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Singapore’s new government unit will speed up Smart Nation initiatives

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 20, 2017
Starting 1 May 2017, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will consist of employees from the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Smart Nation Programme Office.

Singapore central business district and merlion
Credit: GraphicStock

Singapore will be establishing a Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to accelerate Smart Nation projects.

With effect from 1 May 2017, the SNDGG will comprise the newly formed Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

SNDGO will be staffed by personnel from the Digital Government Directorate of the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Government Technology Policy department in the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), and the Smart Nation Programme Office (SNPO) in the PMO.

Meanwhile, GovTech — the statutory board that is responsible for digitally transforming the public sector — will be placed under PMO as the implementing agency of SNDGO. It is currently under MCI.

The SNDGG will focus on three areas that are key to realising Singapore's Smart Nation vision.

Firstly, it will partner other government agencies, industry and public to explore the use of digital and smart technologies to improve citizen' lives in key domains.

For instance, it will be working the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to further exploit existing and emerging technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and reduce congestion so as to enhance the commuter experience. This furthers LTA's existing efforts such as its use of location-based analytics to improve bus fleets and timeliness.

Secondly, the SNDGG will continue GovTech's ongoing work to develop digital enablers and platforms to grow economic value and catalyse innovation.

It will partner the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to promote e-payments, and drive the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions. Besides that, it will enhance the Smart Nation Platform — a national sensor communication backbone — to support government agencies' use of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Thirdly, the SNDGG will focus on building up digital capabilities within the government in areas such as data science and IoT. This will help strengthen government ICT infrastructure and improve public service delivery, according to PMO. 

The SNDGG will be led by Ng Chee Khern, who is currently the Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). He will also retain his current position as the Chairman of the GovTech Board.

A Ministerial Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean will oversee the SNDGG.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information will be Deputy Chairman and Minister-in-charge of Cybersecurity and the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).

The other members of the Ministerial Committee are Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative; Minister Ong Ye Kung, who has been appointed to champion Public Service innovation; and Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary, who will be the Minister-in-charge of GovTech and who will also coordinate GovTech's strategy with IMDA's industry development efforts.


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