Saturday, July 21 2018

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Hà Nội to press on with ’smart devices’ to replace wartime loudspeakers

Update: February, 27/2018 - 15:17
Tied to poles or streetlights at a height, loudspeakers, better known as "loa phường", are used to provide local people with news, songs and information at dawn and dusk. The concept is said to have originated in the 1970s during the American War when they would be used to raise an alarm before bombing raids. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Ubiquitous public loudspeakers in the capital, dating back to the war days, may soon become history as the city authority is mulling a modern alternative.

The pilot programme was initiated in 2017, with the support of the State-owned telecommunications corporation VNPT, which is overseeing the designing and production of router-like devices, named M-Gateway, that uses wireless internet connection to broadcast Government notices and other content. A few selected households in certain areas in the inner urban districts, such as Hoàn Kiếm and Ba Đình, were the first to experience the new method of State information dissemination. 

The loudspeakers were once an efficient means to warn people of incoming air raids or to deliver latest developments in the frontline during the war against the United States in the 1960-1970 period when communication methods were scarce. However, in modern life, the current content that the loudspeakers broadcast --- mostly patriotic songs and Government’s policies --- is no longer necessary. Their obnoxiously loud volume and the fact that smartphones give easy access to any information people need has quickened loudspeakers’ demise.

Last year, the city authority drastically cut back on the number of loudspeakers and stated that they could only be used in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, search and rescue or disease control.

M-Gateway, the “smart device network” that is planned to replace the loudspeakers in future, will also enable easier access to administrative services without requiring the residents to directly go to State agencies. Residents can also make online payment for electricity or water, as well as send their feedback or complaints directly to the city authorities via the device.

The move is part of the city’s plan to push for more intensive application of information technology in its administrative activities in 2018. It recently got the formal approval with the signature of the Chairman of Hà Nội People’s Committee, Nguyễn Đức Chung. The major goals of the plan are to cut red tapism and move management activities online, enabling ease of doing business or getting administrative papers handled quicker, “in service of the public and enterprises”.

The city will also aim to outfit 100 per cent of its local governments with teleconference networks to ensure better communication among localities.

Also slated for 2018 is the deployment of a “smart tourism system”, which will have a Hà Nội tourism Web portal and a dedicated mobile application, a tourism digital map of Hà Nội, as well as other IT-based smart solutions to develop tourism. — VNS

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