February 28, 2024

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A Data-Oriented Journey Leading in Singapore Public Sector

During a global pandemic, mundane public policy decisions can become literally a matter of life and death. Governments and officials looking to protect the public and combat the spread of COVID-19 have discovered that digital technology is one of the essential instruments at their disposal for improving outcomes for citizens.

Slowing — and, ultimately, reversing — COVID’s spread in any population requires massive, coordinated execution of case reporting, contact tracing, and isolation and treatment of infected individuals. The greatest success stories of 2020 have featured governments that quickly implemented large-scale public programs using technology to track and trace cases, then made that data available to researchers and health care professionals. Singapore has been a particular standout, pulling testing data along with anonymized tracking data from a network of apps to successfully identify, isolate, and treat new cases quickly.

Even as they struggle through the global health crisis, public officials must face the looming challenge of post-COVID economic recovery. Most public authorities are basing recovery plans on the same kinds of digital tools they are using to fight the pandemic. The adoption of cloud, big data, and AI technologies will be vital to many countries’ economic success.

Singapore: A study in success

Long before the threat of COVID-19, Singapore’s public sector had invested in technology and digital initiatives. The Smart Nation Office, formed under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, served as a nexus for digital transformation. Ministries and local agencies could rely on Smart Nation for the data and tools they needed to be more productive and to better engage their citizens. When the pandemic began, Singapore was already well-positioned to be one of the first countries to develop a successful, nationwide contact tracing app and token program.

As the world moves into the economic recovery phase of the COVID crisis, the tech infrastructure that Singapore built to serve its citizens may do double duty as a framework to support economic traction. Its programs encourage businesses, both local and foreign, to adopt technology. The Government Technology Agency of Singapore, known as GovTech, is functionally CIO for the whole government: GovTech’s digital initiatives, such as the National Digital Identity, the Government QR Payment, the Government Technology Stack, and the Data Science and AI Capability Framework, encourage businesses and business owners to use technology, and data in particular, to gain a competitive advantage.

Singapore, however, is not typical in the region in terms of executing digitalization strategy. Its comparatively small geographical size and political stability enhances its ability to execute its national technology blueprint. Can other ASEAN countries apply lessons from Singapore to achieve similar outcomes?

The data governance challenge

Public authorities generate an incredible volume of data, and their main challenge is finding, analyzing, and using their data. Valuable data stores reside in different departments and ministries, and often use incompatible formats or technologies. Having the ability to share information across agencies, providing access control to different levels and functional roles of stakeholders, while respecting data privacy and fighting bureaucracy, could fundamentally transform the way civil service or government organizations serve the public.

To reach that goal, the first step is to accept the need for more advanced analytics. Raw data in isolation is of no value. It must be cleaned, curated, and analyzed before anyone can use it to make meaningful decisions.

Organizations must build a centralized data hub to provide stakeholders access to this data, along with systems for data governance and data quality. With multiple sources feeding into a shared data center, incomplete, invalid, or otherwise faulty data could impact decision-making throughout the network. Data quality must become an integral part of overall data management, from onboarding new data sources to managing and maintaining data already in the hub.

Governments need the ability to understand data — where it is located, managed, and stored — to ensure their country’s digital sovereignty.

A citizen-centric approach

At the same time, governments need a citizen-centric approach to meet the population’s expectations — and to govern the country. Here, again, Singapore provides an excellent model. For example, they responded to the public desire for a better way to manage changes of address by building a single, central platform that communicates with all the services that need this information: driver licensing, taxes, and so on. Listening to the needs of the people led to an elegant solution.

Imagine what governments could do to enhance innovation and economic growth with the corporate sector. In most countries, a business owner must work with multiple departments or bureaus to register a business, file for incorporation, establish a taxable entity, and on and on. Today, we take for granted these long and tedious procedures. But that need not be the case forever.

Health care and education are two sectors in which advanced adoption of technology illustrates the benefits of focusing on data analytics. All around the world, we are seeing how protecting the population has technology at its core, from the efforts to control the spread of an epidemic to the day-to-day tracking of risk factors and early detection of disease.

A solution is more than a tool

Today, several jurisdictions have publicly funded plans to invest heavily in artificial intelligence infrastructure, such as the European Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, the China New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, and the Singapore National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy. But without an instant assessment of data health and accuracy, even the most accurate AI models cannot produce trustworthy results.

Only by measuring the level of trust and clarity of data across the entire organization and putting the citizen first can public service players have the 360° view of their data they need to offer the services that citizens have a right to expect.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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