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Valenzuela City, New Zealand Government Showcase Innovative Social Welfare Programme

Innovative Platform - Valenzuela City
Innovative Platform: Mayor WES Gatchalian shows New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell a prototype of the city's very own digital platform formulated through the support of Creative HQ's innovation experts during the Philippine - New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase happened on September 13, 2022, at ALERT Center Multipurpose Center, Barangay Malinta, Valenzuela City. DotBot, an AI platform aims to improve delivery of social services to the people. “E-learning Module” is a guide for every city employee, while “Dotbot”, aims for paperless transactions and to have a centralized database of its clients. The project was made possible through the partnership between the New Zealand Embassy and the City Government of Valenzuela.

The City Government of Valenzuela headed by Mayor WES Gatchalian, in partnership with the New Zealand Embassy in Manila, represented by Ambassador Peter Kell held the Philippines – New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase at ALERT Center Multi-purpose Center, Barangay Malinta, Valenzuela City on September 13, 2022.

The City Government of Valenzuela, headed by former Mayor REX Gatchalian and the Government of New Zealand, represented by Ambassador Peter Kell signed a memorandum of arrangement last December 21, 2021 recognizing the relevance of public sector innovation through the GovTech Acceleration Programme of the Creative HQ, New Zealand. The initiative seeks to make the city’s services more seamless and to improve the overall governance of the city.

Valenzuela City’s Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO), headed by Ms. Dorothy Evangelista, created a four-person team of social workers who undergone 12 weeks of workshops from innovation coaches of Creative HQ where they were able to apply human-centric innovation tools and processes to create better support systems to constituents who seek Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS).

Dorothy Evangelista
Acknowledgment of NZ government: Valenzuela City’s Chief of Staff for Social Welfare Services Dorothy Evangelista expresses her gratitude to the New Zealand government and Creative HQ for the support the city received from them during the Philippines – New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. She also said that Valenzuela will never stop innovating and will seek service efficiency. “DOTBOT” Messenger AI Chat Bot and Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) ELearning Modules were made possible because of the workshop Creative HQ has facilitated. Creative HQ is a New Zealand-based service provider for government innovation workshops.

Mayor WES Gatchalian said “I am proud to see Valenzuela City embracing human-centered innovation as we progress our goals on behalf of all our citizens. Excellent quality services are a norm at the City Hall, but we have long been wanting to have them delivered to our constituents in a timely and a more convenient way for them. With this programme, we hope to eliminate whatever perception they have that availing our services is taxing and difficult.”

The Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) programme which concerns approximately 30,000 constituents per month and spends about Php 80 million from the government’s funds is a key focus for improving efficiency and overall experience for both social workers and clients. Several challenges have been identified for constituents using the programme, including confusion about the requirements when making assistance applications. CSWDO’s team in the GovTech Accelerator Programme aimed to design a project that will focus on improving efficiency in the claims application and approvals process for different social welfare services.

Jonnie Haddon
GovTech Acceleration Programme: Creative HQ GM of Government Innovation Jonnie Haddon shares his insights about GovTech Acceleration Programme during the Philippines – New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. The program facilitates, leads, and helps local government units to unlock innovative ideas that will help them provide efficient and reliable service for the people. He also shared the workshop process and how innovative ideas were made to help local government units evolve into a streamlined and systematic unit. Valenzuela City social welfare personnel underwent a 12-week workshop with Creative HQ to improve its services.

Through the support and guidance of Creative HQ’s innovation experts, the team came up with DotBot, an AI messaging platform which is used to know the requirements needed in applying for different social welfare services prior to going to CSWD office personally for submission. Dotbot will also help CSWDO have a centralized database which will house all the information of the clients who will seek and avail social service assistance from the local government. This application is a stepping stone for the future of paperless transactions in the city hall.

New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell said “Innovation has an important role in how nations navigate challenges and prepare for the future and it has always been key to Aotearoa New Zealand’s economic development. I am pleased that this has also played a prominent role in the relationship between the Philippines and New Zealand. I am pleased to see Valenzuela City and ARTA steer this course for the Philippines and I look forward to seeing other government agencies join us in our journey towards a culture of innovation.”

CSWDO Head Ms. Dorothy Evangelista shared her insights, saying “As head of the CSWDO, listening to the voice of our clients and frontline workers is a constructive criticism for me, it opens our eyes that our system needs to be improved.” She further added that “Our future ambition is for our clients to have an ease in applying social service assistance and a paperless transaction system that is aligned in the government’s aim for digital transformation.”

Innovation Exchange
Innovation Exchange: Mayor WES Gatchalian and NZ initiate the Philippines – New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase held at ALERT Center Multipurpose Center, Barangay Malinta, Valenzuela City September 13, 2022. The showcase event presented different government innovations to promote government efficiency and improve social services resulting in more seamless and effective programs for every constituent. [From Left to Right] Councilor Jonjon Bartolome; Councilor Gerald Galang; Councilor Sel Sabino Sy; Councilor Niña Lopez; Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, Mayor WES Gatchalian (center), His Excellency Peter Kell, New Zealand Ambassador; Ms. Samantha Theo, Regional Lead Business Development New Zealand G2G; Mr. Jonnie Hadon, Creative HQ GM of Government Innovation; and Ms Dorothy Evangelista, chief of staff of City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) had their photo opportunity after the event.
Another project introduced during the event is the 9-month Innovation Masterclass Programme with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) which provides formal training in innovation methods and human-centered design for organizations. This programme aims to equip ARTA with necessary skills to implement a culture of innovation across the bureaucracy as they cascade their learnings to the national government.

The partnerships between Valenzuela City, ARTA and Creative HQ were supported by the New Zealand Embassy in Manila in partnership with New Zealand G2G, a New Zealand government organization which helps local and national governments around the world to access public-sector expertise from New Zealand. The organization has brokered more than 105 projects across 21 countries, with government effectiveness and innovation one of its core focus areas.

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