Dec 20, 2008

Humanizing Technology

When we were planning our wedding, my wife and I agreed that we had seen too many ceremonies ruined by technological attempts to immortalize the memory. We also wanted our wedding to be intimate and fun.

So we specifically instructed the photographers and videographers to stay out of the way. We didn't want them obstructing the view of the guests. We didn't want their assistants moving around too much, carrying blind-inducing lights.

We wanted our wedding to be experienced firsthand, remembered in human memories and not through images frozen on magnetized discs. That way, the guests experience would be truly unique.

Why am I rambling about our wedding? Today, I was browsing in a second-hand bookstore and discovered Turn Signals Are The Facial Expressions Of Automobiles by Donald Norman, he who also wrote The Design of Everyday Things which I think is one of the most inspiring books on design. The first chapter ("I Go to a Sixth Grade Play") got me all excited. Here's a quote:
"Ah yes, once upon a time there was an age in which people went to enjoy themselves, unencumbered by technology, with the memory of the event retained within their own heads. Today we use our artifacts to record the event, and the act of recording then becomes the event."
Spot on!

How many times have we fidgeted through the controls of our recording gadgets while that once-in-a-lifetime event passed us by? Is stupidly designed technology interrupting our ability to experience an event in more human form?

Here's more of Chapter One:
"Probably we've all seen a wedding reception, an event meant to be full of spontaneous expressions of joy, transformed by the photographer into a series of staged events. 'Kiss the bride.' 'Again, please.' 'Cut a piece of the wedding cake.' 'Would the bride feed the groom?' 'Move out of the way of the camera.' It is amazing how tolerant we have become of this manipulation of experience. The act of recording taking precedence over the event."

The setback, of course, is that having been trained videographers ourselves, we sometimes ask why we didn't have a clip of this scene during the wedding. But then we remember the basic principles we wanted to follow. It is the memory in our minds that is more important.

Dec 15, 2008

The problem with digital

The problem: as gadgets get smarter, they also become more difficult to use. Just look at your remote control and try to figure out your television menu.

In analog devices, we used to have buttons and dials that you can touch and feel. If you wanted to change contrast, you just had to rotate the dial. Feedback was tactile and instantaneous. Today, to do the same thing on our LG television set, we have to navigate a series of dropdown menus.

Standing between the gadget and the human is the user interface. Since more and more appliances are being implanted with microchips, the design of the user interface is transferred by default to computer programmers who know very little about user experience.

This really needs to change. The gadgets that are easiest to use will hopefully win out in the end.

Dec 1, 2008

Building the First LCD iTV

For four months, we teamed up with electronic engineers, industrial designers and software developers to build the prototype of an LCD interactive television (iTV). We dubbed the iTV "Ilumina" and our codename was "Project Faith".

We wanted to show that Filipinos have the creativity and the smarts to build an innovative product through "inovention" -- the fusion of innovation and invention. Hence the company name of the design firm is Inovent Inc. Our company, Dig It All Solutions Inc was asked by Inovent Inc to build the software and the interface for Ilumina.


So we brought in our CEO Val Gonzales and interface designer Jon Danao to solve the software problem. Val and I immediately agreed to build the operating system on existing open source software. It would allow us rapidly make a prototype by standing "on the shoulders of giants" so to speak. For the operating system/interface team, we decided early on to prioritize the following design principles for the OS/interface:

  1. The OS/interface should work and it should work well (ie, not buggy, slow etc.).
  2. It should be fast and impressive.
  3. We should focus on releasing a working system (ie, we concentrate on the core functionalities and drop extraneous features that could be worked slowly into the OS, later).

I think that defining these three design principles early on helped us focus our energies on the things that matter for the prototype. And the team stuck to it and made it work.

The audience started warming up to the Ilumina LCD iTV as we did the demo of its features. From my vantage point, I could see people's eyes widening and the room temperature go up in all the excitement. They asked many questions about what it can do now and our plans for the future. Someone even chided that he couldn't wait to win an Ilumina in a raffle. :) We dropped hints that we plan to release APIs so that third party developers could add features and plug-ins to it.

People swarmed Ilumina prototype to get a closer look.
People swarmed Ilumina prototype to get a closer look.
It was a very fulfilling night for us and credit must be given to the team that built it. Brian Quebengco, for leading everyone and cheering us on. Mark Ruiz for the brilliant thinking on marketing, Noriel Mallari for reverse engineering and building the prototype internals and Val Gonzales and Jon Danao for building the operating system and the interface. Brian worked with Jonas Prealta and Jaed Del Moral to create the beautiful, sleek white design of the Ilumina unit itself.

