SINGAPORE: It was touted as the app that presented a new way of delivering Government services to citizens - proactive, online and cutting across multiple agencies.
And for the most part, the Moments of Life (Families) app - one of five Smart Nation strategic national projects - has delivered on these promises.
The pilot app - designed for families expecting a child to those with children aged up to six - was released on both iOS and Android app stores on Friday (Jun 29) for the public, but a group of 70 families had an early peek at what the app had to offer.
Mdm Nur Sooleezaa Saadon, mother of two children aged four and two, shared with Channel NewsAsia in an interview ahead of the app’s launch that she found it “very useful”.
“As a working mum with two toddlers, the ability to register for and track the medical appointments of my children saves me time,” she said.
Another app, HealthHub, jointly developed by the Health Ministry and Health Promotion Board (HPB), offers these services too, but Mdm Sooleezaa shared that while it was easy to use for her first child, kinks started to appear for her second.
She shared that she had to manually add her second child to the HealthHub app, but repeated failure to do so due to technical issues meant she gave up using it.
With the MOL (Families) app, children’s information is automatically retrieved as these are in parents’ SingPass accounts.
Another welcomed feature was the ability to search for childcare centres around her neighbourhood, particularly the “traffic light” icons used to indicate whether the centre was full or not, Mdm Sooleezaa said.
“This was helpful in managing expectations, as I could decide whether to wait or to find alternatives, and not wait in vain for the centre to reply,” she explained.
The 27-year-old was first approached to give feedback at the early developmental stage of the app last September, before returning in February this year to undergo an eye tracker exercise for the app developers to see how people are interacting with the software.
MORE EFFICIENT USE OF TIME
Another parent who got the chance to try the app was Ms Charlene Tan, who just delivered her second child a week ago.
“Making (the process of registering my child’s birth) into an app allows us to register at our own free time,” Ms Tan told Channel NewsAsia in an interview on Friday.
She added: “Registering at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) or the hospital requires us to go in person during the opening hours and the wait can be pretty long.
“The new dad and mum would be doing all these administrative matters instead of spending time bonding with the baby and resting at home.”
There is a designated counter at ICA for parents who register and set up an appointment via the app to collect the birth certificate.
The self-employed mother of two did point out that the app could do with more features, including the ability to apply for a passport for the child at the same time.
“Since we’re already going down to ICA, we might as well do it all at the same time,” Ms Tan explained. It would have come in handy for her first child, Aven, as they had applied for his passport and birth certificate at the same time, she revealed.
Other features on her wishlist include incorporating some of the features on other apps, like PSI reading on the myENV app by National Environment Agency and extending the loan time for books from the National Library Board.
Such feedback from users like Mdm Sooleezaa and Ms Tan was the foundation of how the MOL (Families) app was created.
Over a period of 12 months, a series of engagement sessions were carried out to get citizens' inputs and find out their needs and difficulties when parenting young children, according to a fact sheet by the Public Service Division (PSD).
“This citizen-centric engagement informed the design of a user interface and inclusion of features that are relevant to families with young children,” it added.
With the eye tracker exercise, the 15-strong development team from Government Technology Agency (GovTech) had the opportunity to refine what they had in its early prototype to the version that was launched today, said Mr Lim Eyung, deputy director of Government Digital Services at GovTech.
He told Channel NewsAsia that one example is during the birth registration process. In the earlier version, one field to fill was the child’s race and the option to list two races if both parents are from different races.
However, it wasn’t intuitive enough for parents who tried it to know that they could do this, so the wording to signal that this option was available was tweaked, Mr Lim explained.
Another distinctive feature of the app was how it cut across government agencies to offer the various services. Representatives from 15 agencies like the Ministry of Social and Family Development, ICA, the Early Childhood Development Agency and HPB were involved in its development.
“We wanted to approach this project differently by putting the citizens at the centre,” said Ms Ong Toon Hui, deputy secretary at PSD and co-chairperson of the MOL (Families) committee, in the fact sheet.
“Our goal is to give Singaporeans a positive experience as they go through this moment of life, as they seamlessly access the government services and information they need, regardless of which agency delivers it.”