I WOULD like to propose to the government agencies to take advantage of Google Maps to improve location-based public services in Brunei.
In this proposal the services I am referring to are the provision of information on the public transport system particularly public buses, and maps of mukims and villages for address purposes.
Before I proceed with my reasons, I would like to make a disclaimer that I am in no way a Google employee nor affiliated to the company in any way whatsoever.
Also, in no way I intend to advertise Google or its products, in particular Google Maps, through this proposal.
I believe that like in the rest of the world, Google services especially its search engine and Google Maps are used by the majority of the Bruneians.
Therefore, I specifically choose Google Maps, rather than other similar products such as Apple Maps or OpenStreetMap, strictly on the basis of its popularity and the demand by the ordinary people.
With regard to the service pertaining to the transport system, I would like the Land Transport Department, which is the authority for public transport system in Brunei, to consider utilising Google Maps to improve local public bus services.
In this case I am specifically suggesting for bus numbers, departure or interval schedules and route information to be published on Google Maps.
I have found out that Google Maps has a programme called ‘Google Transit Partner Program’ which allows public transport agencies to publish route information of the public transport system on Google Maps without any cost.
In a majority of countries, their public transport system are readily available on Google Maps so there is no reason for Brunei to not follow suit.
This is for the convenience of the public in obtaining local transit information, especially nowadays where everything is preferably one Google search away.
Probably like many Bruneians, I have never ridden the public bus, as personal car transport is readily accessible all the time.
However, there had been a few times where I had taken into consideration of riding it for the sake of experience but it is always stopped short from being realised.
Lets say I intend to go from The Mall in Gadong to The Airport Mall using the bus. What bus number should I take? What time or on what interval does the bus depart? Which bus stop should I use?
Of course, the route map is now available on Google search but that is only because someone has posted it on social media or someone had taken a picture of the poster at Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) Bus Station and be considerate enough to post it on the Internet through the personal blog whatsoever.
Other than that, it is practically impossible to know bus schedules beforehand.
In today’s Internet age, there is no more reason to solely rely to the old ways of using posters and waiting blindly at bus stops, and trouble the bus drivers or everyone else with mere inquiries on bus routes when these things are easily achieved on Google Maps.
All generations in Brunei have access to the Internet, especially as simple as Google, as everyone today has an Internet-ready mobile phone.
It is therefore crucial for the Land Transport Department to not overlook modern convenience, especially as ubiquitous as Google Maps, for ways in improving the public transport system in the country.
I may only have been to a small number of cities in the region but in every case I find Google Maps to be the indispensable tool in aiding me in using the local public transport.
As a tourist or someone foreign to the place, I never had to waste time and effort, going through the hassle of consulting the actual transport agencies or memorising the transit routes from posters as they are easily available on Google Maps.
Therefore, I aspire to see the same being implemented in Brunei, where our public bus information can be obtained in one Google search away. Apart from local commuters, I believe this would help tourists travel around in this country especially in areas within Brunei-Muara.
For example, if such information is available on Google Maps it would be much easier for tourists arriving from Labuan via the Serasa Ferry Terminal to know the exact location of the nearest bus stop, the bus number and the departing time in order to travel to City Centre area in the capital or everywhere else.
Many bus stops have been mapped onto Google Maps but at present they are simply place markers and are not embedded with any of the relevant transit information.
Google Maps only allow agencies which have authority on local transport information to embed or rectify such into its maps and so in this case only the Land Transport Department has access to improve map data on our local public buses.
Therefore, it is important for the Land Transport Department to take the initiative in collaborating with Google Maps in providing such data.
If such information is available on Google Maps, I believe this would make people more aware of the public bus system, not just of its presence but the actual workings of the system through its schedules and routes.
Eventually it would not be impossible for more people to actually take into consideration of travelling using public buses as options on par with cars or taxis.