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Towards Smart Nation Singapore – Developments in 2017 (Part 2 of 3)

We continue our look at initiatives towards Smart Nation from the year gone by. (Click here for Part 1)

Government Technology Agency

The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) is responsible for driving digital transformation within the public sector. It harnesses the best info-communications technologies to make a difference to the everyday lives of people in Singapore.

In May, GovTech revealed that it has built an API exchange, called APEX, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance (MoF), to serve as a centralised data sharing platform for government agencies to share data conveniently and securely through the use of Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.

GovTech also rolled out a Whole-of-Government Application Analytics platform from June 2017. It provides a set of common metrics and measurements to enable public agencies to conduct real-time monitoring of the performance of their websites and digital services, conveniently and cost-effectively. It consists of a central dashboard, that depicts the overall health status of government websites and digital services and an analytics tool that can be embedded within agencies’ websites and digital services for personal tracking. No personal data will be tracked in the monitoring process.

GovTech has been developing the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP),  converting all 110,000 lamp posts in Singapore into an interconnected network of wireless sensors. SNSP will enable agencies to collect, analyse, and share data from sensors deployed island wide. Agencies can share common sensor communications backhaul and share the collected data to gain deeper insights. It would include a range of initiatives from smart metering in residential areas to provide consumers with timely information on their utility consumption to planning public transport using vehicular counting on a video analytics platform. 

Mr. Chan Cheow Hoe (above), Deputy Chief Executive, GovTech talking about ongoing work and plans for the Smart Nation Sensor Platform at the Smart Nation and Digital Government Industry Briefing 

GovTech introduced a common hosting platform for government websites, called the Content Websites Platform (CWP), in October2016, to support the government agencies in improving the digital shopfront and the user experience.

The CWP is a common secured environment based on a resilient, robust and controlled platform which provides a suite of standardised software for hosting content-based websites. It enables unclassified government websites to be centrally managed and operated on public cloud, bringing the benefits of convenience, greater security, optimisation of resources, faster deployment speed and cost savings through economies of scale. Approximately 70% of government websites, around 380, had migrated to the CWP by October. The number was expected to increase to 400 by the end of the year.

In January 2017, MOF, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and GovTech launched a one-stop portal for businesses to apply grants according to their needs without having to approach multiple agencies. The Business Grants Portal (BGP) is designed to route applications to the relevant agency based on user inputs, so businesses need not worry if they do not know which agency to approach for grant support. (Click here to read the OpenGov story on the development of the BGP using agile methodology.)

Together with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing & Development Board (HDB), GovTech developed the Parking.sg app to provide a quick and convenient way for motorists to pay digitally for short-term parking at coupon-based car parks. Initially available for cars, its use has been extended to motorcycles and heavy vehicles from December 20 onwards.

In November, GovTech launched the MyInfo Developer & Partner Portal as a next step towards building a vibrant ecosystem for the National Digital Identity (NDI). The Portal is set to speed up the process for businesses to tap on MyInfo to deliver citizen-centric and more intuitive services while reaping the benefits of improved efficiencies and potential cost savings.

MyInfo is a service for SingPass users to manage the use of their personal data when transacting online with participating government agencies and commercial entities. MyInfo users can skip filling in personal data repeatedly for every digital transaction, while enjoying greater convenience from producing fewer verification documents. MyInfo was extended to the banking sector in May 2017, with four banks piloting the use of MyInfo for opening of new bank accounts and application of credit cards.  In September it was revealed that all SingPass users will have MyInfo profiles by December 2017.

Housing & Development Board

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) is a statutory board of the Ministry of National Development responsible for public housing in Singapore.

In June, HDB  signed a MoU with the Imperial College London (ICL) and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) to embark on 4-year SG$5.3 million research programme to study how sensors and sensor networks can be enhanced to make data collection more efficient and reliable for the monitoring and analysis of estate-level services such as lifts, water pumps, and lighting.

There are three key facets of the research programme. The first is the development of new Smart Sensors and improvement in design, operation and maintenance of sensor networks. Secondly, the research will look into aggregation of large amounts of municipal data from multiple sources. The third facet is strengthening capabilities in predictive analytics for more efficient estate maintenance. 

HDB is also looking to develop smart applications to bring residents closer together and to empower them to take greater ownership of their community. For instance, applications could be developed through gamification to promote community bonding.

In September, HDB , signed two new research and development (R&D) agreements with the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

A S$4.7 million collaboration with NTU aims to develop a Smart Integrated Construction System (SICS). Another S$6 million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with SUTD to embark on a study called the New Urban Kampung research programme. The study will adopt cutting-edge modelling tools to analyse shifts in socio-demographic factors, and create new housing solutions in line with residents’ evolving needs and aspirations.

In October, HDB announced the launch of a new streamlined resale transaction process for public housing through a new HDB resale portal from January 1, 2018. The entire transaction time, from submission to completion of the resale application, will be shortened by up to 8 weeks from 16 weeks previously, if the buyers and sellers submit the necessary documents promptly. The portal will minimise the need for manual entry of data and all eligibility checks will be integrated on a single platform.

