Tell me about your role and position?
My name is Peter Reichstädter, I am the CIO of the parliament of Austria. I have been developing ICT strategies for the Prime Minister’s office for the past 12 years. There is now a need for a strategic change of the Austrian parliament, as we are moving out of our premises. The premises will be rebuilt and refurbished, we will then move back in 2020. Moving into a new building, we want to have new processes, and new ways of collaboration to be established within the parliament.
How is collaboration being driven?
Our politicians have a broad understanding of technology and the value of collaboration with a good grasp of IT. As CIO I have a considerable level of input to the topic, bringing the stakeholders together and providing value and insights to the conversation. In this way I am able to gain a better appreciation of their needs, assisting them in their understanding and how our department can add value to the final outcome. Explaining possible solutions that will enable them to better collaborate in a safe and secure manner. It’s about listening, taking the ideas and working with the stakeholders, facilitating the necessary outcomes. We focus on outcomes and results driven by the working groups which build a better understanding of the stakeholder needs.
How do you provide the technology and security that meets the needs of your stakeholders?
We follow a proven methodology that has served us over the past years for developing secure applications and services. We carry out the business analysis with the support of external consultants. We engage by using to levels of controls, that of operational and strategic. This is done from a security point of view, ensuring the highest level of security is understood and is still addressing to need to achieve an outcome.
Collaboration and security at times creates conflict. How do you enable collaboration across multiple parties and at the same time be mindful of security?
What is paramount is data classification, without this nothing can be successful. Data and information classification is carried out across our entire organisation. From this knowledge, our understanding of the different data sets in play, we are able to define the necessary security needed to facilitate collaboration. Collaboration is always presenting us with challenges, but this is a constant and we are always looking to improve our model.
Do you utilise any cloud services? If so, how are you using it?
We are working with a lot of virtualisation internally, in turn providing cloud services to our department within our own environment. When you look at legislative, administrative and executive services with the parliament, they are generally not sharing the same infrastructure. We identify the interfaces needed to work in delivering services across all systems. We want to develop a far greater level of automation and reduce the requirement of administration. The use of virtualisation will only enhance our ability to bring much of these resources together. Our use of cloud initially will be internal, but as we scale up, and where possible we will consider the offerings in the market place.
In designing your systems and infrastructure, do you design for just one department or build with the whole of government in mind?
Our architecture is defined by our existing ICT strategy for Austria. This strategy is soon to be updated and released. It will consist of demands, like our approach to mobility and BYOD. We are working within the coherence of the existing frameworks but also driven towards our parliament needs.
One of the biggest challenges with virtualisation and the cloud are legacy systems. Do you have many legacy systems, and what is your aim to manage that transformation?
Yes, we have several legacy systems. We are working through a plan of modernisation, and moving to a new architecture for the future. Our goal is to modernise those legacy systems by 2020, then by 2025 to transform them into the new architecture. This will enable us to take advantage of the new cloud services that will enable us to our future state.
What methodologies do you use to delivery your services? Are you using the traditional waterfall approach or do you use agile?
Some of our projects still use a traditional waterfall method of delivery. But more and more we are moving to an agile approach. As users demands and experiences are much more a requirement these practices are included into the development of these services.
The role of CIO traditionally was to provide technology to solve business problems. How have you found the change which is now driven predominately by the users and customer and their expectations?
This has had a considerable impact to our approach in delivering systems and services. Users are more demanding, having an understanding of what is possible. Their interaction in their daily lives and the things they can do for themselves translate back into the work environment. If they can create an email account in five minutes, then why can they not do that within their own work environment. It is all about delivering services to the end users, enabling them to work without IT. This has historically been the issue with many organisations and the creation of shadow IT. We work with our stakeholders to more closely understand their needs, delivering to their outcomes, and not pushing IT solutions.
Over the last 18 months, user experience has dramatically increased. How has this impacted in the solutions you provide?
