The new IMDA will use its 3C strategy to meet the challenges of a Technology-driven Future.
Nurturing Creativity, strengthening Connectivity and developing Capabilities.
These are the three Cs that will underpin the work of Singapore’s new Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) as the economic paradigm shifts from value-adding to value-creation, digital connectivity becomes “almost a basic right” — and two-thirds of today’s students face the prospect of working in jobs that do not as yet exist.
Taking the stage at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) forum for the first time as Chief Executive (Designate) of IMDA, Mr Gabriel Lim said the Singapore economy is not only being powered by technology, the pace of change also means that the public sector, institutions and businesses alike must evolve and adapt to this new landscape.
To prepare Singaporeans to meet the challenges of a more tech-pervasive future, one of the key areas that IMDA will focus on is nurturing creativity.
“In the new world, it is not enough to just use technology. We need to innovate and create something unique in Singapore, that we can commercialise while protecting our intellectual property,” he said.
A Creator's Space content lab will be established in the One North district later this year to promote online content creation as well as content development involving other emerging technologies.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s (IDA) Accreditation@IDA scheme for tech start-ups will also be broadened to include products and services from new media companies.
Strengthening connectivity will be another area of focus for IMDA as this will form the bedrock for Singapore’s bold Smart Nation plans.
“Besides improving the user experience, one of the advantages of better connectivity is that it allows the industry to innovate and create new applications and services that can be delivered over cellular networks or Wi-Fi,” said Mr Lim.
A recent poll on the HetNet (Heterogeneous Network) Trials showed that citizens here are now enjoying better digital connectivity with about 90 percent of respondents reporting a smoother connected experience and two-thirds saying they now have better download speeds. Singaporeans can also expect the quality of 4G connectivity to further improve with the introduction of new Quality of Service standards (see related story).
A third key area of focus for IMDA will be the development of technical capabilities amongst Singaporeans.
In April, the government announced the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative which will see public agencies collaborating with the infocomm media industry and employers to identify core infocomm and media skills which are in demand.
These could be skills that apply across all businesses such as cybersecurity, software development and data analytics, or sector-specific skills and expertise in areas such as financial services, healthcare and ICT. Training programmes will then be developed to ensure that there are sufficient skilled professionals here to meet these requirements.
Mr Lim will head the newly-formed TeSA Governing Council which will be responsible for promoting ICT skills and increasing the employability of fresh and mid-career tech professionals in Singapore.
“Training will be just one part of it,” said Mr Lim during a media briefing at imbX. “We also want to prepare people for better jobs, better pay, and that is going to be a key performance indicator that is very important to us – to know that the graduates under TeSA go on to get good jobs and have a brighter future.”
While TeSA will deal very much with professional development, Mr Lim also highlighted the need to build up broader acceptance and appreciation of technology.
“IMDA will continue to push ahead with our other programmes such as TechSaturday, CodeSG and IDA Labs. These are designed to get people to appreciate what technology brings,” he said.
He also emphasised that IMDA will continue to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone in Singapore, including low-income households and the elderly, will be able to reap the benefits of being connected.
“This is important for us because if you are not connected, if you are not able to access the Internet easily, you will be denied the opportunities of this digital transformation.”
Better 4G connectivity
During his keynote speech, Mr Gabriel Lim announced the introduction of new 4G Quality of Service (QoS) standards to ensure that mobile phone users receive an acceptable level of connectivity in outdoor areas, tunnels and within buildings.
Starting 1 July 2016, existing mobile network operators (MNOs) who are providing 4G services must ensure at least 95 per cent coverage of outdoor areas nationwide with a signal strength of 109dBm or better.
This will increase to at least 99 per cent coverage from 1 July 2017.
For tunnel coverage, MNOs must ensure 99 per cent coverage from 1 July 2018. For 4G connectivity within buildings, the new benchmark has been set at a minimum of 85 per cent coverage from 1 January 2019.
IDA said it will begin monitoring this from 1 January 2018 and the results will be published.
New operators, if any, will be given more lead-time to ensure that their 4G network meets these enhanced compliance standards.
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