Integrated Health Information Systems 

Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) is the technology agency for Singapore;s public healthcare system. It digitises, connects, and analyses Singapore's health ecosystem.

In May, the Minister for Health, Mr. Gan Kim Yong, revealed the strategic Health IT Master Plan (HITMAP) that has been guiding the healthcare sector’s IT programmes since 2014. With seven transformation programmes, the strategic HITMAP enables the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) three key shifts of moving beyond quality to value, beyond hospital to community, and beyond healthcare to health. It also supports policy formulation and evaluation, systems governance, public health and operations management, as well as strengthens IT resiliency and improves cost effectiveness. New projects such as the admissions prevention predictive model for the Ministry’s Hospital to Home Programme, Health Marketplace, and Vital Signs Monitoring were also unveiled.

In April, IHiS announced the implementation of a Smart Health Video Consultation (SHVC) for healthcare, which enables patients to consult healthcare professionals online from anywhere. Video consultation is used in most countries to extend healthcare to patients in remote locations. Though that is not a significant concern in Singapore, telehealth technologies still offer an opportunity to improve patient service, support collaborations between healthcare professionals across locations, and improve overall productivity of the healthcare system.

IHiS rolled out a national pilot for Smart Health TeleRehab (SHTR) in May, so that patients who need rehabilitation therapy services can undergo their rehabilitation exercises at a time and location of their choice. 

Image from Smart Health TeleRehab infographic

The Healthcare Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched in November, setting out strategies to deal with the challenges of an ageing population and rising chronic disease incidence. Under the ITM, the use of cost-effective technology and assistive equipment will also be scaled up to make work easier, especially for Singapore’s ageing workforce. MOH will introduce innovative and patient-centric solutions, and testbed them in new hospital developments. Examples include RFID technology to track patients in real time, virtual patient monitoring and smart logistics solutions to monitor and top up consumables and medication.

Soon afterwards, several support initiatives were announced to encourage healthcare licensees to contribute data to the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR). Over 4,000 licensees will be eligible for the support initiatives, which includes sharing of technical and clinical expertise through workshops and online resources, as well as financial support. Workshops and technical support would also be provided to IT vendors who provide clinic management or medical record software.

Implemented by IHiS, the support initiatives are part of larger efforts to achieve the Ministry of Health's (MOH) "One Patient, One Health Record" vision to enhance continuity of care and patient safety, especially during emergencies.

Infocomm Media Development Authority

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information. It develops and regulates the converging infocomm and media sectors in a holistic way, creating a dynamic and exciting sector filled with opportunities for growth, through an emphasis on talent, research, innovation and enterprise.

IMDA rolled out the SMEs Go Digital Programme in April 2017 to help SMEs in the adoption and use of digital technology to boost their productivity and build their digital capability. This is done by IMDA creating a list of pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs, which provide reliable and proven tech and services. During the first two months itself, over 100 SMEs adopted 24 pre-approved digital solutions, amounting to a combined project value of SG$2.4 million.

On November 5, IMDA released the ITM for the Infocomm Media sector, which outlines the strategies to prepare Singapore for the digital economy. The ITM aims to grow the ICM industry’s value-add by around 6% annually.

The ICM ITM will prepare Singapore for the digital economy through three thrusts. The first is to invest and build capabilities in four frontier technologies, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics; Cybersecurity; Immersive Media and Internet of Things (IoT). The second thrust is to strengthen the core of the ICM sector, and prepare the next generation of ICM professionals and companies for future job roles and business opportunities. The third is to guide companies and workforce from the other sectors in adopting digital technology to improve productivity and efficiency.

Above photo: Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim speaking at the launch of the ITM for the Infocomm Media sector

At the launch, IMDA also revealed that it is working with various sector lead agencies to develop the Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) for SMEs. The Retail IDP was announced to provide step-by-step advice to SME retailers in their digitalisation journey. 

IMDA also announced that it will work with IMDA will work with AI Singapore to develop the AI ecosystem and make AI an enabler for growth and jobs. An AI Business Partnership Programme will help match business requirements with the appropriate solutions, as part of which IMDA will also conduct workshops where AI solutions providers will share their technologies with interested companies from the relevant sectors. An AI Apprenticeship Programme will help grow a pipeline of locally-grown, globally known AI-ready professionals.

Libraries of open AI assets will be created, starting with a National Speech Corpus to facilitate development of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technologies. The availability of AI solutions via SMEs Go Digital will be widened. 

IMDA has also re-branded its Accreditation@IMDA programme as “Accreditation@SG Digital”. Accreditation@IMDA was launched in July 2014 to help promising Singapore-based tech product companies to win projects, grow and compete in the global market. Being accredited opens up more opportunities for their products and solutions to be showcased and commercialised. As of end October 2017, 23 companies had been accredited in areas such as video analytics, data analytics, robotics and energy management. IMDA aims to expand the pool of accredited companies beyond start-ups and young SMEs to include later stage SMEs and deep technology foreign companies. Accreditation@SGD will work with various agencies and enterprises to supply relevant accredited companies to support the implementation of their Industry Transformation Maps.

