Published: Mar 10, 2022
tracking the health status of migrant workers in a pandemic
When Covid-19 hit Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) faced the challenge of having to monitor and manage a fast-evolving situation that was impacting hundreds of thousands of migrant workers staying in dormitories of varying sizes across Singapore.
This created an urgent need for a comprehensive and easy-to-use digital application to track the health of migrant workers, provide them with prompt access to medical consultation, and allow MOM to better manage and plan the deployment of its officers and medical teams.
Time was of the essence. The application had to be built very quickly and, given the unpredictable nature of the Covid-19 situation, it had to easily adaptable to be able to keep pace with the necessary changes in rules, policies and practices for managing an evolving pandemic.
To develop the app in the shortest possible time, NCS quickly assembled a team of subject matter experts and technical specialists in areas such as cloud and mobile app development.
A two-week sprint cycle was adopted, and NCS worked closely with key users and counterparts from GovTech’s Information Systems and Technology Department to identify the requirements, develop the functionalities and deliver changes quickly when needed as the Covid-19 situation evolved.
The FWMOMCare app was built using the latest mobile and cloud-based technologies and made available on the iOS, Android and Huawei stores to cover the majority of devices used by the migrant workers.
We made sure that the app had simple screen interfaces that were easy to navigate. This would allow the workers to make use of the app on a daily basis without complicating their routine.
To cater to different groups of migrant workers, the app is available in eight different languages (English, Mandarin, Bengali, Tamil, Thai, Indonesian Bahasa, Tagalog, Vietnamese).
The first iteration of the app was rolled out to users within a month. Numerous enhancements have since been made to keep the app up to date to keep pace with changing pandemic requirements.
As of February 2022, there were more than 1.1 million downloads of FWMOMCare. The app, which currently has more than 20 functions, is used by hundreds of thousands of migrant workers each day. It allows them to submit their health status and Antigen Rapid Test results, and links those who are unwell with a 24/7 telemedicine service for prompt medical consultation. The app also provides them with the latest news and announcements to keep them up-to-date on the pandemic situation in Singapore.
FWMOMCare is also an important source of critical data for other systems which allow MOM to better monitor the health and movement of migrant workers for effective contact tracing and improved pandemic management.
A backend system allows MOM officers to share news, create new surveys, send push notifications and perform administrative tasks on the migrant worker’s data, such as updating their mobile numbers.
The rapid development and deployment of the app enabled MOM to start monitoring the health of migrant workers quickly and improved the management of the Covid-19 situation in dormitories.
Empowering workers to report their own health status and submit ART results in a timely fashion via the app also ensured that resources that would have had to be deployed to monitor these processes could be redirected to other needs. Workers could self-isolate and seek medical help if their ART result was positive. Easy access to medical consultation as well as regular updates on Covid-19 developments also helped to allay any fear and uncertainty that they had over the pandemic.
The app also captures the workers’ vaccination status so they know whether they are allowed to go to work, and they can use it to check-in and out at the dormitories. From an operational perspective, this enables MOM to better monitor the flow of migrant workers between the dormitories and their workplace, and facilitates contact tracing and outbreak management.
The sharing of data with other MOM systems also allows employers to view their workers’ status, which helps in resource planning and deployment.
As one of the main sources of data for monitoring the health status of migrant workers, the app continues to play a key role in managing the pandemic. It provides MOM with better visibility into the impact of Covid-19 and enables all stakeholders to take data-driven actions to curtail its spread.