This has had a dramatic impact in the technology, hardware and software solutions that we provide. Within the parliament we are looking to move to ultra-book, hybrid notebooks and tablets. Our solutions are having to consider the end point that it will deliver to. We don't know what, so we need to design to be endpoint independent. The advent of touch screens, smart phones all present their challenges and different methods of integration. This has led to a high level of requests for mobile solutions, enabling work anywhere and anytime. Much of our new development is being done with HTML5, so that our solutions can be responsive in design and services which are user driven.
With the speed of change within technology, how has this impacted in the skills and knowledge of your staff and their ability to deliver?
This is a resource planning task; you have to take care of your capacity building of your staff. But you cannot achieve everything inside, taking care of the data and the data sets, and the data classification still need to be managed. The application design can be done by outside, using the experience and the skills which are leaking within the organisation are possible to achieve with external sources.
AS demands on skills within IT increase, are you finding you need to engage more external resourcing?
I think it’s a mixture of those things, you don't always have the latest experience and capabilities internally, so we obtain that skill externally. You also increase within your HR plan of skill development for the foreseeable future for maintenance and the next level of development that will be done internally.
As a CIO where does your position sit within the executive structure?
I am fortunate within my position I report directly to the director of the parliament. I can see how this would present a challenge as in many organisations that is not the case. For me to deliver on the outcomes needed reporting directly enable a better alignment and understanding both ways. One in what I bring to the table and two I get the full story of what is required.
In coping with the current crisis, the need for accurate and actionable information is paramount for an effective response – but there has never before been a scenario like the current COVID-19 pandemic. In case of a critical event, whether it is an active shooter, natural disaster or pandemic, access to information is vital.
One crucial lesson that emergency responders have learned from simulations is that information is often too fragmented to provide actionable intelligence: the larger the incident, the more complicated it is to collect and assess information and coordinate a response.
There are, however, many tools available to tame this complexity for more rapid and effective response and to minimise impact on responders. These generally address four stages of response management.
In the first, they gather data from various sources to help assess the context and severity of a critical event, calling upon analytical tools to digest and correlate data to help response teams understand what is happening now and what could or will happen later. A second stage locates assets, employees or vital equipment. In a third stage, these systems offer emergency responders and organisations the tools to act by informing people of actions to take, mass-scale notifications for people in affected areas and tools for collaboration between response teams. The final stage enables responders and others concerned to review and evaluate the critical event so that future response can be improved.
Incident response management platforms are often homegrown among responsible agencies and organisations, but technology providers exist to support efforts. Some of these technologies consolidate functionality for all four stages into a single system. Everbridge, for example, began with a focus on multi-modal text messaging after the tragic events of 9/11 and expanded into a platform used in 2012 to notify 10 million people after Hurricane Sandy, and in 2013 by the city of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings.
As reported, Increasingly these platforms are embracing IoT systems and devices, given the expanded capability among a wide variety of endpoints that responders can use to connect directly with critical information, guidance and communication with those affected by an emergency. In particular, IoT can play an essential part in the information-gathering process. In a 2019 study, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) examined the possibilities of the use of IoT in emergency situations and identified a number of use cases such as emergency calling, mission-critical communications for situational awareness or to protect responder personnel, essential logistics support public warning systems and automated emergency response.
In smart buildings and smart cities, sensors can provide details about temperature, toxic gases and other hazardous conditions. Smart streetlights can analyse traffic congestion and plan evacuation routes through AI analytics. Body cameras can relay live intelligence from public safety workers to the Incident Command Center (ICS), while crisis teams can use IoT wearables to warn and guide civilians.
Artificial intelligence technology is used in several ways to diagnose, respond to or predict coronavirus spread. The radiology department of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China, has modified its AI-driven software to detect cancer in CT lung scans to detect COVID-19-related signs of pneumonia. This is to aid the overworked medics in triage, while in the United States, the Boston Children’s Hospital has created an AI-driven coronavirus map.