Digital inclusion is a key aspect of Singapores’s Smart Nation drive. In June, IMDA launched the IM Silver Portal (www.IMSilver.sg) as part of its continued efforts to ensure that older citizens are able to benefit from digital technologies. It serves as a one-stop online infocomm learning resource for senior citizens, offering them access to online guides, ebooks, videos and seminars.

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law. The agency uses its IP expertise and networks to drive Singapore’s future growth. 

(In a recent interview with OpenGov, Mr. Daren Tang, Chief Executive of IPOS, talked about how IPOS is transforming itself from an IP from registry and regulator to builder of Singapore’s innovation ecosystem.)

In line with the recommendation of the Committee On the Future Economy (CFEreport released early in 2017 to strengthen Singapore’s innovation ecosystem and build capabilities to help enterprises innovate and scale up, IPOS announced a series of initiatives in August.

IPOS and home-grown private equity firm, Makara Capital launched a S$1 billion fund to help innovators and enterprises translate their ideas into assets and support their expansion into world markets using Singapore as a base. The fund made its first investment of S$70 million in regional TelcoTech player, MyRepublic in November.

The IP Hub Master Plan, released in 2013 to develop Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia for IP Transactions and Management, Quality IP Filings and IP Dispute Resolution, was updated to address gaps in the areas of IP creation, protection and commercialisation, along the verticals of expertise, regime and marketplace.    

IPOS signed a MoU with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to collaborate in driving enterprise growth through IP and innovation. The MoU will help SBF’s 25,000 member companies to build IP awareness and competencies. They will also gain direct access to IPOS’ suite of IP services, such as training, executive education and complimentary IP clinics.

Plans were announced for collaboration between IP ValueLab, the enterprise engagement arm of IPOS and EverEdge Global Ltd, an international IP management consultancy firm.

International Enterprise Singapore

International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), is a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is the government agency that promotes international trade and partners Singapore companies to go global.

In October, the Wholesale Trade ITM was unveiled. The ITM will help companies digitalise to enhance global growth and productivity, and targets to create 10,000 new jobs by 2020. The ITM includes plans to accelerate global trade connectivity, facilitating and capturing value from e-commerce trade flows, as well as increasing SMEs’ market access and productivity through digital marketplaces and platforms.

Key initiatives in this area include the ASEAN Digital Trade Facilitation Platform and a Cross Border Cognitive Supply Chain Solution. The former, led by Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and in partnership with GeTS Global (Global e-Trade Services) is expected to be ready in Q4 2017.

Traders can also look forward to the National Trade Platform in 2018, when freight management and trade financing services will be integrated as part of the platform from Singapore Customs to improve cross-border trade processes.

The Government will also work with trade associations and private enterprises to help SMEs list on digital marketplaces.

In July, IE Singapore announced the launch of its Plug and Play Network to provide support in business advisory services, business matching and market set-up via co-working spaces in over 45 major cities in 6 key markets across India, China and Southeast Asia. This is to ease market entry for SMEs by helping them find suitable business partners and contacts and supporting them in navigating unfamiliar markets.

Recently, IE Singapore drove collaboration with the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu and Sichuan to help Singapore companies access Chinese markets and technology.

Previously, in August, IE Singapore and Ascendas-Singbridge launched the Singapore Manufacturing Innovation Centre (SMIC) in Guangzhou, a one-stop shop to facilitate partnerships between Singapore Industry 4.0.

Above photo: IESingapore – CapitaLand Tech & Innovation Summit in Beijing/ Credit: Capitaland (from CapitaLand’s Twitter page)

In November, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) (Beijing) was launched in Beijing, China. The GIA was a key recommendation in the CFE report. Led by IE Singapore, the GIA (Beijing) effort strengthens connections between Singapore technology companies, entrepreneurs and investors within China’s established digital ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, tech giants, start-ups and venture capitalist funds. 

In October, IE Singapore entered into partnerships with AIRMaker (accelerator), NTUitive (enterprise arm of Nanyang Technological University) and 36Kr (top Chinese media platform) with the aim to provide support to startups, through accelerator programmes customised to help tech companies understand the market, test-bed their products, as well as partner with Chinese companies to implement solutions.

In November, IE Singapore signed a MoU with the Gyeonggi Provincial Government of South Korea.  Gyeonggi is Korea’s centre of high-tech industries and hosts many world-class companies including Hyundai, Samsung, and SK Group. This MOU is expected to boost collaboration in technology start-ups, wholesale distribution and logistics. 

It was announced in September, that SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore, which are both statutory boards under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, would be merged to form a new government agency called Enterprise Singapore. SPRING is responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow. SPRING’s focus is local, while IE Singapore’s focus is on international expansion. The consolidated agency will integrate its knowledge of industries with its network of local and overseas partners, to comprehensively support Singapore’s enterprises in their efforts to innovate and internationalise.

Part 1 - Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Building and Construction Authority; Economic Development Board; Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group; Cyber Security Agency

Part 3 - Land Transport Authority; Monetary Authority of Singapore; Ministry of Home Affairs; National Environment Agency; National Research Foundation; SkillsFuture Singapore/ Workforce Singapore; SGInnovate

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