Most popular OpenGov Asia stories in 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we look back at yet another year, when the pace of digital transformation seemed to increase even further.

Singapore pushed ahead in its Smart Nation journey, with significant developments in the areas of e-payments, Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP), Smart Urban Mobility, and National Digital Identity (NID) framework.

Many research and innovation initiatives were launched brining together different public sector agencies, academia and research institutions and the private sector, including large corporates, SMEs and startups.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) is working towards citizen-centric services, through the development of a Government Online Services Gateway (GOSG).

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is driving the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy through many different initiatives, such as the Malaysia Digital Hub and Tech Entrepreneur Programmes and the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange Hub (ADAX). In November, Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) became operational which aims to double the growth rate of SME’s goods exports to reach US$38 Billion and facilitate US$ 65 Billion of goods movement by 2025.

In Philippines, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced the adoption of ‘cloud-first’ approach for the Philippine government. It unveiled the National Broadband Plan and a National Cybersecurity Plan. DICT also launched the National Government Portal,, to serve as a single website for all government information, transactions and services.

The Philippines Department of Finance is leading the Government’s anti-red tape program (ARTA) to improve the ease of doing business in the country. It is developing the TradeNet platform, which will also serve as the Philippines’ link to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Window gateway and it launched the Philippine Business Data Bank, so that Government agencies can easily verify the existence of a business.

In August 2017, the President of Indonesia signed the country’s e-commerce roadmap which will be a guide for the central and regional governments to establish policy and create action plans for the acceleration of e-commerce.  It assigns responsibilities and sets key targets to be achieved by government institutions over the next two years. KOMINFO has been working to bring Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into the digital economy stimulate business growth and boost employment. 

The Indonesian Government expects to complete the installation of fibre-optic network under the Palapa Ring Project by 2019. It is one of the national strategic projects stipulated in Presidential Decree No. 3 of 2016, aiming to develop a nationwide fibre-optic network, which will provide the backbone for a national information superhighway.

Australia announced that it will legislate a national Consumer Data Right, allowing customers open access to their banking, energy, phone and internet transactions. The Government also released a draft of the Trusted Digital Identity Framework and is seeking public comment. The framework sits alongside the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Govpass technology platform. Together they are expected to transform the Australian citizens interact with their Government and how they share their information with the public as well as private sectors.

The DTA has set out clear priority areas and is working towards achieving objectives. This includes the delivery of whole-of-government digital platforms such as “Tell us once”, “Notifications”, “Payments” and a “Federated Data Exchange”.  The DTA has also been working on a secure cloud strategy since April 2017. The agency is transforming how government manages its ICT procurement, and it aims to increase small-to-medium enterprises’ share of the government’s annual ICT contract spend by 10 per cent.

The New Zealand Government is aiming to reach a level where people to be able to curate their own experience (even if government is actually not directly visible). Mr. Tim Occleshaw, Government Chief Technology Officer, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), described it like this: “Imagine a world where I can go to my favourite airline website, or travel app, or whatever future interface, and I can book my travel and authorise that system to check my passport expiry, my travel visa, check for outstanding parking fines (so I’m not stopped at the border), apply for what I need or make payments, and maybe note my health record that I’ll be out of the country.”

We reported on all this and more, providing a 360-degree coverage of ICT in the context of the public sector, looking at service delivery, regulations, culture and the technology itself.

Some of our most popular stories in 2017 (in no specific order) are as below:

Accelerating drive towards cashless society in Singapore – A snapshot of recent initiatives

Above image: PM Lee Hsien Loong delivering the National Day Rally speech on 20 August 2017 at the Institute of Technical Education College Central/ Credit: Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore

We looked at the multiple related initiatives launched in Singapore, as the city-state went into overdrive to realise the vision of a cashless economy. Read more.

The New Zealand Government’s Lab+ experiment - Testing a fundamental change in the service delivery model

Image: Ms. Pia Waugh on the big screen at the Inspire Centre, University of Canberra during GovHack event (cropped from photo by Gavin Tapp)

The Service Innovation Team in the Department of Internal Affairs(DIA) in New Zealand government embarked on an exciting three-month experiment, called Lab+, for testing a new model of government services based on the concept of “government as a platform.” We spoke to Ms. Pia Waugh who is leading Lab+, before and after the experiment. Read more.

Pioneering ICT-based healthcare solutions at the National Telehealth Center, Philippines

Above photo: Dr. Portia Grace Fernandez-Marcelo (Image credit: NTHC )

OpenGov spoke to Dr. Portia Grace Fernandez-Marcelo, Director of the UP (University of Philippines) Manila-National Telehealth Center (NTHC) about using ICT to provide equitable access to quality healthcare for all, specially in isolated and disadvantaged communities. Read more.

Innovation and informed-decision making through high quality open data on

Above: Lin Zhaowei, Consultant, Data Science Division, Government Technology Agency of Singapore; Photo courtesy: Data Science Division, Government Technology Agency of Singapore

OpenGov met with Lin Zhaowei, Consultant, Data Science Division, Government Technology Agency of Singapore to learn more about how the objectives of are being achieved. He talked about ensuring the quality, usability and usefulness of data, privacy concerns, Open Data Licence and API terms, and increasing awareness about the availability and potential of open data. Read more.

A related story on how citizens can use the data to make a real difference was also widely read: Team Goji– From hackathon winning prototype to valuable real-world application

Updates on Smart Nation Sensor Platform- Connecting all 110,000 lampposts in the city; video analytics pilot in 2nd half of 2017

GovTech developing scalable middleware for Smart Nation Sensor Platform in the form of Sensor Data Exchange

These are two related stories on Singapore’s Smart Nation Sensor Platform, which proved to be quite popular with our readers. The first one provides details of what exactly is involved in the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) and what are its objectives. The second talks about the design principles behind the SNSP and it provided a brief summary of the ongoing work as of May 2017. Read more here and here.

An in-depth look at GovTech’s new common hosting platform for Singapore Government websites

To support the government agencies in improving the digital shopfront and the user experience, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) introduced a common hosting platform for government websites, called the Content Websites Platform (CWP), in October2016. Read more.

Artificial intelligence in government, education and healthcare - Current landscape and future potential

In-house coverage of OpenGov Breakfast Insight session, as senior executives from a wide range of key public sector agencies in Singapore and institutes of higher learning gathered for a vibrant, insightful discussion on the next stage of artificial intelligence.Read more.

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