Blog of a Sentimental Data Digger
Realising, that many big neighbours around Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China are creating competitive landscape and moving fast; Singapore follows the concept “If you don’t move forward, you fall behind” . The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), together with other agencies is working towards Singapore’s vision to becoming the world’s first smart nation
Singapore announced plans for a new Integrated Infocomm Media Masterplan [i]in June 2013, the vision has coalesced around the transformation into a Smart Nation underpinned by data and analytics.
According to the Gartner’s estimates[ii] , fuelled by public sector spending on software, IT manpower and outsourcing, the Singapore government’s IT bill is expected to reach US$3.2 billion this year
Singapore has set up a new smart nation programme office to coordinate efforts by various government agencies that are already using IT to serve citizens. The Smart Nation Program constitutes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s priority, and every government department is involved.
In a usual practical approach, projects under Smart Nation Programme revolve around the question: “what problems are we going to solve; and the “Innovation” itself is defined as solving people’s problems.
In this approach, the “Innovative technologies” serve as the backbone of a smart nation’s infrastructure and should not necessarily be cutting-edge ones; but rather, present new and innovative way of bringing together existing technologies that makes these technologies “innovative.” The main goal of such innovation is the optimization of existing resources, rather than reliance on new ones.
The key to understanding governance in a smart nation; unlike business entities, the government cannot choose its customers and must serve all citizens: citizen-centric approach calls for long term view and plan in order to deal with added complexity;
And the projects are built upon Cross-agency collaboration, Data Sharing and Big Data analytics
Smart Nation will collect and process data across the country, and derive insights by analysing the data in order to improve performance and enhance services across the board. The concept rides on strategic deployment of cutting-edge technology trends, such as a nationwide network of connected sensors and sensory devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), along with the infrastructure of data centres to handle big data and analytics.
Essential components of a smart nation include a pervasive, scalable, ultra-high speed, intelligent and secured ICT infrastructure, coupled with a ICT eco-system with a ready pool of skilled tech workforce, a regulatory environment that protects the data and privacy of citizens while ensuring fairness and access to essential information. The country made progress in laying the backbone infrastructure to prepare for Big Data & Analytics, the Internet of Things and other transformational trends and developments, thanks to its 10 years Intelligent Nation (iN2015) Masterplan. Singapore has completed its Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN) rollout and is developing a nationwide wireless network, with plans for a new Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) that will enable seamless mobile connectivity for citizens across different networks.
Since then iDA has announced several multi-pronged initiatives that will deliver the Smart Nation vision, including the roll-out of a Smart Nation Platform (SNP) that includes an operating system for public agencies and companies to connect to.
Singapore’s SNP is aimed at bringing together a nationwide sensor network and data analytics abilities.The SNP has three focus areas
Singapore faces two big pressures – increased urban density and an ageing population
There are three priorities for tackling these pressures:
Smart health care
Fast internet access is essential everywhere in Singapore. Train tunnels, lift shafts, any square meter will have connectivity. The priority is expanding the existing reach in a plan called E3A – connecting Everything and Everybody Everywhere All the Time.
Singapore will continue to open labs to test parts of its Smart Nation plan. In place - lab in Jurong West for testing out smart street lights and transport
“Whenever we see something where we say ‘that’s cool’, we add it in.”
The Smart Nation Programme itself is a living blueprint and does not feature complete end-to-end strategy design, featuring sometimes the approach “we do it now and fix later”, rather that miss the opportunity and inhibit development. With so much data involved, concerns about data privacy and security were causing discussions, however, the discussion were not as hot as expected to be.
The IDA will be partnering with providers of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to offer online analytics courses to grow the local talent pool. The first focus training area will be on Data Sciences & Analytics, and iDA will be using Coursera MOOC platform's data sciences platform with content provided by Johns Hopkins University.
Living Analytics Lab (LARC ) at Singapore Management University (SMU) aspires to make pioneering breakthroughs in statistical and experimental theories, methods and tools for conducting Behavioral Insight Experiments within pervasively networked environments and defines the following priorities for Smart Nation Projects:[v]
Becoming a Smart Nation also makes Singapore a bigger target for hacktivists, cyber criminals and state actors
The government has announced a new Cyber Security Agency to pull together this capability [vi]
Singapore is making headway in developing its own smart grid infrastructure. State-owned energy utility Singapore Power (SP) is currently involved in a project to upgrade and renew the country’s ageing grid infrastructure.
Concurrently, SP is in partnership with national energy regulator Energy Market Authority (EMA) to evaluate and develop the Intelligent Energy System (IES) pilot to modernise electricity transmission and distribution networks with new information, communication, and sensor
However threats, specifically cyberthreats, are evolving at a greater rate than the grid can keep up with. Developed before cyber-security was a concern, the primary risk factor for the power grid in the 80's and 90's was physical security threats.
