Milestones of Singapore’s Smart Nation story
Smart technology has made a difference to the way we live, work and play. But the changes didn’t happen overnight. Here, we trace the milestones of Singapore’s Smart Nation story.
The first mainframe computer was installed in the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) to automate the manual ledger accounting system that kept track of 1.6 million CPF members’ accounts. With the IBM 1401 system, CPF employees filled out punch cards with information on CPF members’ latest contributions and fed these to the mainframe computer to update the accounts.
The national computerisation drive kicked off with the mission to computerise the Civil Service. The National Computer Board played a foundational role in Singapore’s information and communications technology (ICT) development.
National IT Plan: Electronic data exchange networks were extended from government to the private sector.
The Trade Development Board introduced TradeNet to hasten the speed of commerce by cutting down the processing time of trade documents from 4 days to 15 minutes.
The National Science and Technology Board set up a nationwide computer network called Technet to connect academic institutions to each other and the internet.
Singapore was amongst the first few countries in the world to implement a nationwide broadband network that provided high-speed internet access, linking all homes, businesses and schools. This network was called Singapore One.
The National Library Board became the world’s first public library system to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. RFID enables self-service borrowing and returning. RFID also allows books to be automatically sorted and located using shelf-scanning robots.
The Housing & Development Board (HDB) introduced an electronic application system for the public to submit online applications to buy their flat. This shortened the processing time, and saved applicants a trip to the HDB office to get the physical form.
The Infocomm 21 Master Plan was launched to develop Singapore into a leading infocomm hub for the provision of telecommunications services, e-business transactions and distribution of digital goods and services.
Singpass was introduced to offer Singapore residents convenient and secure access to government digital services. Today, it is the trusted digital identity of over 4 million residents for everyday transactions with the government and private sector organisations, online and in person.
Wireless@SG was deployed to offer free Wi-Fi island-wide, providing citizens with free internet connectivity across thousands of hotspots.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) launched the No-Filing Service (NFS) making tax filing a non-event for eligible taxpayers. The integration of data across platforms has simplified tax filing from an eight-page form, to a pre-filled electronic form. Today, the NFS initiative benefits 2 in 3 taxpayers, and those who are eligible will not need to file a tax return, unless they have changes to make.
Singapore unveiled eGov2015 Masterplan to develop next generation whole-of-government ICT infrastructure, to integrate cross-agency systems and improve service delivery to citizens and businesses. Data.gov.sg was launched to provide access to publicly-available government data for research purposes and applications development.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outlined plans to turn Singapore into the world’s first Smart Nation, and launched the Smart Nation Programme Office to drive the national effort to transform Singapore into a Smart Nation.
The National Steps Challenge™ was launched by the Health Promotion Board to encourage Singapore residents to be physically active. When participants sync their steps through a pedometer with the Healthy 365 app, they earn rewards for the steps they clock. The initiative has successfully galvanised an active lifestyle movement in Singapore with about 2 million participants across five seasons.
The Government Technology Agency was formed. It is responsible for the delivery of government digital services to the public, and the development of infrastructure to support the Smart Nation initiative.
HDB announced the new “Smart HDB Town Framework” that maps out how HDB plans to introduce the “Smart” element in HDB towns and estates, through Smart Planning, Smart Environment, Smart Estate, and Smart Living.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published the “Singapore Payments Roadmap” to promote electronic payments in Singapore.
The Smart Nation & Digital Government Office (SNDGO) was formed. Sitting under the Prime Minister’s Office, it plans and prioritises key Smart Nation projects such as the National Digital Identity and Smart Nation Sensor Platform. SNDGO also drives digital transformation and builds long-term capabilities for the public sector, and promotes adoption and participation from the public and industry.
Strategic Technology Master Plan unveiled to improve population’s health and health administration. The strategic Health IT Master Plan (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 help.
The government identified key Strategic National Projects to drive and enable the adoption of digital and smart technologies throughout Singapore.
Deputy Prime Minister and then Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, announced that Singapore will embark on a plan to develop and use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform Singapore’s economy and improve the lives of citizens. This plan is outlined in the National AI Strategy document that was unveiled at the SFF X SWITCH (Singapore FinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology) Conference.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) today launched the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), which will enable Singaporeans to consolidate their financial information for more effective financial planning.