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EXCLUSIVE! Technology to Engage the Community

Launched in 2019, CrowdTaskSG aims to harness the collective intelligence of Singaporeans to provide government agencies with useful insights into national issues and addresses the prevalent notion that citizens’ voices are often overlooked. The platform serves as a bridge between citizens and agencies, offering a centralised platform for citizens to share their thoughts and ideas.

The initiative operates on the premise that Singaporeans can have an active and meaningful role in co-creation, collaboration and crowdsourcing, rather than being passive recipients of government schemes and services.

Citizens have a range of ways to participate, including surveys, polls and questionnaires focused on government policies and issues. In addition, they can take part in testing prototypes for new government websites, providing feedback on areas that require improvement and assisting with translation requests.

This diverse set of options aims to cater to various interests and expertise levels, making it easier for citizens to engage with the platform in a meaningful way. By doing so, CrowdTaskSG endeavours to foster greater interaction and participation from citizens, while also providing agencies with a more comprehensive understanding of public sentiment on various issues.

To broaden the scope of citizen participation, the CrowdTaskSG team is actively exploring additional tasks that can be performed through the platform. The team collaborates with other agencies to identify opportunities to optimise the platform for a wider range of crowdsourcing initiatives.

GovTech method to better engage citizens

The CrowdTaskSG team has been inspired by the widespread popularity of the mobile game Pokemon Go, which employs GPS technology to allow players to discover real-world locations, capture virtual creatures and engage with other players.

Gamification was the secret ingredient that propelled the success of Pokemon Go, as it transformed the simple act of walking into a social experience. The game tracks users’ daily steps and incentivises movement by rewarding them with new monsters.

What made Pokemon Go’s success truly remarkable was not only how quickly it became a worldwide phenomenon, but also how it motivated people to participate in physical activity – a pursuit that many individuals were previously averse to. The CrowdTaskSG team was intrigued by this philosophy and wondered whether a similar approach could be adopted to foster the development of a smart nation.

Undoubtedly, many Singaporeans possess a wealth of skills, ideas and feedback that could support Singapore’s transition towards becoming a smart nation. However, they may lack the motivation to engage in these activities.

CrowdTaskSG bridges the gap between citizens and agencies by integrating gamification elements to make the engagement process more enjoyable and rewarding. Through these efforts, they aim to create a more interactive and captivating platform that inspires citizens to take an active role in shaping national policies and improving their personal well-being.

By incorporating gaming elements, CrowdTaskSG takes completing surveys or tasks on the platform to a whole new level of fun – making mundane tasks far more enjoyable and rewarding. Users can earn experience points to level up and virtual coins for NETS QR purchases after completing a task.

The team has adopted simple gamification concepts to ensure that they appeal to individuals of all ages. To make the platform user-friendly and accessible to all, the team has designed a clean and straightforward user interface that minimises distractions and enhances accessibility.

As a product that is designed to prioritise citizen engagement, the CrowdTaskSG team places great importance on delivering a seamless user experience. In addition to collecting feedback and suggestions through the platform, the team frequently conducts user interviews with CrowdTaskSG users to gain insights into evolving user needs and identify areas for improvement.

The CrowdTaskSG team is committed to carefully considering the needs of government agencies as well as user feedback to continuously add new features and improvements to the platform. After the user interviews and testing sessions, the team works consistently on making the platform easier to use and making sure that information and instructions are clear and easy to understand.

The team recently introduced a Leaderboard feature in their referral campaign, which led to a 10% surge in user participation. They also revamped the reward system, making it more convenient for citizens to redeem their virtual coins.

CrowdTaskSG offers government agencies a cost-effective solution as they can currently utilise the portal free of charge. It is a user-friendly, self-service platform that not only enables government employees to submit tasks easily but also allows them to review responses with the built-in data visualiser.

The platform uses MyInfo verification to ensure that all participants are genuine, and its screener function simplifies the process of reaching specific groups of people for government agencies.

The platform has received positive feedback, with many users citing how it has facilitated fast and efficient communication with participants. This is particularly advantageous for User Experience (UX) and Design Thinking teams, who rely heavily on user testing and feedback throughout their design process.