The Chinese search engine Baidu has made its Linearfold algorithm available to researchers and medical teams to fight the outbreak to assist in the analysis of the virus, while across the world researchers are turning to AI technology to predict its spread.
Even when everybody understands that it is vital to track data on people’s condition and location during the current times, but it has a definite privacy impact.
The privacy issues are relevant to technology providers, which also see a growing trend among companies that want to know which employee is in which location. In the case of the COVID-19 outbreak, employers may want to see which employee has been in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for the virus.
However, technology’s role in containing and mitigating the virus in the absence of a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool cannot be undermined. It lets governments respond and recover from the global pandemic which would have been a more herculean task than it already is.
Technology providers who are seeking to improve response, stewardship of sensitive data and transparency of processes moving forward must understand that establishing trust and confidence amongst people is of paramount importance.
The latest solution by a firm within the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
The platform, called DragOnce, allows both IT and non-IT users to digitise their processes, including workflows, without coding, and it supports both web or mobile apps. In addition, the company provides implementation services which can help the Government to digitise the processes in a rapidly using the DragOnce platform.
The platform allows users of different roles to streamline the business approval process, control records access permission control, set scheduling jobs, notifications, reminders, upload or download files, pre-defined tailor-made reports or charts, etc. It supports better controlling for Government staff to manage internal processes at scale. The deployment supports both cloud or on-premises use. The solution’s existing clients consist of several governmental agencies including OGCIO, HKPC, Cyberport, HK Electric, HKUST and more.
The solution was developed to applied in the areas of Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution uses the latest in Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies and no-coding platform/HPaPaaS.
Public Sector Use Case 1:
The firm helped digitise over 100 forms in 3 months instead of one year by coding. The e-forms and processes are maintained by the organisation’s staff. After being deployed with the DragOnce platform, the IT team can easily digitise all paper forms with an agile methodology and consolidates all forms in a unified platform. A unified platform allows organisations to centralise all forms into one single data source, lowering the data integrity problem caused by the manual error.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of a single org chart structure for every enterprise, the DragOnce platform is designed to handle any structure of org chart and allows administrators to set permission controls on each level of user. With the permission controls, organisations can easily control the data accessibility on all end-users and ensure data security. This costs between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.
Public Sector Use Case 2
The firm in need approached the tech company seeking an internal procurement system that could emancipate them from the manual purchasing process (excel spreadsheets, email, phone calls, sign-on print-out papers, etc). The system needed to be able to handle vendor management, quotation requests, purchase requests, purchase orders, approval processing, delivery schedule checks, purchase invoice checking and inventory management.
The platform developed by the tech firm met these requirements and allows for multiple-level approval, permission controls on end-users and dynamic workflows. After implementation, the system speeds up processes three times and allows users to easily monitor the status of procurement processes and vendor management. The cost is between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.
Private Sector Use Case 3: Electric Utility Company
This electric utility company requires massive amounts of workflow data to be handled daily business processes. Thanks to the effort of the firm’s IT Team, the workflow request from the employees can be managed, but still, there are plenty of IT application requests from various Business Units and it is time-consuming to get through the traditional Software Development Life Cycle to deploy one application.
The company needs a solution to lower the workload for the IT team. DragOnce offers end-user computing solutions to them. This company needs a no-code platform to tackle the problem of numerous workflow requests on IT.
With a no-code platform, all employees can build their internal mobile applications easily without spending lots of developing time and no programming language is required.
End-user computing empowers the companys’ employees. When everyone, even non-IT employees, can build their application with few clicks, the IT team can finally focus more on critical projects. This not only results in higher productivity of the IT team but also encourages innovation in the company. All employees can now make use of their innovative ideas to build their own systems based on their understanding of the business flow. Thanks to end-user computing, the system created is 100% suitable for the end-users. The cost is between HK$500,00 to HK$1.3 million.
