Data on service providers must be relevant, reflect reality

The data shared by government agencies on the performance standards of service providers is easily accessible and transparent, but whether it reflects the challenges faced by consumers is another matter ("Boosting infocomm and media infrastructure for current, future needs" by the Infocomm Media Development Authority; Oct 13, 2016).

Take train disruptions, for example.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) tracks the average distance travelled between each delay that lasts more than five minutes ("LTA using new way to count train delays"; Dec 12, 2015).

However, commuters also face the inconvenience of frequent one- to two-minute pauses during peak hours, either due to wet weather or large crowds. These intermittent pauses can also be as disruptive and frustrating.

On the performance measurements for broadband access, only two service providers' performances are shared, when there are five major players in the fibre broadband market.

Connection quality is also not tracked using the current indicators.

The authorities need to constantly review the relevancy of the information published, and decide if the information would be useful to the stakeholders.

In the case of broadband service providers, a possible outcome would be that prospective customers could make a discerning choice based on service reliability standards published by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Hence, the basis of data gathering and definition of indicators have to be articulated clearly in the published data.

I suggest that the IMDA and LTA adopt what the Singapore Department of Statistics has been doing to survey business sentiments - carrying out end-user surveys as a form of performance and customer satisfaction tracking.

Both irate and satisfied consumers will be glad to know that they have an avenue to contribute to the tracking of the performance of the service providers.

Chiam Sheng Shi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2017, with the headline 'Data on service providers must be relevant, reflect reality'. Print Edition | Subscribe