At the end of the unveiling, the crowd gathered to check out the unit up-close. Because they saw the potential Ilumina, they were willing to forgive the rough finish of the prototype. They saw instead what the real Ilumina set will look like in the near future.


What is equally important is that Ilumina sparked discussions among our guests after the formal program. Media people, bloggers, techies and friends struck up conversations about how Filipinos can do it, what environment is needed to support such an endeavor as Ilumina, and the need to help drum up support for such efforts. Potshots at our misearable political landscape were taken. But over-all, a positive mood was in the small theater where we held our little program. Which is good, because this was what we intended to do, to show that we could do it and to inspire more positively infectious conversations.

The Project Faith Team
The Project Faith Team.

Nov 24, 2008

Another accident involving a dump truck

On our way to UP Village yesterday, we saw a large dump truck rammed into the frontage of Bo's Cafe at Katipunan. From what we could see at that time, the truck had crashed into several cars parked in front of the cafe. Data also saw a motorcycle pinned by the truck. 

A couple of people were hysterical and a crowd composed of curious and/or angry people had gathered around the scene. It looked like the truck driver was unhurt and if so, the mob would most probably give him a dose of "street justice".

Too bad we were in a hurry to take photos, but it was quite a disturbing scene. Data called our friend at the Inquirer so that the accident could be reported and added to the growing stats of recklessness among bus and truck drivers. 

Later, we read from the Inquirer that the driver had "lost control" of the truck. It's the standard excuse given by all truck and bus drivers. Harsher punishment must be meted out not just to the drivers but more importantly the truck and bus operators.

Nov 13, 2008

Project Runway Philippines: Finale and Photos

Just came from Solar's special viewing-slash-party for the Project Runway Philippines (PRP) Finale. By now, you'll know who won. But before anything else, let me suspend you a little bit by discussing more detail. I previously wrote that Veejay's collection was a disappointment. I've since had a chance to take a closer look and I saw that his collection turned out to be elegant and well-made. The thing going against Veejay's work was his choice of fabric. Under the bright lights of the Runway, the fabric appeared washed out and failed to stand out.Philipp Tampus's collection was surprisingly fresh and his use of crochet was impressive. He went a bit too far on some clothes, but all in all, he also showed his mettle.

Aries Lagat's final salvo won over the crowd. As I mentioned earlier, he had a surprise twist in the end: an elegant short dress that transformed into three other pieces of clothing (see photos, below). I think this scored him a lot of points with the judges, and eventually got him the right to be hailed as the first winner of Project Runway Philippines. Congratulations, Aries!

And congratulations to the production team of PRP for neatly concluding the show.

PRP was able to successfully match the US version and even added its own flavor. Teresa Herrera is great as a host, the judges were smart and gave the contestants the right push, and Joji Lloren's mentorship added the humor and flirtatiousness that is missing from Tim Gunn. 

Here is another hallmark of PRP's Filipino-ness. In the US version, the stressful final round always brought tension among the contestants and even within teams. In PRP, however, the teams bolstered each other and the finalists were compassionate with each other.

Nov 2, 2008

Road Safety: Tighter Penalties for Transport Companies

Philippine buses are notorious for causing numerous accidents. Just yesterday, a Fermina Express (FermEx) bus trying to overtake at NLEX (North Luzon Express Way) smashed into a Toyota Revo. The impact was so great that it split the Revo in half and shrivelled the front of the bus to bits. (Inquirer story here)

I am not surprised. I have seen many FermEx buses driven by reckless drivers. But it's not just FermEx buses. Many other bus companies harbor reckless drivers.

A couple of weeks back, a speeding Joanna Jesh bus hit a car along EDSA, killing the car's passenger and burning the car. Unfortunately for the bus company, the victim of the accident was a doctor belonging to a prominent family (GMA News story here). This got the company suspended.

We need to make our roads more safe. To do this, good road infrastructure like lights and signs are not enough. We should also impose tighter penalties for the transport companies involved. Authorities should not just suspect the licenses of erring companies. They should also revoke those licenses and let better transport operators take over.