While the global pandemic has not completely vanished, economies around the word are gradually opening and getting their employees to get back into the physical office.
With the risk of the virus still looming large, ensuring the safety of employees is mission critical for organisations – especially in certain industries where remote working is not a viable option.
In order to better understand the process of critical event management, OpenGov Asia spoke with Graeme Osborn, Vice-President, International Critical Event Management for Everbridge.
The discussion revolved around how different industries and organisations are formulating their return to office plans.
Graeme shared that it is a challenging time for all organisations and they are all following different approaches to deal with the current critical event.
While some do not anticipate having their employees back before the end of the year, others are coming up with new ways of tracking and ensuring the safety of their staff.
One industry that is particularly struggling is the construction industry, as unlike the office space the construction sites are not technologically enabled.
Traditional ways of doing everyday activities have to be altered in a manner that keeps physical contact between the workers to a minimum.
The office ecosystem is facing a different kind of challenge as employees are more resistant to being traced. With that in mind, employers are exploring new ways to ensure safety at work without constantly keeping an eye on their staff.
One of the ways of doing this is contact tracking. Graeme emphasized that contact tracking is very different from contact tracing.
In the former process, leverage points of information are used to understand the potential impact of the virus. Other ways include heat detection, daily health surveys, self-health certification etc.
He expounded further on the process approach involved in contact tracking. Once the application is installed by the employee, the app keeps track of whoever they encounter within a 2-meter radius. If at any point someone reports an infection, everyone they contacted and others in the organisation are informed of it through the application.
In case of a self-report, the app not only alerts the employees and the control team, it also helps contain the exposure quickly by scanning the exposure area within the organisation.
Critical events or disasters are never over; there is one after another and multiple critical events can hit us at the same time. Many parts of the world are dealing with floods, typhoons, bushfires alongside COVID 19.
Graeme highlighted in order to effectively manage multiple critical events, two aspects are very important: 1) Planning (having all the information and resources readily available) 2) Testing out the systems and processes that have been planned.
It is also important to understand that when an organisation is hit with a natural disaster or any other critical event, business continuity, life safety of employees, cybersecurity and operations are threatened.
Therefore, an organisation’s critical event management approach should unify all these business components rather than them operating in silos.
As the executive leader of an organisation, the CEO is ultimately the person responsible to lead its critical event management initiatives.
In the times of crisis and immense pressure, s/he is the one who will take the decision for the whole organisation. As such, it is very important for the CEO to be ahead of the critical event management approach.
Contrarily, when one looks at governments and public sector, it is very difficult to pinpoint any one agency or organisation to be responsible for handling critical events management as with pandemics and disasters multiple public utilities are impacted (health, transportation, food supplies, education, communication etc).
Of course, there is a collective responsibility of all the different agencies focusing of these aspects individually; and they must be directed by the leader of the country to ensure the safety of all citizens.
He concluded by emphasising that irrespective of the type of organisation it is imperative to have an integrated approach and clear leadership to effectively tackle critical events.
OpenGov Asia had earlier shared an interview with Graeme Orsborn on the value of Critical Event Management for any organisation as well as the basics steps to take in order to put in place a successful critical event management plan and how that applies in the global COVID-19 crisis today.
A real estate investment trust that invests in carrier-neutral data centres and provides colocation and peering services is building a new data centre in Hong Kong, its second in the administrative region.
HKG11 will be a 21,000 square metres (210,000 square feet) building and hold up to a 24MW of IT capacity. It is expected to be online in mid-2021, around the same time as Digital Realty’s upcoming Seoul facility in South Korea.
In 2012, Digital Realty acquired its first Hong Kong data centre on the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate, HKG10, capable of up to 18MW of IT capacity.
Its planned sister facility, HKG11, is located at the nearby but separate Kwai Chung district in Hong Kong and will operate as an auxiliary to HKG10.
