Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday announced the launch of a new Municipal Services Office to ensure that agencies better work together and solve problems that cross departmental boundaries. He also committed to launch an operations centre which uses technology to monitor activity in the city and deploy resources quickly.
Speaking in his annual National Day Rally Speech, Prime Minister Lee said: “One area where we can do better is getting all of our agencies working together, especially where their responsibilities overlap with one another or are split between different agencies.”
Lee highlighted the example of litter not being cleaned off a pavement for two days because it fell on ground that is the responsibility of three different agencies, which all have different cleaning schedules. “We have to do better to bridge these inter-agency problems and operate in a better way,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that some cities, such as Rio de Janiero in Brazil, have sought to overcome these problems by establishing operations centres that coordinate agency responses across their jurisdiction. “All the key agencies report to it, they have cameras around the city so they can see what’s happening, it’s manned by 50 officers and they can give commands and make things happen if there’s a disaster,” he said.
“During the World Cup [Rio] found this ops centre very useful. We need to get there also, and we will set up a Municipal Services Office: one agency to coordinate all of it,” Lee added. This organisation will “singlemindedly focus on service delivery” and coordinate the work of the transport, parks, environment and water agencies.
The Prime Minister also said that the government will use technology to gather citizen feedback and respond to problems. “We can use technology to crowdsource, to involve members of the community so that you can give feedback and be our eyes and ears on the ground”.
He pointed to some recently launched apps such as the iConnect app launched by Ang Mo Kio Town Council that allows residents to report maintenance issues by taking photographs on their smartphones, and the myENV app launched by the National Environment Agency, which allows citizens to complain about refuse problems and also provides up-to-date information on rainfall and dengue fever.