SINGAPORE: From June this year, parents of young children will have a new app that comes pre-bundled with Government services they will likely need to use during this period of their lives – but it is a work in progress, with users encouraged to give feedback to improve it over time.
The new app was announced by Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan during Thursday's (Mar 1) Committee of Supply debates.
The app is part of the Moments of Life (MOL) initiative, which was announced last year as one of the five strategic national projects for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), and will be called the MOL (Families) app. It is the agency’s first step towards delivering integrated services and information that citizens need, when they need it.
“Of all the key life moments, one significant milestone is when parents with newborns or young children have to adjust their lifestyles or make important decisions for their children’s well-being,” the agency explained.
“The first MOL initiative that will be implemented will focus on proactively supporting families with children aged 6 and below by bundling streamlined services and information.”
As part of the MOL (Families) app, Singaporean parents can use it to, for example, register a child’s birth online for the first time, if they have their children in public hospitals such as KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and the National University Hospital.
Currently, for parents who just had a child, hospitals designated as birth registration centres offer such services but at an additional cost. Birth registrations cost S$18, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), but hospitals would tack on administrative charges. SGH, for instance, offers the service at S$33 while doing so at NUH would cost S$40, according to their respective websites. KKH did not disclose the cost of birth registration on its website.
Not all families are eligible though. At least one parent must be Singaporean, and both parents must have SingPass accounts. They must have also registered their marriage in Singapore, SNDGO said. Parents are also still required to collect the birth certification in person – either at the hospital the baby is born or at ICA – after which will the registration be considered complete.
Additionally, parents can register for the Baby Bonus when they register the birth of their child, but it will only be processed after the birth certificate is collected, it added.
For parents with slightly older children, they can use the app to search for pre-school facilities around their homes using geo-location services. Information such as school fees and estimated vacancies will be displayed, and parents can indicate their interest to be on the waitlist, the agency said.
They can also look for Baby Bonus-approved institutions by category on the app, as well as access the child’s medical and immunisation records, SNDGO said.
There are also plans in the future to include private sector services such as hiring confinement nannies and food catering, Channel NewsAsia understands.
MORE COLLABORATION, LESS SILOS
Dr Balakrishnan explained the rationale behind the MOL (Families) app, saying it demonstrates how the Government are reorganising its services to provide personalised and proactive support to citizens.
"We used to have a ‘No Wrong Door Policy’. Citizens should not have to figure out how to access the myriad of Government services," he said. "Instead, it is the Government as a whole that should reorganise the delivery of our services to meet the needs of our citizens. This is not really a question of technology but one of re-engineering our processes.
"If we succeed, the doors should disappear."
The MOL (Families) app will feature services by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the ICA, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB), which gives a glimpse of how public sector agencies are sharing information to improve the delivery of digital Government services.
This comes on the heels of the passing of the Public Sector (Governance) Bill in January this year, which sets out how and when agencies share information with each other.
There are also plans afoot for the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) to develop a technology platform – called Government Tech Stack – for public sector agencies to build their digital applications.
GovTech said most agencies now develop independent services and infrastructure to meet the needs of the specific citizen or business group that they serve. “This process is not time- nor cost-efficient.”
With the Government Tech Stack, a common pool of compute resources will be provided for by GovTech, thus freeing the various agencies to focus on designing solutions that best meet the needs of those they serve. This, it said, reduces the time and effort needed to introduce new digital services and enhance and maintain existing ones.
It cited the MyInfo data vault pilot as a case in point, saying the pilot was developed and delivered in four months using the tech stack, instead of what would typically take a year.
The Government Tech Stack will be made available to the whole public sector progressively from 2018, said GovTech.