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Sustainability

How Digital Skills Help a Formerly Incarcerated Mom Launch a Successful Business

“Take nothing, get nothing, but bear the brunt” is a common Thai saying. It refers to situations in which people receive no benefits from their involvement, but instead suffer all the negative consequences. This saying perfectly encapsulates what happened to Suwimon “Dear” Suk-udomchokechai. An Accidental Criminal A few years ago, Ms. Suwimon worked as a teacher at a small primary school. But when the accountant resigned, certain school executives requested her to take on accounting duties on top of her teaching load, and she agreed. She certified certain key documents as part of her new role. But due to her implicit trust in the school executives, as well as her fledgling accounting knowledge, Ms. Suwimon soon unwittingly became party to corrupt dealings. Irregularities in the school’s accounting papers began to surface in late 2016. A probe identified Ms.  Suwimon as the person who certified the documents under investigation. She was charged with embezzlement and was convicted in February 2019. Her sentence could have been as long as 48 years, but being a first-time offender who confessed to her accidental crimes, she was sentenced 20 years – a daunting prospect nonetheless. To make matters worse, during her admission to the Central…

How one former prisoner is changing lives with her online bakery

We have all made mistakes. But some of us have made mistakes so serious and irreversible that they have deprived us of future opportunities. Chon Buri native Sansanee Tanakarnkowit made one such mistake when, 12 years ago, she got involved with drugs. At the tender age of 20, she started working at nightclubs. Due to the nature of her profession, she spent lots of time with friends and partied wildly every night. One night, a friend invited her to do “something fun”. She agreed and tried narcotics for the first time. Within four years, Ms. Sansanee became heavily addicted and began selling drugs to her friends. Eventually she was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail. Losing Freedom Twice As a person who thrived on city living and the company of friends, Ms. Sansanee became desperately lonely in prison. “Life behind bars was very difficult for me especially during the first few weeks. I had to adjust a lot. The prison was crowded. The bathroom was an open-plan with no privacy. I was stressed out and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I even collapsed at one point,” she recalls. “But after a few months, I finally settled into a routine. I…

Mobility data unveils 19 tourism clusters that can attract more tourists to second-tier provinces and reduce economic inequality

In the past four decades, Thailand has been struggling with the challenge of area-based inequalities. Before the Covid-19 crisis, the Thai economy was worth 16.9 trillion baht, but 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) came from just 15 provinces, which are those of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chachoengsao, Phuket, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Khon Kaen, while the rest 62 provinces contributed only 30 percent to GDP. Area-Based Inequalities A deeper analysis of Thailand’s economic drivers reveals that the same 15 provinces have generated 88 per cent of tourism revenue, while the other 62 provinces, also known as second-tier provinces, have contributed just 12 percent of gross tourism revenue. Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattapong Punnoi, a lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Architecture, said, “Area-based inequalities have prevailed in Thai tourism for a long time. Most tourists choose to visit only major provinces, which led to resource degradation and significant income equality.” According to a report published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the average length of stay for each domestic trip is 2.5 days, suggesting that Thais usually travel during weekends or…

How a mobile operator, a university, and a data expert harness the untapped potential of mobility data to rebuild Thai tourism and promote social good

“Our project started out of our belief in the power of data. We have already seen so many use cases involving commercial data. So, won’t it be better to bring experts from various fields together to solve social problems through data? dtac decided to do this project after just a one-hour talk with Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Architecture and Boonmee Lab,” said On-uma Rerkpattanapipat, Head of Communication & Sustainability at dtac. She is the key person behind the “Study Project on Mobility and Concentration of Thai Tourists during COVID-19 Outbreak based on Mobility Data” with the code name Project Phatthalung. Ms. On-uma believes that the telecom industry is an important “data enabler" because only a few industries have access to such massive amounts of customer data. In the beginning, the three partners of the project thought about conducting the study in Phatthalung province only. But after reviewing the potential of mobility data, they agreed to conduct the study on a national scale. Billions of Datasets It took nearly two years for the Phatthalung Project to take off, though. The three partners spent considerable time assessing and reviewing the risks involved in mobility-data handling during the research process. Over a one-and-a-half-year…

How mobility data can improve public policymaking for tourism promotion in second-tier provinces

The transition into a digital society has rapidly changed the social landscape, with the private sector actively using big data for commercial purposes. Many governments are discussing how to apply big data in a similar manner for the formulation of public policies. According to Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattapong Punnoi, a lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Architecture, there are widespread debates on the use of big data for policy formulation in many countries. Norway, Sweden, France, and Slovakia, for example, use mobility data to analyze travel patterns to develop tourism strategies. Likewise, the collaboration between dtac, Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Architecture, and Boonmee Lab also reveals the potential of mobility data in public-policy formulation. When compared with data from surveys, mobility data is much more extensive and the process of data collection is much more cost and time efficient. If used in policymaking, mobility data can drive massive impacts and innovations for sustainable economic, social and environmental development. “Access to mobility data does not just allow the public sector and researchers to better understand social circumstances in a timely manner, but it also enables civil society, communities, and small-scale business owners to…

Mobility data reveals second-tier provinces with potential to develop overnight tourism

