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Social media and mobile apps help government agencies reach out to citizens

Jack Loo | March 1, 2012
Singapore’s National Library Board is allowing the public to freely tag pictures in its heritage images project.

Social media tools and mobile apps are complementary pieces that can work hand-in-hand with the traditional government e-services, according to Lee Kee Siang, director, InfoComm, National Library Board (NLB).

lee kee siang NLB

"Government agencies can tap on the on-the-go lifestyle and the pervasiveness of the social media spaces to reach out to the public," he said.

With the agency constantly on the lookout for means to connect to Singapore citizens, social media serves as a powerful medium for NLB.

One of NLB's projects is its PictureSG project where the public is encouraged to share and deposit their pictures of Singapore in the past into the Web portal. Developers have incorporated a feature to allow the public to social tag the pictures. The public is allowed to tag and amend tags by other public members to give a more accurate depiction of the pictures.

"We are mindful that in adopting this approach to reach out to the mass, we need to be very transparent and trust that the public is there to support a common goal with us," he said.

NLB has also adopted a new graphics technique called responsive Web design framework. Web application designed through this method can automatically align to different mobile devices. This provides an element of sustainability for NLB's developers.

"When we develop Web applications, we have to take into consideration the ability to adapt to new media devices. You do not want to develop multiple versions of applications specifically for each platform," he said.

However, like many other organisations that have adopted social media tools, Lee noted that his agency is still in a learning phase.

"We will adopt a more aggressive approach in the coming years both from our own initiatives as well as leveraging on potential partners who are already more experienced in this area and are able to complement their service offerings with ours," said Lee.


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