Convergence could herald a new era for technology and media sectors – if the Infocomm Media Development Authority plays its cards right.
By Lim Chee Kean
By October 2016, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and Media Development Authority Singapore (MDA) will no longer exist. Instead, we’ll be introduced to a new Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The merger is nothing short of heartening, as these agencies recognise the increasingly blurred lines between the infocomm and media sectors, and businesses.
Take Google, for instance, a well-known global technology company, which also has a significant media presence through its media ventures, YouTube and Google Ads. And in Singapore, we see traditional media organisations, such as Singapore Press Holdings, venturing online and into other technology venues.
While the IMDA is expected to streamline industry dealings, ensure a more consistent regulatory framework and open up new business opportunities in the infocomm media sector, it could also play a key role in the Internet of Things (IoT) space in Singapore – where machines, sensors and other devices have begun “talking” to one another.
However, security issues could potentially hinder wide-scale adoption of IoT in Singapore and the surrounding region. Because security is not generally built into a device or at the hardware layer, the responsibility lies at the network level.
Here’s the good news: it gives the IMDA an opportunity to create security for the next generation of IoT products and services, and put in place safeguards for the use of IoT analytics, such as for social media, mobile gaming, facial recognition, people counting and heat mapping.
It’s probably what Gabriel Lim, Chief Executive Officer of the IMDA, had in mind when he said, “We are moving into an exciting digital future, marked by connectivity and creativity, which will bring about exciting possibilities for Singapore. The new IMDA will help Singapore seize these opportunities… creating a vibrant and globally competitive infocomm media sector here,” at the BroadcastAsia 2016 event in May.
What this means is that the IMDA could potentially play a part in placing Singapore among the innovators and pioneers of this region and even the world, seeing that people are only now beginning to think about and grapple with the challenges, security risks and privacy concerns that the IoT age brings.
At the same time, the agency is also entrusted with the important, but far-from-easy task of overseeing Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission – a body set up in 2013 to administer and enforce the Personal Data Protection Act – to safeguard and strengthen public confidence in the use and protection of personal data. This is especially important as an increasing number of companies are leveraging customer and user data to drive business strategies.
The IMDA looks set to play a big role in Singapore’s future economy as more businesses and industries such as healthcare jump on the technology and big data bandwagon.
Lim Chee Kean is Deputy Chairman of Singapore’s Internet of Things Technical Committee and CEO of Ascent Solutions, a logistics technology start-up. A serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in the infocommunications, sensors and Internet of Things sectors, he also serves as a panel judge for the National Infocomm Awards – the highest industry accolade for infocommunications innovation in Singapore.