Minister of Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim (above) outlined four four frontier technology focus areas for the development of Singapore’s digital economy in his speech at the the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) opening ceremony.
In collaboration with industry partners, IMDA will invest and build capabilities in these four areas to build a strong infocomm media foundation. These four fields are considered to have bright prospects in their own right, and to have great potential to transform other industries and enhance people’s lives.
The four areas and some planned and ongoing initiatives within them are as below:
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
At InnovFest Unbound Dr. Ibrahim talked about a 5-year SG$ 150 million national programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI), called AI.SG. This initiative will be driven by a government-wide partnership comprising National Research Foundation (NRF), the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), EDB, IMDA, SGInnovate, and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).
NRF has also established a Data Science Consortium in collaboration with the National University Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Agency for Science,Technology and Research (A*STAR).
It will facilitate collaboration between Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), research institutes and industry in data science R&D, with the aim of facilitating industry adoption of cutting-edge data science and analytics technologies. The Consortium will work in partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to engage companies in six sectors: finance; healthcare; customer and retail; manufacturing; logistics; and transport.
In addition, under the TechSkills Accelerator’s (TeSA) Company Led Training programme, the first TeSA Fintech project with DBS Bank was announced. It will develop more fresh professionals with capabilities in Agile Development, DevOps, Information Security, and Data Analytics for
the financial services sector.
New partners are coming on board, inlcuding Tata Consultancy Services and DerivIT to train fresh professionals in fintech, data analytics, and software development.
Dr. Yaacob highlighted the involvement of companies like Singtel, ST Electronics (InfoSecurity), Quann, Accel, and Deloitte in Cybersecurity Associates and Technologists, or CSAT, programme to train more cybersecurity professionals. CSAT is a joint initiative by CSA and IMDA for collaborating with companies to train and up-skill fresh ICT professionals and mid-career professionals for Cyber Security job roles. Trainees have opportunities to undergo On-the-Job training programmes and participate in local and overseas attachments identified by the CSAT Training Partners.
The government has also established the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme since 2013, with funding of up to $130 million over five years, to develop R&D expertise and capabilities in cybersecurity to improve the trustworthiness of Singapore’s cyber infrastructure.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies (VR/ AR) are expected to be used across various industries, such as retail, architecture, construction, education, healthcare, defence to improve processes, reduce costs and enhance outcomes.
Dr. Yaacob talked about two initiatives in this area. One is a pilot for testing the feasibility of using VR technology as a tool in the teaching and learning of social studies in Singapore schools.
Sites of interest could include landmarks such as the Central Sikh Temple, Chinese Garden and Geylang Serai market for teaching students about the early settlers in Singapore or it could be an offshore fish farm or an organic vegetable farm for learning about agricultural activities in Singapore. The VR technology was piloted in five primary schools, covering around 400 students in March 2017.
IMDA is also collaborating with Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and local tech and visual effects company SideFX Studios (SideFX) to jointly leverage immersive tech to enhance clinical training. The project to be launched in May 2017 will use VR / MR (mixed reality) to create innovative immersive tech clinical training simulations.
These technologies can help increase productivity by reducing the requirement of valuable and limited clinician time to conduct training. Moreover, it can help optimise the utilisation of resources such as training rooms, manikins and task trainers and reduce costs by replacing the need to perform incisions directly on physical manikins that have expensive skin replacement parts
Internet of Things, and future communications infrastructure
IMDA will be partnering the industry to develop and put in place key components of future-ready and resilient communications infrastructure, including enhancements to the Nationwide Broadband Network, IoT networks, 5G mobile network, and sensor networks. These will enable businesses to leverage high-speed networks, real-time communications, and high accuracy location positioning to better deliver their services.
IMDA will be waiving frequency fees for 5G trials with immediate effect to promote greater technological innovation and forward the development of 5th generation mobile networks. 5G is viewed as a comprehensive wireless-access solution with the capacity to address the demands and requirements of mobile communication beyond 2020.