Oct 10, 2008

Process Management to Assist Government of Bohol

The Government of Bohol is intent on improving its services and it has sought the help of many experts in various fields. I'm helping them through process management: customer focus, process focus and continuous quality/process improvement (which involves process redesign). Let me jot down what I've been working with them in terms of process design.

My part on this is just a small one. There is a larger project that aims to reorganize the whole provincial government. It requires change management and reengineering. I was asked to help the change team to understand process management as one guide post for the reorganization.

The intervention chosen for me was through a series of workshops and consultations. My training partners asked me to give a 3-day workshop for the office heads, and a 1-day overview workshop for their key staff. The goal of the workshops was to let them become more process-oriented and to let them experience how to map, analyze and improve core business processes.

We connected their personal experiences on customer service to their own workplace. We taught them the value of customer delight. They learned about business pain and how it hints at the urgency to improve processes. When we concluded the workshop, we gave them assignment to continue mapping their core processes and suggesting how to improve them. It was tedious but fruitful as they started seeing their function from a process-oriented perspective.

Many of the sharp ones already started having insights on how to improve their office systems.

My next session came after two weeks. I flew in for three days of consultation. They gave me a table in the change management team's room at the Provincial Capitol. Office heads and staff came and showed their homework to me. A fraction of them obviously did not listen or did not care to listen in the workshops, since they submitted shoddy work. But many of them came up with nice, neat process maps. The sharp ones submitted excellent improvement proposals. You could really see that process thinking helped them gain deeper insights into management.

Today is the last day of the consultations. I am sitting at Brewpoint, which is the cafe of my impressive but inexpensive hotel (Soledad Suites). Tomorrow I'll go sight-seeing -- visiting the Chocolate Hills for the first time and am bent on meeting a tarsier too. I'll be missing this place but I'll plan to come back. Next time, I'll bring my wife and go to Balicasag to watch dolphins and whales.

Sep 24, 2008

Bohol needs a new airport

It was my first time to visit Bohol. I am working with the heads of the provincial capitol to help them improve their business processes and align them with their strategy. Here's what I noticed on the airport (see photos, below).

As you can see from the pictures, the airport badly needs expanding. It was packed with passengers of PAL and Cebu Pacific.

Interestingly, when I checked in, the PAL plane I was supposed to board was already there, still being loaded with baggage. Here's the interesting contrast: Cebu Pacific arrived a bit later but left earlier than PAL.

Another thing I noticed: Bohol is very proactive in promoting tourism. They have some things in place, but much need to be improved further. I hope the project of which I'm a part may be able to help improve the services, just a wee bit better.

Aug 5, 2008

More expensive fuel means less traffic

On the brighter side of the perpetually rising cost of gas, Metro Manila's streets have become decongested. My proof is more anecdotal. I used to tear my hair out because of the craziness of the clogged and noisy streets. But now, even during rush hour, the streets are less noisy and there is less traffic when I drive out.

Of course, some of the decongestion can be attributed to the efforts of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to get rid of illegal buses, taxis and the lot. But even the MMDA cannot be that efficient and it only took high gas prices to achieve what the lack of political will could not. 

After all, the streets became almost quiet and empty in the span of a few days and there is an eerie feeling of being in a sci-fi movie-- one where aliens pointed a ray gun on Metro Manila and zapped three-quarters of the vehicles. This is an effect that the pitiable efforts of MMDA could lay claim to.

And now for a quick review of the rippling impact of this development:
  • Less people will go out to the malls.
  • More peaceful streets, smoother commute/drive.
  • But will also mean less business for malls (notably restaurants and other shops).
  • Still, food deliveries will thrive. 
  • If we had a better e-commerce industry, this would have gained a needed boost as more people would prefer to buy things online and have them delivered.
  • Yet, I hope there was better mass transportation. More people have now be forced to use public transportation but the MRT, as most of us know, cannot absorb this increase in volume. 

Jul 19, 2008

Standardizing the Prosecution System (Department of Justice)

Here are pictures of my recent work. This time, it's with the Department of Justice. I'm helping them standardize and improve their basic procedures for filing cases and complaints.

It turns out that in all these years, among all the prosecutor's offices, there was really no standard way to file cases and complaints.

I can validate this because several years back, a bus rammed into my car and I had to go through the process of filing a case. There would be days when the judge, the accused or I would not be available. Every time this happened, we had to postpone the hearing for another month. There were no options to allow us to find a closer, synchronized date. I've never heard from that case again.

