Singapore has shot up 7 places in the UN E-Government Rankings 2014, from 10th place in the world to 3rd - and 1st in Southeast Asia. What has made Singapore rise so suddenly? And what lessons can be drawn from the city state’s success?
Investment is one answer. The United Nations noted that Singapore has a high Human Development Index (HDI) - which measures life expectancy, education and income - and Gross National Income (GNI). These have allowed “the government sufficient resources to develop its online portal and offer its citizens, businesses and visitors, advanced e-services and extensive information.”
In particular, the UN highlighted its “one-stop shop delivery portal” - countries with integrated e-services received a higher rating. The eCitizen Portal, built by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, provides cross-agency, citizen-centric information and services to help citizens get information and complete transactions conveniently with the government as a single unified entity.
Another answer is Singapore’s efforts to make information accessible to people on mobile devices. The report praised its seamless “mGovernment” application, allowing faster, easier and more convenient use of available online resources; especially accessing forms and conducting government-to-citizen and government-to-businesses transactions.
The United Nations report highlighted several other initiatives from Singapore as examples of good e-government projects, including:
Joined-up government - The Alliance for Corporate Excellence (ACE) is a multi-agency programme run by the Ministry of Finance that groups together systems and operating environments for human resources, finance and procurement into a shared system. This enables government agencies to share knowledge, data and best practices in a more straightforward and timely way.
Open data - The National Environment Agency (NEA) provided real-time information to other agencies and the wider public to engage and promote environmental ownership in the country. It contributed to the development of 86 environment datasets and 17 spatial datasets for the Singapore government data hub for inter-agency sharing, and contributed 75 datasets and 8 map layers to www.data.gov.sg. The UN has just started to prioritise environment information within its e-government rankings.
Digital inclusion - Singapore launched an SMS text service (SMS70999) in 2008 for members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired community to reach emergency services. In another initiative to improve access for older persons and the illiterate, ‘CitizenConnect Centres’ are set up in all residential estates to assist them to use government transactions online, find information from government websites and contact government agencies on their behalf.
Connected government - Singapore implemented ‘OneInbox’ last year, which is the official government platform for individuals and businesses to receive all government-related correspondences electronically. This addresses the challenge of meeting increasing expectations for easier and secured unified communication with the government, the report said.
An IDA spokesperson said: “We are humbled that our efforts in e-government, such as expanding our e-government service offerings and service delivery channels, has gained recognition. As we continue to innovate and set high standards for ourselves, we also hope to learn from other nations to further improve the public service delivery in Singapore. We look forward to a productive journey together with the citizens we serve and continue to deliver world class digital government services.”