The Chief Executive Officer of the firm stated that its investment in Hong Kong is another important milestone on its global platform road map, enabling customers’ digital transformation strategies while demonstrating its commitment to supporting their future growth on PlatformDIGITAL.
As the firm continues to expand in Asia, the launch of the second facility in Hong Kong underscores its importance as a major data hub, providing customers with the coverage, capacity, and connectivity requirements to support their digital ambitions.
The HKG11 facility will be built up to a total of 12 floors, eight of which will be dedicated to customer deployments.
The firm’s MD for the Asia Pacific region noted that Hong Kong is a regional leader in cloud readiness and has significant potential for further cloud adoption along with a strong base of customers with an appetite for digital technologies.
He stated. “We are delighted to launch our new facility, which will go a long way towards meeting the rapidly growing demand and bringing value to customers across the region, especially from China.”
Aside from Hong Kong, Digital Realty is also establishing facilities in Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Hong Kong – a data centre hub
In February 2020, OpenGov Asia reported that a major telecommunications company, currently operating one of the largest globally connected IPv4+IPv6 networks in the world, completed a round of upgrades and improvements to their Hong Kong data centre.
The aim is to boost network performance for end-users throughout China and across the APAC region.
The addition of new local and international connectivity partners has improved network performance and reliability for businesses seeking to reach one of Asia’s busiest centres or international finance, trade, and enterprise.
The data centre market in the Asia Pacific has been forecasted to reach US$32 billion by 2023, behind only North America in terms of regional revenue.
According to the findings of a data analytics and consulting company, the surge in spending during the next four years will stem from enterprise customers “increasingly migrating” existing resources to data centres to “reap benefits from data”.
By 2023, Asia Pacific will account for nearly 30 per cent of the global data centre market, behind North America with 34.2 per cent but ahead of Western Europe on 24 per cent.
The lead analyst on the report stated that the data centre and hosting market growth in the Asia Pacific will be driven by growing demand for cloud services and digitisation from both enterprises as well as the investors.
Investment will continue in new data centre projects by existing and new entrants with a view to expand their presence in the region and serve additional customers.
In addition, with the commercial availability of 5G services in the next 1-2 years, data consumption is expected to grow multiple-folds.
This will result in constant connectivity requirements as well as data centre supported features, for supporting the critical business applications and activities of the enterprises.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a sobering wake-up call to swiftly abolish corporate inertia plaguing critical event management.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus two primary goals – how to keep employees safe with minimal businesses disruption.
This was particularly telling in a recent high-level meeting with around 30 senior executives from major brands from Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Only 7 per cent said they had a scalable solution to deal with the next critical event – bushfires, tsunami, terrorism, earthquake, flood or another economic or life-threatening situation – in a post-COVID world.
Yet, 89 per cent said critical event management was important to their business outcomes.
Most were in the dark and had no idea where to begin but all understood the dire consequences of doing nothing.
The current pandemic is an opportune time to ask if your organisation can quickly identify threats and assess the risk environment, then easily identify and locate the impacted people, assets, operational functions which could potentially be impacted.
It may be 2020 but many organisations still rely on a manual call tree to disseminate accurate information to ensure staff safety. This may be acceptable in small organisations but even they struggle to keep the basics, such as mobile phone numbers, up to date.
The process of managing a critical event is often very manual, even disjointed (some large organisations still have employee details spread across multiple Excel sheets and even in binders).
It’s often siloed using multiple applications, and it takes a significantly long time to work through. Why?
An organisation needs to know what’s happening and why it’s happening – what is the threat and the nature of the threat. What’s the potential impact? Is it related to physical security, inclement weather, or is it digital disruption due to a cyberattack or ransomware?
Is that an IT outage or application latency?
Is it a localised or national disaster?
How many different sources of data are being used to monitor threats? How effective are they and is any of it automated or filtered, and tailored to your specific business?
