There is a new agency in town to lead Singapore into the digital future and it has already reached out to touch and change many aspects of everyday life - from classroom teaching to medical training to business logistics.
Speaking at the launch of the newly minted Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said this agency is now officially mandated to help Singapore seize opportunities in the converging infocomm and media sectors.
He cited how its efforts would impact homes and businesses. For example, soon students will not need to leave the classroom to experience heritage trails in Katong or Duxton. They will just need to don virtual reality (VR) goggles.
Similarly, an IMDA initiative at Bedok Mall and Tampines Mall is already using a queue management system to make the loading and unloading of goods more efficient.
"Convergence is taking place all around us - from social media live broadcasts to Pokemon Go," said Dr Yaacob. "IMDA's mission is to lead Singapore forward into a digital future where infocomm media convergence and technological change will change the way we live, work and play."
Dr Yaacob also appointed Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Permanent Secretary (Defence), as chairman of the IMDA Board from today. Mr Chan was chairman of IDA.
IMDA comes from the merger of the Infocomm Development Authority and the Media Development Authority. There will also be the creation of a GovTech agency that will drive digital transformation in the public sector.
The IDA looked after the regulatory and promotional aspects of telecommunications services, including the sale of mobile handsets, while the MDA oversaw content on traditional media such as television.
The restructuring follows the launch last August of the Infocomm Media 2025 plan, which charts the ways technology will be used to change lives and businesses over the next 10 years. Driverless vehicles and home-integrated sensors are some of the ideas outlined.
Dr Yaacob said IMDA will also work to strengthen the infocomm sector by equipping organisations here with smart solutions. For example, Canada-based Side Effects Asia Pacific will use VR technology to help medical students hone skin- grafting and bypass-surgery skills.
Aware that regulations must keep pace with technology, IMDA is also looking to streamline the Telecommunications Act and Films Act.
IMDA is also charged with improving the lives of citizens via technology. It will install sensor-based health-monitoring kiosks at community centres and in homes.
"While other countries grapple with digital divides, IMDA will help us generate a digital multiplier for our people," said Dr Yaacob.