MEA Smart Life : Integrity & Equity Public Service Innovation Accessible for All

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is a state enterprise with the principal responsibility for acquiring and selling electricity to 4 groups of customers namely, housing, business, industry, and government and non-profit organizations. The total number of the customers are approximately 3.5 million covering more than 8 million population of the metropolitan areas. The MEA service comprises installation of electricity meters, record of monthly power use, and delivery of electricity bills to all customers and receipt of payment of electricity fee to all customers. Customers can contact MEA via the service counters at 18 MEA Districts Offices, 18 on-duty Electricity Failure Rooms and MEA Call Center. For the information collected from MEA complaint management conducted monthly prior to the implementation of MEA Smart Life, the problems commonly encountered by the electricity users were as follows: 1) Failure to receive the electricity bills 2) Loss of electricity bills 3) Inconvenience in reaching the MEA Office 4) Not knowing payment counter locations 5) A long queue for payment 6) Inability to trace backward the history of electricity use 7) Failure to be informed on power cut in advance 8) Failure to pay electricity bills 9) Not knowing power cut notification 10) Inability to trace the dates and locations of the blackout on the map 11) Inconvenience in notifying the occurrence of power failure 12) Not being informed of the power failure solving 13) Inconvenience in making other complaints The MEA Call Center and the service counters have received approximately over 400,000 queries and complaints per year concerning the above mentioned problems. The problems had resulted in a waste of time and a large amount of expenses for the customers. From the statistics in the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) in 2012, the customers paid more than 55 million Baht to MEA for the power reconnection after power cut owing to their failure to make the due payment. As an organization which aims at complying with the 17 International Standards concerning Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the above mentioned problems posed a great challenge for MEA to look for a new service system which focuses on the ease, convenience, speediness and modernized elements. The new system to be developed should be provided with transparency, accountability and integration of all elements of the public service emphasizing the application of technology and the reasonable cost for the customers.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
MEA Smart Life is a solution to solve the problems. It provides additional communication channel which enables the customers to easily check their monthly electricity fee on their smart phones or tablets. This tool has made payment of the electricity bill or notification of electricity failure easier for the customers and provided them with all important information concerning electricity.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
From the statistics in electricity service provision according to the former procedure, most of the contacts of the customers with MEA concern bill payment, enquiry about the electricity fee and notification of the power failure. To make such contact, the customers have to visit the MEA district office or to make a telephone call to the MEA Call Center. To facilitate the contacts, MEA has developed an innovation which adds a more convenient communication channel through mobile device/smart phone which is an essential device in the way of life of the Thai people as its price has become lower and affordable for the people of every income level together with the widely accessibility of the high-speed internet. Thus, MEA Smart Life has been appropriately introduced to solve the problems faced by the customers. The MEA Smart Life has made life easier for the electricity users without worrying about the late payment of the electricity fee. The system can alert the customers of the due date for payment. Moreover, in terms of payment, the customers can easily scan the bar code or QR code on the device without the need of the MEA statement. The MEA Smart Life has made payment easier and more convenient. For example, the customers who are during their upcountry vacation can make payment for electricity fee either by bar code or QR code scanning in the any convenient stores. Moreover, the customers who are on their trip abroad can also make payment by VISA or MasterCard through MEA Smart Life. For the blackout notification, prior to the implementation of the MEA Smart Life, the customers had to notify MEA on the incident by phone. As the telephone lines were busy with a lot of customers calling, the customers would be put under worry and tension. With MEA Smart Life, the notification has become easier; the customers only send a report via MEA Smart Life. All necessary information including the location of the house, name, and position of the electricity system will be forwarded immediately and directly to the on-duty room of the district where the incident of power failure is occurring. After the problem is solved, the customers will, alternatively, be informed of the remedial action. Not only notifying the power failure incident or an accident which has an impact on the electricity users, photos of the incident can also be sent to MEA. By using the menu “notifying by photos”, the photos of the incident and the message can be sent to MEA by clicking the “send” button. Thus the MEA will be informed about the incident and can solve the problem in time. In this manner, MEA Smart Life has improved the quality of life of the customers, providing them with more comfortable and relaxation as well as saving time in finding the point of payment. Moreover, the customers will always have advance notice about the power cut of MEA and a convenient channel to notify MEA on the power failure.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
MEA Smart Life is creative and innovative as it is the first service innovation in Thailand which, through the mobile device, links the 3.5 million of the customers’ houses and buildings which are on the map with the electricity service in bill payment and handling of the notification in electricity failure. The development of the innovation is based on the feedback from the “Voice of Customer” in the MEA Service areas which focuses on modernization, speediness and accessibility to information at all time in line with the urban lifestyle taking into account the changing direction of technology and the government policy. MEA Smart Life is applicable to both iOS and Android systems. Which is an extension of the existing valuable resources of MEA. As MEA Smart Life link the information on the position of electricity meters and buildings collected in the Geographic Information System(GIS) with the information of the customers collected in the ERP system, the users can check by themselves the monthly electricity fee and can notify the electricity failure using the meter number or the current location. The innovation can reduce the damage from the blackout and increase reliability of the MEA distribution system.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Among the 4 groups of MEA customers namely, housing, business, industry, government and non-profit organizations, MEA Smart Life is intended specifically to respond to the demand of housing group which constitutes 80 percent of the total customers. MEA Smart Life can help make a better the quality of life of all groups of customers no matter what their favorites are, for example, the group which likes travelling, those who prefer family life, the group who enjoys in-house activities, environmentalists and the low-income group. With MEA Smart Life, all customers are able to pay the electricity bills easily and can plan for the electricity use each month. Moreover, they can use other MEA services such as summertime air-conditioner cleaning application. The patients who need to use electricity all the time for their health care device such as a ventilator or dialysis machine can make a registration with MEA for immediate solution to the power failure incident. MEA will take care of all notifications and complaints which have been sent through the MEA Smart Life with transparency and traceability. To promote the implementation of MEA Smart Life, MEA has carried out the following: 1. In MEA, the principal responsible units are the Marketing and Customers Relations Unit together with the Service Units of the 18 MEA Districts and ICT unit. The implementation consists of creating involvement process, organizing meetings to introduce the objectives and benefits to be obtained by the stakeholders, and preparing a project on volunteer lecturers from all units of MEA to publicize MEA Smart Life to customers at 18 MEA District offices 2. For external implementation, MEA has publicized MEA Smart Life to the payment agents such as EasyBill, 2C2P, 7-Eleven, Tesco Lotus, Counter Service and government and private agencies such as police stations, hospitals and fire stations.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In the development of MEA Smart Life, the short- term and long- term strategies for the development of the service innovation are as follows: 1) At the first stage, the initial development has been outsourced to the outsiders with the plan that the MEA staff will be able to undertake the system development in a long run resulting in a human resource development system. 2) Using a cross-function working procedure by which the knowledge of each unit will be integrated to achieve the same target. 3) Publicizing the new service innovation to the public and introducing motivation for implementation 4) Keeping the on-going global technological trend which aims at a better operation and a trend of the new generation particularly the urban people 5) Following-up and evaluating the implementation and customer satisfaction regularly in order to use the feedback for the revision, improvement and development of the system to be more efficient and to meet the demand and expectation of the customers and the general public. The major resources involved in the development of MEA Smart Life are non-financial resources which include human resources, databases and main working systems of MEA as follows: 1) Human resource from the units which are stakeholders comprising the Marketing and Customers Relations Department, District Affairs Department, MEA District Offices, Information Technology Development Department and the Application System Development Department. Representatives of these units will cooperate in the discussion on the problems encountered in the former system, giving suggestion to solve such problems and making proposal on the new design to meet the demand of the users. Moreover, cooperation has been received from the Corporate Communication Department in the public relations of the MEA Smart Life in order to increase the implementation continuously and evaluate customer satisfaction regularly. 2) The databases and the working systems which have been integrated in the development of MEA Smart Life are GIS, ERP and FFM as follows: 2.1)The GIS database of the ratio 1:1,000 is a map with great detail and accuracy in position. The database consists of layers of information such as road network, landmark and building blocks. 2.2)Database of over 3.5 million electricity meters used for locating the house of the electricity users and the location of the informant of the electricity problem. 2.3)Database of history of the electricity users from the ERP system used for identifying the name, address, units of electricity use, electricity value of the meter number registered in the Application.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The stakeholders of MEA Smart Life are MEA’s customers of all groups. In designing and implementing of the system, the customers’ requirements collected from the “Voice of Customer” (VOC), satisfaction survey and the study of the customers’ behavior have been taken into account. Moreover, the demand and expectation of the general public, regulators, trade partners and allies as well as MEA staff have also been considered. The development of MEA Smart Life has started in 2012 as an attempt to improve the MEA service with the help of the existing GIS system. The working procedures in the development are as follows: 1) Study the internal and external factors concerning the MEA’s vision, mission and strategies which focus on the excellent service having innovation service for customers-oriented proactive service. Study the trend of technology which is about to transform the world into a complete digital society and study the present pattern of everyday life which is dependent on mobile device. 2) Study and collect information and all problems from the VOC system 3) Study the possibility in integrating the existing working systems such as the GIS, ERP, Field Force Management, and Service and payment system of the agencies 4) Study the technology in linking the information of several systems through the web service 5) Study of the expansion of the basic service systems such as the internet and the mobile device systems After the completion of the study, the development phases have been considered comprising the extension of the GIS system which has been implemented in several units of MEA and the link with the ERP system which collects information of the electricity users such as the number of the electricity meters and the units used in each billing duration.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Since the launch of MEA Smart Life Application and the invitation to users to download the system, the innovation has gradually received greater interest and satisfaction as witnessed from the number of download of approximately 520,000 times during 2013 to the end of 2016. Apart from an additional communication channel, the business transaction through the Call Center and at MEA offices has been reduced. The output of MEA after the existence of the innovation and those with the contribution of MEA Smart Life in terms of the reduction of business transaction and expenses are as follows: 1) Reduction of the notifications concerning the failure to receive the electricity bill and the enquiries about the fee through the Call Center. During 1 August 2013 - December 2016, the accumulating number of enquiries via MEA Smart Life is over 5.58 million. 2) Reduction of the number of responses to the enquiries regarding electricity fee through the automatic response system (IVR) The number of responses of 304,086 in 2015 is comparatively lower than the one in 2014 which is 394,438 or 22.9 percent less than the previous year. 3. Reduction of the payment items made at 18 MEA Districts Offices During 1 August 2013 - December 2016, the accumulating number of remittance through MEA Smart Life is approximately 129,612 items. With the increasing number of payment items through MEA Smart Life every month, the investment in human resource to handle enquiry to be received through the Call Center and payment at the MEA headquarters and district offices can be reduced. 4. Reduction of the other expenses of the electricity users concerning 6 damage factors comprising wage for employees, loss of compensation or profits, overtime, deteriorated raw materials or products, expenses in the restart of the production process and damaged tool or equipment. The above mentioned expenses will be saved as a result of the decrease in the number of the power failure incidents or the reduced time used in solving the power failure problem.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles encountered during the development process and the solution of the problems is as follows: 1) Problems with the function in creating the bar code or QR code Initially, the existing equipment of MEA could read only the bar code. As there was reflection on the screen of the smart device, the bar code was not legible enough, so testing of the reader is required to find a more appropriate reader. The bar code size has been adjusted to be shorter. 2) Technological compatibility The link with the technology of the payment agents has been an obstacle in the implementation of MEA Smart Life as different agents have different equipment in dealing with payment. Some agents, for example, can receive payment only by bar code whereas the others can receive payment by both the bar code and QR code causing confusion to customers. To solve this problem, meetings have been held by MEA with the agents to explain the detailed function of MEA Smart Life. The Graphic User Interface (GUI) has been improved for better understanding of the customers. 3) Design of system on the smart device As there is a limitation on the screen dimension, long instruction is not possible. It is necessary to prepare an instruction which is clear and concise with sequence of priority. 4) As the operation of the smart device is by means of finger touch without instruction, the users’ experience with the smart device is necessary. It is essential for the design to give impression of ease for continual use. 5) The design of alert or warning should be applicable for all cases either a success, failure or an error so that the users know the status of their use.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Since the launch of the MEA Smart Life in August 2013, the operation data has been collected regularly for the purpose of analysis, revision and improvement of the system to meet the demand of the customers and the general public. The comparative assessment of the MEA achievements before and after the implementation of MEA Smart Life reveals that the system is a great success and has benefitted the customers in terms of the following. 1) Increase satisfaction of the customers in the service with its convenience, speediness and accuracy It is possible to trace backward the history of the electricity use up to 6 months, to make payment of the electricity fee through the agents with bar code or QR code and to be informed of the address of the nearest point of payment and how to reach the place. The MEA Smart Life is an additional communication channel for notification of power failure or the incident concerning electricity, with the exact location and photos, to MEA. As such, the MEA officers can reach the location and solve the problem in a short time, contributing consequently to the efficiency in solving power failure procedure. 2) Increase reliability of the distribution system as it is possible for the MEA officers to access the problem area and solve the problem more rapidly. For the customers, it is possible to learn about important notice such as the power cut notice and its status. 3) Modify the payment procedure of MEA and the agents such as counter service, Tesco Lotus and banks to be in line with the present technology. In the business transaction, it is possible to send information with speediness, correctness and completeness to meet the demand of the customers. 4) Modify the learning behavior of the customers. The customers will be able to check the correctness of the electricity use at all time reflecting the transparency of the MEA as well as the behavior of the customers regarding electricity use. 5) Focus on the Proactive service which is easier, more convenient and time-saving lifestyle of the customers. Apart from increasing comfort to urban lifestyle, the innovation is a basis for the development of future service innovation to decrease expense and travel time while increasing convenience and customers’ satisfaction. 6) Create good image of MEA service and of MEA as a modern organization which uses ICT innovation in service. Increasing customer confidence 7) Increase channel for frequent communication with the customers. With the feeling of greater transparency, the customers will be willing to inform MEA of any abnormality or non-transparency through the MEA Smart Life.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
MEA has given importance to the electricity use in household and industrial sectors. As the power cut incident will directly affect electricity users and workers, therefore, the notice has to be informed in advance so that customers can get information quickly and prepare a plan to cope with the situation. Based on the MEA accountability in maintenance of the power system to be equipped with efficiency and safety, the MEA Smart Life has provided the customers with the alert system when it is desirable for the customers to control the power use of the next month. It is also possible for the customers to check backward the amount of electricity use in the past so that they will be aware of their behavior in using electricity and may change their behavior leading to environmental conservation. Moreover, monitoring system of the requested service is also available such as special service, notification of power failure of which the request will be forwarded through the supporting system to the responsible officers for action quickly. After studying the problem, customers will be informed about the time required for the operation and be able to assess their satisfaction level of MEA service. MEA also provides G2C (Government to Customer) service to all groups of people equally. They can access to information and request for service anytime at any place through their mobile device. The service is in line with the government policy in facilitating the people in which the steps as well as documents such as ID card and house registration is lessened. MEA Smart Life also acts as a tool in minimizing the misconducts or corruptions in the organization as every step of the service is transparent and traceable. In case of an unfair treatment or a request for any interest, customers can notify or make a complaint through the system immediately. Moreover, the G2C service helps to reduce the paper in the case which the customers have to ask for another copy of electricity bill. This also helps reduce the emission of carbon which leads to the global warming. MEA Smart Life is the base in the development of the future system which electricity users can ask for the amount of electricity used in real time according to the trend of – From Mobile to Internet of Thing.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The objective of the Application MEA Smart life is to provide an equal opportunity for the people from all walks of life including the disabled to access the MEA ordinary and special service. For example, if any members of their family or their relatives need to use electricity continually for the medical device operation such as a ventilator, a request can be sent to MEA through the Application MEA Smart Life. Upon receipt of the request, MEA will check the information and list the requestor in the group of imminent customers. The above mentioned information, in the future, can be linked with other organizations such as hospital so that the sick person will be included in the group of patients who need special care. The information can also be linked with the police station for safety purpose. The information on risky places obtained from the police station will be spotted on the map of the system which, when enabled, will give a warning to the customers who are approaching such area. With this, the safety of the customers particularly women and girls will be ensured.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Other  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66) 2289-0951 #5832 / +(66) 2611-5314
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   3027
Postal Code:   10120
State/Province:   BANGKOK

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