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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.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,800 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service. For more information, visit www.ibm.com