I had no idea what the steps where and there was no Information Desk. Lack of clarity on processes is a fertile breeding ground for corruption. ('Nuff said).

Flash forward to today. DOJ is embarking on a project to change this. It set up a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of senior prosecutors (aka senior fiscals) who put their heads together and steadily built the manuals from scratch. Then I reviewed the flowcharts they drew to describe their system. I also helped revise and simplify the manual that will be distributed to the administrative staff.

In revising the Administrator's Manual, the Technical Working Group asked me to simplify it further to a point where anyone can understand the steps.

Problems and realities:
  • Shortage of staff in the prosecutor's offices.
  • When they do have staff, the staff lacked the needed skills (eg computer skills, filing skills -- yes, lack of filing skills for staff who are supposed to do filing work, go figure).

Lessons I Learned about Government Employees:
  • There are nice, hardworking government employees who are genuinely pushing for change (In most government agencies I've worked with, I've seen this pattern).
  • These people are very driven, in spite of the general perception against government employees.
  • In the DOJ TWG, for instance, they worked from 8:30 am until 7:30 pm for FIVE DAYS STRAIGHT. Meals and snacks were served while working. And this was not easy work -- the members had to read through each sentence to check the legality and fix loopholes.
  • Despite being very driven, the fiscals and DOJ staff were actually fun to work with. They were very efficient and pleasant. We debated heatedly about the contents, but everything was kept at a professional level.
Lessons I Learned about Improving Processes:
  • First, concentrate on mapping the whole process, from process start to finish. See the big picture first (by using boxes-and-arrows diagrams).
  • Follow the steps and not the people. In DOJ, the first draft of the manual tended to follow the specific staff who were assigned to do each step. This led to dense sentences that were difficult to follow. It took me a couple of days to read through the intricacies. In the end, I simplified this by focusing on the steps, not the people.
  • One sentence, one step. In the first draft of the manual, a step was often 2-3 steps subsumed in one sentence. I disaggregated these complex sentences and improved the readability of the manual.
  • Rule of thumb: make sure that the first word of a step is a verb. (If you need to put the person who is responsible for the step, you can add this later.)
  • Avoid complicated flowchart symbols. When drawing flowcharts, use boxes and arrows. Avoid additional "computer-based" symbols like diamonds, printouts, etc. They only add to the confusion.

Apr 1, 2008

Bad Implementation: SM Cash Card

Around 2 months ago, SM Supercenter required its fast food customers to pay through a Cash Card. Here is how the procedure was intended to be:
  1. Pay P200 to a central cashier. This will load P200 worth of cash in your cash card.
  2. Get the Cash Card.
  3. Order in the various restaurants in the fast food center.
The fast food center issued warnings and posters saying that all customers must use the Cash Card instead of paying cash directly to the food shops. Things looked all right from there but it was a perfect recipe for disaster. Here was actually what happened:
  1. The Cash Card electronic system was often offline.
  2. Customers who learned that they could not pay cash were turned off. Shops lost business.
  3. Customers who bought Cash Cards (like my wife and I) had to pay cash anyway, whenever the system broke down. After wating in line for several minutes and then only finding out that our Cash Card was useless, we just decided not to buy from the food shops. Again, this caused loss of customers.
Tonight, my wife and I lined up again at the food shops. Our plan was to do our groceries after supper. We were very hungry, too. So imagine our anger after learning that we could not use our Cash Card again. My wife asked for the manager and the manager tried hard to convince us to pay cash again. We insisted that they refund the P200 loaded in our Cash Card. After several back-and-forths between this manager and her superiors (they kept saying they were offline), they finally just reimbursed the P200.

The problem is that although they refunded our real cash, they caused anger and even probably made the food shops lose business (in fact this is what the cashier in one of the food shops told us -- customers got turned off at the Cash Card requirement).

SM is a very popular mall in the Philippines. In fairness, SM has been able to institute many improvements to its customer experience. However, it still sometimes implements stupid policies like this one.

  • In the first place, requiring a Cash Card is an additional step that adds no value to the customer or the business.
  • Moreover it adds a second step to HUNGRY consumers who sometimes have to line up, since the central Cash Card office has only one employee to process all customers of the fast food center.
  • Also, what happens if I have a few pesos left in it? I would have to reload and I keep feeling that my money is not being maximized.
  • Lastly, it frustrates customers, since it is also unreliable.
SM should rethink this Cash Card project of theirs.

