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Digital Government and Digital Identity in Singapore

The Digital Government Exchange (DGX) allows senior leaders from digital governments to discuss relevant issues related to digitalisation. Organised and hosted by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group Singapore, DGX is a one-of-its-kind international platform that has developed a community of like-minded leaders, facilitating information exchange, sharing of experiences, mutual learning, and exploration of potential areas for international collaboration and cooperation.

The platform also features technical Working Groups (WGs) where countries and cities deep dive into specific subject matters pertinent to governments’ drive for digitalisation. Designed with the intent of providing an open conversation yearly, the DGX WGs bring together international experts in their respective fields to conduct in-depth analysis. The 2021 edition saw representatives share experiences and opportunities on the topics of Cloud, Digital identity, Data governance, and Digital maturity.

The cloud WG dwelled on the momentous shift in the delivery of private/public information systems, where a new service delivery model provides benefits including agility and velocity, innovation, digital transformation, scalability, resiliency, cost-savings, data security, and transparency. Policy approaches and technology strategies were shared on risk management with cloud adoption.

The data governance WG focused on key trends in data governance policies, data governance regulations, and data organisational structures in supporting member countries’ broader big data ambitions. The WG also produced valuable insights on data stewardship and how processes, people, and technology are key enablers of data governance.

The digital identity WG produced insights on how countries utilise digital identity and models that might enable mutual recognition and/or interoperability. Given the pandemic, information was shared openly on respective governments’ experiences with leveraging digital ID for appropriate COVID-19 responses.

The digital maturity WG developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) framework for understanding different levels of digital maturity and conducted research interviews with member countries to validate the 7 elements of digital maturity in reimagining and redesigning governments’ digital estate. These elements are user-centred design, a culture of digital by design, data-driven approach, appropriate technology and infrastructure, senior leadership buy-in and appropriate governance, appropriate institutional funding and capacity, and digital capability.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, a special edition of the Digital Government Exchange Safe Travel Working Group was convened in 2021. Digital governments and smart cities discussed safe travel solutions such as the generation of digital health certificates, cross-border verification, and open-sourced technical specifications or frameworks.

Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI), is one of the Smart Nation strategic national projects. As a foundational digital infrastructure, the NDI is critical to achieving Singapore’s vision of improving the lives of citizens, creating opportunities for businesses, and transforming the capabilities of government agencies. Singpass offers Singapore residents greater confidence, convenience and accessibility when transacting with the Government and private sector, online and in person.

Moving forward, a wider variety of transactions will be conducted digitally, from verifying identity and health certificates to cross-border data transfers. The National Digital Identity is expected to support a growing range of use cases for digital identity. NDI is exploring new initiatives that build on the principle of adopting open standards which support interoperability with different digital services and international partners.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore and the United Kingdom will work more closely to facilitate digital trade between the countries by signing three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in the areas of Digital Trade Facilitation, Digital Identities and Cybersecurity. The partnership will make digital transactions by businesses easier, safer and cheaper.

Under the Digital Identities Cooperation MoU, Singapore and the UK will work more closely to develop mutual recognition of digital identities between the countries. The MOU is an important step in the route to achieve interoperability of digital identity regimes between different jurisdictions, which can allow for more reliable identity verification and faster processing of applications, among other things.

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