Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SBS acts on third-party apps developers' requests

SBS Transit has explained why it needed to block third-party apps from accessing information from its IRIS system.

It was responding to comments made by Lulin Reutens yesterday on why the move did not make sense. Lulin, by the way, does not own an iPhone and takes the bus occasionally.

In her email yesterday, Ms Tammy Tan, SBS Transit's Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, explains:

"We have introduced a verification process to our iris information as many third party application developers were accessing our information without prior approval.

"Unfortunately, this could result in issues of information accuracy being provided to end-users since we have no control over these developers. But we recognise that it would be useful to end-users to have access to some of these apps.

"As such, we are currently evaluating several requests by third party application developers and assessing them based on the merits of their proposals.

"Separately, we will also be rolling out an iris app for Android users come this July in addition to the iPhone app that has already been available since April."

Bouquet to SBS Transit for recognising the needs of non-iPhone users and doing something about it.

SBS blocking of 3rd party apps makes no sense at all

Retiree Lulin Reutens, who takes the bus occasionally and does not have an iPhone, is peeved when she read, in The Straits Times yesterday, SBS Transit's reason for blocking third party apps from accessing information from its IRIS system.

"It makes no sense at all," she says.

In The Straits Times' report, SBS corp comm's Tammy Tan says the move is "to prevent unauthorised use of proprietary information" and that using the information without approval "could result in wrong information released to end users".

In an email to boo-n-bouquet today, Lulin counters: "Commuters will stop using those apps that give incorrect schedules and the reliable ones will gain popularity. This can only be a good thing; why should that be of concern to SBS?

"Anyway, isn't SBS's main job to get as many people to ride their buses as possible? And wouldn't allowing maximum access to their precious IRIS information help to do this?

"And most importantly, wouldn't that be of great service to their customers? Having the information in one's palm would be many times more convenient than the current situation. Apps developers who have asked for permission have been rejected. So what does SBS want?

"I can just hear SBS's collective minds ticking: How dare anyone make money (through ads) from information that SBS generates! Why not make the money ourselves and prevent others from gaining? Let's stop them, although our version is limited only to iPhone users and other versions won't be ready for months. What's the hurry? After all, commuters have managed without accurate schedules for years.

"What money SBS could make from ads in their own apps would be small change compared to the zillions the company makes from commuters. But it would be a great boost to the apps developers."

What Lulin says makes a lot of sense. We can only hope that SBS Transit will come to its senses.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Six months' wait to do a scan

I was surfing The Online Citizen website today when I came across this posting about a woman's experience with the Changi General Hospital which kept postponing her appointment for a scan.

Yvonne Leng says she had gone to a polyclinic in mid-February because of her agonizing backache. She was given an early April date to do a scan at the Changi General Hospital.

However, because of the numerous delays, her appointment was eventually fixed for the end of August.

"More than 6 months to see the doctor, just to do a scan?" she says. "This is ridiculous, unacceptable and simply insane.. I am really mad."

Here's her posting in The Online Citizen on May 11.

Six months’ wait – just to do a scan

"I had gone to a polyclinic in mid-February and requested to do a MRI scan for my chronic backache which gave me agonizing pain and was affecting my sleep and temperament.

" I was first given a slot in early April to see the orthopaedic doctor. I asked for the earliest slot possible and was told that was the earliest date. I had managed my expectations well, knowing it would take 2-3 months before I can see the doctor. So I waited.

"Come March, I was notified that my appointment had been postponed to almost another 2 months later, from early April to end of May instead. I wasn’t given any explanation; just a SMS and a letter that they “regret” to inform me that my appointment had been rescheduled.

"I decided to do the scan at a private hospital and got a slot the very next day. Results were out the following day too. This kind of efficiency costs me S$1,000 excluding the treatment sessions averaging about S$100 per half an hour. I too accepted it, because it was a non-subsidised hospital.

"6th May 2011, one day before election, I received a sms from CGH that my orthopaedic surgery appointment @ Changi General Hospital (CGH) had been once again delayed – for a second time. This time round delayed another 3 months from the already delayed date – end of August.

"More than 6 months to see the doctor, just to do a scan? This is ridiculous, unacceptable and simply insane. I do not actually need to see the doctor anymore, but I am really mad.

"I called the hospital and demanded an explanation. I was really really mad. And to my surprise, the operations manager reverted back to me within 3 hours and offered me an appointment slot that was just a few days later.

"I was very impressed with her professionalism and efficiency. But somehow this made me even more angry. If I were one of the poor, uneducated, non-complaining Singaporeans or one who does not know which channel to go for help, I would have to accept these delays in seeking medical treatment?

"Is it because my condition is not life threatening that I have to accept this kind of unprofessionalism and inefficiency? Or are the poor and weak supposed to have higher threshold for pain and their lives are not as worthy as the rich?

"I have since written to Ministry of Health and the Straits Times forum page. I have yet to hear from them. I am very sure a lot of people are facing the same problem. And as a fellow Singaporean, (not trying to be label as a typical complaining Singaporean) I think I have to voice out and make attempts to rectify issues like this.

"And convey the message that our healthcare system has a lot of room to improve on. I sincerely hope Ms Tin Pei Ling and Mr Khaw Boon Wan – both of whom espoused the affordability and efficiency of our healthcare system – will be able to read this and make sure what needs to be rectified will be rectified."

Yvonne's experience reminded me of my brother's experience a year ago with the Singapore General Hospital which took 68 days to fill up a medical report for an insurance claim --- despite numerous reminders.

My faith in our "first-class" national health services is eroding rather rapidly.