EXCLUSIVE - Key technology trends discussed at Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018

On 17 May 2018, the Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018 gathered around 400 government officials and senior technology executives from across the Singapore Government to discuss the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation.This year marks the 4th run of the OpenGov Leadership Forum in Singapore. 

OpenGov Leadership Forum seeks to provide an opportunity for government officials, industry experts and distinguished international speakers to come together to exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in the public sector technology landscape.

In the afternoon, participants were divided into four streams to deep dive into key specialised areas of digital transformation in the public sector. The four streams were: SecureGov, PredictGov, MobileGov, and ConnectGov.


The SecureGov stream discussed cyber and physical security, emphasising on the interconnectedness between the two.

‍Mr Timothy Lee, Chief Information Security Officer, City of Los Angeles

Mr Timothy Lee, Chief Information Security Officer, City of Los Angeles, kicked off the SecureGov stream with a sharing on the future of cybersecurity. Based on his experience as a CISO, Mr Lee spoke on the cyber strategy for securing digital government.

In developing a cyber strategy, he emphasised three points: (1) humans remain to be the weakest link in cyber defence, (2) learn from war strategist, and (3) the importance of collaboration. As such, cyber defence strategy should “secure the human” through security awareness and training and adopt an Assume Breach Strategy to boost cyber defence readiness. He also highlighted the importance of developing cyber situational awareness and threat intelligence to navigate the fast-changing cyber world. In face of emerging cyber threats, Mr Lee iterated the important of cyber collaboration to strengthen defence. In this, he urged government representatives to actively participate in local and global cyber collaboration, forge public private partnerships, and form a cyber alliance for collective defence.

Mr Mohit Sagar then facilitated a gamification which was uniquely designed in collaboration with Kaspersky and Citrix to serve the needs of Singapore government IT professional. The exclusive gamification scenarios were designed based on real-life scenarios, with analysis and debrief to give attendees real ammunition to take back to the office.

The gamification was followed by a panel discussion with cyber security experts from the industry. Moderated by Mr Mohit Sagar, the conversation gave a security rethink for public services. Centred around the topic of cyber resiliency, panellists discussed best practices in mitigating risks and combating growing cyber risks. They also delved into the strategies, processes, and technologies needed to reduce cyber security incidences. They also explored the increasing demand for cyber insurance policies concerning critical infrastructure.


The PredictGov stream focused on accelerating government’s capabilities using big data, advanced data analytics, AI, and machine learning. The stream featured opportunities and challenges governments face as they seek to leverage the power of AI to enhance services provided to citizens.

‍Mr Tony Krizan, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director, Corporate Operations & Information, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia

Mr Tony Krizan, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director, Corporate Operations & Information, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), kickstarted the PredictGov stream with an Australian perspective on capitalising advanced analytics across structured and unstructured data to accelerate operations and reduce costs. He gave an overview of NHMRC and illustrated how semantic analytics improved the operation of the organisation. The key takeaway from his sharing is that organisations must re-create themselves by leveraging advanced analytics technologies to wrangle risks and costs in order to unlock potential benefits.

‍Mr David Nordell, Senior Vice President, International Strategy, Policy & Law, the Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and Security Science, the UK

Mr David Nordell, Senior Vice President, International Strategy, Policy & Law, at the UK’s Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and Security Science, joined in the call for new approaches to the development of secure systems and processes to ensure that government systems were trustworthy. In strengthening cybersecurity intelligence and capabilities, Mr Nordell urged the audience a greater uptake of red teaming to identify their agencies’ own weaknesses and prioritise their defenses.

The stream also featured case studies presented by industry experts including Mr Mike Hooper, Director, Digital Transformation (APAC) at OpenText on the application of AI in smart data governance, security and compliance; Mr Charlie Farah, Director, Market Development, Public Sector from Qlik Technology on data literacy for smart cities and smart citizens; Ms Becky Smith, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Denodo on reinventing data management strategy for successful digital transformation; and Mr Subir Chandra, Head of Experience Design and Digital Transformation at DBS Bank on design thinking in digital transformation and service innovation.

According to Mr Klaus Felshe, Senior Advisor at OpenGov Asia, the case studies all pointed to the new opportunities offered by the incorporation of emerging technologies to better manage the rapidly-growing data assets. All speakers stressed that long-standing data technologies are unable to cope with increasing volume, speed and variety of data being generated. To assist data-driven decision-making, organisations must develop or make use of tools to manage data.

