Singapore taps data, convergence for future growth

Communications Minister announces new initiatives in data analytics, multi-nation agreement on digital radio frequencies in the 700MHz band, and plans for the country's converged media masterplan.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--The government has unveiled new initiatives around data analytics and set up a committee to work on the country's next ICT roadmap. 

A new agreement between Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia also has been established to "harmonize" the use of digital dividend radio frequencies in the 700MHz band, enabling the Asian countries to improve mobile roaming and meet demand for mobile broadband. 

Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said the 700MHz band radio frequencies, expected to be available by 2020 when the broadcasting industry moves from analog to digital, will boost connection across the Asia-Pacific region.

The minister was speaking here Tuesday at the opening of CommunicAsia 2013, which runs in conjunction with BoradcastAsia and EnterpriseIT. Held at the Marina Bay Sands from June 18 to 21, the annual tradeshow this year spans over 57,600 square meters in exhibition space and features more than 2,000 exhibitors, of which 82 percent are from overseas.

Nothing how ICT is increasingly a key enabler in addressing business challenges, Yaacob also announced a new grant had been awarded to myHealth Sentinel to deploy telemedicine, specifically, the remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases via wireless devices. This will allow doctors to track the patients' conditions without requiring the latter to travel to clinics for checks, the minister said. 

He also pointed to the importance of data in boosting business competitiveness and improving operational  efficiencies. "Businesses across industries, from retail, wholesale, healthcare to manufacturing, will be able to make informed decisions that are data-driven, and obtain greater productivity and profit," he noted.

To facilitate this, Yaacob added that Singapore must strengthen its footprint as a global data and analytics hub, and look at providing the relevant skills and manpower. 

Singapore is aiming to strengthen its foothold as an analytics hub.

On this, he highlighted the big data and analytics center jointly set up by storage vendor EMC and local ICT regulator, Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). Operational from July 1, the new facility will address manpower gaps and hire data scientists to build Singapore's capabilities in this space, Yaacob explained. 

"IDA is also collaborating with the infocomm industry to train professionals to adapt to the everchanging infocomm landscape. A memorandum of intent between IDA and Palo Alto Networks will establish the Pan Innovation Centre and expand the pool of local information security professionals," he added. "Such efforts will place Singapore in good stead to become a data analytics hub." 

A new Data Innovation Challenge will be launched on June 26 with three global companies from healthcare, manufacturing and advertising, to gather data scientists and research institutes keen on crowdsourcing business ideas. 

Converged media roadmap

Yaacob also announced a new 14-member committee which will work with academia, and private and public sectors over the next two years to develop Singapore's next 10-year ICT roadmap into 2025. 

Led by Koh Boon Hwee, chairman of Credence Partners, the committee comprises executives such as Yap Chee Yuen who is head of innovation and technology at Resorts World Sentosa, and Eddie Chau, CEO of Brandtology and chairman of the Singapore IT Federation (SITF). 

The next national ICT roadmap will address and tap opportunities in the convergence of the media and infocomm sectors, Yaacob said. 

"Young children in schools are benefiting from interactive textbooks that integrate videos and animation with text to stimulate thinking," he noted. "The revolution brought about by YouTube and iTunes now means people expect instant, on-the-go access to entertainment and information, as we enjoy books, videos, music, and television programmes on our mobile devices."

This convergence will create opportunities for business growth, he said, adding that Singapore needs to look at the development of media and infocomm "in a holistic and integrated manner" to tap this market. 

Plans are also underway to introduce SIM-based authentication in the next phase of the country's free public Wi-Fi network, Wireless@SG. Scheduled to be rolled out by April next year, this form of authentication will simplify the login process for Wireless&SG users, Yaacob said. Inter-operator roaming for the public Wi-Fi service will also commence by end-June this year.

During his welcome adddress at CommunicAsia, SITF Chairman Eddie Chau announced the launch of a productivity and productization programme office, which includes an online portal that provide resources for local businesses to crowdsource, outsource, and access toolkits to improve productivity.  

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