Call of the Wild Series Part 1: Wiring up wildlife parks – how Mandai Wildlife Group scores visitor experience brownie points through innovation

 |   Singapore News Center

Image: Mandai Wildlife Group

Animal food preparation, facilities and enclosures maintenance, visitor and even animal headcount – these are some typical duties of zookeepers and operations staff busy themselves with on a day to day. It all sounds very manual and done in an analogue way, but things are changing.

Over the past couple of years, innovation has become a key focus for Mandai Wildlife Group (MWG), as teams from the Singapore Zoo and River Wonders became equipped with technology tools. This gives them the autonomy to sharpen and make some operating procedures more efficient with a view of improving productivity and enhancing visitor experience.

Through candid conversations with the MWG teams, this article looks at the journey that some of them embarked on when they embraced innovation in their day to day. Initially strangers to the world of technology, they have transformed into true blue citizen developers who’re now savvier than the average person on how to create apps from scratch.

Wielding the power of Power Platform

At the heart of this digital transformation program lies Microsoft’s Power Platform, a suite of tools that empower individuals to create applications without the need for extensive coding knowledge.

Under the guidance of Khairulnizam Zulkifle, Senior Manager at the Transformation Office of Mandai Wildlife Group, the Park Operations team from the Singapore Zoo (comprising Nurul Huda Norizan – Senior Guest Service Officer,  Na Yi Lei – Senior Executive,  and Luqmaanul Hakeem – Executive and the Park Operations team  from River Wonders led by Suresh SA – Assistant Manager, Nazeera Parveen – Guest Service Officer and Joseph Kwa – Assistant Manager) used Power Platform to create applications that optimized internal processes, resulting in more seamless wildlife park experiences for visitors.

The quest to shorten queue times at Amazon River Quest

Suresh’s citizen developer journey was ignited at an internal MWG hackathon, where he first brainstormed and came up with an idea that could streamline operations at the Amazon River Quest ride in River Wonders. Together with Nazeera and Joseph, they created an app that replaced the paper checklist that the team typically uses, enabling users to easily check off a series of tasks like ride mechanisms and first-aid kit inventories during daily inspections to ensure visitor safety. Apart from grappling with paper checklists, the team faced the daily chase of multiple upper management through the office park, before and after opening hours to sign off on these paper documents. With the app, the team could operate the ride more efficiently and safely by checking the items off using their phone anytime, anywhere.

Suresh, Nazeera, and Joseph never fail to feel a sense of accomplishment with every use of the app. Computers were never a routine part of their daily work prior to this. The app, used by over 15 members in their team, has freed up valuable time enabling them to prioritize guest experiences and interacting with guests, over being bogged down by administrative tasks.

Reams of paperwork, begone!

To ensure the delivery of exceptional guest experiences and smooth-running of the park operations, the Park Operations team has similarly transformed their work routine via an app that they developed on the Power Platform. Prior to this, they grappled with reams of information logging on the parks’ animal feeding programs, mountains of paperwork including the cumbersome task of manually recording guest details for personal mobility devices, and pram or stroller rentals.

By integrating features into the app for guests to log their personal information directly into the app as they register for rental services and for employees rostered on duty to record details about feeding programs, their innovation has also improved visitor experience.

A ripple effect

These technological solutions have created a positive ripple effect within the teams. The spirit of “if they can do it, we can do it too” has fostered greater collaboration between teams. Through the use of shared platforms and the need to provide real-time updates, employees are encouraged to exchange ideas and insights, ultimately enhancing productivity and strengthening their camaraderie.

The future is digital

The innovation journey doesn’t stop here. MWG teams are now exploring ways to implement Power Platform into other areas like Lost & Found, their Wild-Code Hackathon, employee uniform management systems, and first aid.