Addenda to the President’s Address (Speech by Minister Vivian)
Addenda to the Presidents Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the 13th Parliament
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE (SMART NATION AND DIGITAL GOVERNMENT GROUP)
ADDENDUM TO THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS
DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND MINISTER-IN-CHARGE OF THE SMART NATION INITIATIVE
We will harness rapidly evolving digital technology to expand opportunities for jobs of the future, enhance the quality of life, and improve the delivery of government services. The Smart Nation Initiative is a partnership between the Government, citizens, and businesses.
The Government will lead by example and accelerate our digitalisation efforts. Our e-government efforts are already well-regarded internationally. We will build on the strong foundations, and use digital technologies decisively to transform the Public Service. Citizens and businesses can look forward to transacting with the Government in a paperless and presence-less manner anytime and anywhere. This does not mean that the Government intends to replace the human touch with digitalisation and automation. We will continue to serve with heart, using digital technology to do more for citizens and with citizens.
A key strategy is to use the digital medium to provide integrated, user-centric services to citizens. The Moments-of-Life app for Families will be piloted in June 2018, providing one-stop services for new parents and ensuring support for every child. A similar approach will be taken to provide seamless experiences to citizens at other significant milestones of their lives, as well as for businesses interacting with the Government. We will engage citizens regularly to better understand their needs, and design more effective solutions for them.
We will also deepen our technical capabilities. We are establishing a Centre of Excellence for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Smart Systems, with expertise in areas such as data science, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and cybersecurity. This will allow us to keep up with rapidly changing technologies, and have a greater capacity to innovate. In other words, “Think Big, Start Small, Act Fast”. We want to recruit the best Singaporean talent and give them opportunities to transform our nation and society. We are also committed to preparing public officers to be digitally ready to use new digital tools and solutions to do their job better.
The Government will publish a Digital Government Blueprint in mid-2018 outlining our goals and strategies in greater detail.
A vibrant and innovative digital economy is critical to sustaining Singapore’s economic competitiveness, and providing good jobs and opportunities for citizens and businesses.
In the early years of our independence, Singapore committed ourselves to long term investments in physical infrastructure, to build public housing, public schools, roads, and parks to raise our quality of life and make ourselves an exemplary city state. Today, in this digital age, we will need to build leading edge digital infrastructure. Our Smart Nation Strategic National Projects include a National Digital Identity and e-Payments, which are essential for both the digital economy and digital government, to support seamless digital transactions and digital commerce.
We are making good progress on these projects. They will complement the Government’s digital economy efforts to accelerate digitalisation of sectors, build a strong local Infocomm and Media sector, and create future digital technology sectors.
Human capital remains our key national resource. We must ensure that all Singaporeans are equipped with relevant digital skills to take advantage of new jobs and opportunities. The Government will continue to invest in skills training and upgrading through the TechSkills Accelerator and SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme.
As we push ahead with digital technology, we need to also ensure that no one is left behind. Our digitalisation efforts should be inclusive-by-design. On the part of Government, we will set digital service standards and review all Government websites and digital services to ensure they are user-friendly and accessible. The Digital Readiness Blueprint will outline strategies for digital access, digital literacy, and digital participation, to ensure that every Singaporean has the means, skills, confidence, and motivation to make use of technology to achieve a better quality of life.
Cybersecurity and Data Protection
As a Smart Nation, we must also be aware and prepared for new threats and risks arising from technology. Robust data governance and cybersecurity measures are critical. With the enactment of the Public Sector Governance Act in April 2018, the Government will be implementing measures to safeguard data sharing within the public sector. We will continue to regularly review the security and resiliency of our systems, to safeguard Government and citizens’ data, and to keep them safe from malicious cyber activities.
For the private sector, the Personal Data Protection Commission is reviewing the laws on personal data protection to ensure that they remain relevant. But we all need to play our part, as businesses and citizens, to adopt good cyber-hygiene, be alert and aware, and make cybersecurity a priority.
Across the world, digital technologies are transforming our way of life: how we live, work, and play. To prosper and stay relevant in the world, and to build a better future for ourselves, Singapore has to embrace these changes, experiment and innovate, invest in the right capabilities and skills, and build a Smart Nation. We have made progress and we need to press on with confidence, working in concert across Government agencies, companies, and communities.