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EXCLUSIVE! SupportGoWhere: Simplifying Access to Government Assistance Schemes and Services

The SupportGoWhere website serves as a one-stop platform for individuals and families in Singapore to conveniently locate support schemes and services. It assists individuals in understanding and applying for these schemes.

An initiative by LifeSG, GovTech created this platform to simplify the process of finding various government offerings and services. By responding to a few questions, the website’s Support Recommenders inform users about their potential eligibility for specific schemes, as well as services.

The Care Services Recommender, for instance, is designed to provide caregivers with suggestions on government schemes and services about physical and mental healthcare, social support, financial assistance and advice, future planning and other caregiving resources.

SupportGoWhere enables Singaporeans to apply for ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) scheme, which offers financial aid for purchasing necessities. They can also submit documents and check the status of their application via the website. A digital calculator is integrated into the website to assist citizens in determining their eligibility for various government benefits.

SupportGoWhere offers recommendations for relevant government schemes and services, while also allowing users to assess what assistance initiatives they qualify for. Users can explore details of each scheme and service, such as the target beneficiaries, eligible assistance amounts and the locations of service providers, before submitting online applications.

The inspiration behind SupportGoWhere

The service was launched at the beginning of the pandemic, which caused widespread job losses and income reductions for many people. While the government rolled out initiatives during this period, many users were confused about the eligibility criteria of the respective schemes, the amount of assistance they could receive and how to apply for assistance.

As the team was already developing the MaskGoWhere initiative, they extended the GoWhere series to include additional COVID-19 government assistance schemes and services, giving rise to SupportGoWhere. By using MaskGoWhere as a template, the team was able to swiftly launch SupportGoWhere within a week.

Following the launch, the team integrated Chinese, Malay, and Tamil translations into the platform to ensure accessibility in Singapore’s four primary languages. Since then, the scope of the platform has expanded to encompass all government schemes and services, extending beyond those related to COVID-19.

Additionally, the team is utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their recommendations to users regarding relevant schemes and services.

Technical considerations behind the development of SupportGoWhere

To expedite the development process and construct highly scalable, feature-rich applications, SupportGoWhere was developed with ReactJS, Koa, and TypeScript. TypeScript was chosen because its static typing reduces potential bugs, improves readability, and offers a fantastic development experience for producing high-quality software.

The application is hosted on AWS Cloud using a popular three-tier architecture design pattern to ensure that decoupled and microservices components can be developed and managed independently for increased efficiency. In addition, the system is designed with an auto-scaling feature to ensure that it has sufficient capacity to handle a sudden influx of traffic.

As a citizen-facing platform that collaborates with numerous government agencies, success is measured by user and stakeholder satisfaction.

Citizen satisfaction with SupportGoWhere can be determined by tracking page or feature views as well as User Satisfaction scores. Page views can provide insights into how users engage with the website, the time they spend on the site and whether they find the content valuable. The user satisfaction score indicates whether users are satisfied with the services provided by SupportGoWhere.

The development team has implemented Whole-of-Government Application Analytics (WOGAA) to monitor website traffic and gather user feedback. Users visiting SupportGoWhere will notice a smiley face in the bottom left corner, which is the WOGAA sentiments widget. By clicking on the smiley icon, users can rate their experience and offer qualitative feedback.

Stakeholder satisfaction metrics for SupportGoWhere can vary depending on the nature of collaboration with each agency. These metrics can range from page views to operational efficiency or savings. The SupportGoWhere team defines stakeholder targets early on and collects relevant data as required.

SupportGoWhere has garnered over six million total visits and more than three million unique visitors since its inception. The majority of sentiments were positive and centred around the financial help that citizens successfully received through the portal. Members of the public liked the most recent feature, the Support For You Calculator, which assists users in generating a list of estimated Budget 2023 benefits for themselves and their household members to review at a glance.

Stakeholders have also received good feedback on the Care Services Recommender, where publicity materials are displayed at healthcare institutions.

Typically, the development of one-stop services and initiatives is a massive undertaking involving numerous external parties.

Some key takeaways and learnings from the SupportGoWhere journey are the need to:

  • Maintain product vision alignment with all involved parties;
  • Prioritise the most impactful features based on user research;
  • Construct a scalable design system and technology stack for more efficient scaling;
  • Adopt a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) iterative development strategy to rapidly validate features and iterate based on user feedback.

About the team

To deliver MVPs and iterate the product, the team employs a learn, build and test methodology. They follow an Agile approach using the Scrum framework, with a two-week sprint time box to ensure alignment with the Product Owner and deliver a high-quality final product.

In addition to daily stand-ups and desk checks, there are regular sprint reviews and Product Owner alignment meetings to ensure stakeholders’ feedback is received and incorporated where possible.

The team prioritises user needs and preferences by conducting citizen usability tests, using online feedback channels and leveraging statistical data to guide product decisions. The Agile framework allows the team to swiftly adapt and make necessary adjustments to refine their MVPs.

The team has worked with other departments such as:

  • Implementing operational tools (for example, WOGAA) to track and meet KPIs and standards;
  • Working with LifeSG on marketing efforts to send out personalised Budget Scheme notifications;
  • Using APIs, powering a beta ServiceConnect recommender to assist ServiceSG centre staff in recommending schemes to citizens.

The Scrum framework facilitates the team in setting collaboration milestones and targets to effectively coordinate team deliverables. By following Scrum sprints, the team can quickly make necessary changes, enabling different teams to make changes quickly where necessary.

After each two-week sprint, the team conducts a retrospective session as per the Scrum framework. During this session, the team engages in a reflection process that involves all members in identifying roadblocks and proposing improvements to enhance the team’s efficiency and internal collaboration.

Having such discussions are essential for maintaining a healthy team environment where everyone feels heard and valued. This fosters a culture of transparency and accountability and creates a safe and open environment for criticism and feedback. This is crucial for maintaining team morale and productivity.

By proactively addressing any conflicts or issues that arise during the sprint, the team can refine their processes and deliver high-quality work within the given time frame. The team fosters a culture of open and honest communication, where everyone is encouraged to freely express their opinions and actively listen to the perspectives of others.

They strive to avoid personal attacks or criticisms, instead focusing on the issue at hand and working together to develop solutions by weighing the pros and cons objectively. Following the resolution of a conflict, the team holds a retrospective session to evaluate the process and identify areas for improvement to prevent similar conflicts from arising in the future.

Some effective methods or best practices for encouraging creative and innovative thinking include:

  • Creating a supportive and collaborative environment in which each team member feels comfortable sharing ideas and collaborating.
  • Recognising and rewarding creativity and innovation, as well as celebrating the successes of innovative projects.
  • Encouraging the team to try out new ideas and problem-solving approaches and providing them with the necessary resources and support.

These collaborative approaches help to ensure that the team is aligned and working cohesively towards the success of SupportGoWhere.


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