Traffy Fondue: Nothing to do with cheese – but melting away Bangkokians’ problems
Traffy Fondue is the latest must-have app for Bangkokians after new city governor Chadchart Sittipunt touted the innovation as key to improving the quality of life in the capital.
On June 2, Chadchart explained how the app empowers residents to take control of problems they encounter in the city.
“People can conveniently lodge a complaint and get feedback over Traffy Fondue,” he said.
What is Traffy Fondue?
While its name is reminiscent of a Swiss cheese dish, Traffy Fondue in fact stands for Thai slang that translates as “Dear brothers and sisters, go complain!”. As the name suggests, Traffy Fondue encourages users to report everyday city problems – uneven pavements, blocked access, no garbage collection, etc – so they can be fixed.
Its lead developer, Dr Wasan Pattara-Atikom of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), describes it as a centralized complaint-receiving platform for authorities to deliver fast responses.
Designed as a citizen-engagement and empowerment platform, Traffy Fondue offers an early taste of Bangkok’s development as a smart city.
Piloted at the Navanakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani province in 2018, Traffy Fondue has since been rolled out across 357 municipalities, 350 subdistrict administrative organizations, and 96 disaster-prevention agencies. In all, more than 1,700 organizations have subscribed to its services.
Now, with MIT engineering graduate Chadchart at its helm, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is eager to tap Traffy Fondue’s potential to upgrade Thailand’s capital.
Organizational users of the app focus on responding to complaints so they can deliver a better quality of life to the public they serve.
How does it work?
Leveraging artificial intelligence and a geographic information system (GIS), Traffy Fondue operates as a ticketing system on the LINE messaging platform. Citizen-users just have to add @TraffyFondue as their LINE friend and they can begin lodging complaints.
Complaints are anonymous – no name, address, telephone number or any other personal information is required from users. Users just need to type in the problem, attach a photo, and name the location where the problem was encountered. Then they can sit back and wait for feedback.
Organizational users, meanwhile, check the complaints on Traffy Fondue via @FondueManager. After taking action to resolve them, they send feedback to the complainants via the platform for evaluation.
Traffy Fondue services are free of charge for both citizens and organizational users.
Since launching its Traffy Fondue services on May 31, the BMA has received thousands of complaints on issues ranging from floods, garbage and traffic to public safety and pavements.
The app is also versatile enough to handle other types of problems, having proved its worth at the height of the COVID-19 crisis by helping with patient referrals and admissions.
Is it practical?
While several users have praised Traffy Fondue after streetlights in their neighborhood were fixed in a day or two following complaints via the app, others are not so happy.
Many users have complained they want to speak to human staff, not chatbots.
However, the app already has more than 36,000 individual users and has logged over 14,000 complaints. It also boasts the ability to solve problems an average 6.2 hours faster than traditional channels – though some issues take much longer to resolve.
Traffy Fondue also reportedly saves relevant parties about 42 million baht a year in budget used to address complaints. Meanwhile, it gets an impressive 80 percent satisfaction score from users.
It should come as no surprise then that the app has won awards. It was named first runner-up at the National Innovation Awards 2021 in the social and environmental category, while this year it won honors at the Prime Minister’s TRIUP Award for Research Utilization with High Impact 2022.
By Thai PBS World’s General Desk