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Singapore taps into technology trends

Anushkar Mohinani | June 27, 2011
Poised to be at the forefront of technology and trends, the government embraces mobile tech and social media in new five-year plan.

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Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister, coordinating minister for national security and minister for home affairs

SINGAPORE, 27 June 2011 – Keen to stand at the forefront of the new technology frontier, the Singapore government has launched its five-year plan to capitalise on the social media and mobile technology trend. 

Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister, coordinating minister for national security and minister for home affairs, announced last week (Monday, 20 June) that the government intends to tap on opportunities in the current ICT environment for its new e-Government masterplan, which runs until 2015.

Speaking at the eGov Global Exchange here, Teo noted that government agencies need to “ride the waves of change and continuously adapt to new trends”.

Dubbed eGov2015, the masterplan includes last week’s launch of a mobile government site. mGov@SG aggregates different types of government mobile services and is compatible on iPhone and Andriod phones. The portal houses more than 40 mobile websites and applications including mobile browser-based, native application-based and SMS-based services developed by government agencies in Singapore.

According to the minister, one of the outcomes the government hopes to achieve through the masterplan is catalysing the development of new e-government services and delivery channels through leveraging on emerging technologies. 
 “One emerging technology growing rapidly is mobile services. Smartphones make up 72 per cent of all mobile phones in Singapore, and this number continues to increase,” said Teo.

“The private sector is already capitalising on this trend, and many companies are actively pushing out services via mobile (applications) and websites,” he added. Teo pointed out that government agencies can now do the same with the new portal. He said the portal is intended to make it easier for citizens and businesses to find and use mobile applications and websites of government ministries and agencies.

But beyond the channel of delivery, the concept of delivery is also shifting and governments need to develop collaborative platforms that tap on the pool of innovative individuals to come up with good solutions, Teo said.

That is why the government also launched a new data-sharing website called data.gov.sg. The site brings together more than 5000 datasets from over 50 government agencies.

He added that there are examples of collaborative platforms within the public sector already, but the new portal is a step further in facilitating co-creation through data-sharing. Students, start-ups and public agencies can create their own applications and showcase them on the site, as well as look for other applications developed using government data.

Upcoming initiative

Besides the adoption of a mobile channel and services, Teo said the government’s social media efforts will continue to gain traction.  

Teo noted that more than half of all Singaporeans have an online presence on Facebook.

With the widespread use of the Internet and social media, the government is beginning to see a strong wave of citizen-initiated information and ideas, Teo said. Governments therefore need to be more connected, he added.

The government has plans to upgrade it REACH (reaching everyone for active citizenry@ home) portal, which has already been tapping on new media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter to engage the public.

“Today, the Singapore government uses REACH and other social media channels set up by agencies to engage people for feedback, comments and suggestions on public policies,” said Teo.

Citing an example Teo said: “the Ministry of Health has a strong following on Facebook, and uses this channel to increase the reach of its press releases on food poisoning outbreaks, educate the public on good health practices and seek public views on new healthcare schemes and infrastructure projects.”

Moving forward, mobile and social applications will be introduced on the portal, said Teo. These apps will allow citizens to share their views and suggestions on issues with the government via their mobile phones and the social media accounts.

 

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