Singapore government reaffirms $1.7B commitment to smart nation, digital transformation

First announced earlier this year as part of the country's 2017 budget, Singapore's IT office says it will put out S$2.4 billion in ICT tenders encompassing data analytics and Internet of Things sensors.

The Singapore government has reaffirmed plans to dish out S$2.4 billion (US$1.73 billion) to drive the country's smart nation efforts and digital transformation.

The funds would go towards ICT tenders in its fiscal 2017, which would encompass investments in various technology areas including data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, as well as enhancements to the necessary communications infrastructures.

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During his budget speech in February, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the government would invest S$2.4 billion over four years to execute a nationwide plan to future-proof the economy and help local enterprises "go digital". "Technology is reshaping businesses, jobs, and lifestyles across the world. We must spot the opportunities in the digital economy, and make the most of our strengths as a nimble, well-educated, tech-savvy society," Heng said, while stressing the need to support small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

Local SMBs had accounted for nearly two-thirds of ICT contracts awarded last year, according to Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech). The statutory board added that companies certified through the Accreditation@IMDA programme, secured more than 90 projects involving various government agencies and currently were in discussions for more projects.

Formed in October 2016 as part of a restructuring, GovTech was responsible for implementing ICT services for the public sector. It currently operated under the purview of the Prime Minister's Office, following another restructuring announced in March that saw the establishment of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

The group, which comprised GovTech and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), had been tasked to spearhead development of the smart nation infrastructure and applications as well as digital transformation efforts in the public sector. Such initiatives would include plans for a national digital identity and to drive cashless payments.

"In addition, while the government has put in place a range of measures that minimises the likelihood of government systems being infected by malware, it will continue to invest in cybersecurity to ensure that government agencies are equipped with best cybersecurity practices and next-generation technologies including advanced threat analytics and automation," GovTech said.

It also would look to collaborate to drive the development of robotics. Temasek Polytechnic, for example, was on the lookout for an industry partner to build an inventory robot that tapped RFID technology to navigate within the school's library and scan its print collection.

"We will continue to work with the industry and provide them with the foundational support to build Singapore as a smart nation," said GovTech's chief executive Jacqueline Poh, at the annual smart nation and digital government industry briefing Wednesday. "Companies also will need to boost their ICT and engineering capabilities in order to keep up with the fast-changing technological landscape."

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