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WeChat communities offer convenient services, enhance communication

By Hu Qing | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-30 07:58

"I want to have a haircut, but I've got a mobility problem, would you please send someone to provide the service at my house?" Lin Xinfang messaged to Zhuhai Road Sub-district's WeChat group on June 30.

Within a few minutes, the group manager replied on the mobile messaging app that they would send someone to the elderly resident's home in Qingdao's Shinan district that afternoon.

Sixty-five communities in Shinan operate WeChat service platforms that are also connected to the district's official WeChat account - WeiShinan. Together, they form what is thought to be the first WeChat Community Administration Alliance in China.

Residents can access a range of government services through the platform and browse through them like an online shopping mall.

More than 1 million residents are connected to the platform and interact with local governments and get involved in administration decision-making processes.

"The platform has greatly improved the communications efficiency and effect between the governments and citizens," said Bi Jianguo, party chief at Badaguan Sub-district office.

"For example, we used to collect opinions about community environment renovation by going from door to door, which took a lot of effort but there were still always people complaining we did the wrong thing," he said.

Bi said they now gather people's views via WeChat, where residents can easily voice their concerns and suggestions freely and conveniently.

"No matter if it's planting a tree or repainting the wall, we all make our moves based on the majority decision from our people, and those who disagree will understand the others" he said.

Dong Zuolan, another community administrator in Shinan said although the government has provided free pregnancy tests for years, very few people took advantage of the service, which was promoted through bulletins and brochures.

After the community published details of the service on its WeChat group, the area's pregnancy test participation rate jumped by 76 percent, said Dong.

When dealing with public crises or other emergency issues that go viral on the Internet, the district's communications office immediately publishes descriptions of events, reasons for them and the authority response on WeChat.

The rapid growth of smartphone use has been a great contributor to these communications changes.

Dong Zuolan, who is 61, said at first she didn't even know how to send a text message, but now the first thing she does each morning is check her WeChat app on her smartphone.

(China Daily 07/30/2015 page10)

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