And can the sources of information be trusted?
Based on all that organisations need to understand and locate what and/or who’s impacted – their people, assets, and operational functions.
This is especially challenging if some staff members are on the move or the risk event is changing – as we’re faced with in the current pandemic.
Trying to correlate the two may involve accessing multiple systems and having multiple applications running at the same time.
How many different systems do you currently have that stores information about your people or assets?
And is this information integrated with your threat data to determine who or what might be impacted.
Before employees can safely to return to the office, organisations must have the capability to effectively respond to another wave or if a worker tests positive.
Critical event management systems can’t be a one-way street as staff need the ability to confirm, acknowledge or respond to alerts, information, safety check-ins, and questions or polls – no matter where they are or what device they use.
It’s time organisations stop outsourcing employee safety and well being to spreadsheets or pieces of paper. Drowning in data during a pandemic without a single source of truth will surely sound the death knell for any business.
Governments are exceptional institutions that did not slow down during the pandemic. Although not all of their services were essential during the crisis, some were in high demand by default.
All over the world, governments are packed with great volumes of data that is hard to make sense of in their current setting. Primarily because it is unstructured but also because much is on legacy systems that are not accessible or compatible to modern infrastructure.
Merely hoarding data is not useful nor valuable. Data needs to be organised, analysed and should make sense if crucial decisions are based on it.
In light of this, OpenGov Asia held another Virtual Breakfast Insight: High-performance Digital Government – Intelligent Cloud Data Management Strategies on 25 June 2020.
The high-level session had a cross section of chief information officers and IT heads from various government and public sector organisations in Singapore, Malaysia and India. All joined in to discuss Simple, Scalable and Seamless Cloud Data Management for a high-performance digital government.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor- in-chief at OpenGov Asia opened the session with thought-provoking insights into Cloud Data Management.
Mohit explained that data management is a process that might look like a herculean task especially in such a busy time for the government. Breaking it down in smaller bits makes it easier to implement and practice.
He advised the delegates to set manageable goals for future and focus on those rather than trying fix the mountains of unstructured data from the past.
And this is where cloud becomes relevant. It offers a simple, seamless, and scalable solution to data storage problems.
Organisations no longer have to worry about the location of valuable data in physical data centres. Cloud enables accessing data from multiple points remotely.
However, enabling remote access to data from multiple points has not been the natural structure of government organisations. It was necessitated by the pandemic.
Mohit also cautioned the audience that security of data in cloud is very important otherwise the data is prone to breaches and misuse.
He concluded by saying that government institutions should be open to adopting new technology as it will help them become more efficient and effective in serving public.
Raymond Goh, Director of Systems Engineering, Veeam shared his view that all organisations, be it public or private, are gradually getting more inclined towards a customer/citizen centric approach in their operations. Their data management strategies are also in line with that.
Keeping data classified is highly important for the organisations otherwise it can create impediments in growth and make data complex. It can also make compliance and security hard to achieve.
Apart from making operations difficult, unmanaged data can incur unnecessary costs for the organisations and loss of customer confidence.
Raymond shared key points in the process of cloud data management from ensuring backup and recovery to the last important bit about compliance with regulations.
He then moved to articulate state the three critical aspects for organisations to focus on in their cloud data management journey:
- Digital transformation and cloud data management to go hand in hand
- Have parameters in place to measure the success rate of managing data
- The 4 C’s to enable effective data management: Cloud, Capabilities, Culture, and Confidence
Having understood the importance of Data Management in cloud, Chris Buxton, Chief Digital Officer at Stats New Zealand threw light on how management of data over the cloud can be more effective than the traditional approach to storing data.
He shared some useful insights from his experience of rapidly transitioning to a cloud-based environment.
Chris believes that managing data on cloud is not very different from the traditional way of managing data.
Additionally, it opens a new range of capability and connectedness that is not available in the old way.
