Debate on ministries’ budgets: National Development

Parliament: Parking app helps drivers save over $3.3m since 2017

Authorities to set aside $25m in next five years for more such inter-agency tie-ups

Drivers have saved more than $3.3 million in parking fees since October 2017, by paying via an app only for the minutes they used, instead of the full hourly or half-hourly rates.

The app was funded by the Municipal Services Productivity Fund, and its success is one reason the authorities will set aside another $25 million in the next five years for more such inter-agency collaborations.

This is in addition to the $5 million earmarked in 2017.

Announcing the move in Parliament yesterday, Minister-in-charge of the Municipal Services Office (MSO) Grace Fu said she hoped to see more of such service improvements in the coming years.

The MSO was formed four years ago to coordinate multiple agencies' efforts in delivering municipal services.

Two new projects have been approved under the enhanced fund.

One is the use of drones for the Singapore Land Authority to detect maintenance issues early, more quickly and cheaply.

The other is a pilot trial of compactor litter bins for the National Environment Agency (NEA), a change that could cut waste collection from daily to twice a week.

Ms Fu, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said the office has awarded $5.2 million for six projects so far, and expects "about five times that in productivity gains".

Responding to Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) and Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan), she also highlighted the office's plans to respond more quickly and effectively to residents with issues.

For one, it is using artificial intelligence to route cases to the right agencies automatically, "freeing up officers to focus their efforts on solving more complex problems", she said. About 1,500 such cases a month are routed automatically.

Another area is through a new Infrastructure Works Dashboard - a common platform where agencies can access one another's proposed and ongoing projects, and coordinate works to minimise inconveniences like dust pollution and traffic jams, she said.

Also, the MSO will introduce new features into its OneService app, for residents to use it not just to report problems, but also to make transactions and encourage community bonding.

For example, residents can soon pay for neighbourhood facilities like barbecue pits and receive alerts, for hawker centre closures, for example, through the app in the coming year, said Ms Fu.

"We also want to encourage residents to do their part in improving their living environment," she added, noting the HelpBuddy app pilot launched last year allows residents to take part in activities offered by agencies.

For now, residents can do things like check if gravitraps set up by the NEA to monitor the mosquito population are in good working condition.

"Going forward, we will enable residents to put up simple activities on the app. For example, residents can help spot missing pet dogs or share household tools with one another," she said.

"If the pilot is successful, we will incorporate it in the OneService app."

Ms Fu also gave an update on the app, which has 157,000 users who have reported 288,000 cases since 2015. About 20 per cent of the municipal feedback received by government agencies are reported through the app, double that from two years ago.

On average, cases are addressed in three working days.

For more complex cases, 90 per cent of them are closed in 13 days, while the average time taken has fallen from 8.5 days to 6.5 days in the last three years, she added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline Parking app helps drivers save over $3.3m since 2017. Subscribe