
- E-day License for Off-Peak Cars (OPCs): Another feature that will enhance convenience for a special group of users is the e-day licence for off-peak cars. Instead of displaying a physical day licence, the driver will able to purchase a $20 e-day licence from 63 Singpost branches, authorised road tax collection centres, AXS stations, the Internet (http://www.onemotoring.com.sg/), and via the mobile network. E-day licenses will not be sold over the counters at the LTA office at Sin Ming Drive.
Validity checks of e-day licences will be carried out electronically where the registration numbers of off-peak cars spotted on the roads during restricted hours will be verified real-time with LTA's database. This will be less intrusive than the current method of having LTA's enforcement officer stop an off-peak car and check the coupon physically.
- More m-services: LTA is a leading agency in the roll-out of mobile services. To date, we have nine m-enquiry services including traffic news and images, COE results, parking rates and road tax information.
As handphones and mobile devices become more pervasive, and more personalised services are expected from public agencies, we have developed an enterprise m-services masterplan for 2007 - 2009. For example, alerts for renewal of licences or notification of licence approvals can be sent through Short Message Service (SMS); mobile payments of fees and fines can be offered as an alternative to Internet and kiosks payments; and location-based mobile alert services can update motorists on traffic conditions along a certain stretch of road or expressway.
4. How have improvements in technology enabled greater interaction between citizens and the government?
Rosina: One of the most significant spin-offs from the implementation of ONE.MOTORING has been the popularity of the portal as a point of interaction for the community. To date, we have over 34,000 registered members who actively interact amongst themselves and have participated in at least 3,500 forum topics and polls since October 2004. Topics of e-discussions range from car maintenance services and fuel consumption to driving tips, lowest parking rates and useful tips when buying a car in Singapore.
These informal public exchanges complement the formal services provided by LTA and the land transport industry, and together they have developed the ONE.MOTORING portal into a very unique meeting place. Through ONE.MOTORING, we have transformed what would have been a typical government portal into a lifestyle hub to allow communities with similar interests to engage with each other and exchange information. The end-result is a content-rich portal powered by real users.Technology is the best conduit to provide this meshing of interests from different communities; and trust is built up with the necessary security features in place.
5. What challenges and considerations are involved in developing eCitizen services?
Rosina: Citizens do not expect only convenience and efficiency from public agencies. Now more than ever, the "one size fits all" approach is no longer applicable. Better educated and younger citizens, adept in the use of technology, seek more choices and personalised services, while the less Internet-savvy citizens require personal attention from time to time.
Providing multi-channels and multi access points are some of the challenges and considerations in the development of eCitizen services. LTA offers not only a full suite of applications and enquiry services online; popular e-services and frequently-asked enquiries are also accessible via other interaction channels including mobile phones, PDAs and kiosks. These channels offer choice and flexibility for information access, online alerts and personalised services - anytime, anywhere. For the less infocomm-savvy, manual channels such as counters and call centres are maintained.
6. What wider impact do these infocomm initiatives have beyond LTA?
Rosina: The Singapore Government has consistently ranked high in comparative studies on e-government leadership. LTA is not alone in contributing to this ranking as many other agencies have come together to develop common systems with the aim of providing better public service. One such example is the collaboration between LTA, Singapore Land Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing and Development Board and JTC Corporation to jointly develop an online system for the submission of road openings. In the past, a developer or utility agency requesting to dig the road for the laying of cables would need to manually submit the request to all related agencies. This process can take two to three months since each agency takes about two to three weeks to process the request. Today, the submission is made online and the system auto-routes it to all agencies for approval, cutting the overall processing time to two to three weeks. The system has been well received by the business community as a pro-enterprise initiative.
I am also delighted that LTA's Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is now extensively deployed by many private car-park operators and the HDB for ERP-like charging of car park fees; and that LTA's initiated EzLink fare card can be used for both transit and non-transit applications.
These are just a few of the many examples of government-led innovations that have helped spin off new applications across the nation.