In this age of technology, data is are no longer being generated manually; technology is being leveraged to collect and harvest the data from the web. This, in turn, makes collaboration and storage easier.
Conversely at the same time, huge amounts of data are being ingested – making it crucial to ensure that all the data and content all secure. As such, data security becomes an integral part of Cloud data management.
Chris re-emphasised five key areas that were highlighted by Raymond earlier: security, compliance, cost management, automation, performance and monitoring.
Chris concluded by sharing the various steps to be undertaken as organisations begin their journey towards cloud data management.
He completed the circle beginning from having a plan to governing your data.
After Chris’s presentation the session went into a more interactive phase with polling questions for the attendees.
On the first question on how long an IT outage lasts in their organisations, delegates were divided between less than 15 mins (36%) and 16 – 60 mins (26%).
An IT executive from Malaysia shared that she voted for 1- 4 hours as the average time. She opined that the duration varies and is dependent on how critical the application in question is.
Her opinion was totally in line with the findings that Raymond shared from the recent survey conducted by Veeam. On average, in most organisations, IT outage does not last more than 2 hours.
Moving forward, the next question was about the primary reasons for IT outages in an organisation. On this majority of the audience voted for Infrastructure and networking (60%).
A senior executive from insurance sector shared that they faced several IT outages when their organisation moved to a remote working model. With a staff of 3000 employees, working remotely put a lot of pressure on their networks and infrastructure.
Raymond concurred with him as the Veaam survey also showed infrastructure failure as the major reason for outages besides cybersecurity threats and application software failures.
On the final question about why digital transformation is important for an organisation, the participants, for the most part, leaned towards transforming business operations and processes (50%) and transforming customer services (35%).
A delegate from India shared that transforming business processes is definitely the primary driving force behind digital transformation. However, it is still important to be mindful of the limitations of budgets.
The survey reflected similar trends with transforming customer services to be the top motivation for digital transformation followed by transforming business processes.
The interactive Q&A session offered a plethora of reflections and insights from delegates. This rich dialogue was extremely beneficial. It allowed the participants to understand cloud data management from diverse perspectives that were set in a range of contexts and settings.
Raymond concluded the session by urging organisations to take the next step in their digital transformation journey and urged them to work towards the four C’s he mentioned in his presentation.
Delegates of OpenGov Asia’s Virtual Breakfast Insight gained key insights from the digital experts who presented. They were left better informed by the diverse perspectives of each other on digital transformation and using cloud technologies to manage their data.
This is an Expert Opinion by Kok Ping Soon, Chief Executive of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore)
As our healthcare frontline workers mounted a medical response when COVID-19 hit our shores in January, the Singapore Government was concurrently launching a technological response – far broader and deeper that what we did for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003.
Compared to SARS in 2003, when communication channels were largely driven by broadcast news and radio, we now have digital platforms to push out information quickly; channels such as the Gov.Sg Whatsapp channel and the COVID-19 Chatbot have provided the public with timely daily updates on the pandemic.
We also launched digital platforms for citizens to get personalised and granular information – ranging from where they can collect their masks (MaskGoWhere website), to what financial support they can get (SupportGoWhere website) to the crowd level at places of interest (SpaceOut portal).
Safe distancing enforcement at public parks is now supplemented with robotics and drones for greater effectiveness and safety. The largely manual contact tracing regime used during SARS is now augmented with digital tools such as TraceTogether and SafeEntry to improve the accuracy and speed of identifying close contacts.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of investing in digital capabilities. Over the past few years since the launch of the Smart Nation initiative in 2014, we have established a nationwide fibre infrastructure, nurtured a vibrant tech ecosystem, and also invested in building technology expertise and tools within Government agencies. These investments have started to bear fruit, and have allowed Government agencies to react to and manage the pandemic more effectively.
