Singapore takes No. 1 spot in networked readiness

Govt's 'clear digital strategy' helps Republic pip Finland and Sweden

Singapore has finally bagged the top spot in a league table that ranks how well countries use information technology to drive social and economic transformation.

After being runner-up for five years in a row, Singapore has edged out the usual front runners Finland and Sweden to claim the No. 1 position.

The Networked Readiness Index (NRI), as the rankings are called, was released last night as part of a World Economic Forum report on global information technology.

The report was developed with global business school Insead and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University in the United States.

Singapore recorded an overall score of 6.0 on the NRI. The only other Asian nation to make the top 10 was Japan in 10th place. Finland, which topped the ranking in the past two years, is at No. 2, followed by Sweden, which held the top spot for three years from 2010.

Scores for 143 economies were calculated based on 53 indicators, including education quality and a government's use of information and communications technologies (ICT).

Singapore came out tops for the efficiency of its legal framework and government services, business friendliness, strong intellectual property protection, high mobile broadband subscriptions and the quality of its maths and science education.

The report credited the Singapore Government for leading the ICT revolution, saying it has a "clear digital strategy".

The government-funded Next Generation National Broadband Network, which provides surfing speeds of up to 1Gbps, helped boost the country's score.

More than 725,300 households have now subscribed to the network.

Mr Mike Ang, president of the Association of Telecommunications Industry of Singapore, said: "Singapore's connectedness and competitiveness come from having a such a ubiquitous fibre broadband network that enables all kinds of innovation and citizen services."

The world's larger emerging markets did not progress much towards networked readiness. The Russian Federation was in 41st position, after climbing nine places, while China remained at 62nd place.

Other large emerging markets declined in their ranking this year: South Africa (75th spot, down five places); Brazil (84, down 15); and India (89, down six). Myanmar and the African countries of Chad, Guinea, Burundi and Angola were at the bottom.

The next phase in Singapore's transformation is its push to be a smart nation, where sensors everywhere can automatically control and monitor everything from traffic and street lights to flooding, and the safety of the elderly in their homes. These sensors, to be rolled out islandwide by the year-end, will ride on the fibre broadband links for data exchange among public agencies.

itham@sph.com.sg