Recently Singapore’s Municipal Services Office (MSO) unveiled its plans for a new app and web portal in an effort to improve government services. Minister of Culture, Community, and Youth, Ms. Grace Fu, is in charge of the project and believes it will greatly improve municipal services using the power of crowd-sourcing. The goal is for users to provide information and feedback to the MSO using the new platform, which is slated for launch later this year.
The platform, known as “OneService,” will start small. The first goal is to use the app to find abandoned supermarket buggies. Beginning this month, 5 large supermarket chains will serve as test dummies for the “Spot Abandoned Trolleys” initiative: Giant, Cold Storage, Sheng Siong, FairPrice, and Mustafa Shopping Centre. Users of the app will provide locations of abandoned shopping carts and supermarkets will use that information to retrieve them. The MSO considers this to be a good place to start, as almost everyone has encountered a shopping cart in a random place at some point in their lives, and stores lose money when their shopping carts disappear. It’s a low risk means of testing the platform’s effectiveness among the general public.
If it works, the app’s use will be expanded to other municipal services. Future plans involve the addition of a crowdsourcing component through which users can provide information in real time for all matters not requiring a response. The MSO will import data and feedback and use it to increase efficiency and improve offered services. In time the app may become the first line of defense in getting necessary attention to areas in need of maintenance, especially as infrastructure breaks down over time. Users can alert MSO to cracked sidewalks, damage to bike paths, and other potential hazards.
Ultimately the app and web portal can be expanded to include specific towns, neighborhoods, etc. and gather data related to those areas, such as traffic incidents, maintenance schedules, and other important functions people might like to know about. Right now the MSO is working with the remaining 14 Town Councils to develop plans for implementation, as the initial 2 Town Councils on board consider the pilot program to be a great success. It will take time, but Singapore and its citizens, see the value in the project.
It appears from this project that Singapore is utilizing some forward-thinking by developing and implementing this platform, and in time it might prove to be yet another successful use of crowd-sourcing that other city, state, or federal governments in other countries might adopt in the future. I’m sure we’ve all looked at a run-down park or a giant pothole and wished there were something we could actually do about it. For people living in Singapore, it’s a very real possibility.