PICK YOUR FAVOURITE GIFT VOUCHER OFFER TODAY

The government has so far made more than 600 apps. How many actually work? – The Business Standard

PICK YOUR FAVOURITE GIFT VOUCHER OFFER TODAY

Spread the love

Monday
September 12, 2022

<span class="lg-gallery" data-exthumbimage="https://tbsnews.net/sites/default/files/styles/very_big_3/public/images/2022/09/11/loading-please-wait.jpg?itok=XUCwAFMe" data-src="https://tbsnews.net/sites/default/files/styles/very_big_3/public/images/2022/09/11/loading-please-wait.jpg?itok=XUCwAFMe" data-sub-html="

Infographic: TBS

“> Infographic: TBS

Infographic: TBS

Did you know that BIWTA has an app? 
I downloaded the application from Google Play on 30 August and was greeted by its familiar logo – a small yellow steamer inside a red circle. 
The app claims to carry information about fares, routes and BIWTA’s countrywide office locations. But when I clicked on it, all it said was ‘loading, please wait.’
In the last seven years, the application has been downloaded 1,000 times, has a 3.9 rating with feedback from 15 people, and has 11 reviews. 
“Good page it’s the best,” Md Rasel, one user, left a sarcastic feedback with a 4-star rating.      
The application was released on Google Play on 31 January, 2015. The last time the app was updated was on 27, March 2016.  
I downloaded another application – Hospital Finder. What follows is more or less the same. The purpose of this application is to help find the nearest hospital, its information and contact details. When I opened the application, a Google map came on the screen but it showed no hospitals. 
“It’s totally [the] worst app. Don’t waste your time,” wrote a user. The last update of the application was on 24 September 2014.      
I then downloaded an app called Village Court which has so far been downloaded 10,000 times. After opening the application, you see four options for getting information about village court, rules of punishment, rules for application etc. But when I touched the screen, it went completely blank. 
These three applications are among the approximately 600 mobile applications the ICT Division developed under two projects between 2013 and 2015. To implement these two projects, the government had to spend Tk18 crore 35 lakh. 
However, now, only 44 of the 600 mobile applications can be found on Google Play, and these 44 apps rarely function properly. 
Failure to update
In 2013, the government took up the project Mobile Apps Development Programme at an estimated cost of Tk8 crore and 88 lakh. The programme ended in June 2015. 
Retired additional secretary Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury was the then project director of the project. When asked why these applications vanished from Google Play he said mobile phone applications need to be updated all the time. “No one is doing the upgradation of the apps.” 
“The individual government agencies were supposed to keep it up-to-date but they did not do that after the handover of the project,” said Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury. 
Private company Ethics Advance Technology Limited gave technical support for the development of the 500 applications. The company’s Managing Director MA Mubin Khan told The Business Standard that ICT Division did not enter into any agreement for maintenance of the applications. 
“ICT Division can answer whether the apps have been useful or not. Our task was to hand over the applications to the technical committee,” said MA Mubin Khan.     
In another project, the ICT Division took up the ‘National-Level Mobile Apps Training and Creative Apps Development Programme’ at a cost of Tk9 crore and 47 lakh. The purpose of the project was to develop 100 mobile applications. 
The then project director, Mina Masud Uzzaman, who is now an additional Inspector General at the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, told The Business Standard that he has forgotten the name of the project. 
“If you do not continuously update the apps, they will not work,” said Mina Masud Uzzaman. 
Private company Multimedia Content & Communications Ltd gave technical support for the development of these 100 applications. The company’s Chief Executive, Suny Md Ashraf Khan, told The Business Standard – same as MA Mubin – that the ICT Division did not enter into an agreement for the upgradation and maintenance of the applications. 
“Google has removed most of the applications because they are not updating the old versions and content,” said Suny Md Ashraf Khan. “As long as these applications were in Google Play, we sent letters to the ICT Division to update and maintain them. But they did not do it.” 
The new generation of apps
Out of the 600 apps from the two projects, around 300 were made for people to directly access the service of specific government offices or agencies. Although most of them have become obsolete, some apps have since been built on the individual initiative of the agencies themselves. 
There were two government apps developed for the Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) but the utility service provider no longer uses either. 
“In the old apps, the customers could only see the billing information; there was no payment system attached then. Now our apps have the payment system,” said Shamim Ahsan Chowdhury, the Chief Engineer, IT of DPDC. 
Like DPDC, Bangladesh Bank does not use their original mobile application either. Bangladesh Bank has developed its own mobile application called BB Complaints. 