Feb 13, 2008

Bad Transport Websites; Missing Train Schedules

I am writing a piece on Metro Manila for an online travel guide. It's pretty interesting, because I learned more about the broken services in our city.

For instance, yesterday I discovered that we do not have a website for our international airport (which our friend Urbano dela Cruz found out a year ago).

Today, I discovered how lousy our government websites really are.

But before we launch into this, let's first do some comparisons. In California, Australia, UK and other countries with rail systems, they post trip information (schedules, fares, contact numbers) in their websites. They also publish maps indicating the stops.
The picture above is of BART (Bay Area Rapit Transit) that serves San Francisco and the Bay Area in California. Let's compare:
  • BART has a terminal right in the middle of the airport. Our light rail does not.
  • BART's website, if you look closely, contains a tool for finding schedules and destinations on the upper left corner of the site, which, in usability, is a prominent location. This makes the information easily findable.
  • The main buttons on BART's website are: Stations & Schedules, Tickets, Rider Guide, News, and About BART. PNR's cluttered website has: (top navigation) Services, Projects, News, Search; and a secondary navigation bar on the left, containing: About Us, PNR Officials, Directory (where the station information is hidden away), Government Links, Jobs, Feedback and Mail.
Even without lessons from other countries, it is common sense in any sane public service to anticipate what information and assistance the public will need, and that this information be easily accessible or findable, especially in a medium like the web.

Our 4 Rail Systems

We essentially have 4 rail systems: LRT1, LRT2, MRT3 (servicing the metropolis) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), which traverses most of Luzon. If memory serves me right, Asia's first extensive rail system was built right here in the Philippines, to carry produce like sugar cane, rice, copra and tobacco (the first tracks resulted from a decree by the King of Spain in 1875, according to the PNR website). This linked Pangasinan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Manila and all the way to Legazpi in Bicol. (The first light rail in Asia was supposed to be the ones operated by Meralco in Escolta).

I remember in the 1970s that the train in our town (San Fernando, Pampanga) still brought passengers to as far as Legazpi. What happened after that? Why did our rail system fall into disrepair?

Finding Useful Train Information

I am not yet sure about the answer to the questions above. What I would like to talk about here is the difficulty of finding useful information for passengers. Ironically, I can get more info about the schedules of BART in San Francisco than our schedules at PNR or MRT3.

Web Usability of our Train Websites

The PNR website is ugly, unfriendly to Firefox or Safari (I could not even click the tabs), and largely full of useless information. Instead of giving schedules and terminals, for example, it gives out the names of its officials and its Vision and Mission. Who cares? We just want to get from A to B!

Actually, PNR does give out a list of telephone numbers for something called MLS, which appear to be stations -- but how will travellers know that this information is hidden under a button called MLS that is in turn hidden in a button called directory?

LRT1, LRT2 and MRT3 are a testament to the lack of communication, careful planning and smooth transition among our government officials and agencies. While the officials and agencies squabble, these three light rail systems do not have a unified ticketing. Nor do they have a unified website.

LRT1 and LRT2 reside on the same website, because they are operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA). LRTA's website is a bit more neat in design than PNR's. It also had schedules for LRT1 and LRT2.

However, if you try a web search for "LRT2 schedules" alone, the top results do not point to the correct website.

MRT3 has a website, built no less than in Drupal, but contains no schedule. It does have a funny button named "How to Ride".
Ironically, our train schedules and destinations aren't that complicated, compared to those in other countries. Why can't PNR and MRT3 publish them?

These signs of neglect indicate a lack of commitment to providing really good service to the public, signs that may be seen in other websites like that of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

Realizations from the SLEX Website

My travel piece also had a guide on SLEX and NLEX. Since SLEX is under repair, I wanted to advice travellers when the road works are expected to end. After some googling, I found the website of the South Luzon Tollways Corp (SLTC) which operates SLEX.

There were many announcements, press releases and much ballyhoo about the expansion project... but no expected completion date. This surely is a symptom of lack of commitment to complete projects on schedule!

After more googling, I finally found the expected completion date (late 2008) at Manila Standard's website.

Feb 11, 2008

Where's Our Airport on the Web?

Sometimes the state of government service may be gleaned from unexpected places. Take a website, for example. There are solid reasons why a government should keep a well-maintained and well-designed website, or websites, for its various agencies and functions.

Our country wants to boost its tourism and participation in the global trade, for example, and creating a website on this would be highly beneficial. If we expect many visitors, then it also makes sense to create websites for our transportation system, notably our airports, rail and ideally, bus systems.

