Evaluation of 4 Philippine government websites: Project Noah, PHILVOLCS, DPWH and DENR

by Koree S. Monteloyola

 

Last sem, our professor required us to evaluate 4 websites of any Philippine government agency. I chose Project Noah, PHILVOLCS, DPWH and DENR. The criticisms below should be read and understood constructively and not as derogatory comments.

Project Noah

  • URLhttp://noah.dost.gov.ph/
  • 3 Major Functionalities
    • Doppler System Development. Doppler stations of PAGASA give data on the amount of moisture and precipitation over a certain area covered by the Doppler stations. There are 5 Doppler stations in the Philippines, but that is not enough to cover the entire country.
    • Weather Outlook. Right now there is only the tool for “Probability of Rain” but this makes it easy for a normal Filipino to understand graphically what would be the predicted amount of rainfall or weather for a specific area.
    • Graphical rendering. Gathered data from various gauges and sensors are translated to digital form for computer processing. The website shows an interactive (Google) map of the Philippines wherein several tools can be used to plot data coming from various sensors and gauges.
  • 3 Strengths
    • Relays data from automated rain gauges and water level sensors to various social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
    • Doppler is my favorite among these tools since it is accurate and easy to understand. The Doppler’s data is more accurate than the Probability of Rain tool.
    • The system can translate rain intensity and volume measurements in terms of warning and evacuation level alarms.
  • 3 Weaknesses
    • Sophisticated User Interface. Although the system is meant to show scientific data, its target users aren’t only meteorologist or people with higher education. The system is open to all Filipinos and should be easily understandable.
    • Flood reporting and mapping. What’s wrong in this reporting tool is how the data should be inputted. It requires that a person should pin point the location on the Google map. I think that it would be more friendly and accurate if a user types the exact location.
    • Viewing Flood reports. While I do understand the importance of showing the reports over a map. I think it is also with same importance that these reports can be viewed in list view, per town or city.
  • Recommendations
    • User Interface. By default the system shows the map of the Philippines without any Weather Tool applied. Maybe applying the “Probability of Rain” tool by default would save a lot of time and make this system more understandable for first timers. A normal Filipino would instinctively click on any tool to experiment until it makes sense.
    • Improve Flood Reporting Interface. I think that there should be a web form to report floods in a specific area, with the person’s contact info.
    • Downloadable Flood Reports. I think that the local government would benefit from this tool if reports would be available in list view. Records should be sorted according to the towns or cities.

PHIVOLCS

  • URLhttp://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/
  • 3 Major Functionalities
    • The website gives the latest seismic events in the Philippines
    • Serves as an information system for this agency’s services, projects, news, job opportunities, biddings etc.
    •  Provides important geographical information to its target users.
  • 3 Strengths
    • Seismic Bulletins.  The daily report gives the geographical location of the seismic events, time, magnitude and alert level.
    • Hazard Maps. This section contains important geological maps, like fault zones, tsunami prone areas, earthquake induced hazard maps per region.
    • Rich in information. The website contains important information but sadly, it is unorganized.
  • 3 Weaknesses
    • Search function not working. Tried to search for the word “Mayon” and the page returned server error.
    • Urgent links are not in the right place.
    •  Does not utilize the power of the web. PHIVOLCS fails to reach out to the very dynamic Filipino web users, having no social network accounts or does not give updates via Twitter or Facebook.
  • Recommendations
    • User Interface should be enhanced. Confusing navigation structure. There is a topmost menu with 4 links pointing to 4 minor divisions of the website. Below it is the “Main Menu” in the sidebar.
    •  Install Google Webmasters Tools. Installing this “free” tool on the page would crawl all the web pages in the website. Google can give reports on various types of web page errors for maintenance.
    • Urgent links in the header. Urgent links such as seismic events/bulletins should be posted at the header area of the site.
    • Text should be extracted from images. Readable text should be extracted from images for indexing purposes.
    • Interactive maps. Like Project Noah, PHIVOLCS can use open source tools such as Google Maps and Python framework  Django (https://www.djangoproject.com/)

Department of Public Works and Highways

  • URLhttp://www.dpwh.gov.ph/
  • 3 Major Functionalities
    •  The website contains information about the department, process of procurement,  infrastructure projects, employment, FAQs, budgets etc.
    • Posts announcements and monthly status of infrastructure projects
    • Accepts community feedback in different forms (web, sms,landline)
  • 3 Strengths
    • Contact details.The website is gracious in giving contact details on how to reach them or specific personnel, for complaints and feedbacks.
    • Infrastructure Projects Monitoring. This section of the website shows the status of various infrastructure projects in the country. (http://www.dpwh.gov.ph/infrastructure/pms/pmo.asp)
    • Available Information. Rules and regulations, FAQs, instructions, downloadable forms are included on the website.
  • 3 Weaknesses
    • Web page layout. It looks like the website did not go through a planning or design phase.
    • Dead/Broken links.
    • Sections of the site are not present or mismanaged. Sections for emergency management, development services, transportation, water resources, waste management and public building are hard to find.
  • Recommendations
    • Services of a web development team in the Philippines should be acquired. It’s cheap you know.
    • Major sections of the site should be determined.
    • Any dynamic sections of the site like monitoring features should be included in the quick links.
    • Remove unnecessary information. The goal of the website is to serve the public. Do Filipinos need to see that picture on the homepage, sir?

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

  • URLhttp://www.denr.gov.ph
  • 3 Major Functionalities
    • Laws and Policies. This is an interactive section wherein users can search for a key word. The laws and regulations are organized in folders.
    • E-library. Contains publications and searchable directory of books.
    • Internal Concerns. This menu directs employees to internal links like webmail, document tracking system and downloadable forms.
  • 3 Strengths
    • Simple and Friendly. I like the clean and simple look of the site (compared to other govt. websites that I reviewed) It may not embody a Web 2.0 look but it properly represents DENR on the web.
    • E-library. Using the search function gives you a good feeling of using the library’s card catalog to find a book/publication.  The search results provide proper data.
    • Well planned. The web development team of DENR was able to create a proper structure for the website. It is not perfect but I’m sure I didn’t get lost in browsing their site. I know where I should click if I want to find something in their site.
  • 3 Weaknesses
    • Dead/Broken links. The “Priority Programs” section and its submenu are not working.
    • Complaints and Feedback. The site provides a normal contact form. But then again this is not a normal website. The purpose of this site is to serve users online. Maybe they should think on creating a complaints section, where in feedbacks/complaints can be inputted for a specific location.
    • Geological Database and Info Sys. DENR’s Geo-Hazard Mapping and assessment form is not updated. Some fields do not work like location specific queries.
  • Recommendations
    • Issues. Issues about the environment are not posted on the homepage. This would help people understand the current situations in the following areas: air, climate change, emergencies, green living, health and safety, land and clean-up, pesticides, chemicals & toxins, waste and water.
    • Email alerts. In order for Filipinos to have better participation in improving our surroundings maybe newsletter subscription would be a good idea. This would promote awareness on how Filipinos can help.
Note: This is a case study that I submitted for my IS 272 course (Strategic in Info. Sys. Devt.) in UPOU, on Aug. 18 2012.
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