Smart Nation: Time for industry to step up
By Gabey Goh May 28, 2015
- S$2.2bil worth of tenders to be launched in 2015
- Shift from outsourcing to insourcing to build up internal capabilities
SINGAPORE has reiterated its call for industry to step up and participate in the Smart Nation initiative, even as its Government continues the transition to a more collaborative approach to public sector IT procurement.
At the annual Industry Briefing on Infocomm Initiatives in the Public Sector on May 27, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) managing director Jacqueline Poh said the Government is actively engaging with citizens, businesses, and the tech industry.
“We seek to gain better insights into the kinds of applications that people need, and build new ‘Digital Government’ capabilities to deliver great experiences to them.
“This is also the time to invest in the infrastructure that will be foundational to Smart Nation,” she said.
The call to action was in line with remarks made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore reception in April, when he said that the Government will muster the resources, build the infrastructure, create schemes, and “encourage companies and people to chase their dreams.”
“But we need you – we need the companies and the people to step forward, to spark the bright ideas, to make progress on the challenges, and to change the world,” he said.
Reducing friction with digital government
In line with the Smart Nation plans for better government services delivery, government agencies will be leveraging on agile development, cloud services and data analytics, as well as emerging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and robotics, to better anticipate and meet citizens’ needs.
“A Digital Government is one where we put citizens at the heart of service development and delivery,” said Chan Cheow Hoe (pic above), assistant chief executive of Government Services at the IDA.
Such initiatives include more enhancements to SingPass, the single sign-on for users to access e-government services, which will be ready in July of this year.
These enhancements will include an improved user interface, mobile-friendly features, and stronger security capabilities, such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for e-government transactions, particularly for those involving sensitive data.
This could be a one-time ‘second factor’ password delivered through Short Messaging Service (SMS) or a OneKey token.
In addition, the Government is launching a Corporate Pass (CorpPass), to be ready by the second quarter of 2016, which provide a one-stop, self-service platform for business entities to manage their employees’ access in transactions with various government agencies.
It will give businesses the autonomy, empowerment and convenience of creating, assigning and deactivating access rights for their employees, the Government said.
Currently, some agencies have chosen to use a common e-services authorisation system (EASY), while others have opted for their own individual authorisation systems. This has resulted in users having to liaise with different agencies/ businesses.
Another initiative is the [email protected] programme launched in 2014 to assist local technology companies in getting their innovative products and services adopted by government agencies and consumers.
The programme seeks to provide an independent third-party evaluation of their products’ core functionalities, and their ability to deliver.
The IDA’s Poh said that to date, eight companies – Deep Identity, Green Koncepts, InspireTech, Kai Square, Latize, Tagit, Trakomatic and VKey – have been accredited in areas such as mobile security, enterprise analytics, video analytics, and energy management.
New approach to procurement
Meanwhile, Chan said that the Government will continue to invest in ICT (information and communications technology) to realise the Smart Nation vision, and to seek collaboration with industry to build capabilities and develop more citizen-centric services.
It is projected that S$2.2 billion (US$1.63 billion) worth of ICT tenders will be launched in the financial year of 2015, focusing on digital and data services, web services, infrastructure, security, as well as the development of the Smart Nation Platform.
IDA representatives declined to give a detailed breakdown on how much was allocated for each of these categories but Poh (pic) said that this year’s procurements featured new items.
“We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before, such as a bigger focus on data analytics and the entry of items in IoT and robotics, which is new to the list of key procurement items in government spending,” she said.
This year will also mark a significant shift in the Government’s approach to procurement, IT spending, and the development of government digital services.
“To be nimble and responsive, the Government can no longer outsource applications development so extensively, but seek to co-source solutions with industry,” said Chan.
“The Government must anticipate the needs of citizens through data analytics, build up its own internal IT engineering and development capabilities, whilst engaging the best partners in the industry,” he added.
In line with this, a Centre of Excellence in software engineering and data analytics is being set up by IDA in One-North, with facilities for user research, user experience testing, and consultancy services to government agencies in developing services for citizens.
It will be staffed by a team of software engineers and data-scientists, and is intended to engender a culture that is multi-disciplinary, innovative and collaborative.
According to the IDA, the Government will seek to ‘insource’ up to 20% of overall IT projects, in tandem with collaborating with industry vendors. The agency however did not share additional hard targets or timeframe.
Chan said that for the past two years, the Singapore Government has been “experimenting” with a collaborative, agile development approach for creating new services.
He cited as two such experiments the OneService Mobile App, a way for the public to provide feedback on municipal issues; and MyResponder, a life-saving mobile application which leverages on location awareness to enable volunteers to assist with cardiac arrest cases.
Since MyResponder’s launch in April, about 31 cases have been reported via the app.
Opportunities for industry
The briefing also provided an overview of upcoming opportunities for industry in bidding for tenders aimed at fulfilling various objectives under the Smart Nation initiative.
Tenders for the last three components of the Smart Nation Platform project – Data Exchange, Data Fusion and Sense Making, Video System and U2S Platform – are slated to open later this year, while bids for the IP Core Network and AG Boxes are already undergoing evaluation.
In addition to the IDA’s initiatives, other government agencies were present at the briefing to share their own ICT roadmaps and procurement projects.
To promote Singapore as a secure trade hub, Singapore Customs and the IDA will be revamping the National Trade Infrastructure, with the current contract for TradeNet and TradeXchange expiring in October, 2017.
TradeNet was originally launched in 1989 to serve as the single trade permit clearinghouse, with multiple upgrades since. Today it processes an average of nine million permits annually, with annual trade value of S$900 billion (US$668 billion).
TradeXchange was implemented in October 2007 to create greater efficiencies in the business-to-government to business-to-business supply chains.
The new National Trade Infrastructure will be a keystone project for the Government, with an estimated procurement value of less than S$30 million (US$22.3 million). The tender is currently open and will close on July 15.
In addition, the current contract for the Customs Call Centre Service is set to expire next year, and the scope of its tender will cover the setup, operation and management of cost-effective call centre service support.
Key procurement items for 2015 include:
- Work Pass Integrated System (WINS) Phase 2 and 3, a next-generation system which covers all work pass types except for Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) which was covered in Phase 1. A project with an estimated procurement value of S$50 million (US$37 million).
- Licensing System for Employment Agencies and Dormitories to process and manage licences for employment agencies and dormitories to support the Employment Agencies and Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill, with an estimated procurement value of S$5 million.
- Finance and Procurement Tracking System, to support the Ministry of Manpower’s finance and procurement officers, with estimated procurement value of S$1 million (US$740,000).
“It’s an open playing field, with the majority of tenders holding an estimated procurement value below S$5 million,” said the IDA’s Chan.
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