ICT: Information on the condition and status of roads in the country should become more readily available with the Department of Roads (DoR) taking ownership of a mobile app developed for a competition organised by the G2C (government to citizen) office.

The mobile app called “Bhutan Road Safety”, available on the Google Play Store and www.citizenservices.gov.bt, allows users to receive alerts on road blocks, accidents, road maintenance, and border road closures.

Users will also be able to receive reminders to renew their vehicle registration, read about general safety tips and traffic rules, and view the contact details of emission test centres in the country.

DoR director, Karma Galay, said that travellers would now be able to access timely and credible information on the status of roads which should allow them to save time and resources.

He assured that the department would update the mobile app with such information many times a day. He pointed out that the department has a network of offices nationwide and that when blocks occur, the focal person in Thimphu will be informed and the information uploaded to the app.

Karma Galay said that while it may be more of a challenge getting information on remote roads, for the highways, information would be updated daily.

Some information sharing networks already exist within DoR. For instance, the mobile app WeChat is already being used by DoR employees in Lobesa to share the latest information on roads in that area.

Karma Galay said that such internal networks will also be accessed and used to inform the public.

While the DoR will now be the sole owner of the app, input from other agencies like the police and the Road Safety and Transport Authority will also be required at times, like for instance during border road closures as a result of strikes in India.

Karma Galay said that a mechanism would be formed so that such information is communicated to the DoR during such times.

On whether the DoR may also explore the possibility of users or travellers uploading road information like blocks they encounter or on potholes to the app directly, Karma Galay said that for now, only DoR would be responsible for content but that would not rule out such a feature to be incorporated at a later date.

However, he also pointed out that the DoR maintains a Facebook page on which users can upload such content which would then be transferred to the mobile app by DoR.

To support the DoR in the initial stabilisation of the system, the G2C office will be providing technical support and if required, user training as well.

The Road Safety app was developed by a private firm under the Public Safety category for a mobile app competition organised by the G2C office.

Gyalsten K Dorji