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Release of National Computer Board Annual Report 1996/1997

SINGAPORE – 28 OCT 1997

In his message, Mr Lim Swee Say, Chairman of the National Computer Board (NCB), stressed the important role ofinformation technology (IT) in the government's vision of making Singapore our best home in the 21st Century for ...


In his message, Mr Lim Swee Say, Chairman of the National Computer Board (NCB), stressed the important role ofinformation technology (IT) in the government's vision of making Singapore our best home in the 21st Century for all Singaporeans.

"IT can make a difference in the future development of Singapore. Technology is neutral. If we make effective use of the technology, IT can help to sustain competitiveness of the economy and strengthen cohesion in our society," said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim outlined the two major challenges in IT in the 21st Century. The first is to exploit IT to be our key national competitive advantage in the information economy of the future.

Mr Lim elaborated that the Asia Pacific region is gearing up for the transition to a knowledge-based economy, which is a global economy. With knowledge and IT, we can turn our local capabilities into global resources. With this in mind, Singapore is being positioned as an IT Mega Hub in the Asia Pacific, a key focal point in the region for information and communications services, electronic commerce, IT innovation, education and training, and tele-medicine services. This strategic positioning of Singapore will not only grow the knowledge-based economy locally, but will also contribute to the growth of knowledge-based economies in the region.

The second challenge is to use IT to enhance quality of life and strengthen community ties in Singapore. Mr Lim cautioned that as the world advances into the information age, we must be alerted to the potential threat of segregation in our society due to IT. The young and the better-educated adults are likely to embrace IT and be well connected to the cyber-world; whereas the old and the lower educated may fear the technology and stay unconnected.

To prevent the social segregation of the information rich and the information poor in our society, Mr Lim said we must do everything possible to make IT applications easier to use and meet the needs of the average Singaporeans.

The Civil Service Computerisation Programme will continue to focus on helping government departments deliver better and more efficient services to the public. The government will also pay special attention to the older and lower income groups of Singaporeans to help them understand the benefits of IT and to embrace IT.

The implementation of the Singapore ONE initiative is a concrete move towards realising the IT2000 vision of transforming Singapore into an Intelligent Island. Singapore ONE will bring multimedia information services to everyone in Singapore, and will be accessible from anywhere: at the workplace, schools, libraries, community centres, shopping malls or homes.

Mr Lim reiterated "We want all Singaporeans to embrace SINGAPORE ONE, so that we can move ahead as ONE SINGAPORE."

Singapore ONE has garnered strong support from the industry. As at the end of FY96, more than S$200 million has been committed by the industry to develop innovative multimedia applications for Singapore ONE.

Singapore ONE is one of the first few implementations of multimedia broadband networks and applications in the world. It is also among the first few in the world to provide high-speed, interactive, multimedia applications and services over the network, not just for the advanced users, but for everyone, and everywhere.

In conclusion, Mr Lim said that having established itself as one of the most computerised nations in the world today, the next target for Singapore "is to become one of the best computerised nations in the world by the Year 2000, and make a difference in the realisation of Singapore 21, our best home in the 21st Century."

Highlights of FY96's achievements towards IT2000 are attached in Appendix I.



APPENDIX I

National Computer Board Annual Report 1996-1997 Highlights of FY96's achievements towards IT2000

"Our IT2000 vision of transforming Singapore into an Intelligent Island is well on track." Mr Lim Swee Say, Chairman, National Computer Board.

The following are highlights of the progress made in FY96 under each of the five major strategic thrusts in the realisation of IT2000:-

Evolving a National Information Infrastructure

Singapore's intention of becoming an Intelligent Island and the IT Mega Hub of the region depends on its ability to put in place a world-class national information infrastructure (NII).

1997 saw a major milestone in the development of a national information infrastructure when Singapore launched its nation-wide broadband network Singapore ONE. With Singapore ONE, a whole host of rich multimedia content and services can be made available to users at home, in schools, or at the workplace.

The initiation of an Electronic Commerce Hotbed programme is bringing the nation to the verge of a digital economy, where buying and selling are all done electronically.

A Content Hosting Programme has been launched to attract companies to host their content in Singapore.

Deploying IT2000 Flagship Applications

The government works with the IT industry and user communities to deploy strategic applications that are aligned with the business goals and strategies of key economic sectors. By March 1997, approximately S$75 million had been committed to support 55 projects through a S$200 million IT Cluster Development Fund set up in July 1995. These projects involved exploiting IT in Education and Learning; Libraries and Information Services; Legal and Justice Administration; New Media and Internet; Healthcare; Tourism and Leisure; Manufacturing and Distribution; and Construction.

Creating an IT Culture

The government relentlessly seeks to bring an awareness of the benefits of an IT-enabled lifestyle to people of all ages, from all walks of life. It aims to entrench IT in the daily routines of Singaporeans by demonstrating its advantages and encouraging early adoption of the technology.

For the second successive year, Singapore was ranked the second most IT-literate nation by the World Competitiveness Report. A survey conducted by the NCB in 1996 revealed that about 36% of households in Singapore owned a PC at home. Of this number, a quarter also had access to the Internet (or approximately 8% of households).

Nurturing the IT Industry

The government is committed to nurture a vibrant IT industry in Singapore, one which will create the next generation of products and services with strong export capabilities.

The local IT industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. This strong growth has been fuelled largely by the strong exportmarket and a healthy rise in domestic IT spending. Revenues in 1996 grew by 30% to a record $8.5 billion, keeping up the 30% growth achieved in 1995. The IT manpower pool in Singapore crossed the 25,000 mark in 1996.

With the government's announcement in September 1996 to develop Singapore into the IT Mega Hub of the Asia Pacific region, the IT industry is now a critical part of Singapore's economy. Industry promotion efforts are being targeted at attracting strategic IT companies from all over the world to invest and set up operations in Singapore. Primary areas of focus include technology providers, network providers and content providers.

The government also provides funding, incentives and guidance for the computerisation of local enterprises as well as IT skills training and upgrading. These initiatives ensure a conducive environment and sustained progress for the local IT industry.

Exploiting IT in Government

The Civil Service Computerisation Programme (CSCP) has entered a new phase of development after 16 years of transforming Singapore's Civil Service into one of the most highly computerised in the world. The CSCP will support the realisation of the PS21 vision of a first-class Public Service for the 21st century. Initiatives to be rolled out will meet two objectives - to improve internal efficiencies and productivity in the government machinery as well as to bring government services closer and more conveniently to the public.

The government continued to invest heavily in IT in FY96. A total of 37 projects valued at S$550 million were approved for implementation, while 98 applications were completed.

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