PHUKET: Most private firms in Phuket realize that keeping up with developments in information technology is a difficult and never-ending effort, but one vital to competitiveness.
Talk of Phuket’s designation as an ‘IT hub’ has been a recurring theme in the news over the past decade. This IT optimism reached its zenith in during the first Thaksin administration, when we were told the days of Singapore’s unofficial reign as the regional IT capital were numbered.
The Lion City was destined to fall behind Phuket and Thailand, which would soon boast ’10 Singapores,’ one of Thaksin’s government ministers claimed at the time.
That hasn’t happened. But there has been considerable improvement in the island’s IT infrastructure since then.
Most important is the increased availability and speed of international Internet connections. Current options might not be as reliable, cheap or fast as they could be, but the situation is still light-years ahead of how things stood a decade ago – and enormously better than even just a few years ago.
Thanks in large part to the installation of fiber-optic cable networks, there has been a big increase in the number of Wi-
Fi hotspots, with Internet cafés in every neighborhood and connectivity available to just about anyone who wants it.
Laptop owners are also able to take advantage of ‘air card’ technology to work just about anywhere on the island, making the dream of working by the beach a reality.
On the business side, the island last year saw the opening of Phuket Software Park, which is now hosting free weekly seminars on a variety of topics. A special note of thanks should also go out to the island’s IT community and one of its pioneers, long-time Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard, who has been running free computer clinics on the island for years.
But despite all these positive developments, most local government agencies have kept their feet firmly planted in the past, ignoring the Internet and steadfastly relying on outdated technologies like the fax machine, billboards, banners and the obnoxious sound trucks and ‘telephone pole’ loudspeakers’ as the primary media for disseminating information to the public.
All local government agencies, especially municipalities and tambon administration organizations, should be doing everything possible to make Phuket a tropical high-tech paradise.
A good way for them to start would be to set up and maintain informative, user-friendly websites that are updated regularly with information in both Thai and English.
But, sadly, many appear far more committed to the use of ugly noise and visual pollution that should not be tolerated on a ‘world class’ tropical resort island.
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