Airada Luangvilai, Senior Executive Vice President, Electronic Government Agency, Thailand
By Medha Basu
Women in GovTech Special Report 2017.
I strongly believe that technology should be used for the benefit of the whole society. In the digital era, the Royal Thai Government is strongly committed to using digital technology to create an open and connected government which is more transparent and serves Thai people better and smarter, with lower costs.
The main role of the Electronic Government Agency, as the central digital agency of Thailand, is therefore to facilitate collaboration between government agencies and provide them with shared digital infrastructure, digital government transformation and human resource development.
One outstanding example is our efforts to integrate government data from numerous government agencies responsible for government budget and procurement, including the Bureau of the Budget and the Comptroller General’s Department. We performed data analytics and presented it in easy-to-understand formats such as dashboards, maps and infographics.
Ordinary citizens with only basic computer skills can access this information from the website, govspending.data.go.th, or a mobile application anywhere, anytime. Not only does this initiative make the government more transparent, it also empowers ordinary people to scrutinise the government’s spending with minimal limitations.
What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2017?
The most exciting projects I have been involved are projects on government data and analytics.
The Prime Minister of Thailand is strongly committed to revolutionising the government operations to be more data-driven. We have been talking to many government agencies to seek collaboration to integrate their data and perform data analytics to gain insights, patterns and profound knowledge on many significant issues.
The focus of the first phase is on people with low income. We facilitated data integration between the National Statistical Office, the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Society. Data integration and analytics helps us understand the problems and needs of low-income people better, leading to more effective and appropriate policies to tackle their problems.
In 2018, we plan to expand the data integration and analytics with more government agencies on a variety of issues such as education, the labour force, disadvantaged people, agriculture, disaster prevention and mitigation, tourism and water management.
What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2018?
Data analytics tools and techniques will be the focus for 2018, as data still remains one of the most significant issues of digital government transformation. The most challenging issue is how to choose the most effective and appropriate tools and techniques in order to seek a solution for people’s demands and problems. Infrastructure and human resource capabilities must also be substantially improved to support data analytics missions.
If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2017, what would it be?
In short, technology is only one of the issues that we face in digital transformation. In order to be successful, there are many other factors which need to be taken into account, such as strong leadership, policy, rules and regulations, human resources, business processes, awareness among stakeholders and so many others.
Therefore, we need to think comprehensively and devise a clear and coherent strategy when we wish to implement digital transformation programmes, especially in the government sector.
What was the greatest challenge that you overcame in 2017?
It was understanding and awareness of digital government transformation among stakeholders that was the greatest challenge in 2017. I have been trying hard to explain the significance of digital government transformation at every opportunity through every channel.
The outcome was quite satisfying; however, as cooperation from stakeholders is a critical success factor in digital government transformation, more work needs to be done in 2018 and beyond, and constant communications with stakeholders is necessary.
What book did you read in 2017 that most interested or inspired you?
It is the book which compiles His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej’s speeches and teachings. The King sacrificed himself to work tirelessly for the benefits and well-being of Thai people, especially the most disadvantaged and impoverished. This is the main reason he has always been revered by Thai people.
His speeches and teachings reflect his morality, intelligence and life-long practical experiences in various fields, and always give me inspiration and strength to keep working hard for the government and the people.
Who inspired you in 2017, and why?
Obviously, as mentioned in the previous question, His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej is always my inspiration. Not only does his profound wisdom on both arts and sciences inspire me, his dedication to the benefit and well-being of his people is also recognised at the global level.
By following his Majesty’s footsteps, we must not forget that the ultimate goal of digital government transformation must be the benefit and well-being of our people.