Harnessing tech to better support the vulnerable

The Barton Convertible Chair demonstration at the showcase of technology at the Social Service Summit on July 16, 2019.
The Barton Convertible Chair demonstration at the showcase of technology at the Social Service Summit on July 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

We thank Mr Chen Lingshen and Ms Tang Siew Ngoh for their letters (Introduce tech in social service sector ethically, July 19; and Social workers need some relief from admin work, July 26).

Technology allows us to extend more comprehensive, convenient and coordinated help to our clients.

With a central IT system, social service agencies are able to share important case information across agencies with greater ease to support clients, while ensuring appropriate levels of data protection.

Since the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) rolled out a common case management system with family services centres in 2015, MSF has engaged users extensively and gained valuable insights on how to improve the usability of the system and minimise the administrative burden on front-line officers.

We have progressively refined our business processes, and are redesigning the system's user interface in a collaborative process with the users.

This is a work in progress, and feedback from users of the new interface has been positive and we continue to make improvements.

We agree with the writers that even as we harness technology for the social service sector, we should do so responsibly without compromising our clients' dignity and confidentiality.

We will continue to prioritise the safety, physical and emotional well-being of clients and staff of the social service agencies.

The National Council of Social Service will continue to work closely with the agencies that are keen to explore technological solutions such as video analytic solutions, to better support our work.

Denise Low

Director

Service Delivery and Coordination Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development

Fermin Diez (Dr)

Deputy CEO and Group Director

Human Capital and Organisation Development

National Council of Social Service

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline 'Harnessing tech to better support the vulnerable'. Print Edition | Subscribe