| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
To enable the successful project implementation, an action plan was formulated with stakeholders’ inputs taken into consideration. The developed multi-pronged action plan was as follows:
To procure / activate the enabling Technology:
To equipped the website with Enterprise WCMS so as to provide prompt publication of PSI info and health adbisories:
- User-friendly dashboard and widgets for content publishing, redesign and re-use of content across multiple websites and channels.
- WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) allows non technical users who do not know HTML, CSS or other programming languages to create content in a desired format
2. Breadth of outreach to masses – Mobile platform
To enable a mobile platform (myENV) to provide alerts via push notifications for the general public to warn about the impending or changing haze situation. The mobile user is able to select the range of PSI level which will be alerted. The mobile platform backend is designed in a cloud architecture and is able to generate about 90,000 push notifications per second and scale accordingly when needed
3. Content Delivery Infrastruture
Due to the high volume of traffic to the websites and mobile, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) need to be deployed in multiple data centres across the Internet to handle the sudden spikes in traffic to the NEA
- Pay-per-use model
- Secure platform, with 99% uptime
- Allows for up-to-minute updates
4. Other Digital Channels of outreach
Identify other digital medias such as facebook, twitters and also collaborate with the TV channels to provide the 3-hr and 24-hr PSI readings on the TV screen.
To meet Timeframe :
Promptness of delivery of outcomes. As the launch of the new air quality reporting index was brought forward from 1 May 2014 to 1 April 2014, the timeline required for development and testing was compressed and shorten by one month.
To Ensure Data Integrity:
Level of innovativeness to deliver environmental information to the public promptly without compromising the data integrity and accuracy across different platforms/channels.
To Ensure Information Accessibity:
Ease of access to information. Delivery of frequent updates to multiple channels for easy access by the public anytime and anywhere
To formulate Education materials:
Infographics to educate public on how the PSI levels impact health risks, the pollutant concentrations and how to manage daily activity during any haze episode.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
This initiative was spearheaded by NEA key stakeholders, who included various Ministries such as Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Transport (MOT), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).
As the smoke haze has health impact across the lives of people living and working in Singapore, the key stakeholders provided on the type of advisories that impacts different segments of the population, i.e. MOE on students, school operations and education institutions, MOT on public transport operations and operators (such as bus, taxis, trains, aviation) and MCI provided streamlined crisis communications to medias, etc.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project was fully funded by NEA.
The resources involved comprised the operational department, IT department, corporate communications department, meteorological department, 3-partnership department and NEA’s management team. These resources were mobilised under a Crisis Management Team structure with the SOPs in managing the haze crisis situation.
The actual costs in this project were the costs of leveraging the various technologies. However these costs can justified for serving the public interests and some of the ROIs achieved were:
1. With an Enterprise WCMS, the multi-site management feature saved NEA on the deployment cost for content refresh and publishing. In addition, licensing cost is also shared across unlimited websites management.
2. With CDN, the setup of 400 servers across three major local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will cost NEA close to several million dollars per year, in terms of infrastructure and maintenance costs. The ROI is substantial as the subscription model is based on usage for extensive platform coverage. The other savings are a result of reduced manpower resources to replace or refresh systems. The Cloud’s pay-per-use model also meant that NEA could subscribe to a capacity on-demand option.
3. With the mobile push notifications, the operational costs of providing an SMS infrastructure is drastically reduced from the initial costs of 20cents per SMS (Short Messaging Service).
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The critical information such as health advisories and PSI readings are made available to the public on the NEA website and haze micro-site:
1) NEA developed and implemented the haze micro-site within 72 hours which became operational on 23 June 2013. This was done through content sharing using an enterprise Web Content Management System (WCMS), with continual updates on PSI information throughout the haze period until October 2013, when the haze crisis situation was stood down with the return of air quality readings returning to healthy levels. Working with various departments (Pollution Control Department, Communications Department in NEA), this ensured that information was made readily available on our online portals.
2) Enhanced the NEA corporate website within 48 hours with Content Delivery Network (CDN) services on-demand turned on to meet the high hit rates of over 120,000 per minute, and average of more than 90,000 visitors per minute. This translated to a monthly bandwidth of 49.1TB. As a result of this implementation, the NEA corporate website was able to continuously provide information to the public without experiencing any slowness or downtimes.
3) PSI information provided by our Operations departments was made available on both Haze micro-site and NEA corporate website on an hourly basis, 24 hours a day, for seven days a week. Prior to the haze crisis, PSI information was only provided once and three times a day.
4) Set up video conferencing facilities to allow for the media briefings and press conferences to take place.
We also support our Operations and Communications departments by extending the dissemination of information to other NEA’s online platforms:
a. Social Media platforms like Twitter
b. RSS feeds of environmental data
c. TV feeds on PSI through the Meteorological Services System
The project also enhanced the staff productivity.
Last but not least, the public awareness on health impact due to smoke haze, and measures to be taken to alleviate possible health impacts.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The KPIs are measured by:
• Promptness of delivery of outcomes. As the launch of the new air quality reporting index was brought forward from 1 May 2014 to 1 April 2014, the timeline required for development, testing and validation was compressed and shorten by one month.
• Level of innovativeness to deliver environmental information to the public promptly without compromising the data integrity and accuracy across different platforms/channels. The number of platforms that NEA interfaces for the provision of PSI information has increased from 1 to 6 NEA-managed systems (Twitter, Interactive Voice Response System, myENV, Haze microsite, weather@SG, and Meteorological Services System) and six other external platforms.
• Ease of access to information. Delivery of frequent updates to multiple channels for easy access by the public anytime and anywhere.
• Increase in Visitorship. The monthly number of unique visitors to NEA Corporate website has increased from previously 30,000 to 200,000 averagely with further increase to 4.2 million users during hazy conditions. The monthly number of unique visitors to Haze microsite has increased from previously 10,000 to 30,000 averagely with further increase to 150,000 users during hazy conditions. Accumulative downloads of myENV has increased four-fold from 100,000 to 450,000 subscribers.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main problems that were encountered during the project execution:
1. Managing Expectations of the public
The website, social media and mobile platforms have to be robust to withstand high traffic loads. The public will not accept any failures in providing timely PSI info and advisories during the haze period.
As a government agency, the funding is limited and the project team had to be innovative in leveraging on existing project fundings, system architecture and resources.
3. Speed (Compressed) time of Implementations
The inclusion of the PM2.5 pollutant concentrations to the overall PSI indicator needs to be reflected immediately in all digital channels so as not to have any gap in communications to the public. There is a need to speed up the time of implementation as the info will have no impact if the project is delivered after the haze window.