SingPass Mobile team, HDB, RSAF engineers lauded at public sector awards

GovTech user experience designer Chew Kia Hwee (left) conducts citizen research by engaging with seniors, such as retiree Lim Ah Swan, and other users to ensure their needs and concerns are addressed in the design of the SingPass Mobile app. PHOTO: G
GovTech user experience designer Chew Kia Hwee (left) conducts citizen research by engaging with seniors, such as retiree Lim Ah Swan, and other users to ensure their needs and concerns are addressed in the design of the SingPass Mobile app. PHOTO: GOVTECH

In developing the SingPass Mobile app, the designing team was guided by one important principle: Nobody gets left behind as Singapore strives towards its vision of being a smart nation.

This can be seen in the way the app incorporates screen reader and voice command functions, such as Siri in Apple's iOS devices, so users with low vision can easily benefit from its functions, said Mr Chew Kia Hwee, a user experience designer at the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

Those without smartphones can still access SingPass with a one-time password (OTP) sent to them by SMS, he added.

By the year end, users can also receive OTPs on behalf of their family members, especially seniors, who do not have mobile phones.

DESIGNING ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY

The team's efforts in modernising the 17-year-old SingPass platform won them a Service Delivery Excellence Award yesterday at the annual Public Sector Transformation (PST) Awards.

In all, 80 awards were given out across 12 categories to public officers and agencies.

Explaining the GovTech team's approach, Mr Chew said: "Our method is called 'designing for the 100 per cent'. That is our aspiration and we want to move towards designing to allow modes of access for different types of users who might have a range of abilities."

The app, launched in 2018, relies on biometric verification, such as fingerprint scanners on smartphones.

It is a key part of the SingPass national authentication and digital identity system which allows users to verify their identities online, and transact with not only government agencies and services but also private sector entities such as banks and healthcare institutions.

ALMOST ALL TRANSACTIONS ONLINE

The Housing Board (HDB) won the Transformative Agency of the Year Award for digitalising its services and platforms, among other things.

More than 200 e-services are now available around the clock on the HDB website and mobile app.

Yesterday, it said more than 53 million transactions were completed online last year, accounting for about 99 per cent of all its transactions.

Its chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said: "As a result of our service transformation efforts, physical counter transactions have dropped from 2.6 million in 2011 to just over 600,000 in 2019.

"With almost all our services having gone online, our customer service staff can focus on providing more personalised assistance in areas where the human touch remains essential, such as financial counselling for flat owners with financial difficulties."

A WORLD-CLASS IDEA

Another winner was a team led by Military Expert 3 (ME3) Ng Yong Yong, a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) engineer.

ME3 Ng's team won the Dare To Do Award for proposing a more efficient way to fix defects in the wing position lights on the F-15SG fighter jet.

The award recognises public officers or teams that identify opportunities to do things better, take risks and persevere. Previously, the standard procedure for fixing such defects was to replace the entire lighting assembly, which required a few days of downtime.

ME3 Ng and his team came up with the idea of replacing just the faulty lighting module and worked with American technical experts from aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

The improved process resulted in cost savings of about 99 per cent and reduced the amount of time required to fix the defect from 48 man-hours to just three.

The team's efforts also benefited F-15 users overseas as the new method has now become part of Boeing's official technical manual.

VISION FOR PUBLIC SECTOR TRANSFORMATION

Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing congratulated the award winners in a video message shown at the virtual ceremony. Mr Chan, who is also the Trade and Industry Minister, said he had a two-part vision for public sector transformation.

"The first part is that we can keep this little red dot of ours going, growing and glowing, so that we will distinguish ourselves as a people and as a country amid all the uncertainties and competition," he said. "The second part of my vision is that we can build a system... in which every member of our society can find meaningful work and find it fulfilling to contribute to our continued survival and success."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2020, with the headline 'SingPass Mobile team, HDB, RSAF engineers lauded at public sector awards'. Subscribe