The new possible: Singapore’s digital landscape
During this COVID-19 period, our businesses and citizens are taking to digital tools at an unprecedented pace. Companies – that did not imagine remote work was possible – are now operating with majority of their workers tele-commuting. Our workforce, and even our seniors, are now experts at conducting meetings via Zoom, WebEx and Skype. Use of SafeEntry is a now a staple for everyone, with over two million users checking in/out on a daily basis; more than 1.1 million people are now receiving their latest COVID-19 updates via the Gov.Sg Whatsapp channel. A McKinsey study found that consumer and business digital adoption has vaulted five years forward in a matter of eight weeks.
With the gradual re-opening of Singapore’s economy into a post-COVID-19 world, we will accelerate investments to empower citizens and businesses with more digitally-enabled possibilities.
As the implementing agency for the Digital Government Blueprint, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) will increase the pace of digitalisation in government by Humanising our frontend services, Engaging our community, and Modernising Government infrastructure to “H.E.M.” in the digitalisation gains from COVID- 19 to create a more digitally empowered nation.
“HEM-ming” in the new possibilities
Firstly, we aim to humanise our frontend services to create a more unified and pleasant experience when citizens transact with the Government.
We have made good progress in making our government digital services more user-centric. Citizens and Businesses’ satisfaction with government digital services has improved by eight percentage points in 2019 to reach 86 per cent and 77 per cent respectively – an all-time high since 2012.
This year, we will be making an even bigger push in humanising our services as more service-journey projects transit from design and development to minimum viable products (MVPs).
Over $118 million of projected ICT contracts in this FY is earmarked to develop better citizen and business facing applications. The current “Moments of Life” app will undergo a product refresh to evolve into a go-to app for all things related to the government in a citizen’s life in Singapore, such as birth, graduation, and marriage.
For businesses, the GoBusiness portal will evolve into a key platform for business-related transactions with the Government – to help companies start a business, grow a business, and to apply for a licence. With information conveniently available from your phones and laptops, we aspire to let citizens continue to transact and run errands as per usual, while reducing the frequency of in-person appointments.
Citizen-centric digital services will also become more pervasive. Beyond using SingPass to log in to government services and now for SafeEntry check-in, users can look forward to more value-added services such as using SingPass Mobile for digital signing of documents, and biometric login.
Second, we will engage the community in partnership to co-create and drive adoption in the usage of digital solutions. COVID-19 has shown us that no one has the monopoly on wisdom to deal with a national crisis; we are only as strong as our ability to work together.
In May, we conducted a COVID-19 Idea Sprint, which attracted over 300 participants who suggested more than 70 proposals – with ideas ranging from designing wearables for contact tracing to developing personal risk scores based on proximity data.
To fortify our engagement with the tech community, we have soft-launched a new Singapore Government Developer Portal. This is a centralised resource to help industry and developers learn more about our tech products. Developers, suppliers and industry partners will be able to find key information on product features, use cases and technical specifications to co-create solutions with us.
Finally, we will continue to modernise Government infrastructure. We will speed up the migration of government ICT systems onto the Government Commercial Cloud. More applications will be re-platformed and re-factored to leverage cloud native services to increase their agility and scalability. We will also invest aggressively in data analytics, artificial intelligence and sensor projects to enable data-driven decision making in improving services and operational effectiveness.
We will also spend $300 million to design, implement and operate a new software-defined Government Wide Area Network to support increased computing needs, and another $300 million to strengthen the Government’s cybersecurity posture with automated system reviews, cybersecurity monitoring and digital forensics capabilities.
Engineering Digital Government, Making Lives Better
To support these plans, we will deepen our engineering capabilities within GovTech. We are hiring over 400 engineers in software development, cybersecurity, data analytics and infrastructure to augment our current engineering workforce of 2,200.
As I often share with my colleagues, GovTech’s purpose in “Engineering Digital Government” so as to “Make Lives Better” has never been stronger. We will strive to push Singapore to be at the forefront of digital technology, and as one people, weather this storm together.