Some 13 applications can now be found on Google Play that were developed by the ICT Division outside of the two early projects. Nodi Rocks, Digital Literacy Centre, Mujib100, Epic of Politics, Smart Rajshahi and Startup Bangladesh are some of those apps. 
The Surokkha app – developed for facilitating the vaccination process – has seen more than 5 million downloads and has a 4.1 star rating based on 17,000 reviews. 
It gained popularity because users find it easy to use. “This app is making our [life] easy. If you want to do work fast and easily, you can try this app,” wrote Abrar Chowdhury in a 28 August 2022 review. 
Not all feedback however is positive as some users complained glitches start to appear on the functionality of the app when there is heavy traffic.  
The remaining apps, however, did not gain much popularity and some do not work well. 
For example, I downloaded the Startup Bangladesh app, which was developed for IT entrepreneurs to submit ideas, but I could not even open the application. MJ Adnan Baksh gave it a one-star rating and wrote “This app is unusable” in an August 2021 review. 
The government flagship project Aspire to Innovate (a2i) for Digital Bangladesh has also developed more than 18 mobile applications, which includes Bangladesh Directory, MyGov and Uttoradhikar. And these are functioning well for two primary reasons – they have been developed recently and are relatively regularly updated. For instance, Bangladesh Directory was last updated on 18 April 2022.  
The Bangladesh Directory is a fantastic application because one can get the contact number of government officials starting from the ministry, right up to the union parishad level. 
“A good contact list for the government officials all around the country. Good effort. Need to update contact numbers regularly,” wrote a user on 5 January 2020. 
Another user named Minhajul Hridoy gave it a four-star rating on 11 April 2022. He said that it is one of the best and most timely initiatives of the Bangladesh government. 
With this many government agencies involved in making apps, it is inevitable that there would be overlaps.
The ICT Division has developed an application named Citizen Help Desk. The application has similar features to the Bangladesh Directory and MyGov. Last updated on 24 April 2019, the Citizen Help Desk has a 4.5 rating with 5,000 downloads. I installed the application but failed to even open it. In the past, there was National Apps Bangladesh boasting an e-Directory, with the same type of features. 
Meanwhile, the ICT Division took up a new Mobile Games and Applications Skill Development project at a cost of Tk281 crore and 80 lakh in 2016. The project will end in June 2023. Not much information about the project was forthcoming from the project officials. 
When asked about the ineffectiveness of the 600 first generation mobile apps, ICT Division’s senior secretary NM Zeaul Alam said that it is not correct to say that all these apps are not on Google Play or that they do not work. 
“I cannot talk about it without seeing it. Some are active,” said NM Zeaul Alam. Pointing to the success of the Surokkha, he said that there are some apps which are usable and people-friendly. 
Ershadul Hoque, chairman of BASIS’s standing committee on Games, XR and NFT, said that the main problem with mobile applications is that these applications require regular updates and maintenance. 
“If you do not update the mobile apps you released in 2013, it will not work on phones being released now because of the changes in the operating systems.” 
At one time, when Google sees that customers have moved to new phones, Google deletes the old apps because there are no users. “I think the authorities have not done any maintenance [and] as a result, Google deleted these mobile phone apps,” said Ershadul Hoque. 
Govt App / government / apps
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderation decisions are subjective. Published comments are readers’ own views and The Business Standard does not endorse any of the readers’ comments.
The Business Standard
Main Office -4/A, Eskaton Garden, Dhaka- 1000
Phone: +8801847 416158 – 59
Send Opinion articles to – [email protected]
For advertisement- [email protected]

source

PICK YOUR FAVOURITE GIFT VOUCHER OFFER TODAY

Leave a Reply

PICK YOUR FAVOURITE GIFT VOUCHER OFFER TODAY

Scroll to Top