Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not an EZ link to the grassroots

I exchange my old EZ-Link card for the newer version yesterday. This card is the paperless (though not exactly moneyless) solution to using public transport facilities in Singapore, namely the buses and Mass Rapid Transit trains.

Unfortunately, I could not top up the card's value at the train station top up machine. The new card can only be topped up at the external top up machine, the one that has an external sensor on which you place your card. And another unfortunate problem is that the new card cannot be automatically topped up (the service of which will be available in a month or two).

I think it is a bad case of planning leading up to the gradual phasing in of the new version of the card. The Land Transport Authority might not have anticipated the incompatibility of the existing top up machines with the new EZ-Link cards.

Well, after all, the higher-ranking officers who approved this improvement of technology are probably not regular users of the public transport system. And if they did, they probably risk being set on fire by the random clinically insane member of the public.

Politicians and policy officers are only in touch with the ground through the slow trickling/crawling up of information from the ground. The vertical flight path of feedback and information is often impeded by bureaucracy and various institutional filtration. Some are deemed not worthy to be of notice or concern to the higher rungs.

Experts, academics, investors and (higher ranked) government officials will always be quick to push and promote new technologies, thinking they will have a positive effect on society, and in most cases, immediately. But sometimes, the expertise and enthusiasm cannot replace the empathy and understanding of how things work on the ground.

Just look at the "IT Push" in our public schools, where information communication technologies are integrated into the curricula. There are some staff and students who feel that we are not ready for e-learning, and that existing (and newer) digital divides are being exacerbated.

The leaders of Singapore are too caught up with benchmarking, following the good and successful practices of other countries, following the trends experts, early adopters and industry veterans (they together form a rigid paradigm for technology and business) "predict". Our leaders think that since ICT integration is the way to go, we should integrate it into everything we do. Buzzwords like "synergy" are replaced by "interaction" and "new media". It's all rhetoric that displaces other pressing problems like how Singaporean society is polarised, stratified, fragmented and unhappy.

Yes, I am just pissed off that I cannot auto top up my new EZ link card.

1 comment:

Agagooga said...

I GIRO-linked mine in 2002 and have never looked back

I plan to change mine in June when the queues have died and laugh at all the kiasu idiots