February 14, 2014

More Ideas and Innovations needed

Fri Feb 14, 2014

It didn’t get the nation’s full attention, but the just concluded Ideas and Innovations contest for students at this country’s secondary and tertiary institutions, willing to think outside the proverbial box, produced results that triggered both deep concerns and excited optimism for St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Participants in this NTRC (National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) organized event were required to take the current methods, approaches or structure of a public service or public entity, and, using that as the base line, bring 21st century ideas or innovations to bear to improve service delivery.

The participants base lines, established through their research, show that service delivery in a number of our institutions remains firmly grounded in time consuming, inefficient and sometimes ineffective practices, which may be responsible for the poor public perception of some of our public institutions. And that is a concern.

Why, for example, are more of our public service institutions which directly interface with the public not offering the option to book appointments online; to complete and submit application forms for the various services on offer; or even to check availability of supplies and prices where products are on sale to the public. The multiple long lines and appointments must be a strain on national productivity.

But the technology driven solutions thrown up by the enthusiastic participants at the event, which had SEARCHLIGHT as one of its sponsors, offer hope on several fronts. Besides greater efficiency, there are obvious opportunities for the current and future sets of graduates to explore new employment opportunities developing and overseeing operations of the apps and other measures, to be applied to the current services.

Government’s provision of laptops to primary school students – and to secondary and tertiary in the coming months; and the heavily discounted internet service provided to lower household expenditure through the Universal Service Fund, should mean there are high national penetration levels for computer and internet access. The young in each household can become the point persons for accessing online service delivery.

Significantly also, one telecommunications service provider, LIME, has announced the roll out of its 4G platform, required for accessing the proposed apps on mobile devices, and its competitor Digicel has said it too, will roll out 4G before mid-year. The platforms for technological solutions are there. We now need more Ideas and Innovations to improve our public service delivery.