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New OneService app feature allows users to request social assistance for neighbours in need

New OneService app feature allows users to request social assistance for neighbours in need

Senior citizens at the void deck of an HDB Block. (Photo: Ray Yeh)

SINGAPORE: Residents will be able to alert social service agencies to people in their neighbourhood who may require social assistance, using a new feature in the OneService app that is being piloted from the second half of this year, said the Municipal Services Office (MSO) on Thursday (Mar 4).

The new Help Neighbour feature will enable residents to “be additional ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ on the ground”, flagging cases of residents who may need social assistance, MSO said.

The trial is a collaboration between the Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF), MSO and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).

Announcing the initiative in Parliament, Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said: “This is especially important during this pandemic, where residents may find themselves having fewer interactions with their usual social networks.”

READ: Growing preference among elderly residents to ‘age in place’: HDB survey

The feature will also allow AIC, MSF and their partners to reach out and locate these people more quickly, through geotagged data.

There are four main groups who were selected for the pilot: Seniors in need, rough sleepers, cardboard collectors and tissue sellers.

“These four groups were chosen as they are commonly highlighted by residents as requiring some assistance,” said MSO.

The Help Neighbour feature will be piloted from the second half of 2021. (Photo: Municipal Services Office)

Users submitting such requests will have to specify their concerns, which include the health, mental state, mobility, or living conditions of the person in need.

They must also select the type of help they are requesting for, such as a welfare check, housing support or financial assistance.

Users of the feature can also add other concerns or remarks, such as details of the person in need. After that, the feedback will be channelled to the relevant social agencies.

This is among the latest improvements to the OneService app, which now has more than 340,000 users, up from fewer than 200,000 in 2019, said MSO.

FASTER FEEDBACK OPTIONS

Additionally, the OneService Chatbot, which will be available on messaging platforms WhatsApp and Telegram from the second half of this year, will make it more convenient for residents to report municipal issues.

The bot, which is currently on trial until Mar 28, will allow residents to submit feedback in a “conversational” way, MSO said.

READ: Single contractor to handle several municipal services in Tampines under new pilot

The chatbot will respond to users’ messages, guiding them along to identify the issue and prompting them to provide the required information in real-time.

It will then automatically route the case to the agency in charge of the issue, using text, geolocations and images provided by the user.

Ms Sim said that the OneService Chatbot, which is powered by artificial intelligence, can currently predict the case type and agency-in-charge with 80 per cent accuracy, and this is expected to improve as public trials continue.

“This conversational reporting format complements the OneService App’s more structured reporting format,” Ms Sim said.

An AI-powered OneService chatbot will be rolled out on Telegram and WhatsApp. (Photo: Municipal Services Office)

In addition, MSO will also expand the pilot for OneService Lite, a QR-code reporting tool, to more neighbourhoods and in the vernacular languages. 

Residents can simply scan the QR code to submit feedback, without downloading the OneService app.

It has been piloted with Aljunied-Hougang Town Council and Jurong-Clementi Town Council since February last year.

This year, it will be rolled out in Mandarin with Holland-Bukit Panjang and Sembawang Town Councils at selected blocks with a higher proportion of Chinese residents.

“We will study the outcomes before commencing subsequent pilots in Malay and Tamil,” MSO said.

Source: CNA/cl

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