Viet Nam News
Đà Nẵng’s authorities have taken a viral approach to tackling environmental problems and other issues in the city: a Facebook page. It has proven to be a popular avenue for citizens to report their concerns.
by Công Thành
Facebook is now a popular and rapid response tool for Đà Nẵng’s People’s Committee to address opinions from residents on different urban and environmental problems.
The urban management Facebook page, Quản lý đô thị Đà Nẵng: Tiện nghi-Xanh-Sạch-Đẹp (Đà Nẵng Urban Management: Comfortable-Green-Clean-Beautiful), which involves the participation of 20,000 online members and 11 managers from Đà Nẵng’s departments and agencies, has helped the city’s relevant departments address issues on environment pollution, social disorder, traffic, tourism and illegal actions. The Facebook page was founded in 2013.
It has served as an effective link between the community and the city’s leadership, and helped speed up solutions to problems.
“We receive around 20 complaints and messages from local people and tourists regarding different problems in the community,” said the deputy head of the city’s urban management office, Nguyễn Văn Duy.
“We assign 11 key members from departments in the city to deal with urban infrastructure, communications, security and traffic.”
All input is either sent directly to managers or forwarded to them, and a team is assigned to quickly address traffic jams or security problems in the community.
He said poor management or a slow reaction from any department would reflect on the capacity of managers or servants, and any issues would result in deductions from their monthly pay.
“It’s an endeavour between working teams, departments and grassroots administrations,” he said. “A few years ago, we witnessed slow reactions from departments in dealing with complaints from local residents due to bulky administration and the time it took to send orders.”
Duy said local people often reported issues related to road damage, pollution, forest fire risks, hazardous workshops, tourism harassment and robberies that occur in their living quarters or surrounding areas.
The Facebook managing board said it received 454 messages from local people last year, and 154 issues were resolved. In addition, 2,500 violations at public sites were addressed after the administration received alerts from local people via Facebook.
Vice director of the city’s Culture, Sports and Tourism department Trần Chí Cường said Facebook offered an effective and quick connection between the city’s leaders and local people.
“The city’s leadership can hear opinions from local residents directly, and a quick decision will be made,” Cường said.
“We fined some restaurants after receiving complaints about overcharging from tourists via the Facebook page last year,” he said. “An English tourist, who complained about the poor service of a guesthouse in Đà Nẵng via our Facebook page, received a refund from the owner.”
He said the page also helped local administration adjust wrongful and out-of-date procedures while building trust in the community and creating an open dialogue between the authorities and people.
According to Hoàng Thị Hợi, a resident from Hải Châu District, complaints from her living quarter are now addressed more quickly.
“Before, we had to wait for a response to a complaint from local administration for months, but it’s quicker now,” she said. “Any issues with public cleanliness, power supply, clean water or damage to public works are remedied within a day or a few hours.
“I feel free to post complaints or opinions on the urban management page. Our views urge local administration to take action more quickly rather than the sluggish pace in the past.”
Director of the city’s construction department Vũ Quang Hùng said Facebook was an easy and effective way to gauge the community’s response and learn about various problems in urban management.
“We can now hear opinions from local people on any public construction project or plan, so we can revise any mistakes and unreasonable conditions,” Hùng said. “Collecting remarks from local people on our plans will help us avoid wasting time and money for poor designs or plans.”
Nguyễn Điểu, director of the Nature Resources and Environment Department, said the page had become an online public opinion poll regarding city decisions.
“We are online around-the-clock to get complaints and opinions from residents on the quality of water, poor sewage treatment and polluted factories,” he said. “Of course, we have to solve the problem fast, rather than be criticised by the city’s leaders.”
Đà Nẵng city also plans to start a Facebook page to manage tourism information and quickly respond to travellers’ questions or complaints regarding poor service and emergencies.
In a meeting with local departments, Vice Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Đặng Việt Dũng asked the city’s Culture, Sports and Tourism department and the Management Board of Sơn Trà Peninsula and beach to use the page to promote tourism and improve services for tourists.
Last year, the city opened a visitor centre at 108 Bạch Đằng Street to provide free information to tourists visiting the city.
The centre also connects agencies including Tourism and Traffic Inspectors, the Police, Market Watch and Emergency Centre 115 to provide medical assistance and protection in dealing with emergencies and other problems.
Tourists who need assistance can call the phone number 0511-3550111.
The city also launched an Over-The-Top (OTT) service called Zalo, which will provide public administrative information and procedures following a one-year trial.
According to the city’s information and communications department, the city carried out 1,196 online administrative procedures, and 95 per cent of public employees can now work online.
In 2014, the city launched e-Government systems to provide a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), wireless internet, data centre and a centre for human training and research on IT applications.
Duy, who manages the Đà Nẵng Urban Management: Comfortable-Green-Clean-Beautiful Facebook, said it would be a security information channel between local people and the administration.
“Any warnings or complaints from local residents can be speedily sent to assigned departments such as the police or firemen,” Duy said.
“The city offers free wireless services, and local residents can easily connect online with assigned departments.
“Đà Nẵng is an attractive destination in central Việt Nam, and we acknowledge the importance of information technology in changing people’s lives and helping the city develop.”
He added Facebook and other social networks helped the country undergo an online facelift in a “green and smart” way. VNS