09 February 2021

The Use of Text Messages To Improve Public Services

Unified Communication Messaging Hub 
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Currently, city administrations around the world are gearing up toward creating “smart cities”. Smart cities refer to the integration of information technology (IT) to help urban management become better. The implementation of IT in urban management helps cities monitor traffic, maintain public security, serve the public as well as managing their waste, pollution and sewage better. IT can also help make public information and education activities more efficient and interactive. 


Why text messages?

One way in which governments can use IT to make public service more efficient is through text messages. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how, for example, the Indonesian authorities through their COVID-19 task force regularly sends SMS to homebound citizens to keep them updated on the latest outbreak situation and what they can do to protect their health.


Using text messages can be a very effective way to engage with the public, especially as they are being homebound during the pandemic. According to Message Media, text messages have a 90 percent open rate and are read within 90 seconds of arrival. Yet, governments can use text messages to deliver and improve public services in ways beyond “merely” sending news items and alerts. 


Uses of text messages in public service

Governments can execute development programs while receiving real-time feedback from citizens through text message surveys to help them monitor and evaluate these programs effectively. For instance, say you are building a highway in a certain part of a city. The text messages can help you gauge how the construction project affects traffic there, allowing you to manage road blockages, closures and traffic flows better. 


To give citizens a personal touch through these surveys, you can also use a skip system that sends different questions based on the previous answer, according to granicus.com. In a city with complex alleyways and shortcut roads which arrangements change constantly such as Jakarta, you can also help citizens who get lost in a particular alley or shortcut road by replying their SMS with a map comprising the location’s latest layout. 


Furthermore, text message surveys and public help centers can help you reduce costs by cutting back on printing and surveyors’ fees. Furthermore, through the multimedia messaging service (MMS) function, you can also encourage citizens to also complement their reports or complaints (e.g., about potholes or dangling electrical wires) with photos.


How Telkom DWS’ SMSA2P can help

In Indonesia, Telkom Wholesale Service Division (Telkom DWS) provides a solution called SMS application-to-person, which helps you conduct your text message activities en masse. The provider has a domestic reach which allows your SMS traffic to be distributed to other entities linked with Telkom’s SMS Hubber. The solution also masks your SMS number with your government institution displayed as the sender. At the same time, the platform also helps you keep records on public complaints and feedback to ensure continuity of public service improvements.


Telkom DWS’ SMSA2P platform also boasts several competitive advantages, including: good aftersales service and competitive price. Telkom DWS also helps the government run their delivery systems smoother under its simple and integrated platform. This integrated system also helps governments deliver urgent public service and education activities faster.


As the COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of various ways of life, including business and lifestyle, it can also serve as a momentum for cities to become smarter through technology as well.


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