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Singapore’s GCIO on his focus for 2016 and the role of the CIO in Singapore’s Smart Nation

Singapore is building the capacity of the Digital Government into a force to be reckoned with! With the recent news of the IDA and MDA restructuring leading to the creation of the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), the Smart Nation vision is starting to take form right in front of our eyes.

OpenGov reached out to Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Information Officer, Assistant Chief Executive (Government Chief Information Office), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, to get his take on the current ICT landscape in Singapore and how the role of the CIO has evolved over the years.

As the Government CIO, Cheow Hoe oversees Singapore Government’s central information technology systems and infrastructure, and drive the development and delivery of innovative public services for citizens and businesses.

Prior to his appointment, he has held senior appointments in international banks and consulting companies in areas of technology, operations, finance and business. Mr Chan graduated from NUS with a Bachelors in Accountancy and Wharton School with a MBA.

What is your current area of focus and your focus areas for the next 1-3 years?
As the Government Chief Information Officer, I oversee ICT initiatives to maintain the Singapore Government’s leadership position as an innovative user of infocomm technologies – to enhance public service delivery and connect citizens. One area we’ve recently been focusing on is government digital services.

For the coming years, this area will be key in our move towards a Smart Nation, particularly in the building up of the Smart Nation Platform, as well as digital and data services. That said, it is equally important for us to build internal capabilities and attract top-tier engineering talent, both Singaporean and foreign, for a stronger foundation.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this role?
I’ve had over 20 years of management experience in overseeing IT development and systems, as well as leading IT professionals to deliver efficient and effective IT systems and solutions.

The experience of leading complex organisations through transformational changes and connecting IT to the needs of the company has prepared me well for this role to transform ourselves into a top digital government.

What are your thoughts on the role of CIO, and how this has evolved in the era of smart cities?
The role of CIO has been an insightful and encouraging one as my team and I have able to be part of the drive to develop and deliver innovative public services for citizens and businesses.

As we move towards a Smart Nation, I think the role of a CIO has evolved from a government-centric to a citizen-centric one; one that moves from a process-driven to a data-driven and agile one.

What is a data-driven government? How is Singapore working to better embrace data?
A data-driven Government leverages measurement and analysis to better react and anticipate the needs of citizens.

In turn, being able to predict and resolve issues faster or even before they’ve begun. We are building our internal capabilities by developing a strong team of software engineers and data scientists.

How do you predict digital government in Singapore will continue to change?
Amongst other things, we are focused on building our internal capabilities and leveraging emerging technologies and methodologies to find new innovative ways of delivering solutions and services.

While there is obvious value in being citizen-focused, digital plans must go beyond changes on the front line. Digital in the back office can bring about considerable efficiencies.

ACE Chan Cheow Hoe will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2016, be sure to stay tuned for our coverage!

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