20 June 2011 - Opening Remarks by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts at the Seventh Ministerial Forum
Opening Remarks by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts at the Seventh Ministerial Forum, 20 June 2011
ICT-Enabled Communities: Opportunities and Challenges
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Welcome to the seventh Ministerial Forum on ICT. Since 2005, ICT Ministers from around the world have met ahead of the week-long Infocomm Media Business Exchange, or "imbX", to discuss pertinent ICT issues that impact our economies and societies. Through an informal, closed-door setting at this Forum, we hope to encourage frank exchanges of views and ideas on how infocomm developments impact public policy making.
Recap of 2010 Ministerial Forum
2. At the sixth Ministerial Forum last year, we discussed the importance of ICT in connecting communities for economic and social development. We spoke about the varied approaches that governments could adopt in order to roll out their broadband networks, and also looked at the formulation of government policies to provide better ICT access to their people.
Theme for 7th Ministerial Forum
3. For this year's Ministerial Forum, we have chosen the theme "ICT-Enabled Communities: Opportunities and Challenges". The Internet and proliferation of ICT have fundamentally transformed the way we live, work, play and interact. In fact, the ITU estimates that the number of Internet users last year surpassed the 2 billion mark, of which 1.2 billion were in developing countries.
4. With the prevalence of social media networks as well as the evolvement of mobile and new platforms, the increasing volume of online engagements is a trend that we cannot ignore. Governments worldwide are recognising that the online community is an important group that we actively need to reach out to.
5. This has led to a transformation in the way governments conduct their businesses. Many have "gone online" in an effort to better serve and manage broader participation from citizens. In Singapore, mobile applications on smartphones allow the community to give feedback on issues in their neighbourhood. Such contributions have allowed the government to enhance our policies to ensure that they remain relevant and sufficiently robust to accommodate these developments.
6. For policymakers in the ICT sector, the increasing participation of citizens online also means that we need to look at issues such as secured transactions and cybersecurity to ensure an effective online community. Measures to improve digital inclusion ought to be considered, so that all citizens, regardless of their demographic profile, have a fair opportunity to participate in these online communities as well as benefit from the use of the Internet.
7. A fundamental component of leveraging on ICT for the benefit of Singaporean citizens is to ensure that a robust and secure high-speed broadband access network is put in place to connect homes, businesses and communities. However, we also recognise that, to realise the full potential of an information society, we need to look beyond network deployment to consider ways in which we can leverage on ICT to enable citizen-centric services, as well as generate vital business opportunities that will help our economy move up the value chain and stay competitive in the global market.
8. In this regard, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, or IDA, is working with key partners in both the public and private sectors to better integrate infocomm solutions with business operations and client management processes. For instance, we have introduced electronic health records in the healthcare sector to allow healthcare professionals to retrieve medical records online and achieve greater effectiveness in the delivery of medical services and overall patient care. In the education sector, we have also stepped up the usage of infocomm technology in the classroom where teachers are provided with new online tools to facilitate collaborative learning, and to improve the education experience of our students.
Introduction of Speakers and Programme
9. Today, we are honoured to have two distinguished speakers share their views and assessments of ICT trends and developments and provide insights on how governments can harness new developments in the ICT space to change the way we conduct our businesses so as to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
10. The first speaker, Mr Ross O'Brien, will look at the rising popularity of social media networks and their implications for government and policymakers. The second speaker, Mr Cort Isernhagen, will look at the opportunities and challenges presented by mobile and new platforms. He will also share his views and recommendations for the development of digital cities.
11. We have asked the speakers to keep the discussion as open and informal as possible, and I hope that you will find this environment conducive for participation, whether it is to clarify any points presented by the speakers, offer alternative views, or to share your experiences.
12. This year, we have also incorporated a short "demonstration" segment to share some of the locally developed applications that are in line with the theme of building "ICT-Enabled Communities". Mr Mark Lim from the IDA will elaborate more on these applications, and give us an idea of what apps are available in our local communities.
13. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation for you to join us at tomorrow's official opening and VIP tour of the imbX, which will be held here at the Marina Bay Sands. There are many exhibitors showcasing the latest technologies and products from the ICT industry. We have also organised dedicated site visits for you to the National University Hospital and the Beacon Primary School over these two days. Hosts from these two sites will show you how ICT has been harnessed to provide better and more efficient services for their patients and students.
14. In closing, I wish you a memorable stay in Singapore and a most fruitful time at the imbX. Thank you.