Another tourism-promotion strategy that came out of the study on movement patterns and concentration of Thai tourists during COVID-19 outbreak based on mobility data focuses on developing experience-based overnight tourism. Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattapong Punnoi, Urban and Regional Planning Department, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, said, “Overnight stay is an indicator of tourism success. Cities with many overnight tourists are considered successful because overnight tourism can generate higher revenue and economic value than same-day tourism.” Overnight tourism also creates higher positive social impacts as tourists have more opportunities to interact and engage with local communities. The longer the visit, the higher chance they are exposed to a cultural exchange experience. The aim of experience-based overnight tourism development is to build a “fanbase” of a city, which leads to quality tourism and repeat visits. Also, tourists will continue to purchase products from those areas even after they have returned to their hometown. This is the importance of experience-based overnight tourism development and how it can pave way for sustainable tourism economy. “Tourism can generate a positive economic and social impact to local community, especially in regards to experiences and cultural exchanges,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattapong added. Three Overnight-Tourism Trends The study…

How Micro-tourism Can Redefine and Sustain Thai-tourism in the Post Covid-19 era

Thailand has a long history of promoting “domestic tourism”.  During the 1997 Financial Crisis and Bird Flu Crisis, Thais were seriously encouraged to explore Thai destinations.  In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the government has also promoted domestic tourism via the “Rao Tiao Duai Kan” (We Travel Together) scheme. According to a study using mobility data on movement patterns and tourist concentrations during the Covid-19 pandemic, Thais managed to take day trips averaging approximately 150 kilometers. On one hand, tourists from neighboring provinces of Lamphun, Chiang Rai and Nakhon Si Thammarat made 40-60% of their total day trips to these provinces. On the other hand, only 14% of total day trips were made by tourists from neighboring province to other secondary provinces. Some provinces were able to attract tourists even though they required travelling as far as 200 kilometers, such as Mae Hong Son, Ranong, Nan, Phetchabun and Nakhon Phanom. In addition, other provinces were able to attract 3-5 times more day trippers than average, such as Nakhon Nayok, Ratchaburi, Suphanburi, Samut Songkhram and Ang Thong. When considered together, these factors show that up to 16 provinces have the potential to further develop day-trip tourism. These provinces are Nakhon Si…

Mobility Data Unveils Tourist Behavior and Policy Recommendations to Rebuild Thai Tourism, says a joint research by dtac, ONDE, Chula, and Boonmee Lab

The three key strategies include micro-tourism, experience-based overnight tourism and tourism cluster Sept 5, 2022 – A joint research among four parties - dtac, the National Digital Economy and Society Commission (ONDE), Chulalongkorn university and Boonmee lab – has proposed three key policy recommendations based on mobility data during Covid-19 pandemic, including micro-tourism, experience-based overnight tourism and tourism cluster. The parties also urge the authorities to revive the sector through an increase in promotion of tourism in second-tier provinces in a bid to make tourism sector more resilience and sustainable. Putchapong Nodthaisong, ONDE’s secretary general, said the government realized the important role of data, a foundation of digital economy, which will transform Thailand into the digital nation. Moreover, data in digital form offers various advantages that allows the government to more effectively address social causes, such as water and disaster management. Sharad Mehrotra, chief executive officer of Total Access Communication Plc or dtac, said the study of movement patterns and concentration of tourists in Thailand during the covid-19 outbreak is aimed at unlocking the potential of mobility data for public policymaking and addressing social challenges, specifically on Thai tourism, which had been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic for more…

Former Drug Addict Finds His Calling with a Cricket Farm and Online Chili Paste Business

23 August 2022 - We all yearn for a home and a sense of belonging. But it’s not so easy to find. Many may have a roof over their heads but lack the warmth of a safe home. Others may be surrounded by people but miss out on a nurturing community that brings out the best in them. For Anek “Ped” Kaeopha, the 42-year-old owner of Numprig Baanchan, finding his true home and community has been a long and winding journey, involving a life of crime, time in prison, redemption and an exciting new career. Born in Bangkok, he grew up in a broken home in Bang Phlat Nai Community. He was first exposed to illicit drugs at the tender age of 10, when he had a job accompanying a sand truck driver from his neighborhood to a sand yard in Bang Bua Thong. It was a job that paid just 2 baht per trip, and while riding in the truck, Anek saw the driver take amphetamine pills (nicknamed “pills for workaholics” in Thai). Anek was too young to realize back then that the pills were illegal and dangerous. Anek himself became a drug abuser when he was in Mathayom…

How a mother of three used the internet to launch a profitable healthy food subscription service

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Our food choices impact our health, and not just physically. Many studies confirm that a healthy, well-balanced diet can also help prevent anxiety and depression. Healthy food is what helped 60-year-old Natsuda Srisawat from Chon Buri brave the unexpected storms in her life, and in the lives of her family members. Children with Chronic Health Issues Her journey began with her three children, who all happened to suffer from chronic health challenges. At the age of one, her eldest child developed respiratory disorders. Her second child began suffering from asthma since he was eight months old. And her youngest child has had the biggest problems of all. He is allergic to many food types since birth, so much so that it made it challenging to get key nutrients. For example, he cannot consume cow’s milk, eggs, or vegetables. As a result, he had to rely heavily on breast milk, rice, and soy sauce. What’s more, overwork, little rest, and the responsibilities of caring for her children also caused Ms. Natsuda’s health to deteriorate, to the point that she even developed septicemia. And as luck would have it, by the time she…