Ms Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director of IDA, shares her personal take on the mission of the new Government Technology Agency (GovTech).
A lot of people have asked me about GovTech and how is it different from IDA.
I hope I can provide a clearer answer here.
Think of GovTech as a start-up that is focused on providing leadership in applied technology. It’s the first of its kind and unique in the world.
And we will empower Singapore with possibilities through technology in several ways:
- Spark- We experiment, prototype, and pilot new technologies. So yes, we have a skunkworks team that’s playing with disruptive, killer tech with the big picture perspective, quietly working hard in the background
- Build – We build products, systems, infrastructure, and applications.
- Operate– We run large-scale systems.
- Govern- There will be stronger central management over WOG (whole-of-government) to achieve efficiencies, value for money, interoperability standards and by providing guidance in data, technical and architectural standards.
- Grow- We will grow engineering capabilities, and we will grow the pool of CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs. We will develop technical specialist skillsets, especially in data science software engineering and cybersecurity, and also for sensors and IoT. We will hire fresh graduates and polytechnic talents and provide an environment to groom them for a long term rewarding career in tech.
We know it’s not about the technology alone.
It’s about serving citizens and businesses, and making the whole of government network easier for us to serve them.
We put citizens at the heart of everything we do, and we aim to provide an easier and more anticipatory experience for everyone.
But our core mission from our IDA era will not change — we will still continue to support the ICT needs of all the government agencies that serve the public.
And we will develop and deploy the Smart Nation platform to enable useful applications to be built for our people and businesses.
Co-creation – As Partners!
There’s been a lot of talk about co-creation and working together.
But here’s how we see it at GovTech: Co-creation with the community is a necessity, because we acknowledge that we do not have a monopoly on great ideas and inventions.
Innovation can happen anywhere, and I want to encourage people to share their ideas as we move forward in GovTech.
So here’s my open invitation to ICT companies including SMEs: Let’s discuss partnership and collaboration.
We aim to provide great platforms to work together, and we will be putting higher-quality, more interesting projects out for tender.
For our fellow agencies, we want to focus on how we can help you to find and develop tech solutions to meet the needs of your end users, and help you to serve the citizens better. Together, we will deliver a more responsive and anticipatory Public Service.
For the institutions of higher learning and the research institutes, let us work together to apply the technologies you have developed for the benefit of citizens.
And to our fellow citizens, we welcome your ideas, skills and passion for tech.
At events such as Hackathon@SG, we’ve seen the potent talents of local developers and enthusiasts, who have come up with interesting apps and ideas.
With the Smart Nation Fellowship Programme, we welcome Singaporeans both here and abroad who are keen to contribute to the Smart Nation vision, but are only able to commit on a short term 3 – 6 months basis.
The response so far has been very, very positive.
We’re glad that our returned talents are keen to contribute their technical and data analytics expertise, and also their industry or academic experience, to help us identify and use tech to solve some of these problems for Singapore.
Overall, the enthusiasm we’ve seen makes us confident that the community is as excited about co-creation as we are!
At the IDA Hive, where our Government Digital Services (GDS) team explores the use of cutting-edge tech for the public good, we look forward to working with all our partners in the Smart Nation ecosystem.
Putting People First
I cannot stress this enough: People are at the forefront of what we do.
That's why our aim is to help improve the overall user experience for Singaporeans in transactions with the Government.
We think about everyone’s journey through life – the important and memorable moments of life including getting married, buying your first HDB flat, having kids and sending them to school, or looking after healthcare needs as we and our family members age.
At these and all important moments, we want to make it easier and more convenient for everyone to engage and transact with the government.
Ultimately, we want to create anticipatory services that will predict what are the necessary services — such as a health check-up or a library book that needs returning — that you might need at that moment in your life, and prompt you to take action.
For entrepreneurs and business owners, we’re thinking of how to help you too. Starting or running a businesses often means many interactions with the government, such as applying for licences and permits, seeking subsidies, reporting accounts and filing taxes.
How can technology be used to cut the administrative burden, so that running a business becomes more pain-free, and our companies can focus on innovation and growth?
So we recognise that your transactional experience with the Government can be improved.
And we have already begun.
Working together with our partner agencies, we have rolled out apps that make a difference.
From the lifesaving MyResponder app that enhances first responder timings when a suspected cardiac arrest case happens, to the Beeline app that uses crowdsourcing to identify and provide new bus routes based on demand, we analyse the data collected to improve how you are served.
We are especially proud of the OneService mobile app developed in collaboration with the Municipal Service Office.
The app offers residents a convenient one-stop portal to send in feedback about their neighbourhood and municipal issues, and we can automatically channel the feedback to the right agency to follow up.
This is as far from the traditional image of bureaucratic red tape as you can imagine.
It is what we mean about better living, innovative enterprises, stronger communities, and a more responsive public service.
Ultimately, the Smart Nation is about the experiences that people live out in their everyday lives.
And GovTech’s mission is to embrace and explore technologies that can further our services to enrich these experiences.
Jacqueline Poh is the Managing Director of IDA, and will be the Chief Executive Officer of the new Government Technology Agency (GovTech).
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