Following an announcement earlier this year, WhatsApp will start to roll out Communities in Singapore. This is a major update for people to connect on WhatsApp in the groups that matter to them, and will be rolled out here over the next few weeks. Several organisations from Singapore have been part of a global early access program, testing this feature with their communities and providing feedback to WhatsApp.
Communities — like neighbourhoods, parents at a school, and workplaces — can now connect multiple groups together under one umbrella to organise group conversations on WhatsApp. To get started, tap on the new communities tab at the top of your chats on Android and at the bottom on iOS. From there you can start a new Community from scratch or add existing groups.
Once you’re in a community, you can easily switch between available groups to get the information you need, when you need it. Admins can also send important updates to everyone in the Community.
With Communities, we’re aiming to raise the bar for how organisations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else. The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages — and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption.
Along with this, we’re also releasing three more features we think users will be excited about: the ability to create in-chat polls, 32-person video calling, and groups with up to 1,024 users. Just like emoji reactions, larger file sharing, and admin delete, these features can be used in any group but will be particularly helpful for Communities.
Clair Deevy, Global Director of Social Impact, WhatsApp, said “We’re launching Communities to support community builders everywhere, from neighbourhoods to schools and volunteer groups. We know that many of them are already using WhatsApp to connect every day and we want to provide more support with features like an Announcement Group and the Community landing page that shows all related groups in one place. This is on top of all the updates we’ve been making to Groups like Reactions and the ones we’ll be introducing soon like Polls.”
We’ve been working with over 50 organisations in 15 countries, to build Communities to meet their needs. Among them are four non-profit organisations from Singapore including Samaritans of Singapore, a social service agency focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention, and Ground-Up Initiative, a volunteer-driven group focused on driving urban sustainability.
Cai Bingyu, Kampung Architect, Ground-Up Initiative said: “The multi-faceted approach that Ground-Up Initiative adopts towards urban sustainability means that we often have to coordinate activities between various arms of the organisation. This can be highly tedious and time consuming, considering that this involves as many as eight groups on a regular basis. WhatsApp Communities provides us with a platform to improve internal collaboration, as well as to better engage the broader Singapore population with our vision for a more sustainable future, and we are excited about the possibilities that Communities will bring.”
Phua Chun Yat, Chief Operating Officer, Samaritans of Singapore said: “The nature of our work makes it essential for us to respond promptly to individuals seeking help. At the same time, our work also requires us to constantly communicate between various functions ranging from crisis support to escalation for emergency cases. The ability of WhatsApp Communities to streamline the flow of information across multiple groups, as well as improve communications with our volunteers and external partners, has enabled us to be better prepared to support those in crisis.”
The feedback we’ve received so far is that these new tools are helping such groups to better organise themselves and achieve their goals. There’s a lot more we plan to build and we’ll keep adding features over the coming months. For now, we’re excited to get this into more people’s hands and hear your feedback.