Speaking in Parliament at the Committee of Supply 2018, Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan provided updates on Singapore’s five Smart Nation Strategic National Projects.
The five projects are on track to deliver the interim outcomes that will bring benefits to citizens and businesses. In addition to these priority projects, the Government is also developing a set of strategies and plans to transform itself to become more digital and data-driven.
Anchoring this transformation will be new efforts to develop the public service’s technical skills and capabilities, and rethink the way digital infrastructure is designed.
Minister-in-Charge of GovTech, Senior Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary, shared that the Government will release a Digital Government Blueprint in the middle of 2018, which will spell out the exact outcomes of the digital transformation.
National Digital Identity (NID)
The NID system will provide users with a single digital identity to transact with both the Government and private sector in am more secure and seamless fashion. (Our detailed coverage of the announced updates to the NDI is here.)
As part of the NID, a new SingPass Mobile App will be launched in the second half of 2018. The app will enable authentication through a secure soft token stored on the phone, and a user-determined six-digit passcode or fingerprint, which will provide enhanced security compared to using SMS one-time passwords.
Users would not need to key in their passwords every time they log in to a digital service. Moreover, Singaporeans who are overseas will be able to transact with Government services, as a SMS notification is not needed, as in the current 2-factor authentication.
MyInfo, the Government’s Tell Us Once service,currently connects 70 government services and 30 banking services, eliminating repetitive form-filling and document verification, and enhances accuracy. By the end of this year, 160 government-to-citizen (G2C) digital services, which make up almost all G2C services, will be linked to MyInfo.
The MyInfo Developer & Partner Portal, launched late last year, will allow private companies to integrate their digital services and MyInfo. More than 150 businesses from various industries have expressed interest to do so since the portal’s launch.
Public agencies will start using PayNow, a service launched during 2017, which links mobile numbers to bank accounts (Singapore National Registration Identity Card/ Foreign Identification Number can also be used). PayNow enables users to pay and receive money using their mobile banking app, without any need to know bank names or account numbers.
In March 2018, CPF (Central Provident Fund) will allow eligible CPF members over 55 years old to receive their lump sum withdrawal through PayNow. Funds will be able to be transferred within the same day, instead of the current turnaround time of 5 working days.
The Ministry of Education is going to pilot the use of PayNow to disburse Edusave Award monies to ITE and polytechnic students. This will be faster and more convenient than having to bank a cheque.
PayNow Corporate will be launched this year. Businesses will be able to link their bank accounts to their Unique Entity Numbers (UENs) and use PayNow to pay other businesses. Consumers can also use PayNow Corporate to pay merchants for their purchases.
The adoption of the National QR code standard, SGQR will be promoted. The SGQR was developed by an industry taskforce co-led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). It includes protocols customised for Singapore, building on the QR specifications of EMVCo, a consortium of international payment schemes. Besides consumer convenience, it will also support cheaper and infrastructure-light payments systems, which will benefit smaller businesses.
At the same time, in an important step to ehance interoperability of e-payment systems, two local payment giants EZ-Link and NETS are working together to enable EZ-Link card acceptance at NETS terminals in hawker centres.
Smart Nation Sensor Platform
Dr Balakrishnan revealed that trials for different aspects of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) are ongoing. A better and more systematic use of sensors and other devices will help build and run a more liveable and sustainable city. This includes a more responsive transport network, better public security and improve urban planning.
Moments of Life
The Moments of Life (MOL) initiative aims to reduce the need for citizens to transact separately with multiple government agencies by bundling relevant government services across different agencies to the citizens at key moments of their lives.
The MOL (Families) app will be launched in June 2018 to address the needs of parents with newborns or young children. In the pilot phase, the MOL (Families) app will feature the applicable services by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), and the Health Promotion Board (HPB). This will allow parents to register their child’s birth online, apply for Baby Bonus, search and register interest for preschools, and view medical appointments and immunisation records.
Rethinking the design of digital infrastructure
The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) is developing a centrally-managed platform, called the Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS), for public sector agencies to build their digital applications.
The SGTS will make available common digital services and infrastructure to all Government agencies. This reduces the time and effort needed to introduce new digital services, as well as enhance and maintain existing ones. Agencies can focus on designing solutions that best meet the needs of those they serve and develop high quality applications providing a consistent experience to citizens. GovTech is making SGTS available for the whole public sector progressively from 2018
Smart Nation Scholarship
The Smart Nation Scholarship aims to attract and groom a pool of deep technological talent and leaders for GovTech, Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and IMDA to help Government better serve citizens, defend systems from evolving cyber threats, and help Singapore companies benefit from the opportunities of the digital economy.
The scholarship is open to Singaporean students who have completed their junior college or polytechnic studies, and offers the opportunity to pursue a full-time ICT-related degree in either a local or overseas university. Candidates who are currently studying in a non-ICT related undergraduate course may also be considered if they are interested in taking up a double degree in ICT. “Mid-term Scholarships” will also be awarded to students in the middle of their degree programme at any of the local/overseas universities.
Candidates will be assessed based on a holistic set of eligibility criteria. In addition to academic performance, other aspects such as co-curricular activities and involvement in ICT events and competitions, among others, will also be taken in consideration.
Upon returning from their studies, scholarship holders will gain direct admission onto their respective parent agency’s talent programmes, where they will undergo rigorous and in-depth technical training to fast track their career development and be groomed into future technology leaders in the public service. They will be required to fulfil a service commitment with their parent agency (6 years for overseas studies and 4 years for local studies).