ISSUE #62 – The Singapore Government is pushing deeper into harnessing the power of digital and transforming public service delivery. Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Information Officer of GovTech sets out the three thursts of the newly formed agency.
American venture capitalist Marc Andreessen was prophetic when he said “software is eating the world”. Today, most businesses and industries run on software delivered as digital services-from music to medical services.
Such digital services have upended entire industries. For example, ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Grab have forced incumbent taxi companies to review their operating models, or risk going out of business. Governments will not be spared.
In Singapore, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, or “GovTech”, launched in October 2016, underscores the government’s intent to transform the traditional delivery of digital government services. Driving the government’s digital transformation is the first of GovTech’s three key strategic thrusts.
1. Digital government transformation
Previously, the work of public servants tended to originate from an inside-out view of the world, where services are organised based on internal structures such as healthcare, transport and urban development, and delivered accordingly to citizens.
At GovTech, we are adopting a different outside-in view: where government services are designed with the needs of the citizens – or customers – in mind. An example is the OneService app by the Municipal Services Office, which helps residents report municipal issues. With the app, municipal feedback will be channelled to the relevant agencies without residents worrying whether their notification has gone to the wrong public agency. In short, there is no “wrong door”.
The focus on user experience design has changed the mindsets of many public servants who realise that they are citizens, too. Being citizen-centric and anticipating the demands of citizens is transforming the way the government approaches all new services and how it engages citizens.
When people approach the government, we can at least make it a pleasant and productive experience by focusing on citizens as customers. This ethos will drive GovTech’s vision for a digital government.
Being citizen-centric and anticipating the demands of citizens is transforming the way the government approaches all new services and how it engages citizens.
2. Harnessing data and analytics
Data and IoT are among the emerging technologies driving the fourth industrial revolution. One key role GovTech plays is in building the infrastructure and backend data and video analytics platforms to help public sector agencies better optimise data and analytics for planning and operations.
GovTech is putting in place a nationwide sensor network to facilitate more efficient sensor data collection, analysis and sharing of insights across the whole of government.
Another key initiative is Virtual Singapore, a 3D geospatial rendering of Singapore to aid in urban planning and operations. Virtual Singapore is led by the National Research Foundation, Singapore Land Authority and GovTech, with French firm Dassault Systèmes providing the technical expertise.
3. Catalysing civic co-creation
Beyond the extensive use of data in the public sector, the Government has also provided data for public use via our open data portal, data.gov.sg. We have launched a Developers’ Portal within data.gov.sg to make application programming interfaces available to citizens and industry to develop apps and co-create solutions. For example, we have developers and students who have created taxi apps from the transport datasets hosted in data.gov.sg.
We aim to be a smart buyer for the government, creating lead demand and partnering closely with the industry to co-source digital and data solutions for the public good.
Collaboration is key
To fulfil these three key thrusts, GovTech cannot and does not intend to do it alone. We will actively seek to work with the private sector and domain experts. Even as GovTech builds up our in-house ICT and engineering capabilities, we aim to be a smart buyer for the government, creating lead demand and partnering closely with the industry to co-source digital and data solutions for the public good. We will also partner citizens by building open-source platforms to enable co-creation and develop digital products in an agile manner to take in citizen feedback at every step of product design.
This will be the way to go for the future of GovTech.
The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) is a new statutory board formed in October 2016 after the restructuring of the Infocomm Development Authority. GovTech works with public agencies to develop and deliver secure digital services and applied technology to individuals and businesses in Singapore, builds key platforms and solutions needed to support Singapore as a Smart Nation, and as a leading centre for information communications technology and related engineering such as the Internet of Things, also enhances the capabilities of the Singapore Government in these domains.
Article by Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Information Officer, Government Technology Agency of Singapore
Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Driven by Data” – Issue #1 2017