Technology will continue to revolutionise the way governments operate. The Singapore government will be leveraging the opportunities provided by Big Data, sensors, cloud and open data to improve productivity and citizen services, while ensuring information security, said Zaqy Mohamad, Member of Parliament & Chairman for the Government Parliamentary Committee, Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), Singapore.
Speaking to over 240 public sector leaders at the 11th annual FutureGov Forum Singapore, Mohamad emphasised the growing importance of ICT in Singapore’s journey of becoming an intelligent city.
Singapore has come up top in many of the international e-government rankings and the Government is not resting on its laurels. “In order to prepare for the next 10 years, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and MCI are now embarking on the Infocomm Media Masterplan 2025 Consultation to crowdsource ideas that can benefit citizens and businesses, as well as make Singapore a Smart Nation,” he said.
The Government is seeking to provide consistent, high quality and seamless broadband experience for residents by improving pervasiveness and connectivity. “There should be seamless data access over different wireless networks with HetNet so users do not have to constantly log in or change their network.”
Above-Ground (A-G) Boxes will also be rolled out to improve city management and services. These boxes have sensors for better monitoring and enable intelligent services, such as traffic monitoring cameras, environmental sensors, pedestrian crossing monitors, speeding monitors, traffic light control system, junction crowdedness, street lighting control systems and more.
Big Data analytics is another area of focus for Singapore. “By harnessing the value of data, we can transform our e-service delivery. Data is a powerful tool to better the lives of citizens, enhance policy decision making, and provide feedback for better programmes by understanding trends,” said Mohamad.
He cited the example of the recent Apps4SG competition organised by IDA, Singapore Land Authority and Ministry of Finance. It received over 80 applications from participants from all walks of life, who are keen to use government data sets to create innovative apps.
This will not be possible without open data. Singapore’s Data.gov.sg portal has published 8800 data sets from some 60 government ministries and agencies. “The data sets are now available so businesses and individuals can uncover opportunities to provide services to the people,” he continued.
Cloud technology can support the growth of data as it provides a cost-effective means of applying and storing data, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These companies can benefit from leading technologies without hefty IT investment.
The Singapore government has invested in G-Cloud, a whole-of-government hosted infrastructure that provides agencies with services such as hosting of web sites, e-services, storage, database, middleware, analytics and content management services.
As the ICT component grows in the operation of the government, cyber security has become increasingly important, Mohamad added. A number of cyber attacks on government web sites last year have revealed the need to be more vigilant.
Finally, while technology provides ample opportunity to improve government administration and services, it can also benefit the industry.
“This year, the Singapore government has set aside S$500 million to help businesses, particularly SMEs, to adopt technology to improve productivity. Part of this fund will be used to subsidise up to 70 per cent of ICT products and services costs,” he said.
The Singapore government is continuing to deploy and facilitate the use of the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network among the industry. There will be support for SMEs to implement Wireless@SG, subsidies for SMEs to subscribe to fibre broadband, and up to 80 per cent subsidies for building owners for cost of new in-building infrastructure.
“Productivity, transformation, innovation and collaboration are major themes in the restructuring efforts of the Singapore government and I believe that technology will continue to play a major role in helping the government be more productive and provide better services for citizens and businesses,” Mohamad concluded.