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New technology must be reliable

6th March 2012
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Editorial Cartoon

One of the most significant advances in the country in the last few years is that of easing access to a lot of activities where before one had to queue for long hours to get served.

Accessing some of the services such as banking and paying for the various services such as water, electricity involved spending hours in queues.

The situation changed dramatically recently thanks to the new technologies which have speeded up dispensing of those services.

All that one needs now is to possess one of those modern mobile phones, otherwise called smart phones, to access those services from wherever one is.

At one time, when one announced that he or she was rushing to the bank or to pay a water or power bill, the office counted out his or her contribution for the day, knowing that the person would be gone for the rest of the day, reinforcing the inefficiency that was keeping the economy down.

Such workers could not expect to access the service and make it back to the office to do any useful work, unless they were well known and received preferential treatment.

But now literally every other service provider is busy designing systems to offer more efficient services through the new, touch-button technology.

The government, one of the largest public service providers in the country is looking for ways to improve its efficiency through e-government.

The huge benefits from the new technology are there for all to see. People are now able to use the time that was otherwise wasted in endless queues to do some valuable work and thus enhance productivity.

The technology also ensures in many cases a 24-hour service as opposed to the manual one, where some service providers would be closed by the time workers left offices and wanted to access those services before retiring for the day.

However there are certain developments which if not addressed urgently could reverse the efforts and send the country back into the days of long queues and poor services.

In the last few days some of the services provided through the new technology have suffered intermittent breakdowns, catching relaxed consumers off guard.

Just the other day the power vending network broke down, catching many of the power consumers off guard.

Those who had no units to keep them going while the system was being repaired, were forced to go without electricity, resorting to charcoal, candles, batteries and kerosene for lighting and cooking.

Similar situations have been experienced by those using the automated money transfer systems, who find themselves hit by breakdowns at times when they need to withdraw cash to pay for emergency needs, but no banks are open.

We must hasten to point out that the negatives experienced by users of the new technologies far outweigh the benefits to them and the economy as a whole.

The providers must however continue to improve reliability, by ensuring that there are back-ups and fallbacks for customers in case the systems fail.

In this era of competition and constant technical improvements, nothing but quality service will ensure providers build a loyal client base.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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