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Singapore Government reveals FY17 technology budget of SG$2.4 billion

The Singapore Government revealed its projected technology expenditure for Fiscal Year 2017  (FY17) ) at the Smart Nation and Digital Government Industry briefing today, attended by about 1,000 industry participants, trade associations and Government workers. The announcement was made by Ms. Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech).

The Government will call for tenders worth around SG$2.4 billion this year. There is a shift in focus in FY17, from infrastructure to digital & data and security.

         Ms. Poh explained the reason behind this, “In FY2016 a large component of ICT expenditure was to build the foundation for a Smart Nation and Digital Government.  This is basic infrastructure that we have to lay out to ensure that there is capacity for the growth of Smart Nation applications.  In FY2017, the Government intends to spend a larger proportion on digital & data, cybersecurity and Smart Nation applications.”                              

During FY16, there was heavy emphasis on getting the required ICT infrastructure in place, which is expected to be consumed over a period of 5-10 years. Examples of high value infrastructure projects awarded last year included network equipment cabling, bulk tenders for personal computers and related accessories and GDC (Government Data Centre) Core Infrastructure. These will be rolled out over a few years.

This also explains a nearly 14% drop in total expenditure for FY17, compared to the actual total of SG$2.8 billion for FY16.

As can be seen from the pie charts below, the spend on infrastructure is moving down by 62% at SG$696 million (29% of budget as compared to 66% the previous year). Expenditure on Digital & Data and Security is 4.7 and 9.4 times of the amount spent during FY16. These two areas will constitute 22% each of FY17’s projected total.

A few instances of projects under the Digital and Data category are as below:

  • The Ministry of Education (MoE) has multiple projects in the pipeline including a Parents Gateway’ which allows parents access to digital services such as viewing events, programmes and progress of their child and providing consent for these school programmes and events and a ‘Digital Shopfront for Examination Operations’ where candidates can register for exams and receive information, alerts and assistance.
  • The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) is planning to issue tender for Phase 1 of its Maritime Single Window during the second half of 2017. This will enable submission of all port-related documentation for port clearance. Application for permits and approvals, as well as requests for marine services are being included in MPA’s MyMaritime@SG app. 
         A large portion of the security budget of SG$ 528 million will go to setting up a next generation Government Security Operations Centre (SOC). This will replace the current Cyber Watch Centre in maintaining cybersecurity for all Government agencies and statutory boards. The SOC will use open standards and leverage data analytics on integrated cyber threat data to discover threats not detectable by current monitoring systems. It will reduce reliance on human resources and improve response times through incident response automation. Sourcing for components will start later this year and proofs-of-concept will start happening from now.                              

The budget for Smart Nation is going to witness a 7.7 times y-o-y increase this year. The SG$216 million allocated will be directed to the development of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP). This includes ongoing work for converting all 110,000 lamp posts in Singapore into an interconnected network of wireless sensors.

GovTech will be building Whole-of-Government sensors through wired (fibre) and wireless (narrowband IoT) communications. The Government is also building scalable middleware for Whole-of-Government data sharing from sensors in the form of a real-time Sensor Data Exchange, which will incorporate data from public and private sector sensors. This will help reap operational efficiencies in urban planning e.g. for crowd control in public areas, flood monitoring, vehicle congestions.

There are plans for several interesting projects for exploring emerging technologies. The Government will be partnering with industry to increase the deployment of robotics. For instance, Temasek Polytechnic looking to build an inventory robot (falls under Smart Nation) which will utilise RFID technology to scan the print collection and navigate in its library. This will help the library carry out more and faster inventory stocktakes to boost productivity and efficiency, as well as provide early detection of missing or wrongly shelved books.

The National Library Board (NLB) might be calling for another tender this year for an Immersive Story Telling Room ('Others'), which will be a multi-projection, multi-sensory room which enables the storyteller to tell a story while animations and sound are played on multiple walls of the room. A contract had been awarded previously and will be piloted in the third quarter of 2017. NLB is also looking to set up a Virtual Library that provides NLB’s digital content online such as eBooks, audio eBooks, Archive AV content, Virtual Exhibitions.

Over two-third of projects available for SMEs

More than two-thirds of the projects will be available to small & medium enterprises, i.e. they will come in at less than SG$5 million.

Efforts are ongoing to bring more local innovation to Government. Two such initiatives are GovTech’s InnoLeap and Accreditation@IMDA (OpenGov recently wrote a in-depth article about the programme, speaking to Mr. Edwin Low, Director, Accreditation, Infocomm Media Development Authority and two of the companies selected under the programme).

The InnoLeap programme brings together public sector agencies with challenging problem statements and research institutes (RIs), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and commercial entities with innovative solutions. The aim is for all parties to build a deeper understanding of hurdles, solutions and cultivate opportunities for collaboration. Commercial entities will also be provided with potential business-to-business opportunities. Till date 23 workshops, sharing sessions and clinics have been organised, involving 94 public agencies and 77 companies, IHLs and RIs.

These efforts also tie in with the strategy to rethink the way Government engages with vendors. Rather than issuing tenders for individual projects, the Singapore Government is looking to work with vendors, along with RIs and IHLs, as co-creation partners. It is moving towards involving them in the entire lifecycle of the project, from pilot to scale.

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