[Photo: Thomas Thio, Bong Jun Hao and Claudia Foong are confident that the use of VPA will encourage more Singaporeans to eRegister.]
A team of five students taking an SMU-X course has suggested a more streamlined process through the use of a Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) to encourage more Singaporeans to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) before departing the country, so as to enable the authorities to offer timely assistance in times of emergency. Another team suggested the use of a Chatbot to address enquiries from family members in times of crisis, so that MFA can more effectively channel their resources into helping Singaporean overseas.
SMU-X courses were introduced in 2015 to provide students with hands-on, experiential, project-based learning where students recommend solutions to help companies tackle actual challenges that they encounter in their business or operations. This is the first time that MFA is participating in SMU-X and collaborating with students to look into ways to refine and enhance its existing platforms.
Third-year SMU School of Information Systems student Bong Jun Hao, who is part of the team which came up with the VPA recommendation, shared that his team found through their survey that the three key reasons why Singaporeans do not eRegister with MFA include: ‘not aware’, ‘no necessary’ and ‘process is too complicated’. As there are already many VPAs available in the market that use voice recognition, such as Siri and Google Assistant, he felt that “if MFA can utilise these technology to simplify the process, I believe more Singaporeans will be willing to e-register.”
[Photo: Yvonne Liew, Roy Lee, Janet Sim and Eugene Sng developed a chatbot prototype for their 'clients' at MFA.]
Another team suggested the use of a Chatbot to address simple enquiries from family members in times of crisis, so that MFA can more effectively channel their resources into helping Singaporean overseas.
MFA's Mr Lee said that the Ministry saw a lot of potential in the students' recommendations, and may considering implementing some of their ideas in future. He also revealed that MFA will be rolling out a new platform to replace mfa@sg. A tender will be called before the end of this year.