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Inside look into Singapore Government’s Innovation Lab, IDA Hive

The IDA Hive, launched in October last year, serves as headquarters to Singapore’s Government Digital Services (GDS) apps and data team. It supports the evolving focus from just meeting needs to improving the experience and communication in transaction with the Government.

The facility hosts a multidisciplinary team of 100 data scientists, software coders, and engineers tasked to develop and enhance government websites and apps more regularly as citizens' needs evolve.

Some of the more notable digital services created by the app development team at IDA Hive include Beeline, MyResponder, MyConnection, amongst others (more information at the end of the article).

The 13,000 square feet space, IDA Hive contains research facilities and labs for user experience and A/B testing – in turn which help to influence the development and outcome of a product. To also encourage creativity and collaboration, the space includes open discussion areas, moveable desks and even recreational facilities. The environment mimics that of a Google office where bureaucracy is levelled out in an active and conducive working environment.

This facility also provides consultancy on areas in data and analytics to serve government agencies in developing new digital services.

ida hive

OpenGov recently sat down with the Government Digital Services team at the IDA Hive, to hear more about what they are working on and how they provide user-friendly and digital savvy service platforms for government agencies.

They told us that the buzzwords you will hear around these spaces are “agile” and “user experience”. While the waterfall approach paves an early sequential process, it leads to a product which is not as cost friendly and potentially obsolete due to a linear process, the agile methodology ensures the project is constantly evolving at a rapid pace to remain useful and relevant.

The team at the IDA Hive prides itself on taking an agile approach to product development, which helps it stay current with the pace of technology.

Driving User Experience Design for Government Digital Services

To further emphasise the engagement with the public, the IDA Hive promotes this culture by directly through new and innovative means. The digital services that are being developed by the team are directly tested through physical user interaction – these provide insight into user experience design when developing new apps. 

Sitting in the Hive is a Design Experience lab, where end users are brought in to test the digital service. The team behind the project studies how the user interacts with the platform, to see if each application is accessible and well-received by end users.

 “We want to test how people really react to the design and user experience of our digital services. When they sit in front of the screen, with the help of HD cameras, sensors and other tools, we are able to identify what areas are well received or need to be improved,” said Lim Eyung, Assistant Director, Government Digital Services.

This brings us back to the nascent stages of project development where the end user is brought in to help the team better understand pain points of the application or platform. 

As over 1,000 government technology projects are being undertaken throughout the Government of Singapore, there are limited resources of which that can be applied to each.

When taking on a project, the team at the IDA Hive helps with the UXD portion of the government technology initiative, providing help where the government agencies need it most.

“The Government Digital Services team, is seen as a multidisciplinary team bringing developers, software engineers, designers, and project managers together,” said Liu Feng Yuan, Director, Government Digital Services Data Science Division, IDA,

“As a lot of government agencies are working to improve service delivery, we are able to help in making decisions using data analytics.”

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By focusing on this, the team at the IDA Hive is able to take what the agency wants and use their own skills to develop a digital platform that will be manageable and attractive to citizens.

IDA Hive Continuing to Deliver Value and Impact in 2016

For 2016, the team at the IDA Hive will continue focusing on delivering value through their services and taking on projects which will create a lasting impact.

“We have a few products out there, we need to expand and improve on them,” stated Feng Yuan, “We have new ideas from agencies who want to do things with us. We try to be focused and build products that will have a very high impact to make the best use of our limited resources.”

With the restructuring of IDA and MDA, taking shape, the IDA Hive will reside under the newly formed Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

“It is pretty exciting for a lot of people here. It is a validation of what IDA Hive has been doing for the past year,” Liu Feng Yuan told us,

“GovTech will drive technology for the public good, in connection with the Smart Nation platform. What is the Smart Nation vision, if not, a combination of digital services, the use of data, and use of new technologies ... We are really a supporting part of that vision.”

Having so many different perspectives in such a collaborative environment will continue to help the IDA Hive succeed in contributing to public good through its services.

The establishment of GovTech helps contribute to the greater vision for Government Digital Services and the team at the Hive is expected to have a productive and exciting year ahead.

For information on meetups and sessions taking place at IDA Hive, look out on the IDA Facebook page for more details.

Here are some apps that you can check out:

MyResponder

Shaving time, saving lives – volunteers are notified of cardiac arrest cases within 400 metres of their location and able to assist in performing CPR or helping to apply the AED

Beeline

Your crowd-sourced bus service, tapping on data analytics and demand to get you to your destination.

OneService@SG

Convenience at your fingertips to share feedback on municipal issues.

MyConnection

Crowdsourcing to improve quality of experience for mobile broadband users

 

Find out more about the apps by downloading them from the Google PlayStore or Apple AppStore today!

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