Smart Nation On Track For Digital Transformation
01 Mar 2018
a. The Smart Nation Strategic National Projects are on time, on target to deliver benefits to end users.
b. The Digital Government Blueprint will lay out the strategy for a digital and data driven Government.
c. The Smart Nation Scholarship will deepen public sector engineering capabilities in information and communication technology and smart systems.
The five initial Smart Nation Strategic National Projects (SNPs) 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. The Digital Government Blueprint, to be released in mid-2018, will spell out the exact outcomes of the digital transformation.
Smart Nation Strategic National Projects
Smart Nation is a whole-of-nation effort to harness digital technologies to transform Singapore, to allow people to enjoy better quality of life, and to create more opportunities for people and businesses. The Government has taken the lead, making significant investments in digital infrastructure and service delivery. The SNPs are “on track to meet significant milestones in the coming two years,” said Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation.
Reorganising services around citizens through the Moments of Life initiative
The Moments of Life initiative is one such priority project, aimed at providing personalised and pro-active support to citizens at key junctures of their lives. From June 2018, families will be able to submit an online application to jointly apply for baby bonus and register their child’s birth in a single form, through a one-stop, integrated app called Moments of Life (Families). The app is the government’s first step towards bundling useful services for citizens at key moments when they need the services.
Families that use the app will no longer need to approach multiple agencies to physically fill up forms to complete the procedures. Parents can also use the app to access their child’s immunisation and medical records, as well as search for pre-school facilities or Baby Bonus-approved institutions near their home or office via geolocation technology.
Creating a secure and convenient National Digital Identity
Smart Nation initiatives such as Moments of Life (Families) will leverage MyInfo – part of the National Digital Identity (NDI) framework – to automate form filling for citizens and eliminate the need for repeating the same data for transactions with different government agencies. As of January 2018, MyInfo is linked to 70 government services and 30 banking services, helping to raise businesses’ productivity as well as enhance citizens’ experience when transacting with government and private companies. 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 SingPass platform will be more usable and secure, as part of the transition to NDI. By the second half of 2018, all SingPass users will be able to download and use SingPass Mobile, a mobile app which enables two-factor authentication through a secure soft token stored on the phone, and a user-determined six-digit passcode or fingerprint. This provides enhanced security compared to using SMS one-time passwords, and greater convenience than physical tokens particularly for those overseas or travelling. SingPass users will also no longer need to remember their password after the first login.
Making e-Payments more widely available
E-Payments will become more integrated and interoperable, making it more convenient for users. Recent announcements by the private sector include NETS and EZ-Link’s tie-up, making it possible from April 2018 for consumers to pay at hawker centres using their NETS or EZ-Link card through a single NETS terminal. The launch of PayNow by the Association of Banks Singapore (ABS) has made peer-to-peer payments across local banks more convenient and seamless, using just the other party’s mobile number or NRIC. PayNow for Corporate will be launched in the second half of 2018 to enable businesses to pay other businesses, or consumers to pay merchants, in another move that will help businesses become more efficient.
The Government will also tap on the PayNow infrastructure for various transactions with citizens. MOE has announced that it will leverage PayNow to disburse EduSave Awards to Polytechnic and ITE students. From March 2018, eligible seniors aged 55 and above will also be able to make lump sum CPF withdrawals through PayNow. Withdrawals will be received within the same day, as compared to GIRO withdrawals which can take up to five days. Beyond PayNow, the Government will be implementing SGQR, a unified QR payment code, and a unified point-of-sales terminal to continue to streamline the e-Payments landscape in Singapore.
Strategy and Plans
Digital Transformation in Government
Digital transformation goes beyond adoption of software or apps. It requires rethinking and reinvention of internal processes and service delivery. “The Government will lead the way by transforming itself to become even more digital and data-driven,” said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister-in-charge of GovTech. “Our vision is to be a Government that is digital to the core.” Under the Digital Government Blueprint, to be rolled out in mid-2018, the Government will aim for services that will be digital end-to-end, meaning that citizens and businesses can expect to access all Government services anytime, anywhere and on any internet-enabled device.
The Government will focus on user-centricity in designing digital solutions, through actively listening to the end-users. One example: Feedback from businesses and citizens to streamline the Business Grants Portal (a one-stop portal for businesses to find and apply for grants) into standardised sections, and for company details from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to be automatically extracted, was incorporated to tailor the product to more closely meet the needs of businesses.
Redesigning Government Digital Infrastructure
The Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS) is a redesign of Government’s digital infrastructure, to achieve greater interoperability and agility. The SGTS will offer a platform approach for common digital services and infrastructure to be made available to all Government agencies. These common assets are scalable, reusable and interoperable, allowing agencies to quickly launch services and dynamically scale in accordance with citizen demand. The SGTS allows individual agencies to deploy new digital solutions to serve citizens and businesses with lower cost and greater speed. It also ensures that citizens enjoy a more seamless, consistent and connected user experience when interacting digitally with Government. Some basic components of the SGTS (e.g. API Exchange, used by the MyInfo pilot to allow banks to on-board new customers using Government verified data) are already in place, and other components will be gradually developed.
Nurturing Talent and Building Capabilities
To enable digital transformation, the Government will deepen public sector engineering capabilities in information and communication technology and smart systems (ICT & SS).
The Government is launching the Smart Nation Scholarship. It will be open for applications by the end of this year, for the 2019 academic year. Scholars will be deployed to technology-oriented agencies in Government, in particular, Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Through this scholarship, the Government aims to grow a pool of next-generation ICT leaders who will be able to combine deep technical knowledge with rich experience of working in the Government context and the ethos of public service to spearhead digital transformation.
To further strengthen the public sector’s engineering and digital capabilities, the Government is developing a Centre of Excellence in ICT & SS, comprising capability centres in the fields of Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, Application Design, Development & Deployment, ICT Infrastructure, Cybersecurity and Sensors & IOT. These capability centres will house multidisciplinary teams of data scientists, software developers, and designers who are experts in their respective domains. This in-house pool of technical experts will implement innovative projects within Government, and provide agencies with advice on their technology solutions and assist in raising the capabilities of ICT & SS practitioners and leaders across Government. They will also work with leading experts from the research institutes and the private sector, both local and overseas, to further develop their expertise.
Moving Forward Together
At its core, Smart Nation is about opportunities and improving the quality of life. “We will ensure good jobs and opportunities for all. Government will continue to invest in infrastructure, create open platforms, provide open data, facilitate skills upgrading and encourage our businesses to adopt the latest technologies,“ said Minister Balakrishnan. The Government will also work with private and people sectors to ensure that Smart Nation is “inclusive-by-design”, so that nobody will be left behind as Singapore rides this digital wave. Smart Nation will require the participation of the whole nation – citizens, businesses and Government - in order to succeed. Said Minister Balakrishnan: ” The digital revolution can be either exhilarating or terrifying, perhaps both. It all depends on whether we are ready. This is why we have embarked on Smart Nation.”