Singapore launches government technology agency to drive service transformation

11 Oct 16

Singapore has opened a new government agency dedicated to leading the country’s digital and data strategy.

 

GovTech, the nation’s government technology agency, opened on Friday, and has been established to help drive the digital transformation of the country’s public sector.

It will partner with other agencies, industry and citizens to develop cutting edge ideas on how to overhaul the nation’s public service delivery and make it more citizen-centric through the incorporation of technologies including data science and analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Jacqueline Poh, chief executive of GovTech, explained that the formation of the department marks a “new chapter” in the way technology is used to improve public services.

“Technology is playing a disruptive role in many sectors and government must tap on it in new ways to deliver better value to citizens,” she continued.

“Key to our mission will be collaborating closely with citizens, industry and various public sector agencies to create the next generation of innovative and meaningful experiences.”

At the launch of GovTech on Friday, Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s minister for communications and information, unveiled one of them.

He announced that the country’s Ministry of Finance will partner with GovTech and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to extend the use of a consent-based personal data platform already in use to the financial sector.

GovTech said this aims to simplify citizens’ interactions with banks by eliminating the provision of personal documents for verification.

Other initiatives include a “Parent’s Gateway” for greater convenience for parents in matters to do with their children’s education, such as paying school fees or signing consent forms and “CorpPass”, to streamline government-business transactions.

GovTech will also play a key role in overseeing the public sector’s ICT infrastructure, including issues like cybersecurity and standard setting, and in building technical capacity across the public sector by developing in-house expertise and supporting other departments in their use of technologies.

Currently, the agency’s data science team is working with a number of other departments on a project that uses high-frequency big data to develop new indicators for better economic and urban planning, for example.

GovTech is a key part of the Singaporean government’s “Smart Nation vision”, which envisages a country where people are empowered by technology to live more “meaningful and fulfilled” lives.

It will help build the necessary infrastructure, platforms and applications across ICT and the Internet of Things and develop a platform for government agencies to help them progress within the initiative, with a data sharing gateway and video and data analytics capabilities.

GovTech said the platform would support public authorities in areas such as urban planning, incident response and efficient city management. 

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