Enabling Online Appointments for Digital Government Services to Promote Social Distancing
- Case Studies
BC residents can now book appointments online to avail core government services. If you are a BC resident, you can now make an appointment to visit your Service BC service center by visiting here.
- In about 4 weeks Service BC was able to successfully implement an online appointment booking system by working together with our team
- BCeID and BC Services Card Integration is the key to providing a seamless citizen experience
- A User Centric Design approach is important in order to avoid citizen frustration when providing digital government services
In the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, Service BC had the task of enabling citizens to book online appointments across its locations in the Province. The primary motivation behind this is to enable social distancing for the BC Citizens and the SBC staff while services are provided at Service BC locations across the province. AOT had the pleasure of working with Service BC by designing and developing a public facing platform that met the needs of citizens and eased the staff allocation for Service BC.
Who are Service BC?
Service BC provides front line support for many of the hundreds of programs and services the BC provincial government offers to residents, businesses and visitors.
We wanted to design a solution that provides seamless experience to citizens trying to access BCs digital government services. Key goals and approach included:
- Citizen Centric Design: Ease of use and seamless citizen experience
- Reuse instead of rebuilding: Integration with existing systems to leverage existing investment
- Rapid and Iterative Development: Agile development focusing on rapid and iterative releases to deal with COVID-19 emergency
- Citizen Privacy and System Security
- Stakeholder Engagement: Development and Design refinement based on close stakeholder engagement
- Usability monitoring and testing: to tweak and refine the product after release
One of the primary design goals was to create a citizen centric and intuitive screen workflow that allows the citizens to easily book online appointments for availing the Service BC services.
Working with Service BC, AOT designed an interface that automatically filtered service availability based on their location and the preferred appointment date and time.
The architecture balanced privacy and convenience by using specialized mechanisms to calculate the nearest Service BC location without having to share their location details with the government.
The solution architecture leveraged DataBC’s Physical Address geolocator and the existing queue management system to avoid building backend infrastructure from scratch.
We leveraged our experience on building a Telehealth appointment-based system that AOT worked on previously – Synaptek to come up with mobile first designs and a user-centric workflow that addressed the needs of Service BC and its users.
We closely worked with various stakeholders within the government by conducting design workshops and used wireframes and hi fidelity mockups to refine and finalize the design. These interactive mockups also helped communicate requirements to the development team to facilitate rapid development.
Once the prototype was approved, it was passed over to development to create a development site where usability testing was conducted, and the system was iterated to accommodate different development and usability needs.
AOT Team is passionate about building applications with a citizen-centric design in order to deliver digital government services. The following are the key aspects of UI/UX design that our designers took into consideration:
- Good information architecture and Service Design
- Web Accessibility
- BC Government branding guidelines
- Usability testing, evaluation and refinement
We followed our Digital Government Service Design Process that focuses on designing a system that can be easily used by citizens with a variety of backgrounds.
Online appointments application was written in Vue and TypeScript using node to compile and lint code, which allowed us to rapidly prototype out the solution.
Python Django framework that integrates to Service BC Queuing System. This included new public secure API endpoints for new appointments by Citizens to seamlessly appear in the agent’s work calendar.
For the deployment, we used OpenShift as all open BCGov initiatives. This included writing Kubernetes-compatible OpenShift templates.
Integration with existing Provincial Identity Services
We used Keycloak for Identity and Access Management. A key aspect of the IDM solution was to leverage existing Provincial Identity Services such as BCeID and BC Services Card to make it easier for Citizens to login and book appointments. AOT’s prior in-depth experience in integrating BCeID and BC Services Card on multiple BC Public Sector projects helped implement this in a record time.
Citizens of BC can now book appointments online to avail core government services. The process is very intuitive and user friendly where the general public do not need to track down phone numbers and call various departments, allowing them to digitally book services that the government provides. At the same time, it also has made life easier for Service BC employees to organize and track appointments, and provide a better service for the citizens they serve, ensuring social distancing across its locations in the province.