Pull together pieces from all over to build our Smart Nation

Monday's report ("IT talent in short supply amid Smart Nation push") caught my attention.

As a senior encouraging fellow seniors to embrace lifelong learning and acquire an active vocation in retirement, I thought there is a great opportunity for seniors to be deployed to help ease this labour crunch.

The Smart Nation push is a totally new initiative that everyone, young and old, has to learn to adapt to.

If both generations start learning anew, seniors, in fact, have the advantage of experience and prudence.

For example, my generation, which had to code applications line by line with early-generation operating systems, learnt the basic foundational method of developing applications.

We had to do that because there were no ready-made solutions then.

However, the world today has come a long way, and application developers' jobs are made easier by the existence of ready-made modules that can be assembled into an application.

The speed of production has increased multifold, and therefore, the need for manpower for hard coding is reduced.

If Singapore were to rely on its own local talent pool to build the Smart Nation initiative, there would never be enough manpower resources.

But if we are smart and don't try to invent everything ourselves, we can have better apps and faster adoption of our Smart Nation initiative, without over-relying on foreign talent.

After all, the building modules for a Smart Nation, for example, security ID authentication, GPS location sensing, media streaming and communications modules, are all developed from countries advanced in technology.

What we need to do is work with selected developers to jointly develop the pieces our Smart Nation project team has put on the drawing board.

We may be the first country with a Smart Nation ambition, but various pieces of these "smarts" are already installed in different countries.

Let us be humble and clever to take the best modules and integrate them for our unique use.

This will save time and effort, leaving the limited talent pool to focus on integration, testing, implementation and maintenance.

Geoffrey Kung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Pull together pieces from all over to build our Smart Nation'. Print Edition | Subscribe