Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taipei introduces video chat for reporting fires

FLEXIBLE FINANCES:Reporters used the event to question Ko Wen-je about the city’s reported use of NT$4 billion in transportation funds for other purposes

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday to promote the city’s new fire emergency video chat application, which is designed to provide more accurate information about fires.

Photo: CNA

The Taipei City Government yesterday unveiled a fire emergency video chat application integrated with GPS navigation that it said would make it easier for people to report fires.

The city’s Fire Department introduced the app along with an electronic document management system for fire stations’ duty desks.

Of the 6,129 fires and 141,470 emergencies reported in the city last year, about half were made through the local telephone network, which allows fire stations to identify the callers’ location.

However, reports made through mobile phone services cannot be traced accurately, as the law only allows telecom service providers to report the location of their base stations.

People might find it hard to accurately describe their location, but with the help of the app, they can send real-time images, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said.

If the app is found to improve the efficiency of fire rescue operations in Taipei, the city government is willing to share it with other cities and counties for free, Ko said, while urging city residents to download the app.

People who want to try out the real-time video chat system should do it during the one-week trial period to avoid false alarms, he added.

Fire stations produce many written accounts, but the electronic document management system should save them time, work and paper, Ko said, adding that digitlization would improve the efficiency of data analysis.

Asked about allegations that his administration each year diverted about NT$4 billion (US$133.4 million) from the Taipei Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) system facility replacement funds to pay off the city‘s debts, Ko said the city has access to many funds and using funds reserved for the MRT system is a matter of internal financial adjustment.

He added that paying interest on bank loans would be more expensive than borrowing from the funds, so it was only natural for the government to borrow internally.

“It is common sense,” he said.

The so-called appropriated funds are a loan and if the MRT needed to replace facilities, the government would reallocate the money immediately, so there is no cause for concern, Ko said.

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