S'pore govt sets aside $798M for new systems

The Singapore government intends to spend US$798 million this year on IT projects, covering infrastructure upgrades and new infocomm systems.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The Singapore government intends to spend S$1.1 billion (US$798 million) on infocomm projects for this financial year.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced Tuesday at an industry briefing that it would call for 350 new tenders between April this year and Mar. 31 2011.

This figure is consistent with the government's ICT spending of S$1.12 billion (US$813 million) last year, said IDA CEO Ronnie Tay. He had announced last year that the government would set aside S$1.73 billion (US$1.25 billion) for ICT spending for this financial year.

Some of last year's major projects involved awarding the next-generation national broadband network (NBN) operating company--IDA granted S$250 million to the winner, Nucleus Connect--and upgrading the government traffic monitoring system and Web portal.

James Kang, IDA government CIO, said this year's focus will be on numerous infrastructure systems upgrades. A number of government agencies are also looking to implement business intelligence (BI) systems.

IDA intends to spend in excess of S$10 million (US$7.2 million) on its BI system, with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) looking at between S$500,000 (US$363,000) and S$3 million (US$2.17 million). The Energy Market Authority (EMA) will also expend a similar amount as the latter toward an energy information management BI portal, said Kang.

For hardware upgrades, IDA and the Ministry of Education (MOE) will both spend more than S$10 million (US$7.2 million) each on a second data center and IT equipment maintenance, respectively. The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) intends to upgrade its network infrastructure for between S$3 million (US$2.17 million) and S$10 million (US$7.2 million) as well.

MHA, according to Tay, will allocate a total of S$100 million (US$72 million) on new systems this year.

Quek Siow Ming, assistant director of projects, technology and infrastructure at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said during his update that a few confirmed projects for the ministry will lie in a new armory management system, network equipment and a content management system for the airport.

The armory management system is expected to be an RFID system to tag and keep track of different weapons items, accessible from a Web portal, said Quek. The network equipment tender will be called for in September this year, he added.

He said the airport compliance and regulatory electronic system will be set up with the aim to digitize forms. This will require a content management system for records and may rely on tablet devices as part of the setup.

Quek added that in the pipeline for MHA are a number of new systems it is looking to the private sector to help develop. One envisioned system will assist the police match facial composites better. MHA also wants to be able to produce chip-based identity cards (IC). A requirement for the IC system will be its ability to switch from the current chipless production to produce and manage new chip-based cards within a short time of about eight weeks, he said.

Another system MHA wants to procure is a set of self-service kiosks to dispense government documents such as passports. The system will need several layers of security identification such as facial recognition and fingerprint matching, with the ability to dispense the documents, said Quek.

At the press briefing, Kang said the government is reaching out to the private sector to help develop new systems as the authorities want to maximize the potential of canvassing for new ideas. This represents a shift from the government's traditional stance of calling for contractors to fulfill system specs already decided on, he added.

Beyond next year
Kang named social media, cloud computing and business analytics as some areas the government will be looking at beyond the coming financial year.

One project the authorities will set up in 2012 is a centralized electronic inbox for citizens called "OneInbox". It will be available to individuals through the government eCitizen portal and will be the main online interface for interactions with government agencies, as well as other services such as utilities bills eventually.

IDA said a survey it conducted found 65 percent of survey respondents indicated they were receptive to the OneInbox service.

Ong Seok Leng, director of iGov planning and service delivery with the IDA's government chief information office, said she expects the proportion of people welcoming OneInbox will increase closer to the service rollout.

The service will be opt-in, and IDA expects all the government agencies to participate in it, said Ong.

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