Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, giving his opening address at imbX 2017.
By Charmian Leong
Our country is pushing for a more digital, more connected society and the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) 2017 revealed exciting new initiatives that will get us there. During the opening ceremony, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, highlighted four frontier technology focus areas that will help lay a strong infocomm media foundation for the nation.
One of these is immersive media. IMDA will be partnering with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and visual effects company SideFX Studios to introduce virtual reality (VR) for clinical training.
“Traditional clinical training is resource intensive and costly, and might not be able to replicate scenarios realistically,” explained Minister Yaacob. “This collaboration will develop immersive simulations for basic surgical skills and complex airway management, which is critical in life-threatening emergencies.”
VR has also been successful with schools, when IMDA partnered with production company Beach House Pictures (BHP) for VR Social Studies lessons in five primary schools. The lessons run on a customised VR classroom application for teachers to guide students on virtual excursions, developed by BHP with local start-up Hiverlab.
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
The next area is artificial intelligence and data science. In addition to the establishment of AI.SG and the Singapore Data Science Consortium announced at InnovFest Unbound in May (read our story here), the TechSkills Accelerator’s (TeSA) Company Led Training programme is partnering with DBS Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, DerivIT and the SAS Institute to help train fresh fintech professionals in fields such as data analytics and software development. TeSA’s umbrella programme, added Minister Yaacob, has already retrained or upskilled more than 10,000 professionals to acquire ICT expertise and skills.
The third area of focus is cybersecurity. “I don’t think I need to belabour how important this is for your companies, from operational, financial, reputational, intellectual property and other angles,” said Minister Yaacob. “I am thus pleased to hear that companies like Singtel, ST Electronics (Info-Security), Quann, Accel, and Deloitte have embarked on our Cybersecurity Associates and Technologists programme to train more cybersecurity professionals in the industry.”
Internet of Things and future communications
The final area is the Internet of Things (IoT) and infrastructure for future communications. IoT systems, 5G mobile networks, sensor networks, as well as the Nationwide Broadband Network will be enhanced to enable businesses to leverage high-speed networks, real-time communications and high-accuracy location positioning. Industry feedback is being sought, and the government will make it easier to trial solutions, such as by waiving 5G frequency fees for trials.
These initiatives follow existing improvements that the Government has already implemented. For instance, it is now easier to connect to Wireless@SG thanks to automatic logins for non-SIM devices such as tablets and laptops.
SMEs are also seeing a boost in aid, with digitising businesses a key priority. More than 50 digital solutions have been approved by the IMDA since the launch of its “SMEs Go Digital” programme in March, while promising tech startups have the support of Accreditation@IMDA.
While wanting Singapore to have a world-class infocomm media sector is important, the real goal is to improve lives. “A key priority is ensuring that our people can continue to be gainfully employed,” said Minister Yaacob.