Singapore government hires first chief data scientist

Singapore ICT regulator reiterates its pledge to develop local capabilities in data analytics and announces the appointment of the country's first chief data scientist.

SINGAPORE--The government has reiterated its pledge to develop local capabilities in data analytics and announced the appointment of the country's first chief data scientist.  

Prabir Sen, IDA
IDA appoints its first chief data scientist, Prabir Sen.

According to executive deputy chairman of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Steve Leonard, the "intelligent analysis of data" can provide the necessary knowledge to address crucial issues such as healthcare

"Unlike some other resources, data does not deplete as you use it... Data becomes more valuable the more you share it and use it," Leonard said, during his opening speech at the first Emtech conference here Tuesday, organized by MIT Technology Review. "Data and analytics underpin our development toward being an increasingly smart nation...using data and analytics to improve the lives of citizens." 

IDA last year had unveiled various initiatives to increase its footprint as a global data and analytics hub , including jointly setting up a big data and analytics center with storage vendor EMC, to build local skillsets and train data scientists. The Singapore ICT regulator also signed a memorandum of intent with Palo Alto Networks to establish the Pan Innovation Centre and grow the pool of local information security professionals, needed to support a data analytics hub. 

It also created a portal to provide over 8,700 government datasets, publicly-available from over 60 government agencies including Land Transport Authority and Ministry of Manpower, more easily accessible for businesses and individuals to tap and create applications or to facilitate research. 

Citing industry research, IDA said data and analytics could generate an additional S$10 billion to S$17 billion (US$7.84 billion to US$13.32 billion) per year for the Singapore economy. 

The ICT regulator on Tuesday also announced the appointment of its first chief data scientist, Prabir Sen, who also leads the agency's new data sciences group tasked to build capabilities to IDA's data-driven initiatives. He is responsible for developing skills and assets in data sciences and advanced analytics across government agencies and industries.

Before joining IDA, Prabir was chief management scientist at Accenture in Singapore, and had spent 16 years in the U.S. spearheading various initiatives on data sciences and data-driven business strategies, before moving to Asia in 2011. His expertise includes game theoretic market design, behavioral economics, and machine learning. He has a Masters in Economics, M.Tech-Fellowship in Operations Research and Computer Engineering, and a Masters in Business Administration.