E-SmartBox: A Decent Software and Hardware Tool to Enhance Public Service Efficiency and Sustainability

Choompol Boonmee, Jirasuk Sugandhajati
The Ministry of Labour (MOL) is responsible for labour-related public services. The services include employment promotion, skill development, social security, the worker compensation fund, labour protection and welfare. These various services have been mandated to several departments and divisions under the MOL. Service receivers must know where to access a specific service since each service is provided in a different location. Especially in the countryside this becomes a significant
more » ... gnificant difficulty since people do not know where to access a specific labour service. To enhance labour service accessibility MOL service counters had been established. The counters perform as a single window to access all kinds of labour-related public services. The service procedure starts from the service request, filling out a request form, providing required documents, finishing the service, and a satisfaction survey. This procedure takes averagely 20-30 minutes for each service access. Additionally, since more than 130 types of labour-related services have to be delivered, working staff have to be intensively trained to be able to deliver these services. Unfortunately, some working staff do not stay in their jobs long. They tend to quit their jobs for better ones. Training new staff to provide such a wide variety of services becomes an obstacle to delivering continual good services. E-SmartBox is a new concept designed by the MOL to solve the problems. It consists of two parts: a hardware part and a software part. The hardware part is a plastic box with a smartcard reader, a web camera and a key pad inside, and can be procured anywhere at low cost. All Thai people aged from 7 to 70 have citizen ID cards which are electronic smartcards. The software has been designed to retrieve personal data from the ID card, to fill and print request forms automatically and to provide a rapid satisfaction survey via the key pad. This greatly reduces the service procedure to less than five minutes. Additionally the software has been designed to assist the staff by providing the knowledge required. They can search for information from the database of more than three hundred frequently asked questions (FAQ) and more than six hundred knowledge items. Presently more than 50 MOL service counters have been established for provinces around the country. The e-SmartBox has been deployed to all service counters since August 2013. After using this tool, service access time has been shortened greatly and the satisfaction increased to 95 percent. The MOL plans to improve this technique for more services in a pilot project of 37 districts in the southern part of Thailand. As regards sustainability, since only widely procurable standard computer accessories have been used, it is easy to maintain at a total cost of less than 50 US$. The software has been developed using the java web start technique; it is easy to be distributed and deployed. This technique can be expanded to other types of service delivery as well.