Singapore is a leader when it comes to e-government implementation, but services can still be improved by integrating standalone systems internally to offer more convenience to citizens as well as with counterpart sites overseas to lower the costs of doing business.
According to Eugene Wong, chairman and director of CrimsonLogic, e-government systems in Singapore mostly are still standalone sites and should be integrated to deliver greater efficiency and convenience to citizens.
An average citizen today has to go through several portals to access the services he wants, such as going to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) site for taxes, and then separately accessing the Housing Development Board (HDB) site for housing matters, Wong explained, speaking to ZDNet Asia at an interview.
It would be more convenient for citizens if they could go into one system to settle all their matters, he pointed out. CrimsonLogic provides e-government tools in trade facilitation, tax, and healthcare, and its clients in Singapore include Central Provident Fund Board, Ministry of Finance, and Singapore Customs.
Citizens today also are also technology savvy and expect the government to improve and evolve e-government systems so this is the next step the government can take, Wong said.
E-government services also can be linked with similar services from the rest of the world, he suggested. For example, TradeNet, an e-government platform for Singapore's trade and logistics industry to get permits, is implemented in 16 other countries. If all of these were linked, there could be cost savings in terms of implementation as well as facilitate the ease of doing business, he pointed out.
"This benefits Singapore, in particular, since our external economy is larger than our domestic economy so linking e-government systems for businesses globally is key," Wong said. "If trade improves, the cost of goods will be brought down."
For this to be possible, though, participating countries first would have to be willing to invest, for instance, to establish connectivity between the pipes, he noted.
Deal with global standards, change management
The main challenge the Singapore government faces is to maintain its leadership and continue to be at the forefront of e-government services, Wong pointed out. He said emerging governments around the world were starting to see the benefits of e-government services and would soon catch up with Singapore.
Another challenge is to understand business needs for e-government products, Wong added. The Singapore government should first identify the problem, then design the system and solution flow to meet end-customer requirements, he explained.
To maintain its lead, the Singapore government should work invest more time, money, and effort to build better e-government services which align to these global standards, such as working with vendors and other partners, he added.