The technology infrastructure that CrowdTaskSG uses has also been employed to develop the SG Translate Together (SGTT) web portal, which is a distinct product from CrowdTaskSG. This has enabled the Ministry of Communications and Information to collaborate with the public to gather translation data through crowdsourcing.

The data collected is utilised to enhance and train SG Translate, the Machine Translation Engine, resulting in more translations that cater to local needs. Additionally, SGTT provides translation resources and a form platform to engage with the local translation community.

The CrowdTaskSG team places a high priority on ensuring that the onboarding process for new users is easy and seamless when developing a product that is intended for widespread use. Therefore, deciding between a mobile application or a web-based application was a crucial consideration for the CrowdTaskSG team when they began the project.

There were several reasons why a mobile-responsive web platform was ultimately chosen for CrowdTaskSG:

  1. Because there are more steps to go through, downloading a mobile application to answer a survey is a huge barrier for new users. If it is a web-based platform, new users can log in by scanning a QR code, which is a quick touch-and-go.
  2. As a result of the pandemic, most Singaporeans are now accustomed to scanning QR codes to open websites in a browser, which became one of the onboarding workflows.
  3. Having a web-based platform enabled to reach users not only on mobile phones but also on desktop computers and even fixed kiosks in the form of touch-screen TVs and tablets when agencies conduct road shows and engage citizens.

To ensure that CrowdTaskSG could be accessed on various screen sizes, including desktops, mobile phones, tablets, and TVs, the team put a great deal of thought into the design of their components to maintain a consistent user experience across all platforms.

TypeScript is the main programming language used by the CrowdTaskSG team, and React is used for the front end, while NodeJS is used for the back end. Using a single language across the stack makes it easier for developers to switch between frontend and backend development with minimal contextual overhead.

A robust audit trail is crucial for a mass-market application as it helps developers quickly identify and resolve technical issues that users might encounter. Moreover, regular performance testing ensures that the application can handle high volumes of traffic and load spikes that may coincide with marketing efforts. By doing so, the team can avoid any performance issues that might lead to a poor user experience and ultimately impact the success of the application.

Constantly being wary of malicious activities is a common challenge with gamification in crowdsourcing platforms. Users could be inclined to cheat the system by submitting tasks multiple times or completing unassigned tasks to gain an advantage in their pursuit of rewards. While not a technical challenge, it is burdensome.

To prevent such behaviour, measures have been put in place to ensure that task submissions on CrowdTaskSG are unchanged or idempotent; submitting the same task multiple times does not benefit the user nor are they rewarded for completing tasks that are not assigned to them.

Nonetheless, security is of paramount importance for the CrowdTaskSG team as they are deploying a government product. Hence, every major release undergoes professional vulnerability assessments and penetration testing before distribution.

In addition to these pre-release tests, the team conducts monthly risk assessments using open-source scans and other risk surveillance tools. The team also has a surveillance bot that monitors traffic and potential attacks in real-time to ensure that any suspicious or unusual activities are promptly investigated.

About the team

For a diverse team to function effectively, a strong product vision and shared goals that inspire collective buy-in are crucial, beyond just support and resources. Creating a culture that embraces and celebrates diversity is essential in acknowledging that each individual brings unique perspectives and expertise to the table.

This recognition helps ensure that every team member can make meaningful contributions to the various domains. Support and resources can be generated from within the team if the right culture and communication are in place.

CrowdTaskSG’s work methodology is heavily influenced by GovTech’s Agile, Bold, and Collaborative values. The team convenes every two weeks for “retrospectives,” during which they discuss the previous sprint and exchange fresh concepts regarding the product and their work approach. To capture spontaneous ideas, they also maintain idea boards to jot down any potentially useful insights for future reference.

Regular and open communication is important and members talk to each other often (at least once a day). The team values a “no-blame” culture, which creates a safe space for members to express their thoughts and concerns.

Trust is a cornerstone of the team’s work culture, with everyone aware that they are working together for the best of the product. The team takes a collaborative approach to problem-solving, with all domain leads gathering to discuss various perspectives before arriving at decisions and working through problems quickly and efficiently.

The CrowdTaskSG team proactively helps each other to overcome any obstacles that may impede their progress. A conducive culture and effective communication facilitate this internal support system, enabling team members to assist one another in achieving their shared goals.

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