The stream also hosted two lively panel discussions moderated by Mr Klaus Felshe. Panelists noted that our attempt to build machines to imitate human intelligence will be limited by our lack of understanding of human intelligence. Panelists also stressed the need to enhance data literacy - not only do managers and leaders need to understand technology trend, political leaders and citizens also need to be informed of latest developments.


The MobileGov stream looked into cloud and apps. The central theme of the stream was the utilisation of mobile technologies, services, and applications for a responsive government and connected society.

‍Mr Miquel Estape Valls, Deputy CEO – Strategy and Innovation, Open Government of Catalonia

Mr Miquel Estape Valls, Deputy CEO – Strategy and Innovation, Open Government of Catalonia, spoke on a mobile digital identity solution for both the public and private sector. According to Mr Valls, one of the main barriers that prevents citizens from using e-government services is digital identification. As shared in his presentation, the Open Government of Catalonia has defined the criteria for the ideal identification solution for citizens. It is also the first government in Europe to implement Mobile Connect, an innovative GSMA worldwide initiative designed to remove traditional barriers to digital identity adoption, focusing on the technology already available in mobile devices. He also shared that the organisation is evaluating how to enhance the current mobile identification solution using biometrics and blockchain.

Mr Ben Dornier, Director of ANZ at OpenGov Asia, moderated two panel discussions on cybersecurity and privacy in mobile wireless environments and inclusive e-government. Panelists talked about what governments and industry players are doing to protect the use of citizens’ personal details and privacy, as well as governments’ regulatory responses to emerging technologies such as AI.

The first panel started with the discussion of government regulation and individual responsibility in publicly available privately delivered wireless environments in managing access to personal information. While consensus was that governments can do more, the strong response from the panel drew attention to the need of better public education on cyber security issues.

The second panel considered questions related to identity management and access by citizens with either little access or little inclination to digital delivery modes, as well as potential regulation of AI and big data approaches in government to citizen data. The overwhelming thoughts of the panel are that risks of digital transformation need to be managed – not avoided, and that governments around the world need to innovate in order to fulfil their role.

The stream also featured case studies shared by industry experts including Mr Vish Phaneendra, Director, South Asia, Pivotal on an innovative partnership that save millions on US Airforce fuel costs; Mr Paulo Rosado, CEO of OutSystems on moving to a digital-first mindset with a low-code digital factory; and Mr Paul Serrano, Chief Evangelist APJ at Nutanix on the rise of hybrid cloud first strategy.


The ConnectGov stream discussed IoT and network. The stream featured how the public sector can leverage emerging technologies as tools to automate processes and better engage citizens. International case studies showcased in the ConnectGov stream covered Estonia, Spain, and the US.

‍Mr Janek Rozov, Chief Digital Officer and Government Deputy Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia

Mr Janek Rozov, Chief Digital Officer and Government Deputy Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia, gave a presentation on the Estonian Data Exchange Layer named X-Road. X-Road is a technological and organisational environemnt enabling a secure Internet-based data exchange between information systems. It also enables citizens and officials to operate via different portals and applications in a more efficient and flexible manner.

‍Dr Omar Hatamleh, Chief Innovation Officer, Engineering at NASA JSC

Dr Omar Hatamleh from NASA JSC shared some of the lessons he learned on how to make organisations more innovative. He shared that when it comes to innovation, given the high failure rate, organisations should not out all eggs in one basket. Instead, they should take measured risks and include low hanging fruits in the innovation portfolio to maintain confidence and nurture a culture for innovation. Organisations should also validate key business assumptions early. For innovation to succeed, Dr Hatamleh highlighted the importance of effort from a committed multi-disciplinary team which takes ownership.

Mr Glenn Ashe, Senior Advisor of OpenGov Asia, moderated a panel discussion on cybersecurity in citizen-centric services. Panelists talked about issues that impact citizen-centric data and how they should be addressed to allay citizens’ concerns and governments’ needs for a secure organizational architecture to ensure data integrity.

The stream also featured case studies shared by industry experts including Mr John Lockhart, Digital Cities Project Director, Asia Pacific South, Dell EMC on the on enabling IoT to build a smarter digital nation; Ms Jennifer Mulveny, Director of Government Relations, Asia-Pacific Adobe on connecting government and citizens through digital experiences; Mr Thorsten Vieth, Director Industry Innovation SEA at SAP on the case for innovation in government; Mr Daniel Sim, Senior Director, Channel Business at Vertiv on converged IT infrastructure for government applications; and Mr Vineet Kumar Sarin, Senior Manager, System Architecture & Design, Schneider Electric, on EcoStruxure Framework for data centre resilience in the age of IoT.

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