Governance recommendations to protect the infrastructure:
The Singaporean government is to set up its own telecommunications network to manage a network of sensors across the country as part of a 'Smart Nation' project; The 'internet of things' network[vii] will include security cameras across the centre of the city, and sensors to monitor things as diverse as potential flooding in drains and the health of elderly residents in their homes.
IDA’s tender documents, available on the government tender website Gebiz, describe how a supplier has to connect to the various data collection boxes, known as AG or Above Ground boxes[viii], around the island. It seems the government wishes to avoid depending fully on telecom operators to provide all the links to its many sensors in future. While that unusual move is understandable, more puzzling is another government announcement on its smart nation project this “nationwide operating system” that it is working with Microsoft on.
There is not much known of this operating system, except it is supposed to be the “brains” of the smart nation installation in the next few years [ix] “The Government will own the operating system of the Smart Nation Platform (SNP) in order to safeguard the robustness and trustworthiness of the system, and to protect all data collected, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA)”
Announced at CloudAsia 2014 Cloud Service Providers’ Registry (CSP) allows choosing cloud vendors through registry, standards. The CSP Registry was conceived to engender trust through transparency for the benefit of cloud adopters by making available online information about CSPs. This was facilitated by services such as a self-disclosure form and information on a CSP's Multi-Tier Cloud Security Singapore Standard (MTCS SS) certification
Security, continues to be one of the largest impediments to cloud adoption, which was why the IDA and the Singapore Standards Council, launched the world's first Multi-Tier Cloud Security Singapore Standard (MTCS SS). The MTCS SS provides specifications for CSPs to give clarity around their security service levels for customer understanding, while also increasing the level of accountability and transparency from them.
While adopting the MTCS is voluntary, certification by a Certification Body will be a requirement for CSPs participating in future public cloud service bulk tenders from the Government.
IDA announces the launch of a pilot for Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), to become an important building block for the Smart Nation. The DaaS pilot seeks to address this using a federated approach with individual Dataset Registries (DSR) based on an open source data portal platform, creating a coherent mechanism for users to easily discover private sector datasets made available from data providers across various industry sectors. Participating data providers will operate their own instance of DSR which runs on their own infrastructure and maintain the dataset catalogue.
The data providers will be given an opportunity to understand and check the relative quality of their datasets through a set of industry-domain agnostic Data Quality Metrics. The metrics cover areas such as reliability, relevance, accessibility, timeliness and ease of use, and will also give potential users a base of comparison between similar datasets from distinct owners.
New platform, data.gov.sg, serves as a central source of government data contains more than 8,000 datasets that are available to citizens, app developers and researchers.
Network of information centers called Citizen Connect has been established to bridge the digital divide and facilitate free access to government services including eCitizen, an e-government platform, for those who do not have internet access.
The government recently awarded a tender for the development of the Social Service Net (SSNet), a unified content management system for the social service sector to facilitate information sharing among multiple social services providers and government agencies.
At least 15 trials involving more than 20 partnering companies and various public agencies are being rolled out at Jurong Lake District, where over 1,000 data sensors are being deployed to create a “live environment and living lab” for Smart Nation projects ranging from smart queue monitoring and smart navigation to autonomous buggies.
Indoors, efforts are underway to enable seamless interoperability between connected smart devices within the home, under the IoT@Home initiative. An Industry Working Group has been set up within IDA’s IT Standards Committee to identify relevant open standards and establish a set of Technical References.
The Accreditation@IDA programme - the programme allows young Singapore-based tech companies with the “IDA Accredited Product” mark to be considered first, where relevant, for innovative tech government projects[xi]
IDA Accreditation, together with IDA Accelerator and IDA Labs, were the three key programmes[xii] introduced in 2014 to help local companies strengthen their competitive edge in a dynamic global ecosystem.
The Accelerator initiative, which is managed by IDA’s investment subsidiary Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), aims to raise the quality of tech start-ups in Singapore by putting them through an “internship” where they will be challenged as to the kind of “go-to-market” strategies that they have, whether their business are scalable and whether they have the right people.
Recently IIPL has partnered with leading accelerators like Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI) or Startupbootcamp FinTech to run accelerator programmes to groom promising tech start-ups in Singapore at the early and seed stages.
Another initiative to build up Singapore tech companies is the iPACT[xiii] (Partnership for Capability Transformation for the Infocomm Sector), introduced to help them work more closely with large enterprises on projects to boost their productivity. IDA has committed S$15 million to drive the iPACT initiative over three years through to March 2017; and
IDA has also continued to give recognition to role models for the tech industry through its National Infocomm Awards [xiv], which were presented in November 2014.
The IDA has opened outposts in London and San Francisco to monitor the latest start-ups and university research projects.
The government is also investing in start-ups – regardless of where they are based in the world
According to CommunicAsia 2014 Conference, Top Technologies are: