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Singapore's Prime Minister shares his Smart Nation vision with the world

Zafar Anjum | April 26, 2015
Not just a Smart City, but a Smart Nation, declares PM Lee Hsien Loong

"A third area is to become a safe and secure data market place," he added. "A place where companies can easily conduct testing, and extract insights on market research, on consumer trends.  A place where data can be shared in order to unlock value and innovation.  A place where the Government releases many data sets to the public to build applications and services.  We’ve been doing that.  People would like even more but if you compare us to other countries, I think we put out quite a lot of information.  We have an open data portal – data.gov.sg, but we don’t always release information in the best possible way. Our APIs are not as polished and as standardised as they should be – sometimes there is no APIs, it is a tab-delimited text file, and then you’ve got to write your own API to manipulate them.  But we are working at this."

Cyber security

"These are three verticals which we want to get right for Singapore – elderly, transportation, data, but there is one horizontal which is critical to any Smart Nation, and that is cyber security," he said. "With more connectivity, with more systems going online and enabled by technology, we have to take cyber security very very seriously.  The threats are real.  IT systems in Singa­pore are constantly probed, regularly attacked, and unfortunately, from time to time compromised and penetrated, just like IT systems anywhere else.  So we have to ensure that our defences are up to scratch and that plug any holes that we discover as soon as possible.  That is why we set up a Cyber Security Agency recently to oversee all the national cyber security functions and make sure the interconnectivity between different sectors like water, healthcare, transportation and their vulnerabilities of this interconnect are covered – Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim is in charge of a very difficult job."

Entrepreneurial culture and talent

"To make the Smart Nation succeed, we need an entrepreneurial culture," Prime Minister Loong said. "You can import the latest technology, you can implement business-friendly schemes, but ultimately, you need a culture, that spunk, daring to dream, daring to fail, daring to take on big challenges.  Many countries have tried to nurture this culture, only a few have succeeded. America is one of them, Israel is another, perhaps there will be one or two somewhere in Asia.  But the places which have succeeded in doing this –  even in America, it is not everywhere but a few places – it starts a virtuous cycle – talent attracts more talent, more ideas and start-ups are established, the excitement builds on itself and you get more breakthroughs.  We are beginning to see such an entrepreneurial culture in Singapore."

 

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