I tried checking the website of our airport ( but found, horrors, that the site is being redirected to an IP address ( In terms of web findability, this is the worst crime you could commit. It probably also explains why, if you search for "Philippine international airport" or even the more specific "Ninoy Aquino International Airport" the first page of results do not even include the URL to NAIA.

What's even worst, the redirected link results to an error. I was better off visiting the NAIA entry at Wikipedia -- and that's a sad thing.

Jan 29, 2008

3-D Box Maker - Online!

I was amazed at this online tool. It lets you create 3-D boxes via Flash programming. It asks you to upload a cover, a side design and a top design. Using 3-D boxes to sell software makes the software look more professional (of course, whether the software is good or not is a different matter).

Tip: If you'd like to make a book, you can simply create a graphic that looks like pages of a book and you can upload this as the top of the box.

Visit the site:

Jan 23, 2008

Escalator Ethics

Sometimes, a system or ethics (which we define here as a proper way of doing something) is not obvious to a culture until it intersects with another culture.

As a result of our contact with the West, we Filipinos have also inherited some of these Western memes. There's good manners in the dining table and right conduct in a cinema. There's even phonethics for using mobile phones.

What I was amazed to find out in my travels abroad that there is a form of escalator ethics. Filipinos tend to hog escalators. We are a pretty laid back bunch of hobbits and when we go on the escalator, we stand on the step like we owned the whole contraption.

In Australia, New Zealand and UK, there are signs in escalators that say something like

PLEASE STAND ON THE LEFT (or RIGHT, as the case may be).

In short, there's a fast lane for escalators too. And this is very much the norm in the escalators in the mass transit systems.

In Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and in the HK International Airport, they also have these horizontal escalators to help tired travelers rush to their gates. These also have fast lanes.

In most cases, these escalators have signs. But when there are no signs present, the conduct is so ingrained in the locals that they tend to stand on the right side.

In our country, if a couple gets on an escalator, they will occupy both lanes. In the other countries where fast lanes are implemented, the couple will stand in single file, so that the left lane is kept free.

Escalator ethics reflects, too, on how we drive cars in highways. Prior to NLEX enforcing the fast lane, many drivers -- cars, jeeps, buses and trucks -- drove slowly on the fast lane, when this should have been kept free for overtaking. Thanks to strict enforcement, more drivers are now aware of the fast lane. However, on some occasions I still encounter a few slow vehicles on this lane.

Wanna know where there is no concept of fast lanes at all? Just try EDSA, Quezon Avenue, Katipunan and Commonwealth Avenue. Come to think of it, the vehicles there do not have a concept of LANES in the first place.

It would be easy to implement a fast lane in our escalator. We simply ask malls to start putting up signs to reserve the left lane for people in a hurry. Asking the SM and Ayala chain of malls pretty much covers most of the land and this ethic can then be propagated to the escalators at LRT-2 (the Aurora line), the airport, and other public places.

Jan 22, 2008

Design Shortcomings of NAIA Terminal 2

Our airport recently received a lot of flak because its rating was downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Even without relying on reviews of foreign boards, I could say our airport system (Terminals 1 and 2) lack sufficient management, just by going through them. Although Terminal 2 is much much better than Terminal 1, it still has many shortcomings.

One of these shortcomings is the lack of good signage. When you enter the waiting area of T2, you can't immediately spot your specific gate since there are no signs to help you. The photo above (which I trawled from the web) shows a bit of what I'm pointing out. Note the white columns that could have served as posts for mounting signs.

Compare this to the Hong Kong International Airport.

The photo to the left shows a vertical column with a clear gate number. Terminal 2 lacks this kind of signage.

Instead, you have to find your bearings by looking at the gate nearest you and then guessing whether the gate numbers will ascend to the left or right.

This guesswork actually contributes to traffic and the need for guests to ask questions from personnel. This burden is easily removed with proper signs.

The photo to the right shows additional signages that indicate telephone and internet terminals at the HK International Airport.

These problems, which hint of a lack of hands-on management, are symptomatic of most government-operated services or agencies. Our MRT and LRT come to mind; also the chaotic system for releasing most permits and licenses. True, the LTO and NSO have improved much of their systems and processes, but we still have a long way to go.

How about you? What have you noticed in our airport that we could improve?

Please post a comment here and let's see where it gets us!